Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi...Masterpiece!

I just saw The Last Jedi and...I'm wore out.  I can't even go into spoiler-ific specifics because I'm still trying to process everything I just took in.  Emotions, man.  I don't like showing them in public, so I really had to bite my lip during this one (I did feel better that a guy next to me was sobbing near the end though).

I really don't know where J.J. Abrams goes from here with Episode 9 - that may be the greatest cliffhanger in this one!  Also, no offense to Abrams, but I want Rian Johnson to write and direct every Star Wars film from here on out (I'm beyond excited for his new Trilogy now!).

For me, nothing will ever top the original Star Wars - it's my earliest childhood memory (1977, Glenwood Theater!), and there's no topping that kind of magic.  I'm excited to say though, now, The Last Jedi, is my 2nd favorite Star Wars film - yes - to me it's better than The Empire Strikes Back.  The Last Jedi isn't quite the smooth poetry-in-motion that Empire was, but it does something even more incredible - it not only walks confidently in the footprints of the vast Star Wars "legend", but it raises that "legend" on to its shoulders and carries it to exciting new possibilities.

There are things I saw in this movie, that I just did...not...expect........especially from a middle chapter of a trilogy!

John Williams soundtrack is frickin' awesome(!) - much better than what was heard in The Force Awakens.  It started with the classic main The Force Awakens, the opening notes of the main theme were weak - they were missing the classic, beefy, brass, undertones that help the theme explode out of the speakers.  The beefy, brass, undertones were thankfully restored this time around!

Like I said, too much to process right now...I gotta see this again.

Mark Hamill deserves an Oscar for his performance - "Fuck you, Oscar Academy!", if you thumb your pretentious noses at him.

The Last Jedi is a "Masterpiece". Period.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Star Wars Rogue One: A lifelong Star Wars geek's dream come true

I just saw Star Wars: Rogue One today and I'm just beside myself with geeky glee!  I loved last year's Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which brought the fun back to Star Wars with it's mix of classic and new characters, but this new stand-alone film was truly made by Star Wars nerds for life-long Star Wars nerds like myself who grew up with, and loved, the Original Trilogy.  I can't believe some of the things I just saw in this movie!

I'm going to get spoilery, so if you haven't seen the movie yet - run away, far away, from this page!

Still here?  Ok, I warned you!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Renaissance - yet another example of great music from the 1970's

The easiest way for me to explain the band Renaissance is this: if the band Yes had an artsy sister, Renaissance would be her name.  Let me explain...

Both are considered (amazing) prog/symphonic/art rock bands who created some absolute epic pieces of music; both have amazing keyboard players (Yes primarily has heavy synthesizer work with classical piano sprinkled in; Renaissance primarily has heavy classical piano work with synthesizer sprinkled in); both prominently feature powerful and intricate bass playing; both bands keep the drum work in the shadows so to speak - meaning, there really aren't any memorable drum beats that pop out at you in either group's songs; Renaissance (with the exception of Prologue) utilize acoustic guitar on their albums for a softer sound, while Yes features a heavy dose of electric guitar (by the amazing Steve Howe) for a more aggressive sound; and for vocals, Yes features the male lead of Jon Anderson (great lyricist as well), while Renaissance features a female lead singer (the unbelievable Annie Haslam supplying the ear candy...I can't even put into proper words how great of a voice she has) which provides a naturally softer vibe to their songs - though still as powerful as any male lead.

The run of albums that Renaissance put out from 1972 - 1977 (5 Studio / 1 Live) are some of the best of any group, of any genre, during that time period - and that's saying something considering the amazing sounds being released by all artists during that time frame. 

Let's just go in order...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Sweet - amazing 70's Rock in all it's crazy glory!

Throughout 2014 and 2015, I was obsessed with the Electric Light Orchestra - I just couldn't go a day without listening to some of Jeff Lynne and Co.'s magical creations.  As the calendar was changing from 2015 to 2016, I kept hearing songs from a band called "Sweet" on two of my favorite satellite radio stations in the car - Classic Vinyl and 70's on 7.  They played a song called "Little Willy", and I thought - well, that was a catchy tune.  Then, I heard their two more well-known US hits, "Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox on the Run".  Again, I liked what I heard, but it still wasn't enough to make me go "Holy shit! I need to hear more!". 

However, I then heard their song from 1975 called "Action" - and, yes, the "Holy shit!" moment was had.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing - these guys sounded like a harder rocking version of Queen!  I do love me some crazily overdubbed vocal harmonies!

So, since the beginning of 2016, I moved to get my hands on everything I could from this band called "The Sweet" or "Sweet" (I really don't know what their official name is, so I just call them "The Sweet"...sounds more dramatic with the "The").  Also, before I go into my ramblings, run (don't walk!) to their official YouTube site - it's an absolute treasure trove of awesomeness!  They've recently put up a few videos from a live performance they did back in 1974 on the legendary German music show called Musikladen.  It'!  Their performance of a song called "No You Don't" is so kickass, I actually got mad at myself for living all these years and only now finding out about this band.

Ok, let my new-fanboy ramblings begin...

Monday, November 2, 2015

KC Royals are...



Hyperventilating - need paper bag!

UPDATE: 11-3-2015

A buddy of mine sent the picture below to me, and I thought it was the perfect retort to "Thor"'s tough guy talk during the Series.  I'll never get tired of seeing a knuckle dragger, who talks tough and acts intimidating, get put in their place.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

KC Royals do it again!

Another year, another Pennant for the Kansas City Royals!  Win or lose in the Series this year, they can now stand tall with (and perhaps above) the legendary teams from the late 70's thru early 80's.  Never thought I'd live to see the day.

But 'bout a World Series trophy this year?!

That is all...again.

*Passes out in puddle of joyful tears*...again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

29 long years, but worth the wait...


That is all.

*passes out in puddle of joyful tears*

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I just can't stop spinning the vinyl...

Man, I’m really enjoying my new vinyl setup.  Building upon my boring ramblings in the previous month’s post, I think I’m going to continue on with some more vinyl record goodness.  Over the course of the past month and a half or so, I’ve learned 3 things about myself:

  1. I really enjoy cleaning records in my SpinClean.  I can’t explain it really – I wash my car, my clothes, my dishes, I clean my house, I keep my yard tidy – and I hate doing every single one of those things.  Yet, cleaning records is enjoyable.  There’s just something about turning an old, dusty, smudgy record into a gleaming, grooved jewel; gently placing it on the turntable hoping for the best; and then hearing the sweet, fresh sounds fill the room.  It’s like I played a part in bringing it to life.  It’s like…I’m Clark Griswold standing atop my very own Family Truckster and softly, yet proudly, proclaiming - “50 yards!”
  2. I’ve still got a bit of a competitive streak in me.  I hate to lose as much as the next guy, but hey, at my age I’ve learned to accept my limitations.  However, after getting snaked in the closing seconds of a few Ebay auctions involving some choice classic rock records – ooooooooh shit-fire!…I ate lightning, and crapped thunder on the auctions that came after. I. Was. Not. Going. To. Lose. Again. *deep breath* *find happy place* - and I didn’t…not sure that was a good thing though.
  3. Remember what I just wrote in #2?  Yeah, I went a little overboard.  I mean, it wasn’t exactly Sherman’s fiery march on the South or anything, but I’ve had to push myself away from the record-buying table for a while…I like ramen noodles and all, but I don’t want to have to eat them exclusively for the next month or two.

So, I figured I would now do some mini-reviews on just a handful of the albums I’ve acquired so far. 

In my previous post, I mentioned the Black Sabbath and Queen collections – I’ve listened to them all now, and have even acquired some alternate Queen pieces to boot.  However, I think I’ll review all of those in a future post – it’ll be a doozy!  I’ll also include my somewhat frustrated feelings toward the Beatles albums I’ve acquired; as well as the happy, yet crazy, experiences with my Led Zeppelin acquisitions.  Speaking of Led Zeppelin, I’m happy to hear that a whole new round of re-mastered vinyl is coming out (fingers crossed the sound quality is kickass), because traversing through their original vinyl pressings jungle is just nutty – there are so many different pressings, and the sound quality varies depending on what pressing you have.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came along with the following info. – “Dude, the copy of Led Zeppelin IV you really want will have a “WF” code on the label, with the words “You’re surrounded” hand-etched in the deadwax.  If you play the album backwards at 45rpm and you start to smell peanut butter and hear a weasel fart, you’ll unlock the hidden 5.1 surround sound out of the record grooves!  Duuuuuuude, it’s the best version!”.  Yep, it’s that ridiculous.  Anyway, more of my Led Zeppelin adventures in a future post…

Now, the albums I’d like to talk about in this post are as follows:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I've just taken my first step into a larger vinyl record world...

Thine ears have heard the glory of the sound of music – no, I’m not referring to that old movie about the Von Trapp family *rolls eyes* - rather, good ol’ vinyl records. 

I love music…all kinds of re-energizes me.  Additionally, I would say about 95% or so of my favorite music was recorded during the pre-digital days, so I had been itching to go back and listen to vinyl records and their analog sound again.  There were two things holding me back though: 1) the vinyl records that I remembered hearing back in the day never really impressed me sound-wise because we never had a fancy sound system, plus I was too young to really appreciate good audio recordings anyway (I listened to crappy 8-tracks and cassettes for pete’s sake!) – and – 2) I’m rather frugal by nature, and the thought of buying new equipment and re-buying expensive albums I already owned on CD/mp3, made me a bit hesitant to say the least – though the collector in me had been wanting my favorite albums on vinyl anyway just to have.

Well, after feeling a bit down and stressed with life (why I get that way, I don’t know, I actually have a lot to be thankful for) I needed a bit of a pick-me-up.  So, I took the plunge and jumped (in a budget-friendly way) straight into the deep end of the vinyl pool.  I got a turntable, decent cart/needle, phono amp, SpinClean record cleaner, and a handful of new and old albums, and started my journey into a whole new/old world of sound.

And what an amazing new/old world it is!!!

As a frequent lurker on the various “audiophile” sites/forums, the two constant themes you hear in regards to vinyl’s superiority over the CD/mp3 format is: “warmth” and “dynamic range” of the soundscape.  As two examples in response to that I thought - “Well, I’m really happy with the sound quality of my Ozzy-era Black Sabbath Deluxe Edition/Remastered 2009 CD’s from the UK Sanctuary label, as well as my 2011 Remastered CD’s of the Queen albums from the 70’s…is a vinyl recording really better than those?”.  There is a fair amount of “vinyl snobbery” on those sites, so I had to separate the “wheat from the chaff”, so to speak, in the information I was taking in.  Anyway, as my first vinyl purchases, I went and bought all 8 of the Ozzy-era Black Sabbath albums that Rhino recently re-issued on 180 gram vinyl from a site called Acoustic Sounds.  These albums had received good reviews on those same audiophile sites; the original UK pressings, as much as I would love to have them, are a bit too pricey for me.  On Ebay, I was lucky to happen upon a set of original Canadian pressings of the Queen albums from the 70’s (News of the World wasn’t included though, dang it!) at a good price, so I went for it (also, the sound quality of the old Canadian pressings seem to be held in the same high regard as the old UK pressings).  After a cleaning in the ol’ Spin Clean record cleaner, they all looked fantastic.  So, how did these new/old vinyl albums sound?...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The magic of vintage Star Wars toys...

Grab a nice beverage, get cozy, and settle in for a post that meanders into odd places a bit more than I thought it would when I began writing it…
I really like documentaries.  I think I first became a fan of documentaries after seeing Ken Burns’ The Civil War many years ago (heck, I even bought the DVD set).  So, not only have I since watched everything I could get my hands on that Mr. Burns has done (thanks, Netflix, for helping me accomplish this!) but I also now love watching all sorts of things by other folks – there’s nothing like watching something that’s both entertaining and educational *cue a cheezy, old Saturday-morning “The More You Know” and “Knowledge is Power” moment*.  Honestly, if I were to ever meet Ken Burns, I’d probably transform from a calm-normal-dude to giggly-teenage-girl-meeting-some-lame-boy-band…I mean, c’mon, he made the fucking Dust Bowl interesting!  But I digress…

I’m a life-long Star Wars nerd.  My earliest childhood memory goes back to the day when I first saw Star Wars at the old Glenwood Theater here in town.  I don’t remember many details (mainly just R2-D2 and C-3PO walking through the desert, and the Jawa’s), but my mom tells me I sat still for the entire 2 hours (which apparently was a first for me), wide-eyed the whole time.  The following year, the amazing Star Wars universe that had only existed on screen and in storybook photos opened up and sucked me in as Kenner released toys(!) from the movie.  With these toys and my imagination, I could now re-create scenes from the movie and create all sorts of my own amazing adventures!
My first Star Wars toys were received on my 4th birthday.  Additionally, my baby-sitter was a wizard cake-maker, and for that birthday she created what is still my all-time favorite cake – a miniature R2-D2!!!  Check out two of my old photos from that glorious day many years ago (along with my added commentary):