Saturday, September 8, 2007


Wow, 300 posts in a mere nine months and change of blogging!  That's 33 posts a month, by my count.  It's a labor of love, though, which I actually do love...

Last night's R.E.O. Speedwagon/Kansas/.38 Special show might've been the swan song for our largest local outdoor concert venue, Sandstone (AKA "Verizon Wireless") Amphitheater in Bonner Springs, KS.  The Live Nation concert promoter outfit currently operates the place, but they are not renewing their agreement after this year, and it's quite possible the place may well close down for good.  I can promise you, I won't shed any tears over its demise if it does indeed bite the dust.

I've always hated this shithole.  First off, it's 30 miles from where I live, it's a pain in the ass to get to, and traffic is a total clusterfuck both before and after shows.  The place opened in 1984, and yet to this day, lawn-ticket people are still expected to park in a dusty gravel parking lot, while the reserved seat-ticket people get the cushy asphalt lot, naturally.  The sight lines are dreadful, the sound (especially on the lawn) is abysmal, the video screens are totally worthless until the sun goes down, and there's no protection from the sun at all during all-day concerts.  The rinky-dink stage is so small that Kiss couldn't even "fly" their trademark light-up logo signs—they had to place them on the stage floor itself, which looked quite bizarre.  And don't even get me started on the restrooms, which are numerous cuts below those found at old Texaco stations in the deep South.

They can bulldoze Sandstone for all I care, and I won't miss it.  Hopefully, this will mean more concerts at a far superior—albeit smaller—tdoor venue, the mighty Starlight Theater in Swope Park, which is a mere six miles from where I live...

Some folks are actually up in arms with our local soccer team, the Kansas City Wizards, for not providing any sort of refund for their upcoming home game vs. the L.A. Galaxy, that was supposed to feature their wounded overrated futbol idol David Beckham.  You see, the Wizzes did like all the other Major League Soccer franchises and decided to price-gouge their fans for the privilege of seeing this goomer in the flesh by charging $35-50 a ticket for this particular game, when tix are normally $16-20, as well as charging 10 Yankee dollars for parking when it's normally free for Wiz games.  Can you say "extortion"?  And the Wizards are steadfastly refusing to make good for the fans who bought tickets, even though Beckham will more than likely miss the game—not exactly brilliant P.R. for a team that's trying to get the city to build them their own new stadium.  As for you rubes who were dumb enough to buy those tickets, y'all screwed yourselves—get over it!

A.G.D., WEEK 2
Another Automatic Good Day, and another Notre Dame shellacking—bravo to Penn State for doing the honors this week!  A little history was made today in college football, as Notorious Dame and Michigan are both 0-2 at the same time for the first time ever in the recorded history of mankind.  As for the latter, grief counselors are in for a busy week in Ann Arbor...

Meantime, Mizzou is 2-0 after beating Ole Miss 38-25 on the road.  Would've been cool to actually watch the game on the tube, but for reasons that no one can fully explain, Big 12 football games—especially those involving Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State—are generally unavailable to viewers in this region.  Never mind the fact that anyone with cable can easily get virtually every Big 10 game here every weekend.  Poffeycock, I dare say!

"Slave"--ELTON JOHN (1972)  "I swear someday, I'm gonna burn the whorehouse to the ground."  This obscure EJ song from Honky Chateau always made me think he was singing "I'm gonna burn the horse to the ground", which prompted me to ask, "What's Elton (and/or Bernie) got against horses?"

Seems that "comedian" Eddie Griffin had the plug pulled on his performance this week at an event sponsored by Black Enterprise magazine for using the "N-word" (nose job? nefarious? needle-dick?).  I would submit that the real reason he was yanked from the show is because he's not terribly funny in the first place.  I don't care if he is from Kansas City—this guy is about as humorous as a colostomy bag.

Dig Me!

I know you've all been dying for a progress report on my "Big Dig" sewer drain project, so here it is!

 This pic is Phase I, featuring the rough outline of the hole to be dug, the supposed location of the drain clog (center) and my left foot.

Here is the result of my first hour's worth of work (or so). That shovel was retired afterward because it was about to fall apart.  Hell, I only paid six bucks for the damn thing at Big Lots anyway....

After putting my new $18 shovel with the red designer handle through its maiden voyage, this is two hours' worth of work...

Flash ahead to today, as I hit the 3.5 feet mark and uncovered the pipe in question.  I have my suspicions that the clog is actually another 3-4 feet from the joint in the pipe (in the direction of the top center of the photo).

Check out that bubblin' crude!  And we ain't talkin' Black Gold/Texas Tea, unfortunately.  That would be raw sewage that I tapped into after finding a crack on the side of the pipe and popping it open just a hair more.  At least I now know which direction the clog is located from this point (top center of photo).  And let me tell you, my friends, it's funkier than a James Brown record in this damn hole too!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ready For Some Foosball!!

Ahhh, finally—NFL games that count again!  Although the football purist in me prefers that the regular season begin on a Sunday, it still feels good that the wait is over and we're finally playing for keeps again.  Some things never change, either, as Peyton Manning has already connected with Marvin Harrison for a TD in tonight's game in Indy.

It was very cool to see the sea of people in downtown Indianapolis before the game tonight too, as Kelly Clarkson performed (she's cuter than I intially realized).  For those of you who've never been there, Indy is a great town with a very underrated downtown area.  Victory Field is one of the better parks in Minor League baseball, Conseco Fieldhouse is a great new "retro" indoor arena, and the Colts' new joint, Lucas Oil Field (Oil Field—get it?), opens next year with its retractable roof and all, and it could conceivably host the first outdoor NCAA Final Four basketball tournament someday.  And oh yeah, there's this famous race track in town too—there's much more to Indiana than just John Cougar Summercamp.

Speaking of Mr. Cougar, Mellencamp also performed in tonight's pregame ceremony.  As I type (early in the second quarter), we're already on the third playing of Mellencamp's "This Is Our Country" Chevrolet commercial.  I've always despised this hick Springsteen wanna-be, but the ONE thing I always respected him for was his refusal to accept corporate sponsorship for his concert tours (not unlike fellow hard-ass Neil Young).  Until last year, that is, when Big John started shilling for Chevy.  Douche-bag...

[Update:  We're now on the fourth spin of "This Is Our Country" already, and we're still early in the 2nd quarter.  Ain't that America, indeed...]

As the other "Big John" babbles away during the game, I'd like to once again promote my own little invention, the patented John Madden Drinking Game.  It's so damn simple, even Madden himself could successfully play!  During any football telecast that Big John presides over, simply do the following with your favorite alcoholic beverage whenever Madden:

Utters the phrase "those types of things" or "those kinds of things" or makes a totally non-sensical remark—take one drink.
—Overstates the blatantly obvious—take two drinks.  [Example:  "When the referee throws that yellow flag, that means he's going to call a penalty."]
—Starts talking about spit, slobber, sweat, blood, drool, vomit, pus, or any other bodily fluids when describing a given play or player—take three drinks.
—Glowingly praises Brett Favre for anything (regardless of whether the Packers are actually playing in the game you're watching or not)—take four drinks.
—Draws crappy pictures on the telestrator—take five drinks.

If you play properly, you'll be sloshed by halftime—just please don't drive anything other than a golf ball afterwards!

Totally different topic here, but my dear friend Tom seemed a tad distraught when he sent me the link to the latest Paul McCartney song/video.  His e-mail was titled "OMG", and in his text, he wrote "this is CRAP".  Hate to say it, but I'm afraid he's absolutely right.  While this one isn't quite as heinous as "Ebony And Ivory", "Say, Say, Say" or "No More Horny—er uh—Lonely Nights", one wishes that "Nod Your Head" did not come from an ex-Beatle...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's A Blog's Life

The Dave Matthews Bland was in town here last week, and their fearless leader took the opportunity to salute his adoring fans.  I don't know how these guys manage to sell out their shows every time they blow through town, but they must be doing something right.  I personally think they're the most overrated "soft Rock" band this side of Hootie & The Blowfish, but that's just me...

I've made my annual pigskin prognostications for 2007, and it'll be the Saints and the Patriots in the Super Bowl, with the P-Men prevailing in Arizona.  I have San Diego, Pittsburgh, Indy and the Pats as AFC division winners, with Baltimore and the Jets as wildcards, and in the NFC it'll be Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans and Dallas winning divisions and Frisco and the Eagles as the wildcards.  El Chiefos will not even sniff the playoffs this year, unfortunately, and will once again be referred to as the "Chefs" until further notice.

Okay, tell me again why George Steinbrenner is paying Roger Clemens all those zillions of dollars this season?  For a 6-6 record with a 4.5-something ERA and a wounded arm on an aging pitcher who doesn't know when to quit?  And guess what?  The Yankees ain't gonna catch the Red Sox, either.  I don't even think they'll win the wildcard in the A.L., even though they're ahead in that race—for the moment.  Go Mariners!!

Was rather amused by the ad in the paper this week for one of our local dinner theaters, where Father Mulcahy from "M*A*S*H", William Christopher, is currently starring in a play, and get this—he even plays a clergyman!  To each his/her own, but I can't quite fathom why anyone would pay upwards of 50-60 bucks a ticket to see peripheral TV people like him (or Larry from "Three's Company" or the mother from "ALF", etc.) in these cheesy productions when one can just as easily see them nightly on the tube for free...

"Sixteen Candles"--THE CRESTS (1958)  "You're the prettiest, loveliest girl I've ever seen."  I used to think singer Johnny Maestro was contradicting himself by singing, "You're the prettiest, ugliest girl..."  A little trivia for you: Johnny Maestro was also the lead singer for the one-hit wonder group Brooklyn Bridge, who scored with "Worst That Could Happen" in early 1969.  Dreadful song, IMO, but a hit all the same...

In a sure sign of the apocalypse, I was less-than-amused to learn that this Neanderthal Steve the bouncer from the "Jerry Springer Show" will have his very own talk show this fall. It figures.  This big oaf probably endorses his paychecks with an "X", yet he's going to be dispensing his sage advice to his viewers?  Just kill me now...

I caught Dirty Dancing on the tube over the long weekend, and was a tad rattled to realize that freakin' movie is 20 years old already!  It's one of the better chick-flicks of all-time, although I never quite reconciled its anachronism of being set in 1963, yet featuring 1980's music throughout, and even '80s dancewear at times.  Jennifer Grey was a real cutie in this one, though, and I've never forgiven her for getting that nose job later on—I liked her the way she was!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Have Mercy!

Well folks, what started the week of the Super Bowl—tracking A-Z by group/artist through my CD collection—finally reached the nether end of the alphabet this week with that "Little Ol' Band From Texas", ZZ Top.  Apart from Kiss, Van Halen and Ted Nugent (the latter mostly as an opening act), I've seen these guys live in concert more than anyone else, and they are one of my favorite bands on earth in this hemisphere.  The (Very Right) Rev. Billy Gibbons—a Houston native—was lead guitarist for a psychedelic '60s band called the Moving Sidewalks, who did a bizarre cover of The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand", among other things.  Bassist Joe "Dusty" Hill and drummer Frank Beard (both Dallas natives) were in a band called the American Blues and eventually hooked up with Gibbons to form their own blues-based power trio in the tradition of bands like Cream.  Their first album, cleverly titled ZZ Top's First Album, was released in 1970 on London Records (known mostly for its stable of British artists) to little fanfare.  Their second LP, 1972's Rio Grande Mud, received a similar reception, but it was 1973's Tres Hombres that really put the band on the map with classics like "Waitin' For The Bus"/"Jesus Just Left Chicago", "Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers" and the John Lee Hooker-influenced "La Grange". Haw-haw-haw-haw, indeed!

ZZ Top's 1975 release, Fandango! was unique for featuring a live side (recorded at The Warehouse in The Big Easy), along with a studio side, which included one of my all-time ZZ faves "Mexican Blackbird", as well as killer cuts like "Heard It On The X" and their most famous song, "Tush".  The year 1976 brought about the LP Tejas, which carried on the ZZ tradition with tunes like "It's Only Love", "Ten Gallon Man", and "Arrested For Driving While Blind".  The Bicentennial also brought about the legendary "World Wide Texas Tour", featuring a huge Texas-shaped stage and even more critters than Elly May Clampett could possibly tame—everything from steers and buzzards to rattlesnakes.  Too bad I was too young to do concerts during that time—I'd love to have seen that spectacle, but it would be another five years before my first ZZ Top show.

And then there was silence from ZZ Top—for over three years.  The band unintentionally took three years off from touring and recording—a risky maneuver in the music biz, to be sure—yet they somehow re-emerged on a new label in late '79 (Warner Bros.) with one of their finest albums, Degüello, which featured "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide", "I Thank You" (a remake of the Sam & Dave classic), "Manic Mechanic" and that venerable tribute to inexpensive eyewear, "Cheap Sunglasses".  A couple years later, El Loco came out, featuring a huge favorite of mine, "Tube Snake Boogie", as well as "Pearl Necklace", "Don't Tease Me" and "Party On The Patio".  As great as the album was, the accompanying tour was even better as I attended my first ZZ Top concert on August 13, 1981 at Kemper Arena (with Loverboy opening), and I was totally blown away by how much rhythmic noise three guys in coveralls could make when "Waitin' For The Bus" nearly rattled the (brand new) roof off Kemper Arena.  Oddly enough, up to that point ZZ Top had never done videos for any of their stuff...

...until 1983 when their classic LP Eliminator came out.  "Gimme All Your Lovin'", "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs" comprised the video trilogy featuring those bearded nomads with cosmic key chains and those chicks in the '32 Ford Coupe.  That album also featured a few other favorites of mine, like "Got Me Under Pressure", "I Got The Six", "Bad Girl", "If I Could Only Flag Her Down" and "Dirty Dog".  For their next album, 1985's Afterburner, the '32 Ford morphed into the Space Shuttle Eliminator in the videos for "Sleeping Bag", "Stages" and "Rough Boy".  The album featured other dandy tracks like "Woke Up With Wood", "Can't Stop Rockin'" and "Delirious", too.  After another lengthy layoff—nearly four years, this time—ZZ Top released Recycler in 1990.  Awesome concert tour (which I took in twice) for only a half-decent album, although it did have standout tracks like "Give It Up", "Burger Man" and "My Head's In Mississippi".  At this point, the ZZ Top I know and love ceased to be...

...and they were replaced by this half-assed clone of a band that looks like ZZ Top, but merely complacently plays the same bland songs on all their new albums ad nauseam, beginning with 1994's Antenna on RCA Records, continuing with Rhythmeen and XXX, to the point where I can't tell one backing track from another.  And with lame subject matter like "Girl In A T-Shirt", "Pincushion", "Bang Bang My Shang-A-Lang" (wasn't that an Archies song?!?), "Zipper Job" and "Sinpusher", et al, it's like someone came along and stole the sense of humor and witty songwriting right out from under this once-mighty band's collective noses.  Not unlike Van Halen, this band hasn't been relevant since the early '90s, and that's a dirty shame...

Another thing that's always troubled me about this band is they've never done a live album or live video (apart from the live side of Fandango!, anyway) and ZZ Top is far too good a live act to not show off.  They made two appearances on "King Biscuit Flower Hour" back in the early '80s that were great, and one of those is now available on-line at the KBFH website, and the recent re-issues of Tres Hombres and Fandango! have some live bonus cuts as well, but that's about it.  Unless you go the bootleg route like I did a few years ago, and I highly recommend the CD Jesus Left Chicago (sic) from the Afterburner tour.  It's a little raggedy in places, but for a bootleg, the sound quality is surprisingly good overall.

My All-Time ZZ Top 20
20) "I Got The Six" (1983)  I'll give you three guesses what goes with the six...
19) "Got Me Under Pressure" (1983)  Another Eliminator track that's often a ZZ concert opener. Billy G. sings it on record, but Dusty usually sings it live...
18) "Cheap Sunglasses" (1979)  Great Album Rock radio track that's even better live in concert with the lazers and such.
17) "Dirty Dog" (1983)  Another Eliminator tune, featuring the classic line, "Your problem's cured with a dollar bill/And if it won't, I know a flea collar will..."
16) "I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide" (1979)  Degüello classic all about being content (as one with a New York brim and a gold tooth displayed could possibly be...)
15) "Manic Mechanic" (1979)  Another Degüello classic, and ZZ's answer to Bruce Springsteen's "Racing In The Streets".  "Have mercy, Miss Percy," indeed...
14) "Can’t Stop Rockin’" (1985)  Dusty Hill screamer from Afterburner that "really hits you like a shot on a dime."
13) "La Grange" (1973)  Greatest song in history about a whorehouse, but now I might be mistaken...
12) "Arrested For Driving While Blind" (1976)  Now politically-incorrect song which posed the burning question "How could anyone be so unkind—to arrest a man for driving while blind?"

11) "If I Could Only Flag Her Down" (1983)  Back to Eliminator again—I just love this funky little song, even if the lyrics don't make a whole lot of sense...
10) "Pearl Necklace" (1981)  Song about inexpensive jewelry all for a girl "as pure as the driven slush".  Pretty self-explanatory...
9) "Waitin’ For The Bus"/"Jesus Just Left Chicago" (1973)  The seque here was totally unintentional, but it's as if these two were all one song anyway.
8) "Delirious" (1985)  The other Dusty Hill screamer and closer for Afterburner, featuring a great final verse, "I'm overloaded and I saw the light/Decadence was on my mind/Everything was getting ridiculous—'til everybody got delirious!"
7) "Mexican Blackbird" (1975)  Another politically-incorrect classic, complete with the line "Her mama was Mexican and her Daddy was the Ace of Spades".
6) "Party On The Patio" (1981)  Underrated song all about a night of debauchery at an abandoned house in the neighborhood.
5) "Ten Foot Pole" (1981)  Another El Loco tune with rather indiscernible lyrics.  Anybody have a clue about the subtle hidden meaning therein?

4) [Tie]"Heard It On The X" (1975)/"Sharp Dressed Man" (1983)  The former is a tribute to legendary south-of-the-border radio station XERF, founded by a character named Doc Brinkley ("Dr. B" in the song) that was the one-time radio home to a cat named Wolfman Jack.  Killer riff there, too.  The latter is that famous ode to sartorial eloquence that apparently every girl's crazy 'bout.  I never tire of hearing this song, even though it gets played to death on the radio.
3) "My Head’s In Mississippi" (1990)  Easily the best track off the rather weak Recycler album all about a fairly memorable night in Memphis featuring some naked cowgirl dancing on the ceiling and an invisible 7-Eleven...
2) "Tube Snake Boogie" (1981)  Totally irresistible track off El Loco during which the listener is urged to blow their top. I always loved how during concerts, the roadies would lower maracas on ropes down to Billy and Dusty solely for the intro.
1) "Tush" (1975)  Song that features my favorite Rock 'N' Roll guitar riff in this world, ever.  Legend has it that Rev. Billy G. came up it with at a sound check in 1975.  Quite possibly Dusty Hill's finest vocal performance, too.

And oh wait, just 'cus I've reached the Z's in my CD collection, the trek ain't over just yet. There's still all those movie soundtracks and various artists compilations, not to mention all of my "little creations", which should keep me going until after the first of the year...