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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Favorite Records of 2015

With 2015 coming to a close, the time has come for me to reflect on the great music that was released during the calendar year. Below is a compilation of some of my favorite records and songs that were released during 2015. Overall it was a pretty solid year for music.

Honorable Mentions

Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams
Two albums in two years. To say Coldplay has been busy appears to be an understatement. Released in early December, Coldplay delivered a very good pop rock/dance album. Unfortunately like much of Coldplay's later work, it appears this album will be decisive amongst their fans. If you are a fan of their 2011 release Mylo Xyloto, you will really like this record.



Beck: Dreams
Released in June 2015, Beck once again proved why he is one of the most captivating artists of the last 25 years. This single is the complete opposite of his 2014 album Morning Phase. It's Beck at his pure alternative, hook writing, dancing best. I dare anyone to listen to this song, and not have it stuck in their head for days afterwards. Personally, this is the song of the summer. The only reason why this song isn't higher on my list is because it's not apart of an album. But it too damn good not to be recognized. If this were apart of a full length record, its safe to say it would be my favorite of 2015.



10. Keith Richards: Crosseyed Heart
Netflix is solely responsible for this album being on my list. One day I was looking through my Netflix cue to find something to watch, and I saw a documentary called "Under the Influence" and a picture of Richards. This documentary focuses on the making of the album, but also just on Richards philosophy on life. While watching it, I began to notice how much I enjoyed the music, and immediately purchased the record. It's wonderful. If you are looking for a great blues rock record, this is one you need to check out.



9. Local H: Hey Killer
For the past decade Local H has been hitting out of the ballpark with terrific records. Beginning with "Whatever Happened to PJ Soles", Scott Lucas and company continues to make great guitar driven, old school alternative music. With new drummer Ryan Harding, Local H delivers a great album. If you are looking to "get into" Local H, this would be a great first record.



8. Ringo Starr: Postcards from Paradise
Yes I am a biased Beatles fan. But hear me out. Ringo delivered one of his best albums EVER in 2015. Postcards from Paradise is just a fun record, that is also very autobiographical. In fact, if you want to learn more about Ringo Starr the person, listen to his records of the last 10 years. All of the stories are there. Postcards from Paradise opens with one of Ringo's best songs ever, Rory and the Hurricanes, which has a great early 60s almost doo-wop vibe to it.



7. Death Cab For Cutie: Kintsugi
Even with the loss of guitarist Chris Walla, Death Cab for Cutie manages to deliver a fantastic album. What's really terrific about this record is that it stopped me dead in my tracks when I first heard it. Over the summer, I was working on a few things in my home with the radio on. All of a sudden, this song came on with this great refrain and incredibly lyrics. I immediately stopped what I was doing to really listen to the radio so I could find out who it was. When I heard it was Death Cab, I knew I had to hear the rest of the record. I recommend you do the say too.




6. Beach Slang: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
Beach Slang broke all of my rules this year. Typically I begin to assembly my "favorites" list in early December. So anything that is released in December has to be pretty impressive to grab my attention during this process. And Beach Slang did just that. This is a lyrics record. Buy the CD. Pull out the booklet, and read the lyrics. They are beautiful, and heartfelt. If this record is any indication, Beach Slang is going to be a very important band in the very near future.

 

5. Chvrches: Every Open Eye
What a great new wave pop rock record. That is the best way I can describe the new record from Chvrches. It is pop music at its best. And isn't that something more bands should strive for? I certainly think so. 

 

4. Iron Maiden: The Book of Souls
In a day and age where the human attention span is seconds, Iron Maiden puts out a double LP. Not only is it a double LP, but also the average song length on the record is 6 and a half minutes! Iron Maiden always has and always will play by their own rules. The Book of Souls is no different. It grabbed my attention and didn't let go the first time I heard it. Whenever you listen to Maiden, you always learn something. What I learned...Iron Maiden is still at the top of their game almost 40 years into their career. 

 

3. Alabama Shakes: Sound & Color
My goodness this is a great record. I mean this is a really great record. 2015 was a breakout year for Alabama Shakes. From a killer Saturday Night Live set, to Lollapalooza, to jamming with Paul McCartney, Brittany Howard and company could do no wrong. This is the record that we will look back on as Alabama Shakes' coming out party. Blues rock at its best!

 

2. William Elliott Whitmore: Radium Death
What can I say about William Elliott Whitmore that I haven't already said? My three top musicians of all time are John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, and William Elliott Whitmore. His ability to write a record that is astonishingly personal, not only to him but to his audience as well, continues to amaze me. My friend Pat Creed recently described a record as though "he felt like it was written specifically for him". That is how I feel about Whitmore's music. He continues to write music that I can relate to. Music that can help me through difficult days. Music that at its heart is just really, really good. Radium Death now joins that collection of great records. 



1. The Punch Brothers: The Phosphorescent Blues 
I was telling a friend of mine that I feel like The Phosphorescent Blues has been around for years. It obviously hasn't, it came out in early 2015, but I've listened to it so much that it feels like it has always been here. For me the real test of a record is listenablility. What I mean by that is how many times can you hear it, before you get tired of it. The album has yet to stray far from my stereo, or from my iPod. It showcases a band that after 10 years together still isn't afraid to experiment. This very well may be their best album yet. For anyone looking to get into folk or bluegrass music, The Punch Brothers are the band to check out.

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars: The Radio Dramas

Photo Credit: Me
Well, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it was great. If you are a fan of old school Star Wars, then you will love the new movie. But this posting isn't a review of the new movie. No. This is a posting of something I found. Something that I cannot believe I had never heard about.

I randomly Googled Star Wars, and I came across Star Wars: The Radio Drama. In the early 1980s, NPR did a radio dramatization of the entire trilogy. Here's the absolutely fascinating article how it came to be. As a radio nerd, I could not go on without finding the trilogy and buying it. As luck would have it, I found the complete box set on Amazon. It was bought moments later.

The box set arrived today, and I've begun listening to it. Let me tell you, if you are a Star Wars fan, you must find it, and listen to it. It is absolutely terrific. The sound design is beautiful. It also features the John Williams score, and terrific voice performances. Another really cool fact is there are original story-lines interwoven into the trilogy. It's an unique addition to the Star Wars saga.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Three Days Away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

www.starwars.com 
We are three days away from the new Star Wars movie. The Force Awakens opens December 18th, 2015. So close, yet so far. The promotion for the film is everywhere. In fact if you Google: "A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away, your Google results will appear as the Star Wars opening crawl.

I allowed myself to look at Twitter reactions to individuals whom have seen the movie thus far, and so far the results have been very positive. Friday cannot come fast enough.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

35 Years Ago Today....

pujamandela.wordpress.com
December 8th is always a melancholy day for me. It's the anniversary of my musical hero's untimely death. December 8th, 1980 John Lennon was murdered while returning home from a recording session. It's still difficult for me at times to comprehend this fact that he is gone. As I am typing this posting, I'm listening to "Nobody Told Me" and "Borrowed Time", both recorded shortly before his death, and he sounds so full of life. Plus the music is phenomenal.

Earlier today I was speaking with one of my closest friends about this subject, and we both agreed that Lennon's songs recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions sound modern. Not just musically, but lyrically. Lennon was really struck something special when he was recording. Though it is a sad occasion, it does give one a reason to reflect on life, and not take a moment for granted.





Sunday, November 29, 2015

More George Orwell Essays

Credit: www.amazon.com
Earlier this year, I read an excellent anthology of essays by the legendary writer George Orwell. The title of the anthology that I read was: Books Vs. Cigarettes. The collection contained Orwell's thoughts on literature, is there such of thing as having too many books, and second hand bookstores. It was my first time reading his essays, and I must say I really enjoyed it. Though I didn't always agree with his conclusions, I loved reading his logic behind his conclusions, and the volume got me thinking on a great many things.

So I while I was Christmas shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend, I found another volume of Orwell's essay writing entitled: All Art is Propaganda. It is a larger anthology of his essay writing, and it appears to cover a wide range of topics. But the item that really caught my attention was the cover. I love cover artwork. It's really an eye grabbing, and it aided me in my decision to buy the volume. So for now at least, Orwell is correct. Art is Propaganda. Art is what made me buy his critical essay, or what some may say, his propaganda. A little self fulfilling maybe...

I cannot wait to start reading it. 

Falling Behind On Blogging

I have once again fallen a little behind on my blogging as of late. Work and teaching have been quite the time consumer. Although I am very pleased to have been able to launch my podcast series this past month. That was something I've been meaning to do for awhile, and it feels good to be able to do it. Honestly, I feel like I've been experiencing a little bit of writers block when trying to come up with a topics to write about.

Luckily, since it is the end of the year, I'll be able to write my annual favorite records of the year posting. So there's one topic at least. What I should really do, is have a brainstorming session, and try to plan out my blogs over a period of time. Sometimes when I organize myself like that, I'm able to over come my writers block.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Pilot Episode

Yesterday was the day. Yesterday I posted the first episode of my new podcast series entitled: "The Looking Glass". I'm really excited about this podcast. It's primary focus is personal interests and how individuals get into them.

The first episode, which is embedded below, explores the magic of Harry Houdini. My second episode, which I hope to finish in the next few days, will focus on how an individual found Nirvana.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Almost Done With My New Podcast Series

I think I'm almost done with the first episode of my new podcast series. It's called The Looking Glass, and it examines how individuals got into their hobbies and interests. The first episode is on magic and Harry Houdini.

it took me a while to find the right tone for the narration, and music. I think I found both. For narration, I was aiming for a very casual feel. For music, I wanted a lighthearted, almost dreamsical feel. Like how people see their hobbies in a very surreal way.

Just a few more finishing touches, I'll be ready to share it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chris Thile Covering Bach

One of my favorite bands is a folk/bluegrass band called The Punch Brothers. Well worth your time to check them out. I recommend the tracks "Magnet", "New York City", and "I Blew it Off" for starters. Anyways that's another topic for another posting.

Chris Thile, who is the lead singer of the Punch Brothers has released a solo recording of himself performing Johann Sebastian Bach's Sonatas and Partitas on the Mandolin. It's beautiful, and I really want to share a performance.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The New Star Wars Trailer

Last week the new Star Wars trailer was released. It's beautiful!! I have no shame in admitting that I teared up slightly. It looks and feels like Star Wars. There's a sense of excitement, wonder, and an old school fun at the movies feel with this trailer. And for me at least, one of the best parts of the new Star Wars is that I don't know anything about it. I've avoided spoilers at all costs. I want to see this movie without knowing anything, and just enjoy it.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Rediscovering an Old Friend

As a fluke of luck would have it, I picked up Johnny Cash' American III: The Solitary Man this past weekend. The best way I can describe listening to this album is it's like being re-acquainted with an old friend. It's a friendly reminder why he is so great! He sings with a "realness" that hasn't, no will ever be replicated. It made me pull out all of my American Recording LPs, and I am currently listening to American II: Unchained as I write this blog. It is always a good feeling to re-discovery greatness. Take the time out of your day, and find Cash's American Recordings. They are well worth your time to listen to.




Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Random Thoughts for Wednesday October 7th, 2015

Ai Weiwei Documentary
Last night on PBS, I watched an absolutely engaging documentary on Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The name of the documentary is: Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case. It chronicles the artist's trouble with the Chinese government. It is an absolutely inspiring documentary. I've been a fan of Weiwei's art for the past few years, and this documentary gives a fantastic perspective on his art, political beliefs, and philosophy on life. After watching it, I felt invigorated to go and create.



Imaginary Worlds: The Truth is Out There
This morning, I listened to one of my new favorite podcasts, Imaginary Worlds. This week's episode focused on the cult TV show "The X-Files", which lead to a larger exploration of the world of conspiracy theories. I've been wanting to do a program on conspiracy theories for the past few years, but could never figure out the direction I wanted to do. (I've always felt the radio would be an engaging medium to explore conspiracy theories.) This episode is absolutely fantastic. In fact, its so good, I listened to it twice. Host Eric Molinsky created a really special episode of audio here.



Arrow: Holy Crap!!
The new episode of Arrow debuted tonight, and HOLY CRAP!!!! It's 1 hour of pure superhero fun.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Conclusions on Superman: Truth

www.dccomics.com
I just finished reading Superman: Truth. The main focus of the story is Lois Lane has informed to the world that Clark Kent is Superman. The story then follows how the people of Metropolis react to the news, along with the new Batman, played by Jim Gordon, and Wonder Woman.

I really enjoyed this story. I feel that it did a great job of emphasizing Clark Kent the "man". One aspect of the Superman character I've never really liked, is when the writers try to make Superman out to be a "god". I always enjoyed it when Superman is written as a man that can do extraordinary things. For me that's the magic of the character. He's an individual who understands who he is and accepts it. It's like he is fully accepting himself.

Truth really hit on these aspects of the character. Now the story is told non-linearly. I recommend that you read it in the following order by titles:

Superman
Action Comics
Superman/Wonder Woman
Batman/Superman

If you are looking for a different type of Superman story, Truth is one to check out.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Essay Writing

So I'm currently reading Books v. Cigarettes by George Orwell, and I'm really enjoying it. I find that a well written essay really gets me thinking about how I approach items in my everyday life. It's getting me to think differently and I like that.

I'm going to start a list of other famous essayist I should read more of.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Books v. Cigarettes by George Orwell

Photo Credit: Peter Kreten
I'm reading this very engaging collection of essays by the one and only George Orwell. They are in a collection entitled Books v. Cigarettes, and they are a collection of articles Orwell published throughout his life. And as the title suggests, books versus cigarettes is debated.

It begins with Orwell discussing an article he read about how "blue collar' workers weren't buying books anymore because they were far too expensive. So Orwell took an estimate of how many books he purchased throughout his life time and developed an average cost. He then did an estimate of how much money he spent on cigarettes for one year. As you might expect, cigarettes were more expensive than books.

But it doesn't end there. Orwell argues that yes books can be expensive, but their purchase should be seen as more of an investment. You can always learn something new from a book. If you keep a book for a long period of time, you could read it multiple times, and receive multiple experiences of entertainment. And finally, if worst came to worst, you can always re-sell any book you purchase at a second hand book story.

This is the first type of essay anthology of Orwell's that I have read. I am finding the material very engaging, and I think that it would be useful for any person who thinks books are a poor purchase choice to read.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

44 Years Ago Today....

www.wikipedia.org
44 years ago today, John Lennon released his iconic album "Imagine". What can be said about this album that already hasn't been said? It is the very definition of a masterpiece. Imagine is home to one of his most legendary songs ever, aptly named Imagine. Some other great songs that call his album home include: "How Do You Sleep at Night", "Crippled Inside", "Oh Yoko", "Jealous Guy", and one of my favorite Lennon songs ever "Oh My Love".


"Imagine" is different that its predecessor "Plastic Ono Band". While "Plastic Ono Band" is an angry record, "Imagine" is not. It has moments of quiet reflection, love, and angry. For me, this album is yet another reason why John Lennon is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, song writer of all time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Star Wars Action Figures

www.starwarswikia.com
I was talking with my cousin Matt today, over social media, and he reminded me that it has been awhile since I last wrote about Star Wars. In fact my last posting regarding Star Wars was made on the 19th of August 2014. (The topic, which you can find here, pertained to a rumor of a Blu-Ray release of the original unaltered trilogy. Still waiting.)

One of my favorite aspects of Star Wars is the action figures. I always felt that Star Wars had the coolest toys, vehicles, and play sets ever made. With Episode 7 less than 4 months away, it was announced that the new action figure/toy line will be revealed on the 2nd of September. I'm really curious on what the new line of action figures will look like. I for one will be picking up at least a Han Solo. Maybe a few more...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The End of WireTap

www.thepublicradio.org
Earlier this week, it was announced that WireTap, the first real podcast I listened to on a regular basis and my favorite, would be ending after 11 seasons. WireTap was a show that explored a wide array of philosophical and silly topics. It also integrated a flair of old school radio drama with absolutely crazy phone conversations between Jonathan and a friend or family member. And finally WireTap showed me how you could tell a truly inspiring audio story. There were many times that this show would simply leave me speechless at the end.

In fact every week, I looked forward to the WireTap download to see what the latest episode had in store for me. I knew that 85% of the time I was in store for a truly enjoyable 30 minute listening experience. I am really going to miss WireTap, but I admire how the show's producer Jonathan Goldstein is ending it. With the audience wanting more. He posted on the shows official website a video goodbye, along with a message. I've included the link here for you to read the message, and below is the goodbye video.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Side Note on Dreams

Have you ever experienced a dream that you "know" you are dreaming, your aware of it. But yet you follow where the dream takes you? You begin to believe that the dream is real. I had one of those this past weekend, which for me can be a little unusually. Unusually in the fact that majority of the time, I do not remember my dreams.

This dream I remember. It wasn't anything scandalous, but it did get me thinking. I dreamt that technology ruined my imagination. I was standing on a non-descriptive block and I was trying to imagine something in my head, and I couldn't do it. I kept grabbing my phone and iPad to Google what I was trying to imagine, and it wasn't working. I kept trying and trying and trying, and nothing happened. Finally I woke up.

I think this was my subconscious way of telling me I spend too much time on these devices. I am guilty of being glued to social media, texting frequently, and grabbing for these devices if I'm bored. It's almost like a reflex muscle. But knowing myself, I know I can't give up cold turkey. So I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to have specific times of the day where I "allow" myself to go onto social media. If it's not that time, I won't go on. I hoping to ease myself off of relying on it so much. I have this practice of staying off social media on weekends. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I do not. However when I succeed, I feel myself more motivated to work on my creative projects, such as my podcast.

So this is my goal.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Suggestions For Reading: 'Go Set a Watchman'

My Copy of 'Go Set a Watchman'
When it was announced in February 2015 that a new Harper Lee book was to be released, I like many other avid readers was ecstatic. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is one of those rare books that lives up to its height with memorable characters, an ending with a twist, and perhaps most importantly a lesson in morality.  But this was to be no ordinary book Lee was releasing. In fact, what made this announcement even more exciting was her new book, 'To Set a Watchmen' was a semi-sequel to 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Quite naturally my excitement and anticipation only grew. 

Now the announcement is not without controversy, which I won't get into here. I'm sure you've read about it. If not, a quick Google search will be able to provide you with amble information on the matter. No what I mainly wish to focus on is the book itself. I just finished reading it about a week ago. I'm sure that I am in the minority, but I enjoyed the book very much. But there were a few approaches I took while reading this book that I suggest you take, which I hope will allow you to enjoy 'Go Set a Watchmen' like I did.

1)  Even though the characters in both books are "the same". Don't view them as the same. I read a little bit of the history of both books, 'Go Set a Watchman' was actually written BEFORE 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. So even though Watchman is a sequel, don't view it as one. View it as its own book, that just happens to have characters that share the same names.

2) If you view Watchman as a direct sequel, be prepared for continuity issues that are pretty big. It is mentioned in Watchman that Atticus was able to get an African American man was accused of raping a white girl acquitted. Obviously if you read Mockingbird, you know that this doesn't happen. Additionally, Boo Radley or the Radley family aren't mentioned once in Watchman. But if you just view it as it's own piece of fiction, you will experience no continuity issues whatsoever.

Remember these too pieces I believe assited me in enjoyng this book very. I hope it helps you as well.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Seeing Paul McCartney For the 4th Time

Sir Paul McCartney opening up with
Magical Mystery Tour
On Friday July 31st, 2015, I was privileged to see the one and only Sir Paul McCartney live in concert for the 4th time.

As always, Sir Paul delivered an exceptional concert experience that only he could. 40,000 plus sung together as one for Hey Jude, had their faces melted by Live and Let Die, and danced the "happy dance" to Can't Buy Me Love.

Later this week, I plan on writing a more detailed posting about the experience, but for now, here is the set list:

July 31st, 2015- Lollapalooza, Grant Park
Magical Mystery Tour
Save Us
Got to Get You into My Life
Let Me Roll It
Paperback Writer
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen a Face
We Can Work It Out
And I Love Her
Blackbird
Here Today
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Something
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

Encore 1
Hi, Hi, Hi
Can't Buy Me Love
Get Back (Featuring Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes)
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Cool New Podcast I've Discovered

I stumbled across a new podcast while on PRX (The Public Radio Exchange) a few weeks back. It's called 'Imaginary Worlds', and it explores the genres of science fiction and fantasy, specifically how the genres are created and how we, the audience, are able to suspend our disbelief.

I'm really enjoying this podcast a lot. It explores these genres in a fresh way. It's not just two individuals discussing what they like or dislike about a particular subject. It's far more in depth. The creator of the podcast, Eric Molinsky, has a terrific interview with DC comic book writer Scott Snyder, in which they focus on Snyder's psychological take on Batman.

There's also a great features discussing how superhero customs are created, and how action figures influenced an entire generation of sci-fi and fantasy genre fans. If you are a fan of any of these types of topics, I cannot recommend Imaginary Worlds enough.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pluto...In the Flesh so to Speak

www.nasa.gov

I can look at pictures of Pluto all day. NASA's official website has updated a ton of cool pictures. If you have a few hours to kill, I recommend you check them out.

The above picture by far is my favorite. And the New York Times put together a cool little video about New Horizons.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Look What Came in the Mail

A book I never thought I would read came in the mail today. Harper Lee, acclaimed author of one of the greatest pieces of American literature ever, released her second novel today. Entitled: Go Set a Watchman, the novel picks up the To Kill a Mockingbird story 20 years later.  It should be noted however that Go Set a Watchman was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird.

There is much controversy regarding the release of this novel, which I will not get into on this posting. As a fan of Lee, I am incredibly excited to begin reading this new story.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Superman: Truth. An Intriguing Storyline Idea

www.newsarama.com
I've been on a comic/graphic novel kick. Thus far this year I've read 4 out of the 8 volumes of John Byrne's run on Superman during the 1980s, IDW's complete series run (9 volumes total) on the Ghostbusters, and the legendary Green Arrow/Green Lantern cross over from the 1970s. I can't get enough of it. Needless to say I've been on the outlook for any story lines that may catch my eye.

About two weeks ago, I read that DC is revamping Superman. I must admit when I first read this I thought to myself: "Not this again". However as I read more about it, the more intrigued I became. The story line is entitled: "Truth" and it tells the tale of Superman losing majority of his powers, AND more importantly his secret identity being exposed by none other than..... Lois Lane.

This seemed like something new for me, and so this past weekend I went to my local area comic book stores to find the first four issues that compose the beginning arch of this story. I can only say this, they are FANTASTIC!! This story arch is doing an excellent job of examining what makes Superman, well, Superman. That it isn't the powers, but the man.

It is also exploring Superman's relationships with four key characters: Wonder Woman, Batman, the city of Metropolis (yes the city is a character), and most importantly Lois Lane. The reader doesn't know yet why Lois exposed Superman's secret identity of Clark Kent to the public yet (the story is being told non-linearly), but thus far it's doing an amazing job showcasing how these two characters depend on one another. Even after Lois does this drastic thing.

I cannot wait to see how this story ends.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meeting One of Your Heroes

Photo Credit: Claudia Herrera
It's always a tricky thing, meeting one of your heroes. Mainly because you never know if that person will live up to the hype that you have established in your mind. Like if they are a jerk, that can totally ruin your perspective on them. It may even damage how you view their art. (It may cause you to no longer be a fan of theirs.)

On Friday, June 19th I met one of my heroes. William Elliott Whitmore. Not only did he live up to the hype in my head, but he exceed it. Whitmore, without a doubt, is one of the nicest, coolest guys, I have ever met. He was super chill. Answered all of the questions I asked, and even performed two songs live on the radio.

Sometimes you get moments like this, that when you are in it, you know it is special. For me, June 19th was that special day.




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band/Let It Be

I've completed my task. I have listened to every solo Beatles' album released in 1970, along with their "final" album release. Let's first begin with my observations of John Lennon's solo debut.


www.wikipedia.org
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
1. This is by far the angriest album I have ever heard in my entire life. Lennon takes every single emotion and puts it on display for you to see. (The bell tolling sets the mood.) The listener hears him raging against his parents for their acts of abandonment. You hear him defending the working class, and finally you hear him talk about how he has lost faith in everything in his iconic song God.

Yet the last track is the real heartbreaker. Clocking in at under 1 minute, My Mummy's Dead is pure sadness. It's 17 year old Lennon screaming for his mother. And even though he is still mad at her, Lennon still misses her. Dare I say love her and need her. Every time I hear this song, it's a real struggle not to cry.

2. It's bare, and not in a bad way. Where All Things Must Pass is grandiose, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is intimate. Other than Lennon, the only other musicians are Ringo Starr on drums, Klaus Voormann on bass, Billy Preston on piano for God, and Yoko Ono as "wind". Because of this, I feel a closeness to the material. It's almost like you are included in on the secret.

3. Quite simply, there are some great songs on this album. In addition to the more famous tracks such as Mother, God, and Working Class Hero, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band includes hidden gem tracks such as Well, Well, Well, I Found Out, and Love. Like All Things Must Pass, this is an iconic record.


www.thebeatles.com
Let It Be
1. For the people that say this is the Beatles' worst album, I have one question. How? Out of the 12 songs on this album, 7 of them are iconic songs. I'm of course referring to: Two of Us, Dig a Pony, Across the Universe, Let it Be, I Got a Feeling, Get Back, and The Long and Winding Road. (Full disclosure, I despise The Long and Winding Road.)


2. I really like the talking between songs. Makes the album feel like a jam session.

3. Don't know what else I can say. Really the music speaks for itself.

I think my ultimate conclusion of my grand experiment was that 6 LPs were released in 1970 in which each were unique, catchy, and beyond enjoyable. For me, it is just further proof that The Beatles will always be the greatest rock n' roll band of all time.


Monday, June 8, 2015

All Things Must Pass: A Reflection

www.wikipedia.org
Well I just finished re-listening to George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. Oh man, what can you say? It is a work of art in every sense of the word. Here are a few straw observations:

1. The album has a real mood to it. It's difficult for me to explain but whenever I listen to All Things Must Pass, I'm reminded of autumn. I feel like it should be cold, damp, and I should be next to a fire eating soup while listening to this album. I don't mean this in a negative way.

I fell like All Things Must Pass demands my attention and since autumn is my favorite season, this is a way to keep my ear attentive. (It's weird, I know.)

2. All Things Must Pass is like a prayer. There's a deep spirituality to this album that I love. It's like George is having a conversation with God, and is inviting us to join in. It's utterly beautiful. You can really get a sense of this with: My Sweet Lord, Awaiting on You All, and All Things Must Pass. Additionally this album does not apologize for having a spirituality to it. George is talking about the divine, and he isn't embarrassed. He wants the listener to know this is exactly what he is talking about.

3. If Not For You. One of my favorite songs of all time. You must listen to it immediately.

4. It's one of those rare triple albums that isn't boring. (In actuality it is only a double album. The third disc is a bonus disc of musical jams.) There is a lot of content on All Things Must Pass, but none of it sounds like filler. It's a smooth flowing album. For me personnally, the only other double LPs that are flawless like this are The Beatles White Album and System of a Down's Mesmerize/Hypnotize.

5. As a diehard John Lennon fan, I have no problem saying this. All Things Must Pass is the best solo Beatles album ever written. The word masterpiece is used a lot, however that word is the only appropriate adjective that can describe it. This is a must own for any music fan.

P.S. Blooger isn't letting me embed the music videos from YouTube. I'll try and embed them at a later date.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Findings Thus Far on the Solo Beatles' Releases of 1970

I feel like a kid who told the teacher I'd have the assignment done on time, and then doesn't. I originally intended to have published my thoughts on these early solo Beatles' releases, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I have not listened to all 6 albums yet. On the plus side though, I have listened to 3 out of the 6 of them. Here is what I have discovered thus far.

www.pitchfork.com
1. McCartney by Paul McCartney is a much more deeper album than I initially realized. Earlier this year, I read a fantastic book on McCartney's musical career during the 1970s called: Man on the Run. In it, author Tom Doyle discusses how McCartney was horribly depressed over the breakup of the Beatles while he recorded this album.

Boy was he correct. After reading the book and re-listening to this album, you can really pick up on McCartney's state of mind. I have been a McCartney fan for well over 20 years, but one of my "complaints" of his music is that you never really meet the "real" Paul McCartney. (One of the reasons why John Lennon is my favorite musician of all time, is he wrote music that utterly bears his soul on. You feel like you you meet the "real" John Lennon through his music. Warts and all. ) You don't get that personal connection with McCartney. There is always this veil that prevents you from seeing the real person.

However on McCartney, there is no veil. You get it all. The good, the bad. The warts, and all. It may be the most personal album Sir Paul has ever written. He takes you on a dark journey, that ultimately leads you to a light at the end of a tunnel, where he finds hope. I'm really grateful to have re-listened to this album, as I feel like I got a whole new appreciate for Paul McCartney's music. Which is a testament to his genius. The music can be over 45 years old, and you are still able to find new hidden jewels in them.

www.allmusic.com
2. Sentimental Journey by Ringo Starr. In 1970 Ringo recorded two albums, the first being Sentimental Journey and the second being Beaucoups of Blues, which we will discuss next. Ringo did something pretty brave for his first solo releases which I feel he deserves more credit for. His first two solo albums are HUGE experiments.

First Sentimental Journey. It consists of 12 songs of old standards from the 1940s which literally had sentimental meaning for him. But the twist for the album was having each song arranged by a different producer/composer/artists. So some of the arrangers on this album include Sir George Martin, Quincy Jones, and Klaus Voormann. Hence each song has a unique feel to them. Yet they all sound familiar. Like a pleasant memory.

Sentimental Journey was never one of my favorite solo Beatles' albums but I must admit, just like with McCartney, I've found a whole new appreciation for it on this last listen. It's catchy, modern sounding, and a very solid debut for Ringo.

www.allmusic.com
Next Beaucoups of Blues, Ringo's second solo release of 1970. While helping George Harrison record All Things Must Pass, Ringo took a short break to travel to Tennessee and record a country and western album. Which when you think about it, is a little weird. I mean, think about it.

The drummer of the biggest and greatest rock n' roll band ever, records a country and western album??? Isn't country and western music the complete opposite of rock n' roll? Yup. But let me tell you, it is a terrific album. And I'm saying this as a person who does not like country and western music.

This album of original songs written specifically for Ringo, showcases his voice like none other. As many musical critics have said before, Ringo's voice is a perfect fit for the country and western style, and you can really hear it on Beaucoups of Blues.

Well three down, three to go. And the final three are BIGGIES. George Harrison's masterpiece All Things Must Pass, The Beatles Let It Be, and John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. Which in my opinion is the angriest album EVER recorded. But to end this article out the correct way, I've embedded three hidden gem tracks from the aforementioned albums above. Enjoy!


Monday, June 1, 2015

The Beatles in 1970

Recently I have found myself listening to the solo catalogs of the Beatles. To say that the selections I have to choose from is rich and engaging is an understatement to say the least. So I thought it would be fun for me to listen to all of the solo Beatle releases from 1970, (45 years ago. A nice "big" number) along with Let It Be, and just write out my thoughts on each of the LPs.

I'll be listening to a total of six albums:

Let It Be (The Beatles)
Sentimental Journey and Beaucoups of Blues (Ringo Starr)
McCartney (Paul McCartney)
All Things Must Pass (George Harrison)
Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon)

I hope to have this accomplished for my next posting. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

John Byrne's Superman

I've been on a massive graphic novel kick this year. Thus far I've read IDW's entire Ghostbusters run, Gotham by Gaslight, Thor (the one where he brings Asgard back from the dead), and the Green Lantern/Green Arrow Denny O'Neil run from the early 1970s which is a masterpiece.

Currently I'm on the hunt for the entire John Byrne 1980s Superman run. This is where Byrne completely reboots the character and does some absolutely revolutionary things with the character. One of the most significant changes Byrne does is make Clark Kent is the "real" person and Superman is the disguise.

I've read some reviews online that states this the definitive run on Superman. I for one cannot wait to read the entire run. There is a total of 8 volumes, I currently have 3 purchased.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First Look at the Supergirl TV Show

www.wikipedia.org
It is a well known fact that I love superheroes. Always have, more than likely always will. With that being said, it is safe to say that we are currently in a golden age of superhero live action television shows. From The Flash to Arrow to Daredevil, they are all unique and incredibly enjoyable.

The number of superhero programs will expand in the 2015-2016 season, as CBS enters the superhero fray with Supergirl, and earlier today we got our first sneak peak with a 6 plus minute trailer of Supergirl. (Which is awesome. Kidos to CBS for putting the footage online.)

I am really excited for Supergirl for a number of reasons.

1. It's being produced by the team of Greg Berlanti, Allison Adler, and Andrew Kreisberg. The same great team that has brought Arrow, The Flash, and the forthcoming Legends of Tomorrow to the small screen. That alone is enough for me to check the show out.

2. A superhero for women. For too long, the superhero genre has been dominated by the guys. It's long overdue that a female superhero is presented to the public so that young female fans can have a hero that they can relate to. And the best part, the show creators are not simply making Supergirl an overtly sexualized object. Based on the footage in the extended trailer, they are presenting her as a human being, and relatable.

3. It's bright and fun. A long held complaint against DC films and TV is that they are too dark, humorless, and gritty. Well Supergirl doesn't look like it will have that problem. Supergirl appears to be is bright, humorous, full of cool action sequences, and sprinkled with a little bit of that old Superman mythos.

4. It's another superhero show. It doesn't matter if it is Marvel or DC, it's all superheros. So in my book, it's all good.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Binge Watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

So over the past two months or so, I've been binge watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I know what you are thinking, another Star Trek nerd on the Internet talking about it. Well yes and no. When I was little, I used to love watching the Star Trek movies, but I never really got into the TV shows until I watched them on Netflix. (I watched Star Trek: Next Generation about a year and a half ago. Awesome show by the way.)

I find myself really enjoying how Deep Space Nine is a character study in space. You see how these characters evolve with one another. One season a set of characters distrust one another. In the next season they are uneasy allies, and then finally in the next season they are friends. I feel like it does an excellent job mirroring everyday life. And for me, this is what makes the program relatable.

Even with the series taking place in space, it is the characters that ground it, and make it very relatable. And you don't even have to be a fan of science fiction to enjoy it. It's just a fun television show. And in an era where TV takes itself very seriously, it's enjoyable to watch a show that takes itself seriously, but can have a little fun.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Another Wrestling Post

www.amazon.com
I've written a lot about professional wrestling over the pass month. It began with my WrestleMania predictions, and was soon followed up with why 1992 was a great year for the WWE. I would like to end the month of April with one more wrestling post.

I'm currently reading The Best in the World: At What I have No Idea. This is the third installment of in the autobiographical tales of Y2J Chris Jericho. Jericho's way of telling a story immediately hooked me when I read his first book A Lion's Tale. He has a great way of putting you right in the middle of the story.

Thus far it's been a quick read for me, and I got about 100 pages left to go. One of the aspects I really respect about Jericho is his multitasking skills. In addition to be an other he is: a professional wrestling (obviously), frontman to the metal band FOZZY, podcast host, former contestant on Dancing with the Stars, and star of Sharknado 3. With all of this going on, he was able to write an funny, thoughtful, and interesting tale.

I recommend anyone to read his books, if you are semi-interesting in the world of professional wrestling.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The New Ringo Starr Album

This past week the legendary Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. He was the final Beatle to be inducted as a solo artist. So now all the members of the Beatles are in the hall of fame twice. Once as a member of The Beatles, and then as individual solo artist.

I am beyond thrilled that Ringo finally receive this high award. For the longest time, I have felt that his solo career has been grossly overlooked. (About two years ago, I wrote a posting discussing this very subject matter. You can find that post here.) Ringo has some absolute hidden gem albums such as: Ringorama, Beaucoup of Blues, and his latest album Postcards From Paradise.

His new album, Postcards from Paradise is particularly ear grabbing. It is home to some fiercely catchy songs such as Rory and the Hurricanes, Bridges, and the title track Postcards From Paradise. Once again Ringo delivers an album that radiates positivity, terrific drumming, and his trademark wit. I highly recommend checking out Postcards From Paradise. It is a great introductory album to Ringo's solo career.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Craziness of the Past Two Weeks

I knew last week was going to be busy, but I had no idea it would be as crazy busy as it was. At the radio station I oversee, we installed a brand new on-air automation and scheduling system. It's a computer system that picks what music gets played on the air, and then plays it on the air.

We ended up going with the WideOrbit automation system and MusicMaster on-air scheduling. Both systems are very impressive, and is taking me a while to get used to it. When you work with one particular automation system for 13 years, it was a little foolish of myself to think I would master these two new programs over night.

Luckily the growing pains are beginning to end, and the student staff is taking to the new system very well. I promise next week, I'll return with a more "exciting" posting.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The WWF in 1992

Well, this past weekend was WrestleMania 31. And man was it a great 'Mania. It was stacked full of excellent matches, surprise victories, guest appearances, and The Undertaker going 22-1 at WrestleMania. Overall, it reminded me how much fun wrestling can be. It also reminded me of what wrestling was like when I first became a fan in late 1991/early 1992.

Hulk Hogan was the WWF champion, Bret Hart won the Intercontinental title for the first time, the "rookie" of the year for the WWF was the Undertaker, and Ric Flair just debuted as the "real" world's heavyweight champion. With all of this in mind, I thought it would be fun to go back and watch the PPVs from that year. Let me tell you, 1992 was a tremendous year for the WWF. Here is a very brief recap of 1992 WWF.

Royal Rumble:


- Ric Flair enters #3 in the Royal Rumble and goes onto to win the match and the vacanted WWF heavyweight championship. The lowest entry to win at that point. Plus we got, what can be considered the greatest promo of all time.

-Roddy Piper defeated the Mountie to win his first and only Intercontinental championship.

- The Macho Man Randy Savage is reinstated by President Jack Tunney after a dastardly attack by Jake "The Snake" Roberts, in which Roberts unleashes his king cobra on the Macho Man. The intensity of the rival is unparalleled.

WrestleMania 8:


-Ric Flair and Macho Man Randy Savage have an unbelievable match for the WWF championship, in which Macho Man wins the title.

-Shawn Michaels competes in his first WrestleMania as a singles wrestler. This sets the stage for him becoming known as Mr. WrestleMania

-Bret the Hitman Hart defeats Roddy Piper for the Intercontinental championship in one of Piper's best matches. 

- The Undertaker, who recently became a babyface, easily defeats Jake Roberts. This is the beginning of the Undertaker.

-Hulk Hogan retires for the first time and the Ultimate Warrior returns.

SummerSlam 92:


- Takes place in front of 80,000 people in Wembley Stadium.

-The British Bulldog defeats Bret Hart for the Intercontinental championship belt in an absolute classic.

-Macho Man and the Ultimate Warrior have a very good match for the WWF Title.

-The Undertaker makes the first, of what would become many more, memorable entrances.

Survivor Series 92


- The brand new WWF champion Bret The Hitman Hart defends the WWF championship against the brand new Intercontinental champion Shawn Michaels. This is their first headlining PPV against one another, and is a hidden gem of a match.

-The Underaker Kamala casket match. No more needs to be said.

- Mr. Perfect joins forces with Macho Man Randy Savage to take on Ric Flair and Razor Ramon.

And the icing on the cake, majority of these PPVs are called by the great Gorilla Monsoon and the one and only Bobby The Brain Heenan. 

So in short, the WWF/WWE in 1992 has some fantastic wrestling, fun story lines, and the Brain. If you are a wrestling fan, what more do you need?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WrestleMania Week

If you are a wrestling fan, this week is the best week of the year. WrestleMania week. This year's WrestleMania features the debut of the one and only Sting, the return of The Undertaker, and Roman Reigns challenging the beast incarnate known as Brock Lesnar.

Below are my predictions:



Roman Reigns defeats Brock Lesnar and becomes the WWE World Heavyweight Champion

Sting defeats Triple H

John Cena defeats Rusev and becomes the United States Champion

Daniel Bryan wins the 7 man Ladder Match and becomes the Intercontinental Champion

The Undertaker defeats Bray Wyatt

Seth Rollins defeats Randy Orton

Damien Sandown wins the Andre the Giant Battle Royal

AJ Lee and Paige defeat The Bella Twins

Cesaro and Tyson Kidd win the four corners tag team match and the WWE tag team championship

Plus how great is it the the Bushwackers are going into the Hall of Fall. 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

I am a child of the 1990s, and because of this I am a HUGE fan of Nirvana. In fact I feel that Nirvana and The Beatles are the most important musical acts of all time. When you look back at Nirvana's discography, they technically only released three albums. (Bleach, Nevermind, and In Utero. Their album Incesticide is nothing but B-sides and Unplugged is a live album.) Yet their impact on music is undeniable.

With Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, a public yearning to learn everything there is to know about him has evolved. He has become a mythical rock figure much like John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, or Elvis Presley.  Montage of Heck aims to change all of that. Produced by Cobain's daughter Francis Bean, Montage of Heck will show the very human side of this alternative icon.

The trailer for this new documentary was released last week, and after viewing it I was utterly speechless. Actually, I was very close to tears at its end. And this was just the trailer. It looks like Montage of Heck achieves its goal of showing the person that is Kurt Cobain. And I for one cannot wait to see it.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Look to the Cookie

This past weekend, March 6th - 9th, was the one year anniversary of my visit to New York City. To celebrate the occasion, I baked the cookie immortalized by Seinfeld. The black and white cookie. I always try to be humble when I cook. I don't want to come across as arrogant with my cooking. But I must this is one of those rare occasion that I will pat myself on the back. I hit a home run with these cookies. I put them right up there with my cinnamon rolls. Look to the cookie Eileen. Look to the cookie.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Punch Brothers and Season 6 of Community

The Riviera's Marquee for the Punch Brothers
Whoa!! That's the first word that comes to my mind after seeing the Punch Brothers live this past Saturday night at the Riviera Theater. For an hour and a half, the Punch Brothers delivered an energizing, toe tapping, hit featured set. Just a few observations from the show:

1) They sounded impeccable. Step One, buy one of their CDs. Step two, put CD into CD player. Step three, listen. (I'm old fashion. You can also create a Spotify playlist.) The way they sound on their albums is the way they sound live. I was simply blown away by how great they sounded. The levels between the microphones and the instruments were perfect. You heard every word spoken or sung, yet you also heard all of their instruments. It was amazing. Plus I was able to leave a show without any ringing in my ears. Always a plus.

2) Great stage presence. The hour and half set flew by. The band interacted very well with the audience. They talked, they joked, they danced, they did it all. You could really tell that the band was having a great time. And seeing that, only added to the fun that I had.

3) Great set. They played a lot from the new album, The Phosphorescent Blues, they did a cover of Radiohead's Kid A, and a nice set of classics. I felt like they covered a vast array of great music from their catalog.

I cannot recommend enough that you go and see the Punch Brothers live. They have now joined the club of Paul McCartney, Muse, William Elliott Whitmore, and St. Vincent. Which is every time they come to Chicago, I must see them perform.

Below is their set-list from Saturday night, if anyone wants to make a Spotify playlist, I highly encourage it.

Punch Brothers Set-list 2.28.15 at the Rivera Theater:
My Oh My
Boll Weevil
Watch 'at Breakdown
This Girl
Familiarity
Movement and Location
Passepied (Claude Debussy cover)
Another New World (Josh Ritter cover)
Through the Bottom of the Glass (The Seldom Scene)
I Blew it Off
Flippen (The Flip) (Vasen cover)
Rye Whiskey
The Auld Triangle (Brendan Behan cover)
Julep
Kid A (Radiohead cover)
Wayside/Back in Time (Gillian Welch cover)
Magnet

Encore:
New York City
Little Lights

Also earlier today, Yahoo released the trailer for Season 6 of Community. It is entitled:
Community: Age of Yahoo. It is magnificent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New William Elliott Whitmore!!!!!!

I am beyond excited right now!!! Earlier tonight, one of my top three favorite artists of all time William Elliott Whitmore, announced that his brand new album Radium Death will be released on March 31st.

This is his follow up to his 2011 album Field Songs and if the lead single Healing to Do is any indication, this will be a completely new sound for Whitmore. Which is incredibly exciting. I feel inspired when an artist takes a big risk. I respect the risk they take.

I am bummed though, because there are currently no Chicago dates listed for his tour. But that will hopefully change soon. If you have 3:29 to spare, give Healing to Do a listen to. I particularly love the organ, and the growl.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Looking for a Great Batman Detective Story

No caption needed. moviepilot.com
Over the past few years, I've become a HUGE fan of mysteries. It all started when I finally listened to my father, and read my first Sherlock Holmes story. Because of this, I am always on the outlook for great mysteries to read.

Because of this, I am on the look out for a great Batman mystery to read. After all, Batman is known as being a great detective. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Continuing My Folk Music Kick

Continuing on my folk music kick, I've begun listening to Nick Drake. Drake is an interesting person. He only released three albums: Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon. All of these releases were not successful at the time of their release. According to Wikipedia this was partly due to "Drake's reluctance to perform live, or be interviewed, contributed to his lack of commercial success."

Additionally there is no footage in existence of Drake performing live. I find this fact to be really amazing. It adds an unique element to the Drake legend. You are only present his audio recordings, and they alone can only speak for him. That's really incredible, and I feel enhances his music.

You could almost say that Drake was an "outsider" artist. Much in the vain of a Woodie Guthrie or a Henry Darger. There's a real sense of creating the art for the art's sake. If the public discovers it, ok. If not, well that's ok too.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Phosphorescent Blues

punchbrothers.com
As I am writing this blog post, I am listening to the new album by The Punch Brothers, "The Phosphorescent Blues". This is their 4th full length album. And I must admit I am surprise I am a such a huge fan of this band. Growing up, I was so adamantly against "country" music, or bluegrass/folk music. I really don't know why.

However I am so very glad that I got over it. The Punch Brothers have very quickly become one of my favorite bands. So much so that, before I see them live for the first time on February 28th, I went out and bought every piece of music they have released.

If you have never heard of The Punch Brothers, I highly recommend you check them out. On their Wikipedia page, they are described as: "bluegrass instrumentation and spontaneity in the strictures of modern classical". I for one could not say it better myself. There are so many layers to this band. If you aren't listening to them carefully, you could easily mistake their music as classical music only being played "folksy".

Not only that, the lead singer plays the mandolin. The mandolin!!! How cool is that. Below is the lead single off of The Phosphorescent Blues. It's entitled: "I Blew It Off".

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tonight is the Royal Rumble!!!

Tonight kicks off WrestleMania season! And WrestleMania season always begins with my favorite wrestling PPV outside of WrestleMania, The Royal Rumble. God the Rumble is fun to watch! From the surprise returns, to the quick eliminations, to the final two combatants, the Rumble has a little bit of everything in the storytelling department.

If there is any PPV that constantly delivers in fun and excitement, its the Royal Rumble. I for one will be sitting back with a bowl of popcorn screaming at my TV with pure childlike excitement. Below are some of my predictions for the 2015 Royal Rumble:

Winner: Daniel Bryan
Surprise Entries: Randy Orton, Jake the Snake Roberts, and 1-2-3 Kid
Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns
Final Four: Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, and Rusev

Finishing the IDW Ghostbuster Run

A few weeks ago, I wrote about IDW's Ghostbusters comic series. Well I finished the complete series a few days ago, and let me just say, WHOA!!! For anyone who is a Ghostbusters fan and has patiently been waiting for Ghostbusters 3, please do your self a favor and buy this series. This series is like a third film.

I cannot remember a comic series that has been this enjoyable to read. It's funny, action packed, and most importantly is an absolutely fantastic story. If you are just a fan of the Ghostbusters' movies, there is something here for you. If you are just a fan of either The Real Ghostbusters or the Extreme Ghostbusters cartoons, there is something there for you too. I can honestly say, I am looking forward to re-reading this series again.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s

I'm currently reading a biography on Sir Paul McCartney entitled: Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s by Tom Doyle. The book documents Sir Paul from right after The Beatles broke up, to his early solo career, to the formation of Wings, and finally up to the assignation of John Lennon.

I've always been curious about the individual members of the Beatles right after the break up. Plus for me at least, Paul McCartney has always been somewhat of a mystery. You never really "know" him by listening to his music. I feel the complete opposite about John Lennon and George Harrison. Both of their music is very personal, and the listener almost develops a personal connection to them by listening to their music. With Paul's music however, it is much light heart and accessible.

One of the great joys of reading this book is how it humanizes him. I feel like I am meeting Paul McCartney the person for the first time. In fact it has cause me to go back and re-evaluate a lot of his solo music, and I'm discovering some very personal lyrics. Especially on his debut solo LP McCartney. I recommend this book for any music fan.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

IDW's Ghostbusters Series

My set of Ghostbusters' graphic novels.
For my first posting of 2015, I thought I would write about something that is near and dear to my heart. And that is the Ghostbusters. Since I was a little kid, the Ghostbusters have been one of my absolutely favorite things in the world. I still have all of my old Ghostbusters' toys in my basement. Plus I have the two movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, the complete series of The Real Ghostbusters on DVD, and the complete series of The Extreme Ghostbusters on VHS. (Recorded off of Chicago's very own WCIU channel 26, with all of the great commercials from 1997.)

This past Christmas I was lucky enough to received IDW's complete series by Erik Burnham on The Ghostbusters. The comic series ran from 2011 till 2014 and encompasses 9 graphic novel volumes. I must say they are OUTSTANDING!!! If you are a fan of the films, cartoon series, or both these are a must read. Burnham does a terrific job of honoring the great mythology of the characters by adding new layers of depth to them. He also expands on the Ghostbusters' legend by introducing new characters that the reader truly cares about.

Plus the Easter eggs!!! If you think the Marvel cinematic universe has Easter eggs, wait till you read this Ghostbusters series. It is filled with Easter eggs that will bring a smile to your face, without distracting you from the story. I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself laughing out loud when I notice one of these Easter eggs.

But I think what I love the most so far about this series (I'm only on volume 3) is that it is fun. The stories are serious when they need to be, but never lose their sense of humor. Much like the films. It truly has action, adventure, and comedy. So if you are tired of the serious, dark nature tone that some comics have embraced, then check out Ghostbusters. This series allows you to have fun!