Over the weekend, I actually ventured out of the house and saw a movie. I had a few choices: The new Bourne movie, Expendables 2, but I ended up seeing the remake of Total Recall. I had heard that this version was more like the book than the first movie, the book actually being a short story called “We can remember it for you, wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. I was fucking lied to. Don’t let that fool you, though. It’s also not a bad movie. Lemme esplain….no, is too much…lemme sum up…
This movie actually ran close to the previous one on many plot points. The few differences were that he stays on Earth in this one, the resistance is fighting for different reasons, and the world’s backstory is different. The “help” he gets along the way, him getting into the resistance, the “two weeks” scene, all happen in some form at the right parts of the movie. They also combined Richter with Lori, and made Kate Beckinsale the main baddie, which I must admit was rather wonderful.
Anyways, overall this wasn’t a movie that should have been a remake. The original was a sci-fi classic and didn’t need to be touched. As far as remakes go, this one can’t lay a hand on it’s source material, not even with Ms. Beckinsale running around and kicking ass in tight outfits.
“But wait”, you say, “this one is supposed to be more like the short story it’s based on!”. Well, sorry, but that’s bullshit. The short story and the movie only parallel in the very beginning. He does indeed dream of visiting Mars, goes to Rekal (sic), and pops his memory cap. He gets home, finds out this “dream” was true, and people start trying to kill him. That is where the similarities end. The book went a different direction from there, and had a really great ending. It also didn’t go much into the state of the world.
Now if you’re thinking that this movie may be shitty because of what I’ve said, think again. While it sucks when viewed as a remake and compared to the original, it’s actually a good movie. The action is good, the storyline is solid enough, and for anyone who didn’t see the original, it’d be pretty enjoyable. Truth be told, I actually did enjoy it, and I’ll probably pick up the DVD of it. My problem is that they should have made it its own movie, and not as a remake. If they changed a few things about it, we could have had something more fresh to sink our teeth into. Instead, we see a decent sci-fi movie trying to ride the coattails of the classic it’s trying to remake.
I’m guessing they tried doing what Colin Farrell helped do with Fright Night, whose remake was totally fucking awesome! Problem is, it wasn’t Mr. Farrell who made that movie awesome (although he WAS pretty awesome in it), it was none other than my favorite doctor….David Tennant!
So, to sum up, bad as a remake, good as a movie if the source material is ignored. Decide for yourselves if you’re still interested, but don’t let the bad remake part of it stop you from seeing a decent sci-fi flick.
The past few weeks, I’ve been going down the the Paramount to see a singer/songwriter competition. The Paramount is the new music venue in Huntington, and it’s actually a decent place to see a show….or it was, at least, but more of that later. I had a horse in this race, one of my close friends has a band called After Augustine, and they entered this to win the prize of an opening spot for a national act. Knowing him and his music, I felt they had an excellent shot at winning, but that thought was based on this being a legitimate contest and not an absolute shit show.
The first night I was there, bands were supposed to bring down people to vote for them, and there was a handful of “judges” whose votes supposedly counted more than others. They handed out ballots on your way in, so you could just have people show up, get their ballot, fill it out, and leave. Not the best way to run a contest. Regardless of that, AA was clearly the only band to be completely together that night, both in performance and song quality. They ended up moving on, and eventually got into the finals.
Following that night, they had another group the next week, which did just about the same thing. The only difference was that they gave out the ballots at the end of the night, so at least they learned something from the first night. Of the few bands I saw from the second group, none really wowed me whatsoever. They were all pretty much forgettable.
The finals, which were last night, had 5 performances. It was basically the same deal all over again. The first band up was basically a coffee house duo. They weren’t bad, but the vocalist wasn’t very controlled with her voice, and they just didn’t seem to have it all together. Apart from that, their songs didn’t really have an hooks, those memorable parts that stick in your head and make them easy to remember. In my opinion, it seems they had an off night, which happens, but the forgettable songs was the real deciding factor.
Next up was a guy who seemed to be in his late 30’s, with an acoustic guitar. His sound was sort of like if Mellencamp and Bruce Springstein had a baby, but unfortunately he sounded more like springstein. Again, the songs were wholly forgettable, and he looked like he was in physical pain while performing, not emotional pain. He basically was trying to emulate Tom Waits, which he did reasonably well as far as sound goes, but the song quality just wasn’t there. He also had no idea how to properly sing into a microphone, and ended up singing to the bottom of it half the time, where the diaphragm could barely pick him up due to it being a dynamic mic.
After him, After Augustine went on. Now, I know I’m prone to bias towards them since my friend is at the heart of the band, but I can honestly say that they’re a great band. The songs are very catchy, well written, and they’re very tight live. They were the only band that night that didn’t make a mistake, such as an off key note or by being off time. In my opinion, both biased and unbiased, they were set apart from the rest. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be writing this, since I try not to say things I don’t feel are completely true.
Second to last was a girl in her 20’s with a guitar. She was decent, but pretty much had the same songwriting issue the others had. She performed well enough, but a few sour notes and off key runs kind of killed it for me.
Last up was an absolute shit show. This was a band based around a girl who could not sing for shit. I’m at a loss for words as to how she attained a spot in the finals, considering she can’t go 30 seconds without hitting a note so goddamn wrong, that I had to physically restrain myself from just running up to her, hitting her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, and sternly telling her “NO!”. It was actually painful to listen to, and she should smack all of her friends and family who encouraged her and told her she was awesome, since they’re obviously filthy fucking liars.
After the agony of the last act, people came out with ballots to fill out with who you think should have won. Here’s where it gets interesting. The judges were there, and filled out ballots, but their votes were counted the SAME as everyone else’s. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t judges the ones who are supposed to interpret the data, their own knowledge, and THEN choose a winner?
Another interesting part is that earlier in the night, some people showed up for AA and were denied entry because shorts were not allowed, even though there were about a dozen guys inside wearing shorts, who were for another act. Anyways, about half to three quarters of the way through the crowd, they ran out of ballots. What was their way around that, you say? They STOPPED allowing people to vote, and just started counting the ballots they had!!! So now, not everyone got to vote, only the people over by the bar. They tallied these all up, and declared their winner, the Tom Waits wannabe. Who also happens to be a Huntington local. Interesting choice. Honestly, I wouldn’t have even picked him as second place, I’d have left that spot to the first act.
Now I’m all for a legitimate contest, but a singer/songwriter competition should NOT be just a fucking popularity contest. AA had easily as many people there as the other guy, and definitely had a more solid performance and better songwriting. This whole thing left a really bad taste in my mouth due to how shady the whole thing ended up being. As a musician myself, I fully understand the pros and cons of each band up, and if I were to choose one as a judge from an unbiased point of view, I’d still choose the same. THAT is what bothers me the most.
This whole process is a win for the Paramount as a venue. They get people interested in the venue, make it look like they really give a shit about local musicians, fill an opening spot for a national act, and get people to come down and spend money at their bar on a few Wednesday nights in a row. From there point of view, the Tom Waits guy was a good choice, since his crowd was all older people who spent the entire time at the bar, which is where most of the ballots were used.
All of this aside, the Paramount lost my interest awhile ago. The first show I saw there was great. I could go sit in a seat, or stand in the GA area and rock out, all for a pretty reasonable price. The second show changed that, where they decided to segregate people and not let on that it was like that beforehand. This cause us to have to “sneak” down to GA to really enjoy the show. After that, the price hike hit. Now, for national acts, the prices are outrageous! I checked tickets for STP and Manowar, and the cheapest tickets were fucking $90. Some tickets were almost $200. Those prices are ridiculous for a place that is basically a local Roseland Ballroom. I’ve rarely payed more than 60 bucks to see an individual band, and didn’t even pay $90 to see the big 3 last year! How they justify this, I have no idea.
All in all, Paramount, you can go fuck yourself. You had potential, but with the bullshit seating debacle, the ticket price hikes, and especially the way you used local musicians just to get people in the door, you can just fucking rot. You obviously don’t give enough of a shit about the music scene to be useful, and unless you lower prices to a reasonable level, you won’t see another fucking dime from me. You’re just a failure now, and a terrible disgrace to your mother and father. Go hang your head in shame.
I just found out that this was even more messed up. The grand prize was NOT, in fact, an opening spot for a national act. The person who arranged the event with the Paramount was not told the truth, and thus the lie was spread to all the musicians involved. The truth is, the prize is to be allowed to play on the big stage for a MEMBERS ONLY event!!! That’s right, the Paramount has a VIP club, whose membership requires background checks and an annual fee of $2,500! This ENTIRE CONTEST was pandering to them, and they were likely the deciders of who would play for them. Just when I thought the bullshit was piled high enough, they tossed another ton on top. Un-fucking-believable!
Recently, we took the wee beasties on their first journey to Adventureland, a small amusement park on Long Island. I have tons of extremely fond memories of this place from my childhood. Everything from my repeated rides on the looping star, the bumper boats who floated on an even mixture of oil, water, and gasoline, turning upside-down while the gravitron was in motion, the ‘chainsaw’ tree on the haunted house, and of course, the arcade. The part that saddens me, is that my children will not have any of those specific memories.
Upon walking in, the first major change I noticed was that the mini-golf course is gone. This doesn’t bug me, per se, since I only played there once or twice, and it was replaced by a pretty kick ass looking log flume. Afterwards, though, the changes started really hitting close to home.
There are two changes that make me incredibly sad, and filled with a sort of nostalgic longing that I wish my car had a flux capacitor so I could relive those amazing times over and over again. The first of these, the haunted house. The original haunted house actually looked like an old mansion. You sat in a car, went in one side, and out the other. While waiting on line, you could listen to the conversation between the huge animated tree and the owl. They’d talk about chainsaws, and the tree would let everyone know “I don’t like chainsaws. I once had a close shave with a chainsaw!”. The house was mostly tame, with 2 good scares in it, King Kong and the loud-as-fuck horn at the end. This entire house, is gone.
In its place is the “Ghost House”, which is a pre-fab square supported by wood and cement blocks, with airbrushed graphics. It looks like something the local fair or carnival would have. I gave it a shot, hoping against hope that it’d be at least close to as awesome as the old one. I was sadly mistaken. Instead of 2 good scares, there were zero, none, nada, niente, nothing, good day sir! Instead, the entire ride was basically just rolling past displays while listening to a generic soundtrack. I remember the original having some cool music too, but this crap was just absolute garbage. Maybe once or twice, a display actually twitched, but instead of a jolting, seat stirring surprise, it ended up making my face drop in sadness at how the mighty have fallen. I walked off the ride, and literally ran over to the Hurricane to try salvaging some of the nostalgia and joy. It did not disappoint, thankfully.
The tree was kept, though. They removed it from the haunted house before its demolition, and it’s mounted across the way from the new ghost house as an homage to its former greatness. I made sure to have my picture taken with him, just in case they do away with him someday. They removed his eyes, which used to move, so it resembles my feeling about the park these days. It’s there, and still good with some nostalgia, but in comparison it’s just an empty shell that used to contain things I used to adore….
Following the path down towards the other rides, I saw the rest of the replacements for the rides I loved. The bumper boats were done away with. In their place is this alligator ride that actually looks pretty fun AND diesel free. I didn’t go on it, but I do plan to. Next up, the Gravitron. This was replaced a long time ago, but I’m still saddened by its absence. Right next door was my favorite ride as a kid, the Looping Star. I’d go on this ride at least 5 times in a row when I went to Adventureland. Hands down, some of the best memories of my childhood! This has been replaced with some big discus looking thing, which looks like a pisser. I didn’t get to go on it this time, but it’s on my list.
Beyond the rides, I got to the second supremely sad change. This is the one place I spend the most time in, and got the most joy out of. Saying it has fallen from grace is actually a gross understatement, and even as I write this I literally feel pangs of sadness at the loss of such an awesome place, knowing my kids will never get to experience how awesome it truly was. The arcade.
I remember so much about the arcade at Adventureland from when I was a kid. Walking in, the fighting games were on your left. Games like Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat. On the right, some crane games, giving way to the games where you roll handballs into numbered holes for tickets. The token machines where you drop tokens onto a pile of them, hoping it’ll cause a bunch to get pushed off the ledge and into the return. 6 islands of arcade games, like T2, NBA Jam, and older coin ops like Galaga, Pacman, Donkey Kong, Tempest, etc… The back wall and next room over, filled with skeeball. The rectangular room adjacent to the main arcade room was filled with pinball machines and other old coin ops. It was always full, always loud, and teeming with awesomeness. I played countless hours of games in there, from fighting and skeeball, to Rolling Thunder, my favorite older game.
Now, this is the saddest place in all of Adventureland. You won’t find any classic skeeball. You won’t find those token sweeping games. You’ll find all of 2 classic coin ops. No fighting games. No sports games. 1 lone pinball machine (Rolling Stones). The rest of the games are prize games, racing games, and shitty ticket games. The floor was very open, and the room felt nothing like the crowded hall of awesomeness it once was. I walked around, crestfallen, as I felt my childhood and nostalgia being laid to rest in my mind. This used to be such a fun area, but the fall of Arcadia has left very few true arcades remaining. The rise of PCs and home gaming consoles drove the arcades into the ground, and it’s one of the saddest downfalls for older gamers such as myself. Even though I own an all-in-one classic arcade cabinet, I’d still play the originals if I saw them out somewhere. There’s just something about it. Knowing you only have so many quarters and so many lives, the punishing difficulty, and most of all, the social part of it. Waiting on line to play the current champion of Mortal Kombat or Marvel vs Capcom or Tekken, was awesome!!! Watching the matches, one after another, was absolutely awesome, and the shit talking and joking around represented some of what made arcade gaming great. Nowadays, you have online play, where you get cursed out by obnoxious 13 year old kids in desperate need of an ass kicking. Back then, no such issues. There was a respect involved, as well as a fear of getting the shit kicked out of you if you stepped out of line. It was a much better gamer culture, and sadly it is dying out. Newer gamers have no such respect or dignity, for the most part, and it depicts the fall of gaming society as being similar to the fall of Rome: what once was mighty and great, has now fallen to chaos and despair.
Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not ALL bad. There are much more kid rides, and the carnival games are still around, as well as some of the classics like the Hurricane, Music Express, and Pirate Ship. But there are many changes here that make those with happy memories of this place in its heyday a little sad at the loss of childhood icons of happiness, fun, and ‘better days’. I just hope my kids will get similar types of memories, even though they won’t be the same. Everyone deserves them!
I’ve doing a great deal of thinking about music lately, and the role I play in it. I’ve been listening to stuff I did ages ago, as well as stuff I’m doing right now, and it’s made me really pay attention to musicians and how we act. If you’re not a musician, this should give you some insight into the unspoken shit between musicians. If you ARE a musician, you’ll already know everything I’m going to say. Some musicians may attempt to deny some of what I am going to tell you. If they do, they are liars, plain and simple. They can’t help it though, so don’t judge them too harshly. You’ll understand soon.
Musicians are a weird bunch. You have tons of different types, styles, and personalities out there to experience, but they all have certain things in common. Some of this stuff is obvious, like the fact that musicians ALL want to feel like “rock stars” deep down inside. I know, you probably know of a musician who says “I don’t want to make it big, I just do it for the love of playing”. He/She is a filthy dirty fibber. I’ve said that before too, and it wasn’t said because I truly didn’t want that incredible feeling of being in front of a crowd who all love my music, and everything to do with the fact that saying shit like that would make me look/feel like a jackass.
We play music and write music because it resonates with us on a very deep level, whether we realize it or not. We want to release what’s inside of us, and we want it to resonate with others, to share in the feeling of being on the same page of the same book. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it can be problematic when said musicians get heckled and told that they suck. Then again, for musicians, that’s par for the course.
Here’s something all musicians do. We lie. Some don’t even realize they’re doing it. Try this, go up to an awesome guitarist after a show, pretend you didn’t know he played guitar, and ask him if he’s any good. 99% of the time, he’ll say he’s “alright”, unless he’s Joe Satriani or some shit. That’s said to not look like an egotistical asshole, and seldom has factual basis.
Even when musicians know they’re awesome, or even just very good, they’ll RARELY admit it. Some will even fight about it, trying to prove they’re worse than they actually are. Part of this is because we hold ourselves to absolutely INSANE standards. A guitarist, for example, will think he’s just OK unless he attains the level of Vai, Satch, Johnson, Petrucci, etc… If he doesn’t make the perfect grade, he’s not “good”.
Another thing to keep in mind is that all musicians are ridiculously harsh critics. We criticize other musicians, other music, and mostly, ourselves. I can’t count the amount of shows I’ve seen where a local band has kicked ass, not making any obvious mistakes, even to a trained ear. The band will walk off stage, head outside, and go over how each member feels they fucked up horribly at one point or another, and that the show wasn’t that good. People will approach them, saying how great they were, and the members will honestly wonder who these people were listening to while they were on stage.
I think a big reason why much of this happens is because of the following. Bands in a scene are usually split into black and white groups. You’re good, or you suck. Problem is, you never really know where your band is on that scale.
Saying you’re good will make you look either like a moron if your band is in the ‘sucky’ category, or like an arrogant ass if your band is in the ‘good’ category.
Saying you suck, or are simply OK, is a win-win. If you actually DO suck, people will think “at least they’re honest” and/or “they don’t care, they’re just having fun”. This CAN be true, but it’s rare, and usually with joke bands who’re fucking around to blow off steam because their regular band is hitting hard times or getting too stressful.
Saying you suck when you’re actually good, makes you look humble and feel a bit rockstar-ish, since the awesome ones who aren’t total assholes act the same way.
Now, another thing musicians know, is that their music will not appeal to everyone. This can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially when they really dig the music they’re writing, but it’s a hard fact they deal with. Most local bands will have small followings, usually just friends and family and other musicians, since they try going to each others’ shows to support the scene. If a band is good, and their music appealing, the following will usually grow. If they aren’t, it’ll be the same small group going to every show, pounding drinks at the bar to get them through the same set of songs each time. This brings me to my next point.
Musicians are fully aware of those in the crowd who don’t like their music. It’s actually VERY obvious to us. If you think you’re hiding it by standing next to a table, holding a drink, and tapping your foot, you’re wrong. We know, and we understand, and it’s seriously not a big deal….Yes, that’s right, it’s not a big deal, and I’ll tell you why.
Bands on stage are pretending! They pretend the crowd is into it. They pretend they’re playing in Madison Square Garden. They pretend Olivia Wilde is standing in front of them wearing a sheer white nighty, soaking wet and looki….wait, shit, where was I….Oh yeah! They know there are times where the energy may not be there, so in their minds they create it. Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean a crowd being into them wouldn’t be 1000 times better, but if they aren’t, then steps are taken.
Now, personally, I fall in one of these categories. If you know me, and have seen my band, please understand that what I’m about to say is nothing but the honest truth. I’m not delusional, I’m not humble, and I’m not deaf or blind. If you don’t know me, here’s the scoop.
I’m in a band right now. We’re an original metal/hard rock band. I’m the singer. We aren’t appealing to most people. Our following is generally the friends, family, and fellow musicians group. We actually aren’t bad from a technical standpoint, our music just doesn’t resonate with the people who listen to it, even those who are into the genre of music we fit into. I personally feel partially responsible for this, for the following reason.
I’m actually a good singer, technically speaking. I physically CAN sing, hit notes, hold a tune, follow a progression, etc… The problem is, the sound of my voice is not appealing, at least for the genre I like to sing. I love metal and hard rock, but would sound more at home singing blues or old RnB like Bill Withers. This makes for a very niche sound, and something most fans of metal and rock don’t really go for. It’s the unfortunate truth of my music career.
I’ve said many times that I don’t care, and I just do it for the love of it, and to a degree that’s true. I do it for the love of it, but that’s not the whole story. I also want that feeling. The feeling of being on stage, performing in front of a crowd who wants to be there to hear our music, a crowd who knows the words to every song and sings with us. I know it won’t happen, but the hope keeps things driving. When I lose that hope, I’ll most likely stop playing.
If you’re still reading this shit, then
you’re probably really fucking bored I’ll ask one favor of you. If you know me, and read the above, PLEASE do not give in to the urge to “reaffirm” me or say shit like “no dude, it’s not like that, I really DO like the way you sound”. Whether you honestly feel that way or not, I already know. This post isn’t about being on the pity pot with a case of the “poor me’s”, just a chance for me to actually be honest and get shit off my chest that bugs me.
Now some people say I’m a bit of a cynic….well ok, EVERYONE says that, but that’s not my point. My point is, they just may be onto something there.
On my way to work today, I read a bumper sticker on a car in front of me that said “life is short, break some rules”. I’ll wager that most people will agree with that statement; after all, life is to be lived to its fullest right? Problem is, that’s exactly the reason why I feel humanity, on the whole, will never progress into any semblance of a well adjusted, structured, and enlightened society. We’re just wired wrong.
Now I know what you may be thinking, “monks in monasteries do it, so it’s absolutely possible”! Sorry, you’re wrong there. Individuals can be intelligent, forward thinking, and rational (I said CAN be). “People” tend to be a herd of instinct minded animals. While we do have great capabilities as far as thought and reason go, we all give in to our instincts over and over again. The hunger for power, the urge to fuck anything we can get our hands on, the individualist’s need for survival. We’re just not made to advance in large societies. The second there’s a mass of people, and that herd or mob mentality hits, all enlightenment and reason goes out the window, no matter how smart the individuals are.
Even as individuals, we’re very flawed in the fact that we’ll willingly break the rules to “feel more alive”, or because “it’s our right”. This thinking basically invalidates the entire reason for rules in the first place: to reign in chaos and establish some sort of order. I did this exact thing when I was younger, willingly breaking the rules again and again because I knew I’d get away with it, for the most part. It redefines us as what we are.
We’re animals, plain and simple. Whether we’re better or worse than any other animals in particular is subjective. On one hand, we’re able to develop technology and other cool shit, and on the other hand we indiscriminately kill each other for virtually no real reason. When humans act “like an animal”, it’s an insult to all animals. We’re the only species I know of that does the reprehensible things we do, for little or no reason.
I know most people like to think of themselves, and humanity as a whole, as better than animals. They’re wrong. We’re animals. We’re prone to the same frailties, and even more prone to failure as a species since we deny our instinctual programming in a vain attempt at civilization. We’re most likely only meant to live in small colonies or groups, and not huge cities and such. The most people you throw in, the worse it seems to get. I’m just curious whether we’ll end up evolving into beings capable of enlightenment and advanced society, or whether we’ll simply annihilate ourselves like most people seem to believe we will do.