Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dismal content ahead.

As the year comes to a close, I have been trying to come up with a list in my head of the best albums of 2010. The hard part was trying to come up with 10 good albums, which I have fallen short. This has been the worst year for music I have ever seen. However, 2011 is shaping up to be a good year for music with anticipated releases from Cake and Radiohead, as well as others.

So, for the benefit of those who humor me by reading these random brain dumps, here is a list of pretty much all the albums I could think of this year that were good. (In no particular order due to the fact that I have not the motivation to organize this list, and also, top 10 lists are kind of lame if it isn't David Letterman doing them).

1. American VI - Ain't No Grave - Johnny Cash -

2. West Coast Seattle Boy - Jimi Hendrix

3. Brothers - The Black Keys

4. Mojo - Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

5. Band of Joy - Robert Plant

6. Emotion and Commotion - Jeff Beck

7. Thank You Mr. Churchill - Peter Frampton

8. Brian Wilson Imagines Gershwin - Brian Wilson

9. You Are Not Alone - Mavis Staples

10. Vacant.

This year was great for archival releases (Cash, Hendrix), as well as releases from the reliable (Beck, Frampton, Plant, Keys, Petty, Staples), and musical genius, Brian Wilson.

Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and that Beiber kid should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lyrical poetry brought to you via copy and paste

I started writing this little faux-folk ditty about a year ago. Unfortunately, I lost the original lyrics, so this is a remake. Basically, it's a song satirizing local music scenes, and the hanger-ons who serve no purpose but to be lampooned and/or lambasted by me.

Hanger-On Blues by Mark S. Johnson (the italicized explanation version)

Re-written on 4-24-10, 4-25-10 edited for political-incorrectness on 11-30-10


Hanger-on’s, they ain’t too funny

Hanger-on’s they cost too much money

Hanger-on’s they are quite scary

Hanger-on’s they killed Jerry

(Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead)


Me and 3 of my buddies decided to start a rock band

We learned our favorite 5 songs (sort-of)

And while we played them out of tune and off key,

We just called it our own twist.

We got our first gig at the Polish Toboggan

And played our 5 songs, as well as 3 originals to an audience of 5

(4 males and 1 female for those keeping score at home)

We had their faux-intellectual wheels a turnin’.

By the end of the night, we had them in the palms of our hands, while they insisted that the drinks be on us.

We came back the same time the following week and played to our loyal 5 as well as 15 of their closest friends (12 guys, and 3 girls along with the 4 guys and 1 girl, which gets us 16 guys and 4 girls for those who are really interested in the male/female ratio of our fans).

At the end of the night, we spent our gig money to buy them drinks.

It was the least we could do with our O.G. fans.

We got a gig across town, and we (to the insistence of our 20 fans) borrowed our bass player’s mom’s minivan and gave them rides.

Again, it was the least we could do.

We owed them. They had been with us since day 1, and day 8 accordingly.

Weeks went by, and we got invited to Dingleberry fest. We hired the promoter to be in our band so we could headline the thing.

Then we took our 3 favorite cover/bar bands, formed sub-bands, and had a total of 15 bands playing the same 5 songs.

All 15 bands, consisting of the same 20 people played our 5 cover songs, and at the end of the night, we had a keyboard player named “contraceptive” who brought all 12 of his kids and their friends to the festival.

We had two backup singers named “Flower” and “Irony.” They were drunk and off-key, but they made us feel like we were a supergroup.

We also had two jaw-harp players. (we didn’t plug them in. they just stood there and posed).

(If you haven't heard "I Know You Rider" with an air jaw-harp solo, you ain't lived, my friends.)

And making up the front row was a “tobacco use only” pipe maker named Stink Pickle, and a guy with a Dashiki who was a self-proclaimed unique individual who went by the name Cliche. He liked all of the bands, no matter how much they sounded alike.

Well, the festival ended, and we all made 1 dollar each. The promoter spent 300 dollars on the festival, but we only sold two tickets, so the bands each kept a dollar, and the promoter took the remaining 5 and skipped town.

5 more festivals came and went to the same amount of success. Then we decided to make Dingleberry fest a “private” event.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t fool the people again, and nobody bought a ticket. We were certain the 250 dollar price would let people know how exclusive it was.

Then things really started getting bad.

Our guitar player, Vasectomy, had 12 baby mama’s and they started wanting their share of the band’s profits.

Irony and Flower (our backup singers) left to try their luck in a bar band three counties over.

Our two jaw harp players (who can’t be named due to contractual obligations) left to go tour with Sigfried and Roy.

Our bass player, Lil Pants Too Big, left to join a little-people version of a Vanilla Ice tribute band. (No dwarves or midgets were harmed, I promise).

Our keyboard player, contraceptive, wound up getting a large case of the crabs and opened a seafood restaurant. (What did you think I meant by crabs? Weirdo)

Our drummer looked in the mirror and realized he was white. He’s still in therapy.

As for me, I am left telling this story. I picked up the pieces and carried on.

I play solo shows now to an audience of 2 busboys, 1 cashier, and a bartender in between washing loads of dishes.

I can’t even get Cliche and Stink Pickle to come to my shows, much less return my phone calls. They are busy petitioning for a Milli Vanilli reunion. (No one has the heart to tell them that one of them has passed, nor do they know whether it's Milli or Vanilli who survives for that matter).

Nothing to show for it except for a chorus that goes as follows:

Hanger-on’s, they ain’t too funny

Hanger-on’s they cost too much money

Hanger-on’s they are quite scary

Hanger-on’s they killed Jerry

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Run. Johnson. Run.

After intense password resetting procedures, I have finally regained access to my blog. Now I pledge to update this blog at least once an every time I feel like it.

Today's subject will be commentary about my new found hobby of walk/jog/run (with the emphasis on walk, in hopes that the jog/run come in abundance later on).

As I have told people before, it is quite addicting. The outside air, the music playing through my ear buds, the almost euphoric feeling afterward of literally going the extra mile (or two or three), the feeling during the jogging part when I reach the point where I have tuned out everything except for my eyes and feet, and the feeling of accomplishment. It's so good it even leads me to writing run-on fragments.

(for all those flatulence joke enthusiasts, there's one coming up soon. For those who are offended, or have no time for such low-brow humor, my condolences).

But anyway, I try to mix things up a bit by going to different places, going out at different times, etc. while being in the company of "them." Who are "them?" "Them" is a group made up of people who are annoying, entertaining, socially unacceptable, or just funny to write about. The following is a list of the most common "them" I encounter at the track or trail.

1. The "try once and never do it again" jogger. -One who gets on a sudden fitness kick and quits after realizing it actually requires work. Example: I was out on the local walking track and saw some pot bellied gentleman pull up on a moped. He proceeded to peel off his shirt, throw it on the ground and start running. After about 1/32nd of a mile, he was in a hacking, wheezing fit. I don't think he even made it around the 1-mile track all the way.

2. The "choreographed routine walkers." - They are the ones who have this peculiar way they walk. These are usually women. When they walk, they have their elbows parallel to the ground, while bent at a 90 degree angle with their hands facing forward. When they walk, they tend to do sort of a hip-swivel thing. They usually walk with partners and make one-syllable words into two-syllable words (i.e. - there = they-ure, well = way-ull). Due to a habit of minding my own business and having ear buds in, I don't hear their conversation, but am prone to believing that they are gossiping about someone or something.

3. The "Bill Dautreve" - This is just one person. He's a dude at a trail that I walk on who tries to pick up women. He'll walk really slow and when he sees a woman walking or jogging along, he'll walk with her and try to start a conversation. It beats all I've ever seen (in an outside walking environment anyway). The women who are running, he tends to avoid.

4. The "smugs" - These are the ones who go to their local sporting goods store and spend way too much money on their hobby. They are the ones who look at us beginners with contempt as we walk on their tracks or trails. I mostly encounter these people when I'm at intermediate trails. I enjoy encountering them mainly because before I hit one of those trails, I consume a Clif bar which gives me the incredible ability to pass gas on command, which I like to use in the company of "smugs." Before you condemn me for such an action, I give them the benefit of the doubt and give them a nod before passing. If the nod is returned, they are safe. If the nod is met by a turn up of the nose, they face my immature wrath.

5. The "inconsiderate slobs" - These are the ones who walk their dogs while smoking cigarettes. They also let their dogs poop on the trail which is really annoying. I ignore them, but secretly complain about them in blogs.

These people make my time on the walking path more interesting, and I actually appreciate them (save the slobs). But with the weather getting cold, I don't see too many of "them." Either way, this walk/jog/run hobby is starting to look like a gateway to a membership to the Y

Monday, October 19, 2009

The boyhood dream III, the phantom semicolon

October 18, 2009 arrived. Kevin, Tyler and I were on our way to the Bobcats arena to see Metallica.

We made it to the venue early. We walked around the arena a couple of times and observed an interesting cast of characters along the way. Metallica brings out all kinds. It was quite a diverse crowd. In the end, the crowd wound up being a good crowd. Sitting in a crowd of over 20,000 people can have its ups and downs.

The first opening act played, and were mediocre. The interesting part of the show is that we were sitting right above where the bands come from the dressing room to the stage. We could also look in the one foot gaps between the rows of seats and see a glimpse of backstage. James Hetfield (Guitar, Vocals) of Metallica went out to watch the opening band. The whole "WOW, MY HERO IS ABOUT 20 FEET AWAY FROM ME" feeling didn't get past me. However, when I saw people crowding by yelling for him, I felt kind of bad for him. He wasn't bothered though. He had them tuned out (can you blame him?). He was enjoying himself. He was playing air-guitar, and air-drums. Sometimes both at the same time. To quote Tyler, "It's ironic that he's the guy you wouldn't want to sit next to at a Metallica concert."

The second band was awful, and I will say no more than that.

I can't remember a longer intermission.

The lights go down, and Metallica hit the stage. It seems like two hours between the two. Once they hit the stage, I went back to being 12 years old. New stuff, old stuff, pyros, a light show, the light rigs were set up to look like the album cover of their new album, and they raise and lower, Lars has ADD it seems. He finishes a song, runs around the stage, the stage is in the center with microphones placed around the edges so the band can play straight to different sections while the drum set slowly rotates to do a 360 during the course of the show. An encore of songs from their very first albums. THE FOUR HORSEMEN, 18 songs from 7 albums.

Metallica has really gotten it together. As loud and aggressive of a show, the stage banter was in such a positive manner. James was talking how great it is to be alive, got a show of hands of the first timers at a Metallica show and welcomed them to the family, thanked the fans for getting them through. I couldn't believe how much positive energy was flowing off the stage. Especially for a Metallica concert. AND IT WASN'T A BAD THING!

I had made the mistake of thinking that I had missed Metallica at their prime. I couldn't be farther from the truth. They sounded better than any live show I've ever heard on CD or seen on video. If they haven't yet hit their prime, I'm going to have to strap myself to the seat with a seat belt the next time I go.

A boyhood dream come true.

(This final installment was a bit rushed because it's almost time for House, and then the Chargers game. That, and I probably spent too long on the last 2. Oh well.)

A boyhood dream fulfilled part 2, the buildup, the delivery, and at least one subtle reference to something way off subject.

The following blog is commentary on being a Metallica fan from the years 1991-2008. They are the author's opinion. The author's opinion may differ from yours. If that's the case, don't worry about it! It's a good thing! Could you imagine how boring society would be if we all agreed with one another?

I was in the Navy, stationed in Hawaii when Load came out. I was all excited when I picked up my copy and and got back to the barracks to put it in my CD player. I opened it up, looked at the cover, and thought, "did I accidentally purchase on accident a copy of a CD from another band called Metallica who dresses in drag?" To make a long story short, my feelings were very much hurt when I found out that Metallica had put out a terrible album called Load. I looked on the other side of the cover thinking I would see "of crap" wrapped around the back.

To make things worse, they released "Re-Load" a year and a half later. Fool me twice? Not exactly. I to this day still haven't heard that album. Reading the tracklist took away the last shred of temptation to at least give it a try. I mean, "Unforgiven II?" Songs have sequels? Albums have sequels? Who are they trying to be, Meat Loaf?

Years went by, and Lars sued Napster to stop freeloaders (thanks, bro), The band filmed their therapy session and released it in theaters (shame? anyone? anything for a buck?). Then they put out another horrible sounding album that I am still guilty of giving a try (however, I didn't buy it. The buyer, whose name I won't mention didn't want me to give it back to him though). Wow. How can a band make such a pile of dung. No guitar solos! That, and a dominant snare drum made for a terrible self-indulgence piece for Lars Ulrich.


During the making of the previously mentioned album, Metallica decided to clean up their act. Alcohol, drugs, etc. were all gone. I was happy to see that. They looked healthier and seemed to have their personal lives straightened out. Looking at them as human beings (how many people actually do that?), I was happy for them.

2008 came and I heard that Metallica was coming out with a new album produced by Rick Rubin. Rick Rubin has produced some great albums, and helped revive Johnny Cash's career, among other things.

The album came out, and I reluctantly gave it a try. It had "Unforgiven III" on the track listing. Were they trying to form a trilogy of Unforgiven? That almost killed the deal. Boy, am I glad I didn't ignore that album.

I downloaded the mp3 version of the album , and put it on the iPod. As I was on my way home from the house of who now is my wife, I was stunned. IT IS A GREAT ALBUM! Even "Unforgiven III" is good! Metallica is back!

The Worldwide Magnetic tour began, and the first leg didn't come around the Carolinas. But one day in February of 2008, my dear friend Kevin said, "Metallica's coming to Charlotte in October, do you want to go?"

Tickets were bought, and we were going to see Metallica in October.

Irrelevant content: Jon, Kate, Octomom, and the parents of the balloon boy in Colorado should all have to go in a balloon to a faraway deserted island and start their own pretend "reality" show in which no news or any form of media are nowhere near.

A boyhood dream fulfilled part 1, Background

When I was around eight years old, I was introduced to a sound I had never heard before that flipped my life on its head. It was the sound of Black Sabbath.

(If you are one of those judgmental types that dismisses heavy metal music as "devil music," I suggest you read no further. You may find yourself disappointed to see that heavy metal music for the most part is not "of the devil.")

But anyway, I first heard Black Sabbath when the tag team duo, The Road Warriors would run out to the ring (back in the NWA days), and demolish their opponents at an average rate of 3.5 seconds. Then, after a bunch of talk about the entrance music, I was given the opportunity to listen to the song "Iron Man," and the rest of the Black Sabbath album (yep, vinyl (which still rules by the way)) Paranoid.

Before this, I was on a steady diet of classic country and bluegrass (which I still listen to today). Black Sabbath was a gateway to Metallica, who I started listening to when I was 10.

Garage Days, Re-Revisited was the first Metallica I heard. It was $5.98, and I was able to muster up enough willpower to save my 1 dollar a week allowance to purchase the cassette. My parents rewarded my perseverance by paying the sales tax, as well as the record store markup (stupid Record Bar at the mall... there are people who still work there from back when I was a kid, but I digress... but seriously, ambition?)

Anyway, it was worth every penny. And Justice For All came out on August 25, 1988, when I was 12. To this day, I can't think of anything I have listened to more. That cassette was played more times than (I tried to think of a witty remark here but failed). It was played every day straight for at least two years.

Well, the 90s, and the first part of the 2000s weren't quite good for my heroes in Metallica. If you play the self-titled (black album) Metallica released in 1991, you can hear foreshadowing of the Mediocretallica to Craptallica years to come.

(To be continued, but for those who can't obviously see where I'm going with this, scroll down to read the spoiler)

almost there

just about it

SPOILER: I went to see Metallica and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where are they now, part 1, The Encyclopedia Britannica Kid

Part 1, The encyclopedia Britannica kid.

The encyclopedia Britannica kid. These commercials aired in 1991, and were about this nerdy blond head kid with glasses and a mullet. Those around my age are sure to remember. If not, I have provided a link below:

http://www.retrojunk.com/details_commercial/21/ Watch the clip and get re-familiarized with this atrocity.

Doesn’t it still make your skin crawl? There is an earlier one that is even more annoying, but I wasn’t able to find it in time for my self-imposed deadline. (read: too lazy)

Well, he got a B+ for a report going long on the subject of space. He then turned around and made an A on a report on the human body. The irony of this will be discussed later on. Just notice the excitement he seems to have while flipping through the transparent pages of the human anatomy. But again, we’ll get back to that later.

After extended research, the guy’s name is Donovan Freberg. He was also voice over actor on “The Littles” from 1983-1984. He was born in 1971, so that made him 12 and 13 when he voiced a character on The Littles. “What’s the significance, I DON’T KNOW!” (To quote Pee Wee Herman when he had that meeting in his basement after his bike got stolen in Big Adventure).

However, he was 20 years old when the Encyclopedia Britannica commercials were made. In this commercial, he referred to himself as a kid, which leads me to believe that he was portraying a high school student. Notice the rudeness and arrogance of his character. All I know is that if I was 20 years old, and still in high school, I’d try to show a little more humility. That's being said without the whole suspension of disbelief mess.

In 1999, all of a sudden, his voice acting career came to an end.

Where is he now?

According to research, he is now a blogger. Not only is he a blogger, but apparently posts a lot of pornographic images on his blog. That strikes me as kind of creepy, but a little bit funny. DUE TO THE PORNOGRAPHIC CONTENT, I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE NEAR THAT BLOG, but if you think back to where I wrote about his excitement flipping through the transparent pictures of the human body, it probably led to a National Geographic infatuation, which led to a full on pornography obsession.

This leads me to believe that transparent photos of the human anatomy (even though they are drawings) are a gateway to being a perv. Parents must supervise their children’s usage of the human anatomy section of any encyclopedia, and should take their child’s interest in a subscription to National Geographic magazine as a warning sign.

Honestly, who would have thought that Encyclopedias were a gateway?

19 years later, and not only is the Britannica kid still most likely annoying, but he’s a perv to boot.

Thank God Al Gore saved us from a lot of these commercials by inventing the Internet. Speaking of internet, my research came from Google, Yahoo, and (not taken too seriously) Wikipedia.

Run along now,