Monday, December 31, 2007


I thankfully missed the first one when it balled theatres, and when I eventually did get around to seeing the thing it was like being whipped raw with a Nintendo controller; something you love most dearly being used to cause severe pain against your person. I was at work a few months ago when someone barked out: "Holy shit, have you guys seen the preview for the new Alien Versus Predator?" to which he was harrangued with a hurricane chorus of boos and fuck thats. He pressed, and we eventually caved and summoned Youtube and to the entire test team's mutual surprise it looked pretty good. It was basically 2 minutes of people dying, and it seemed that they finally figured out that the humanity's struggle in the midst of the opposing alien forces was not interesting in the least, and that humans should pretty much just get murdered for 90 minutes. Make the fans happy. Well, they didn't quite get there, but it was a hell of a lot closer than the first movie...


When I heard that Richard Matheson's short story was being chopped, blended, and vomited into a movie spiced with a big budget, my immediate reaction was absolute euphoria. I'll save the details for later, but simply put I Am Legend is hands down the best vampire story ever committed to paper. It doesn't have the legacy of the uber vampire champions like Nosferatu and Dracula, but at face value it is brutal and chilling, and the concept it presents at the story's conclusion is completely original to the genre. Fucking read it, you will hail me with praise. When I found out that none other than the Fresh Prince, Will Smith, would be cast as Robert Neville, my skepticism swelled but I held fast and waited patiently beneath the information spout, my mouth open, ready to digest whatever bullshit they were about to pour out. "Welcome 'uh' urf, bitch!" True anger seeped freely once I found out it was not going be a vampire movie, but that the enemies were actually going to be rabid, infected, plague victims that turn into angry, screeching, soccer hooligans. I unleashed angry jerk and condemned the movie to Hollywood self stimulation. I actually had every intention of boycotting the movie all together, until Maria said "I feel like watching I am Legend" and I said ".....Ok." So, while they pretty much swatted away potential perfection by ignoring everything that made the book a monumental chapter in vampire lore, the movie was actually pretty painless. Actually, it was awesome...

  • AVP wastes no time whatsoever in stacking the body count highly in it's favor, farting out a paper thin plot of a crashed Predator ship that happened to be experimenting on aliens and face huggers, creating an alien/predator hybrid thing and then unleashing them on earth to the collective shagrin of mankind. Predator arrives to investigate his comrade's distress call, sees that the aliens are loose and eating whinos in the sewer, and therefore with some mysterious sense of cosmic justice decides that they need to be hunted and killed. We are not privy to why this predator feels the need to throw man-kind a bone, and it's pretty inconsistent for his character considering Predator and Predator 2 were both spent annihilating the human race for sport. I mean, dude is called Predator, not Gracious Savior. But his actual 'saving grace' is that in his efforts to knock out the invading aliens, he invariably destroys any people that get in his way like shooing flies. The aliens maintain quality kill numbers by doing their thing and pretty much eating and/or impregnating every person they come across. Combine this with the fact that Predator is also killing aliens in addition to people, and the body count is enough that just about every scene involves events that include or lead up to the death of something. The amount of on screen deaths definitely earned AVP honors and helped keep the shit fest of actors squashed into the back of your mind while relishing their merciless doom. Extra points for killing little kids, infants, and pregnant women, and they almost went over the top with an "everybody dies" ending, but they allowed a mother and daughter to escape last minute and so lost that particular medal, but more details on that later. (WINNER for blowing up the entire city!)
  • The actual body count in I Am Legend is hard to ascertain. The drive for the entire story is that the whole world is dead, so technically that's a pretty astronomical kill count, but all it is is a technicality and I prefer to judge a film's body count by the number of tangible deaths on screen. Implied kills will not suffice, they must be presented to the viewer so that we may rejoice. Following this guideline, IAL falls drastically behind AVP in the body count. Neville relies mainly on firearms as defense and most kill scenes involve one or two infected creatures that go down in a flash of quick editing and shakey cam. (Can we be done with shakey cam soon? Please?) The death rate rises towards the end of the film when Robert Neville has a brief road rage scene, offing a good amount of infect-oids with his SUV, and then again bumps when they invade his house and he sets off an arsenal of explosives to keep them out, but the slower pacing and actual suspense never really lets the movie come close to the carnage depicted in AVP.

  • Of course AVP is the obvious winner here, being that Predator is essentially an ornary intergalactic James Bond combining forces with the indifferent slaughter stylings of the rare-to-disappoint aliens. There is a wealthy color pallet with which to paint the pain picture in this film, from bionic shoulder lazers and crazy blades of all kinds, to acid blood and thrusting mouth-mouths. Predator excelled in kills, tearing the aliens into fillets and rampaging all over the humans. I gladly place the golden kill crown 'pon his dreds and drink to his continued savagery. Notable kills are the double lazer blast with which he simultaneously vaporizes two heads at once in a fountainous splash of wet brain, and the moment in which (to my delicious surprise) he dispaches the promiscuous blonde love interest (I expected her to survive! Eeeee! Delight!) with his boomerang-blade-ninja star thing, catching her mid run and pegging her into the wall. No slumps themselves, the aliens had a few shining moments to their credit, mostly involving the acid blood. One of the first kills in the movie shows a man lose his arm at the elbow to acid blood, and we are also treated to a visually thirst quenching close up of a douche bag teenager's face getting melted to the skull by spilled alien gore. Predator-Alien hybrid rages in an all new way, reproducing not through goopy eggs and facehuggers but via vomiting eggs down pregnant women's throats so that the baby aliens can eat her infant in the womb and then skuttle out of her swollen belly. Yeah that's right, pregnant women hosting multiple litters of chest bursting babies. AVP makes gore history with a sweeping shot of the maternity ward featuring dead mothers in all the beds, their pregnant stomachs torn open with volley ball sized holes. W00T! Chest bursting is not reserved for the preggers either, and amongst many others a 10 year old kid goes down in the first ten minutes of the movie with a baby alien exiting his stomach before he even grew pubes. AVP gets big points for trodding into the taboo territory of little kids, infants, and pregnant women. All they needed was to off a few down syndrome inflicted individuals and they pretty much would have trampled over the trifecto of most offensive demographics available in America. While AVP was the winner by a long shot here, some of the normal alien kills were a bit "stock", with the slow creep of the drooling alien, lips twitching, just to mouth-mouth into someone's face. I don't think we need anymore of that, or the leg-grab-pull-through-the-floor maneuver, and considering their capabilities there could have been much more creativity in each alien moment. (WINNER for face melt and pregnant chest bursts!)
  • In the interest of realism, most of IAL's deaths are not very over the top or "creative". Neville primarily uses firearms to drop the infected dogs and/or people, and since most deaths take place during frantic action sequences they are quick shots of the enemies going down while Neville is running or driving or yelling or something. During the road rage scene there are a few good shots of infected dudes getting slammed and tossed by the car, and a notable scene where he pins one against a lamp post. The best death occurs when the audience finds out that the infected things die in sunlight, when one leaps at Neville and goes out the window only to writhe and sizzle on the pavement. But really, there aren't any "shout an expletive out loud" quality deaths in IAL, but surprisingly it doesn't really detract anything from the film experience.

  • AVP wins almost too hard, if not by default, in the source material contest. It is pretty much text book alien and predator scenery, homage after homage, whorring itself to the genre fans in a fit of "remember this?"s. Aliens are seen crawling on ceilings, emerging from shadows, drooling right up next to scared women, all the familiar shit that we remember from the other 5 movies. Other than adding a few new gadgets to his arsenal, Predator does all the same moves we know him for as well, including the "turn invisible and flash your eyes before you impale someone" move, the "slow ascension from the water as the invisibility shorts out", "skin the dude and hang him from the branch", the "heal your injured leg in a tree with neon blue acid and then yell real loud because it hurts" scene, and of course the "slowly remove your face mask before the final fist fight against the alien boss". They even tossed in the "What the hell are you?" line into the script, although thank Zeus it's not actually predator who says it. I like my intergalactic sport hunters silent and sans catch phrases, thanks. As I left the theatre, I almost felt a little cheated because looking back on the movie it just seemed like their answer to the wash of anguish the first AVP caused was just to reshoot the classic moments of both films frame for frame in a new medium and tie it together with a sub par plot and call it good. (WINNER for unabashed regurgitation of the classic moments from both series.)
  • IAL strayed long and far from the original story written by Richard Matheson. Essentially, the only thing that remained intact was the concept of the last man on earth sharing the world with monsters. In the book Robert Neville is an alcoholic ex family man living in a non-descript residential suburb who spends his nights drinking out of pure fear as vampires try to break into his house and eat him. The females try to tempt him out by making sex noises because they know he's alone and sans lady, his neighbor he used to be friends with harrasses him endlessly trying to incite anger and get him outside, and he can hear them crawling all around the house while he drinks himself into a stupor. During the day he hunts them out of their hovels and kills them while they sleep, hoping that if he can kill them all then he'll finally be able to rest. The book follows very traditional vampire rules: they won't go near garlic, he kills them with wooden stakes and by dragging them into the sun, they are sentient, etc. The film doesn't incorporate any of this. Neville is a military bio chemist, he lives in New York, he is haunted by scores of savage humans infected by a virus he helped spread, and his source of anguish comes from trying to find a cure during the day and not getting eaten at night. I'm really sick of the "virus that turns people rabid and angry" plots that have been circulating since 28 Days Later, and it seemed a huge cop out when the original story worked so well with just vampires. They're vampires! No need to invent a scientific explanation, to create a plausible theory. Vampires are so engrained in horror culture they don't need plausibility, the audience will accept it and it saves the writer the challenge of making it really real. They suck blood, make new vampires, and eventually they'll run out of people: I am Legend the book! For me, the biggest bummer in this area was the implication of the movie's title. The words "I am legend" are essential to the book in a very clever way, and as it is the core plot twist in the final moments of the story. I won't spoil it here, because it's so good it's worth not spoiling on the off chance someone checks it out after reading this rant (God bless you, you tolerant tolerant soul). In the movie, all it means is that Robert Neville's blood is the cure for the virus, which he doesn't discover until his final moments. So he dies, but his blood contains the anti-body that cures the virus and allows humanity to start over. Yeah, I spoiled it, because when it unveils at the end of the movie, it's what you've been thinking for the last hour.

  • "Not bad, but not great." is what I would say for AVP's special effects. I love that they stayed pretty far away from relying on digital effects for that movie. The costumes in both the Alien and Predator series were pretty groundbreaking and believable for their time. They stay true to it and use digital effects as enhancement rather than a crutch. No complaints here. Party on.
  • While IAL uses digital effects pretty heavily, they are pretty good and do some amazing things for the ambience of the film. As stated throughout, my skepticism for this movie was at the boiling point and I expected to be pawing to the arcade after 25 minutes. However, from the first open shot of Manhattan as a desolate, uninhabited wasteland, I was grateful that I got to the theatre to see it on a big screen. The digital rendition of the infected humans worked pretty well in low lighting scenes, but closeups and brighter scenes betrayed obvious digital effects and pulled me out of the moment. It's not hard to take a good physical actor and paint some rotting skin and scabby mouth sores on them for a realistic antagonist, and I wish they had gone that route as opposed to the digital paint job. Regardless, the overgrown tundra of Manhattan totally won me over. (WINNER for an entirely believable "forgotten" Times Square.)

  • Sadly, AVP's entertainment value comes to a sharp stop beyond the visceral carnage and I found myself bored beyond measure at the parts when someone wasn't dying. I was hoping that the story would involve just aliens and predator with humans getting caught up like sheep grazing at a shooting range, but unfortunately a sad, pathetic human story got wound into the mix and left me gagging for blood. The typical Hollywood love story is present, featuring underdog skinny dude, fawning after hot blonde with low cut v necks, thwarted by her overprotective jerk boyfriend. They also spin in an ex-military mom just back from Iraq, reunited with her family, only to have her husband mash faces with an alien, prompting her to kick ass, drive armored vehicles and fly helicopters to save the day. LAME. This is never, ever, what horror fans want to see, EVER, but for some reason it plagues pretty much every film that comes from a major studio. If you can't afford good actors or screenwriters, don't rely on them! Drop the "story", and show us some brutal shit! It's what we paid for, so deliver. I don't think I'll make any effort to see this movie again, but I would allow it as background noise while writing, playing DS, shitting, or playing triumphant riffs on my Fender. As long as I have something to do when Predator is not on screen or an alien is not eating it's way out of a pregnant stomach, then we're cool. It was good, a marked improvement on the last one, but the Hollywood formula hobbles the momentum and will keep it well out of my DVD collection. While the deaths and gore were great, it was all very rehash and could've used some more inspiration.
  • Maybe it was because I expected to hate it, but IAL pretty much blew me away. Will Smith was a big part of the formula, as he left his "witty bad ass" character from Bad Boys and Independance Day that I was so loathe to watch destroy my favorite vampire story at the door, and really pulled the thing off. His relationship with his dog is downright emotional, and he is extremely believable as a guilt racked dude completely alone in the husk of the biggest city in America. He is not a hero, he is flawed, he fucks up, he gets hurt, and he gets really scared. It wasn't the story I wanted, but it stands alone as a good movie thematically based on the book and the scenery and ambience are tense and compelling. I wish they had incorporated the same message that the title "I am legend" implies at the end of Matheson's book, but at the same time the further they went from it the more sacred and intact it remained in my eyes. It's hard for me to say they ruined it in the movie, when thhey barely even touched it in the first place. I just wished they would've picked a different title for the movie, but if I was involved in production I would probably use it anyways. It's a fucking great title. All said and done, the movie was great and I would absolutely watch it again. (WINNER for making that hurty lump in my throat when the dog dies.)

The winner is I am Legend. If you can stomach some sub par digital closeups on the bad guys, then I recommend it highly over AVP. AVP is a rental. Buy I am Legend the book and read it between the bloody parts. I'm betting your TV will be on mute after 10 minutes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Orcs & Elves for DS!

Hark! Orcs & Elves is out for Nintendo DS! I almost bought this game whilst internet window shopping for a game to play on my cell phone, but ended up not commiting because my phone is a petrified chunk of rat droppings and I was worried it would crumble to dust if I pushed anything more complex than the Bejeweled demo on it. I could mug you with it and still text Maria to pick up some cat food on the way home. The thing is rock with a talk hole.

But it's out for DS now! I was instantly attracted to it when I first looked it up as it harkened back to my memories of trudging through the tedious step-by-step dungeon crawl gameplay of Shadowgate, Sword & Serpents, Wizardy, and this one awesome game I used to rent for NES as a kid that had these crazy zombies and spiders that would attack a little too often. These games were a tedious mess, and often times not worth the effort of playing to completion, but my 10-12 hood is brimming with memories of tenaciously building parties, crafting the perfect balance of fighters, healers, and spell casters (what good is a thief in a dungeon crawl?) giving them names like "Shitface" and "Assface" and "Buttface", and then cleaving down enemies until level two or three where I was invariably slaughtered by the outrageous difficulty curve.

No doubt, Orcs & Elves has been refined in this matter, in these modern days of user friendly game experiences. It's not the 80's any more, we don't have the "three lives and you're fucked, start over!" wall punching, controller snapping games to tackle these days, and this is why I'm excited. I might actually complete this one.

Good review on, and Scott Sharkey seems to value what I'm looking for in a port like this. Will definietly be picking it up soon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blizzard + Activision = end of the world?

It was recently announced that Activision and Vivendi are set to merge in a deal worth 18.9 billion space bucks. If you don't know, Vivendi owns Blizzard, who made World of Warcraft, which is the biggest online videogame ever, and has made Blizzard one of the most profitable game companies in the world. To me this is slightly insane on Vivendi's behalf, and I imagine the offices at Activision have ceased operations for a company wide kegger hosted by Night Elf beer wenches. That's right, your next 'gotta have' shit smeared movie license videogame will be delayed because the devs are beer bonging PBR in Tauren costumes and laugh-vomiting all over their keyboards. I wonder if they're going to get free WoW accounts...

This trumps EA's recent acquisition of BioWare/Pandemic, and actually bumps them down a notch to #2 most hugely unnecessarily profitable game publisher in America, and we all know second place is the first loser. I'm eager to see what kind of shenanigans they pull to get back on top. Maybe they'll try and buy Microsoft. The gods would laugh.

To me it's just pretty crazy. As long as the games remain untainted (actually, Activision could probably use some Blizzard-ness to help gloss up some of their IPs) I suppose it doesn't really matter unless you work at one of the two companies, but the monopoly mayhem going on is a little unsettling. Am I the only one who's a bit nervous at the umbrella shadow that is being cast over today's prominent developer houses? If they can be bought this easily, can they be shut down and/or pawned just as easily? Well, if it means we get "Call of Warcraft", pitting the Horde in a vicious ground skirmish against the nazis in northern France then I guess I can't be too skeptical, right? Heil Grom Hellscream!

Monday, December 03, 2007


I plunged and took the supreme risk of going to see Beowulf this weekend. I wanted to see it, had to scratch the itch, to gaze into the depths of Pandora's box and see if it was worth it, worth my time, my money, my love. It was good. Way good.

Not good for everyone though. I would say that experience with Dungeons & Dragons and/or familiarity with at least two fantasy authors or series by name is a prerequisite, and no, Beowulf the book doesn't count. I would not recommend this movie
to those of you who are expecting a "realistic" CGI film, in the literal sense, regardless of how it has been advertised by it's makers. The movie is "realistic" in zero ways, both in visuals and story. For those who will nit pick, the fields are ripe with swollen fruit, bursting from the vine and begging to be plucked and hurled. I'll get you started: The human faces are at times laughably faux, the physics are too controlled and lack weight (seen Shrek?), and a running horse looks like two dudes in a pantomime horse costume... running.

But shut up. Shut up all you guys like me, who are plucking at all the flaws with the relish of a bored 10 year old mauling a daisy. All the post film banter of what didn't work, who looked like shit, what dialogue made you barf in your mouth, it all dissolves in the overly epic action sequences that are spread perfectly throughout the course of the film. Just like the Lord of the Rings films, where Pippin's emotional crooning and Frodo's tortured pretty boy grimace were dashed like sand on the rock of rampaging Oliphaunts and thousand Orc sieges, so do Beowulf's flaws melt into putty beneath the shadow of Grendel and possibly the most bad ass dragon a film has ever seen.

Crispin Glover continues his legacy of the tortured, psychotic weirdo that invokes equal portions sympathy and disgust as the voice of Grendel, hardly speaking any words and relying more on screams of anguish and alarm. Yeah, Grendel isn't
the T-1000 unstoppable monsterific force that is eluded to in the orginal epic, he's actually a deformed retard CHUD baby sans genitals that happens to be huge and capable of causing extreme damage in his infantile rage. He evoked strong sympathy with me. His motivation for coming down the mountain and grinding Hrothgar's people into pulp is because they party too loud and he can't sleep, something we've all craved and pondered during those summer nights when the neighbors are having deck parties and raging barbeques. Surprisingly, Angelina Jolie looked a little less hideous than in real life portrayed as the water demon with a pointy tail. Bitch can walk on water... in heels! Anthony Hopkins, as the digital King Hrothgar, is one of the more believable characters portrayed as a toga clad, drunk, party animal.

Anyways, if you're a fan of the battle scenes in Lord of the Rings, have ever enjoyed table top role playing, or just like dudes with swords fighting monsters, be sure to catch Beowulf in the theatre (in 3D) before it goes. Both Grendel and the final fight against the dragon is pretty mind blowing, and well worth the ticket price and boring talky parts between the blood and chopping.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Jeff Gerstmann debacle

I recently read about a bummer of a situation that went down over at videogame internet hub, Gamespot dot com. One of the major videogame websites out there, Gamespot is like Wolf Man in the monster world. Not up there like Dracula (, but pretty well known. A staple. The site sees thousands of visitors, has a billion annoying pop up ads, and every page takes about a minute to load on your average high speed connection because they throw so much bullshit in your face at every possible moment that it turns your computer into an 80 year old man in a sack race. I usually go there rather than IGN for game information, because IGN always felt very corporate, like trying to find an article that says "Stop it with the disco drums!" in Rolling Stone, pandering to the big players and high profiles. Sadly, that has changed.

Jeff Gerstmann was the Senior Editor at Gamespot, playing games and writing reviews, and considered a top player in the world of game media. As I said earlier, I would go to Gamespot for their game feedback because it was immediately apparent any time reading their material that these guys played the games, cared about them, wanted a good experience, and weren't shy about letting the consumer know which games were not worth their money. Jeff was no exception, and while I don't recall any of his reviews from previous visits, mainly because I don't really give a shit about the name of the dude putting the words down on the webpage, his review of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men by Eidos shows exactly how scrutinizing these guys can be in the face of flashy graphics, lots of violence, and an almost Reservoir Dogs style videogame that should make most gamers shudder in anticipation. So why do I suddenly care about the reviewers name? Because he gave it a 6 out of 10 and was fired the day after his review went live. Not only fired, locked out of his office and asked to leave the premises. That's some bullshit I expect to see in the President's cabinet on a fierce episode of 24, not to hear about from an internet game company. Working in games is supposed to be like being Tom Hanks in Big, and many of us try very hard to keep it that way.

(Kane and Lynch, respectively, I think.)

Apparently Eidos had spent more than a few hundred thousand dollars in advertisements for Kane and Lynch on Gamespot. When the review went live, they supposedly read it, and then pulled more hundreds of thousands of dollars reserved for future titles from the site. As Gamespot's revenue lies entirely in the sale of web ads, I can see how this could cause the bosses to run to the men's room and check their boxers. There's no official word from the Gamespot business crew on the issue, in the typical "no comment" backhanded deflection tactic popular amongst the corporate hounds when they shit on some guy, prompting one of us with morals to say, "Hey, you just shit on that guy." The only reasons given for the termination all seem to revolve around Jeff's "tone" rather than what he specifically wrote, and that he had been "talked to" about his "tone" on previous occasions. This, of course, is as vague as black matter. There's no such thing as "tone" in the written word. The "tone" is created in the reader's head, and regardless, it's not even worth an argument because it anyone can look at the situation and see with the utmost clarity that blaming "tone" is simply a lie. Yeah, a lie. His bad review lost Gamespot a lot of ad money, so they freaked out and fired him. When you read it like that it almost makes sense.

In addition to the finger pointing and vagueries from the corporate side of Gamespot, there has also been no official word on the situation from Jeff's peers at Gamespot, the other editors, who are the ones I really want to hear from and probably have a very biased yet true accounting of what went down. Their silence absolutley makes sense, because if they're now facing life on the chopping block then there's no reason to start coming to work in short shorts and cat-in-the-hat hats. I did track down an unofficial commentary from a supposed Gamespot editor, in which the mysterious blogster pretty much confirms the obvious. Notable quotes from the above link are as follows:

"Our last executive editor, Greg Kasavin, left to go to EA, and he was replaced by a suit, Josh Larson, who had no editorial experience and was only involved on the business side of things. Over the last year
there has been an increasing amount of pressure to allow the advertising teams to have more of a say in the editorial process; we've started having to give our sales team heads-ups when a game is getting a low score, for instance, so that they can let the advertisers know that before a review goes up."

"I was in the meeting where Josh Larson was trying to explain this firing and the guy had absolutely no response to any of the criticisms we were sending his way. He kept dodging the question, saying that there were "multiple instances of tone" in the reviews that he hadn't been happy about, but that wasn't Jeff's problem since we all vet every review. He also implied that "AAA" titles deserved more attention when they were being reviewed, which sounded to all of us that he was implying that they should get higher scores, especially since those titles are usually more highly advertised on our site."

Okay. No need to keep going on this trajectory, other than to point out Josh Larson is a douche, but here's what I'm getting at: Where does this leave us, the confused and addled consumer when seeking advice on hot shit xtreme game titles? We are being assaulted constantly via TV, internet, magazines, billboards, soda pop cans, and whatever the fuck else with crazy ads for games. If the marketing department can differenciate from one's ass and one's elbow, they make the game look good. Real good, regardless of the actual experience therein. I'm in a commited relationship and have been for a long time, but at my core I am a bachelor in many ways. One of the manifestationsof said bachelorism is in my quest for desired information. I don't scroll down the list of citysearch reviews on a restaurant if I'm curious about the fare they offer, I go there and fucking eat it. If I want to see a movie, I go straight to the theatre listing of the closest cinema and find the next screening and then I go and watch it. When I want to find out if some crazy looking game I just saw an ad for is worth half a shit, I go to Gamespot and check the review. I can't do that anymore! I now know full well that whether or not the editors like it, their content is now in league with the media machine chomping at our wallets and their integrity as journalists is about as sound as particle board.

So the next logical step is finding a new source for authentic and honest reports on the regurgitated refuse disguised as cream soda coming from the game publishers. And that's truth, so so many games look like they're going to be fan-fucking-tastic and end up coming out like spoiled turds. Penny Arcade has always been the best source for game reviews, mainly because they don't actually review games for a living. As fans of videogames, they laud the games they are playing and enjoying, and they complain about the ones that are worth the time and effort of complaining about in a public forum such as teh interwebzzor. It's much more genuine than a guy who's job is to play shitty games all day and then try and politely convey that they'd rather eat a plate of hot garbage than spend another minute in the grips of whatever digital nightmare they've had to grapple with. Every time I've acted on a favorable PA recommendation it's been worth it. But, what makes their reviews so good is precisely what makes them unreliable at this particular service I need. You can't go to their site and get a quick run down of the new Conan game, because they didn't bother writing about it. This leaves us in the grip of blogs and less professional sites and publications for authentic game reviews. Will they be honest? Yes. Will they be untouched by the pressures of marketing and corporate hand shakes? Yes. Will they most likely be written by fan boys who are "above message boards" and just want to gorge on a feast of their own jaded views on whether or not cell shaded Link is cool? Fucking yes godammit. So while Gamespot was not the be all end all of game reviews, it served a very important service in my life and I'm sad that I have to put it on the Bullshit Shelf next to Jaws Unleashed and new Star Wars.

And really, this post is also about how horribly Jeff Gerstmann was treated for not giving to marketing pressure and being true to the fans that built gaming into the disc golem it is today. This shit happens all the time, and it's tragic. I put it in the same unjust category of unnecessary rent increases in cheap apartment buildings occupied by low income tenants, and charging $9.75 for an afternoon showing of Norbit. Highway robbery! I hope that he goes on to find employment at a place that values honesty and us old schoolers that are still scrounging and spending to be able to keep up with our favorite form of entertainment, or better yet that he starts his own site or magazine.

I do feel the need to interject on the subject of Kane and Lynch before I wrap up here. I was lucky enough to meet an employee of Eidos Germany while on tour in Europe, and he invited us to the office to hang out, see the digs, shoot the shit, and psyche him the fuck out bragging on my Halo skillz. While there he demo'd the first level of Kane and Lynch for us on the office PS3 and I have to say it looked pretty good. From an observers point of view, I could tell there was a bit of trickery with the aiming (an element that gets a lot of shrapnel in Gerstmann's review) and one thing that would bother me if I had control was the slow speed at which the characters move. I hate that in a game. But it looked fun, and isn't that what we're looking for in a game? The theatrical way in which the encounters unfolded were intriguing and downright progressive. I can't say too much because I didn't have any actual hands on experience with the game which is the only way to properly scrutinize, but I left the building with the game on my "to rent" list. One thing he does say that I sympathize with involved the inconsistency of attaching to cover: " seems like you're always snapping into cover behind something at the most inopportune times, making the game quite frustrating." This was a problem I had with Gears of War during frantic close quarters battles, and it is lost on me if anyone ever went on record saying this in a review for that game. If the proverbial 'they' didn't, the proverbial 'they' should have.

But, in reading Gerstmann's review one can see the wear and tear of a decade of game reviews under the belt, as he seems to slightly nit pick, favoring his editorial space for the crucifixion of the game's flaws and largely ignoring some of the more theatrical feats I witnessed at Eidos. I'm hardly standing up for the decision to fire him based on his review, I'm not even playing devil's advocate. It's just the inverse sharp edge of having honest, experienced reviewers that aren't fan boys or message board spammers. Their job is to play games and judge them on the behalf of the consumer. It's all they do, cast judgement. If you do any job (no matter how sweet it is) for a long time you get burnt out in little ways, it's unavoidable. The burn these men feel is the mediocrity of the sub par game that gets hyped beyond hype and fails to deliver on fundamental mechanics. They lash out and do their best to level the bar, and I respect that with all the floating skittles that comprise my soul, but sometimes I just want to pass by the angst.

All said and done, I think the "User Score" at the header of the review speaks the loudest on the issue. A score of 2.6 out of 10, averaged from 3,410 votes at the time of this writing. Utterly abysmal. Internet backlash from the Gerstmann debacle? Possibly. It also suggests that Gerstmann did indeed comply with his corporate superiors and score the game much higher than he had desired in the face of Eidos's deep pockets. Regardless, I salute Jeff and hope he comes out of this whole mess better off, both financially and spiritually.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Ninja Warrior

Maria, the lovely and wise, did humanity a great service while I was gone and ordered a bonus cable package that will last us a meager six months. I've always been against cable TV, it's like inviting a black hole into your living room. A black hole that makes you stupid. But, invariably, I watch. I'm on my mandatory 100 day break from working at Microsoft... It's this horrible headlock they grapple you with should you choose to seek their employ. A huge percentage of the Microsoft work force is made up of contractors like myself, and to get around giving us things like good wages and benefits, we are forced to take a "vacation" every 9 to 12 months. While I relish my work at MS / Bungie, I also love not working. Either way I'm a winner and a loser. A woser?

So anyways, my days are filled with excrutiating trips to the gym, drinking brutally strong coffee, typing on the lappy toppy, playing guitar, watching TV, and lots of Halo 3. The coffee-Halo combination has been pretty fun as I can get pretty worked up. The other day I was drying off in the shower and noticed a fist sized bruise just over my right knee... a bruise made from punching myself in caffeine induced frenzies of anger after being Needler'd or losing the melee hit coin toss.

Daytime TV kind of blows a lot. But, for dudes like me there is a savior. A gistening golden messenger of health and prosperity, a cupid, a perfect package of entertainment. Her name is G4, and watching her is like eating pizza. Complete, rampant indulgence. For those who don't know, G4 is a channel made for nerds. Most programs revolve around gaming, others will show off the latest tech gadgets, movie previews, graphic novel reviews, and one show called Cinematech just feeds 30 minutes of game footage. No commentary, just games. I'm watching it right now. They just played a commercial where a unicorn vomits a PSP. I can say with absolution that I have never seen a unicorn vomit a gaming system anywhere else, and it is unlikely that I will ever go back on that statement.

However, if I can recommend anything to you few friends who read this, it is a program called Ninja Warrior. To sum it up, average Japanese dudes run through ridiculous obstacle courses to try and push a giant red button before the clock runs out. The obstacles vary from simple jumps over a water pit, to rope swinging like Tarzan (it's actually called the "Tarzan Ropes"), to trampolining over more water pits to grapple onto rope nets, to hanging onto a rolling log that spins and knocks the contestant into, yes, a water pit. The failures are nothing short of hillarious, awkward crashes into the muddy depths below, limbs completely splayed, rendering any and all athleticism moot. The victories are butt clenching. I actually flex and squirm watching the poor Ninja hopefuls grapple that last climb up the rope to the shiny red button, arms weak, straining, the clock ticking away the last ten seconds. The subtitled commentary is of course priceless, as can be expected from most Japanese game shows.

But truly the most enamoring element to the show are the contestants themselves. They are serious. Some dish it out with a garnish of humor, but many of them are motivated and passionate. About ninjas. Or I guess, about being a ninja. These people are entering the competition years and years in a row. They are training in their free time, building elaborate reconstructions of the challenges that thwarted their last attempt. I understand the drive to succeed, the passion needed to return to a potentially ruinous situation at the behest of ones pride, only to best yourself. But these people are running full kilter across foam rocks for the titlee of "ninja", largely useless in today's world of commerce and business. They are dressing like ninjas. They are dressing like superman and spiderman. They are dressing in their work outfits, their sports uniforms. It's like they are meelding their identity with the challenge. My favorite contestant so far owns a gas station. He has competed five years in a row and never gotten past the first challenge. He competes in his work uniform: red shirt with name tag, hat, dark slacks. The previous year he made it to the last rope climb, mere feet from the almighty button, and dislocated his shoulder in a freak twist. I just watched him fail again, timing out on the same rope climb that doomed his last attempt (I was flexing!), and I'm sure he'll be back next season.

I leave you with OCTOPUS as a teaser. The guy is 57.

Europe Summary

Akimbo just got back from a three week tour in Europe. We hit the usual stops: Germany, France, Holland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy. The tour was a success, I got a bit cranky at times, but there's nothing like unlimited beer to cure one of their particulars. I can sum it all up with this picture, taken at our sold out show in Berlin.

Look at my face. It's seriously the ugliest picture that's ever been taken of me. I can't stop laughing at this shit. Vanity, where art thou?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Resident Evil: Shit Stink Tion

Maria and I went and saw the new Resident Evil movie tonight. I cast this blargery using the snide leer of a gamer, a nerdus extremus that not only examines the film for it's stand-alone merits as a moving picture, but also as homage to the game that inspired it. Spoilers lie beyond. You have been warned.

In griping about this movie, one must take into account that it falls under a very unique sub-sub-genre. It's not just a zombie movie, it's a zombie movie based on a video game. There's a huge difference, and that difference is that all movies based on video games suck. Straight up. It's science, as absolute as gravity. If I drop a rock, it falls down and hits the ground. If I make a movie based on a video game, it eats balls and pisses off nerds. However, what brings these movies above any other shit fest is that they havee the opportunity to stay loyal to the subject matter and therefore appease the fans that allowed it to exist in the first place. This is how I justify watching these deplorable hunks of ass meat, and ultimately what keeps me going back to the theatre and paying money. I know it's going to be bad by all "movie" standards, but I'm driven by an unholy force to see how well they adopt the artistic direction of the games, almost like I'm watching over Hollywood to make sure everything is ok and that our little social group isn't shit on too hard.

The Resident Evil movies have sucked since their inception, plain and simple. The first one has it's moments, and is a decent zombie movie, but Michelle Rodriguez is an automatic fail if you are trying to make a film with "quality" and "charisma". I cheered in real life when she got kicked off of Lost for that DUI in Hawaii. Stay away from my show you cudgel of an actress. Milla Jovovich is of course a babe, and her willingness, nay, quest to get naked in her movies is huge points for the RE films. I would say that the definining moment of the first movie is her slow motion ninja kick to the skinless zombie dogs. Yeah, it was in the preview. Twice. But sadly, blurry crotchal shots only go so far and I am not, nor ever will be a dude who's into Mr. Skin dot com. The second movie, Nemesis, had absolutely ZERO redeeming qualities and was a straight up slap in the face to all the geeks who spent all that money building the Resident Evil empire. At this time I'd like to say 'fuck you' to Capcom for allowing our baby to get raped that hard, for that long, on that big of a screen, for $9 a ticket. I was a huge fan of Resident Evil 3 (for you trogs out there who haven't played the games, the big puffy asshole in the rubber penis suit in Apocalypse was the central villain for the third game, and I bit my pillow and cried when I saw the movie for the first time) even though many gamers tout it as a weak entry to the series. In my harsh, jaded, bullish opinion, the Nemesis character was a step in the right direction for the continuity of the drama surrounding the Umbrella story, and every time he broke through a wall and made my life suck for 2 minutes as I mashed and smashed the controller trying to get away was a true experience in gaming life. Touche, Nemesis. We had a good run. After the second film was ruined, I threw my hands up in exasperation, once again cursing the powers that be for turning a robust gaming experience into pithy drabble, and expanding further on the sterotype that video games are only for slobbering nerds during masturbation breaks, inherently and forever lame...

Until I saw the preview for Resident Evil: Extinction. Like a kitty sniffing a freshly opened can of tuna I was pawing at the cinema screen watching Milla once again take to the air, slow motion ninja kicking zombies in the middle of the desert, dressed like The Road Warrior and wielding twin daggers. Seriously, shit looked like Mad Max working his way through the undead masses, only with hyper charged ninja skillz, short shorts, and boobies. I was pumped, but as I've proved many times before I am a prime sucker for a preview that promises graphic violence and reanimated corpses. So of course, the fuckers got my admission money. Again. And I'm left with merely a poorly attended blog site to reap my righteous revenge.

The movie begins after all the previous Resident Evil lore entered into the series through the movies and games, with the insatiable T-Virus turning planet earth into a wasted desert. That's right, the T-Virus kills water. Scientific botchery aside, I completely approve of apocalyptic settings for these kind of movies so I roll with it and sit tight. It immediately becomes apparent that zero effort was put into writing interesting dialogue, you know, like for a movie, with people that talk to eachother. I haven't seen worse dialogue since Path Finder. It was like watching a cut scene from Resident Evil 2, which had some of the most awkward cinematics in the PlayStation's career. While I respect Capcom as giants in the game industry, fathers of a myriad of classic and contemporary master pieces, they can't deliver semi believable voice acting to save their lives and this is the first consistent line one can draw from the game to the movie. Sad.
It takes a while for anything decent to happen, the first of two good scenes rolls in after about 20-30 minutes in and involves a bunch of pissed off crows that attack a convoy of protagonists. The body count is moderate and the special effects are pretty good, but all it is is The Birds on steroids. Flock of creepy birds, lots of swooping, eyes getting pecked out, squaking, etc. The humans fight back, yes, by shooting at the crows with pistols, and much to my shagrin the flying devils did not produce any hand gun ammunition or red gems once killed, which was one of my favorite little moments of obvious un-realism in Resident Evil 4. The environment is the most vivid and detailed out of any of the games, so real that you could even shoot and kill the cows, chickens, crows... and they drop a box of hand gun bullets for your trouble. Must've been nestled under the wing. W00t!
But this scene, while awesome and filled with people being eaten alive by zombie crows, introduces one of the lamest concepts from the movie into the mix. Telekinetic powers! Right as the dude manning the giant flamethrower on top of the school bus (why do they always have one of those in an apolcalyptic desert movie?) gets his face chewed by birds and sends the flamethrower in a deadly arc towards two of his allies, Alice (Jovovich) shows up and drops an energy bubble around them, bouncing the fire up at the birds to save the day. WHAT?!?!? Not once has telekinesis been marginally approached in the games or movies, unless you count Wesker's force punch in the Mercenaries mini game, or the occasional defiance of physics during a particularly nasty boss fight. Suddenly, Alice has "powers", and can do all kinds of unrealistic bullshit so that the special effects team can wank to their wanking heart's content and the writing team doesn't have to come up with feasible ways for her to get out of sticky situations. Fucking bullshit! How come when I was trapped in a mansion with a giant snake vomiting poison every which way I couldn't just summon an energy ball and blow a hole in through the door? Why did I run back and forth through Raccoon City to gather keys and figure out 7th grade picture puzzles when I could have just floated my way to the final encounter? Why the fuck did I spend all those spinnels and gems on weapon upgrades when I could have just given chainsaw-bag-head a seductive look and broken his neck with my brain? Think of all the outfits Leon could have bought.

The second good scene is the action sequence that goes down when the group reaches the sanded-over Las Vegas of the future. No time to hit the Bellagio, we've got to kick the balls off of crazy running zombies. Yes, even though the previews clearly show the standard "shuffling" zombies of yore, the primary zombie killing moments happen in an extended, violent, extreme sports commercial. While slow zombies dominate the game series, running zombies are not new to the RE world. You will recall the "red face" zombies from the RE1 remake for GameCube that would sit up upon you re-entry to their place of death and promptly haul ass to your vicinity and mop the floor with your skin. Shit was terrifying. Not so on film. The running zombies, with their matching one piece jump suits and shaved heads, looked like a rotting Blue Man Group charging out of a cloning device like pop corn. Regardless, they were shot, stabbed, sliced, and chopped, every bloody burst almost bringing me back onto team RE. The body count of friendlies during this scene should also be noted, and most of the sub-par actors floundering for screen time were snuffed with efficiency. My faith was not fully restored though, and unfortunately the boss fight was another telekinetic let down in the laser room.

The big bummer at the end was the obvious set up for a new RE movie, which I will avoid like buzzards perched on razor wire if the fruit does indeed ripen. They have some serious accounting to do if I pay full price for another Capcom infused feature. However, the previews for this film yielded an exciting look at 30 Days of Night, which looks awesome. Only father time will judge its true merit. The real excitement is that I know sometime in 2008 I'll get my hands on Resident Evil 5 for XBox 360. The game footage shown at E3 was absolutley mouth watering, even if it does prominently feature a white cop shooting black people in Africa. While Capcom's IPs stink like foot cheese when viewed through the standard de-awesomifying Hollywood goggles, I will unwaiveringly sport the RE flag when it involves the interactive experience that hooked us all in that first trounce through the mansion.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Life update

Many months have passed since I donned the angry jerk hat and unleashed a violent tornado of cynicism and mirth into the unholy void of teh interwebzz. My time has come, the stars have aligned, the prophets have spoken truth. We junket.

The main reason for my blog neglect has been my recent employment at Microsoft/Bungie, where I've been lucky enough to get a contract position working on a huge, big deal, more important than "the children" and remembering 9/11 combined, title for the Xbox 360 that is just about to come out. I'm not going to say much about it, as I'm under contract to keep my flappers tight until it ships, and I'm pretty sure Microsoft has all manner of goons and snipers out there to bring the hammer down on squealers. I can't imagine a more potent humiliation than getting my knees broken by that stupid fucking Windows butterfly mascot. I can just see the dark, underground lair, where Bill Gates sits on is throne of puppy skulls, the banners of NetScape, PlayStation, and other crushed enemies ruthlessly displayed about his court. A hunched messenger with a Windows NT logo branded into his filthy forehead hobbles in and bows. Lord Gates beckons him to rise and speak. Keeping his head to the floor, he produces a scroll of Microsoft contractors that have violated their NDAs and whispers "My Lord, the serfs have been talking. We fear spies in the ranks..." Lord Gates brings a jeweled hand to his chin and slumps to one side of his throne, keeping his unmoving eyes on his faithful, disgusting, wretch of a servant. He lifts one hand, twitches his fingers away and says "Be gone, you know what to do". The cripple rises silent, turns, and begins his limped exit out of the great hall.
The following day I am found dead in my apartment, my tongue is cut out and nailed to my chest, and my throat is slashed so wide that half my neck looks like pasta. There is no sign of struggle or entry to the building. The only evidence is a solitary button from a Microsoft keyboard bearing the windows logo, jammed into the socket that once housed my right eye.

So, while I can't divulge any details until the game is out, I can give a hint and say it involves the most disgusting beverage ever to be released on humanity since Cod Liver Oil. That's right, Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel. Holy shit. Stay far far away from that acid shit gasoline nightmare. We had a few complimentary cases delivered to the office a few weeks back, and when my preferred "I'm an adult with responsibilities and I don't like sweet things" Talking Rain beverages were out, I figured what the hell, they can't be too bad. Wrong. Wrong fucking dead wrong. You could call that shit the key to Pandora's box, because if you poured it out on the ground it would burrow a hole straight to hell, unleashing myriad demons upon the world to feast forever on our suffering, eating our groins and drinking our wails of anguish. I could feel my teeth dissolving the second it hit my mouth. Yes, I drank my own teeth. Garbage.

So I'm on tour as I write this. Not going to do the tour blog just yet since we're not quite done. We're hanging out in San Diego with a few days off, thanks to our gracious host and good friend Dan. Dan is vegan, and hence we've adopted his diet during our stay with him. While I eat meat and dairy, I love vegan food and have nothing against it. However, my guts are not in agreement with my pallet, and I've been farting and shitting like a broken locomotive for the last three days. I imagine a raging wolverine in my body, clawing through the veggies and soy protein ferociously looking for a morsel of flesh, hoping beyond hope that a bug fell into my soy-rizo taco. Sorry wolverine. I promise I'll deliver on some In n' Out as soon as the delicious opportunity presents itself. For now, we roll with it and give the large intestine some exercize, which I guess is a good thing.

Speaking of band life, we just released a new album called Navigating the Bronze. Alternative Tentacles put it out again. We're all pretty happy with it. If you want to hear it or order it click away. It's our 5th full length record, which is kind of weird. We've been a band for almost a decade. I can't think of many other things I've done for that long on purpose.

At home, Maria, Max and I moved into a new apartment on capitol hill, right next to a woman who has no shame in orgasming loudly into the summer night. "ATTENTION WORLD! I'M GETTING LAAAAAAAAAAID!!!!!" It's way smaller than our last place but we like it a lot more. We're closer to tons of bars and grocery stores, uber convenience. The best part is that we have hard wood floors and a nice new slick couch with really smooth material. This means that Max has absolutely no grip when he's running around the apartment going nuts. It never gets old, seeing his little feet scurry against the floor for half a second before he actually moves. The best is when he tries to ambush you while sitting on the couch. He jumps up to attack but can't get a solid grip on the material. You look over and instead of getting a vicious kitty paw to the face, you see him earnestly trying to hold on as he slowly falls back onto the floor, his claws leaving an ineffective trail along the couch arm as he looks at you in utter, crushing defeat. Kitteh = self pwned.

Ok, it's go time now. I'm going to try harder to update this thing more often. It's way cheaper than a psychiatrist. I've seen a slew of movies that must be torn to shreds, this tour will require a brief dissection, and I have chapters upon chapters of life working at Microsoft that sadly must wait until the world gets their own opportunity to 'finish the fight'.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A formal, public apology to Yip Yip.

Dearest Brian and Jason. I feel it is necessary to extend a public, humble apology to you and your legacy. It was brought to my attention recently by our mutual friend and associate Michelle Cable that I have inadvertantly defaced your band wi
th a small typo, causing irrepairable harm to your public image and potential confusion and disaster amongst the veritable army of Yip Yip fans across the world. The offending text was posted in my tour blog on Akimbo's myspace, Michelle's blog page, and of course this blog as well, and reads as follows.

The first treat was meeting Brian and Josh of Yip Yip and observing them interact with each other for the first time."

Mr. Jason Temple, I am a serious douche for calling you "Josh" and for this I am sorry. While I, along with many others am a complete shit bag when it comes to remembering names, I won't make any excuses for this novice error. Our short time together was an energetic, potent bro down, full of vigor and enthusiasm, and I feel I have forever tainted these memories with my inattentive sloppy bullshit at the computer, typing out lies and slander like I'm selling real estate. In addition to this misconstrued title I have heaved upon your grace, I would also like you two to know that my comments about your bickering with Brian are nothing but endearing and I mean no ill will when I talk about the time he hit you in the head. I really really like In the Reptile House and you guys were super sweet live, even when your keyboards were breaking.

I hope you can forgive me for this mistake, and that someday we can again confuse the shit out of audiences by playing together.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

SxSW tour blog

Tour started in Medford, Oregon at Johnny B's. The show was set up by our good friends Stacy and Kimbo Schrag and would be the first of many with Green Milk From the Planet Orange from Tokyo. Green Milk is a three piece that plays psychedelic jam rock, seated on stage in metal folding chairs, and is one of those bands that is so proficient they kind of make me feel like our band is a joke that gets by on volume. They have the nicknames "K" (guitar/vocals), "T" (bass) and "Ace" (drums) which they stick to outside of band life and only makes them more intriguing and awesome. Technically it was our second show with them if you count our kick off show in Seattle at the Comet Tavern, but I don't count Seattle shows as being on tour. I went home and slept in a bed, a kitty asleep on my belly and my special lady next to me. Not tour. No, tour started the next night in Medford playing to a small, enthusiastic crowd. There was a group of underage kids outside who battled the elements and watched the show through a window. They would yell and scream as if they were one of the other paying patrons, which from the inside didn't look weird at all, and was especially cool while playing to look up and see the crowd extend out of the building onto the sidewalk. These kids were jumping, screaming, high fiving and making the kind of scene you imagine only takes place while filming teen comedies on isolated movie sets. The best part was watching the kids from outside the building while Green Milk was playing. With the exception of the sound bleeding through the walls of the club, the street in Medford was bathed in silence. A silence that was periodically pierced with the shrill cries of adolescent ecstasy at a particularly tight drum fill or a seated leg thrust. After the show one of the kids came up to me, his eyes alive with the passion of being fully kicked in the face by a crazy band and asked, "Oh man!!! How can you play after that?!?!"
"We didn't" I replied. He just continued looking at me like I hadn't said anything. A short pause. Then he walked away.
After the show we went back to the Schrag's and gorged on free pizza and the first batch of many many cheap, canned beers.

Next night was at the Alibi in Arcata, CA. We'd played Arcata/Eureka a few times before and never really had a great turn out, but Green Milk assured us that it was a good town for them. They were visibly giddy at the prospect of scoring good weed, almost more so than playing the show. At times it seems like they just go on tour to get high, and playing shows is a thing they do just to pass the time between rolling doobs. The show was great, easily Akimbo's best time in the Red Woods. They fed us and provided a good amount of beer. I met a guy who had played in a band at our first show in Eureka years ago, and after a short but potent bro down he bought Aaron and I shots, gently guiding us out of 'buzzed' and into 'drunk'. We retreated to a house down the road with Green Milk after the show where they started smoking weed like three angry little tornados. Akimbo did not partake, but ended up getting wicked stoned just from sitting in the room. All I remember from
that point is having an intelligent conversation with one of the tenants on the couch. About what? I have no idea, but we were being serious and I felt smart. Right before I passed out T came running over to me with a small dish of hard little hash nuggets collected in a bowl and said "Cat food."

Davis wasn't the best show. The people who set it up were great and the bar staff was friendly, but it was one of those venues where bands are treated like a bonus for the patrons already there, instead of the reason for patrons to come. They didn't clear any of the tables or chairs in the show room, which is basically unleashing Napoleon on any chances of getting a fun vibe going at a show. Nevertheless, Akimbo has been dealt much sterner blows and we trudged through. I had a weird moment talking to a burnt out war veteran gone hippy and a drunk enlisted marine on leave at the same time. T, K, and Ace tried to sneak in an underage Green Milk fan that had driven about 4 hours to come see them, a sentiment I completely sympathize with but would have executed in a much less obvious and flawed manner. They instructed him to hide in the bathroom and wait for them to come get him. While he was in there, they were nervously walking around and constantly keeping hawk eyes on the ogre of a door guy checking IDs who had originally told the kid he couldn't come in. The plan was to wait until he wasn't looking and then tell the kid to come out and sit behind their merch table. It might have worked if they were a bit more casual about it, but they practically broadcasted to the whole room with their fidgeting and fleeting glances to the huge black guy at the front door that they were uneasy and something was about to go down. I just took a seat at a nearby table and enjoyed a beer, waiting for the show to start. Not five minutes pass and suddenly I see all three members of Green Milk hurriedly walking out of the men's room in a big clump with their underage hopeful crammed in the middle of their glob in an attempt to obscure him, like a weird
skinny solar system casually cruising through a marginally full room of seated bar patrons. I don't know how anyone could have not seen the only three Japanese guys in the building quickly walking in a tight pack, a young white kid with "Municipal Waste" in neon green letters across his chest thrust into their pod, trying their damnedest to appear casual. As if that didn't scream for enough attention, once they got across the room and to the merch table they didn't allow him to casually meander around and assume the typical posture of a bored merch dude. No, they maintained formation in their conspicuous huddle and had the kid crawl under the table, at which point they instructed him to crouch behind a cardboard box barely big enough to come up to his shoulders. As if with perfect comic timing to the drama being played out before me, the door guy came strolling up to the merch table right as the kid nestled into the corner next to the cardboard box. Totally busted. He was ejected and watched the show from the sidewalk, which actually proved to be a much more entertaining vantage point when a drunk party dude took a swing at the same large door guy responsible for the kid's rejection and ended up getting body slammed into the pavement. After the show we found ourselves hanging out with Green Milk at a house where I had my first ever experience of playing Nintendo DS while high. One could say it was 'tight', and I believe my performance that evening could have landed me in one of many "stoned roommate" roles in any number of sit-coms or teen dramas.

The next day was off to San Francisco, and after a short stop at Alternative Tentacles HQ to record a quick pod cast with Mr. George Chen (Batcast #38, downloadable from the AT front page) and to fuel up on free swag and chocolate chip banana bread (thanks Maiko), we headed over to 12 Galaxies in the Mission, which happened to be 4 and a half blocks away from my favorite burrito shop in the world. Literally. The show was awesome and I got just drunk enough to figure another giant burrito the size of my forearm was a good idea a
fter the show as well. I went to bed bloated and farting.

No time to waste any days in the deplorable shit fest known as 'Central Cali' so we went right down to LA for our next show at the Smell, which also began our huge 4 band tour out to Austin along side Green Milk From the Planet Orange, Yip Yip, and The Mall. We also had the pleasure of traveling with our booking agent Michelle Cable who was hitching a ride to Austin with all the bands. We got to know her very well and I'm glad that we're now good friends as well as "business associates". We'd never done a tour with three other bands all at once, and while we were preparing for marginal financial travesty, the money business ended up being ok and we had a hell of a lot of fun hanging out with everyone through Texas. The first night was no exception. We also played with Health and Old Time Relijun, who were both surprisingly great. When I say "surprisingly" I don't mean that I had assumed they were going to suck. It comes more from the fact that after touring for 7 years and seeing a kabillion bands in that span I have become a jaded asshole that rarely gives a band a chance without someone I deem 'credible' recommending them on some trivial quality, and otherwise I assume that I just won't like it which then allows me to go the way of the passive aggressive put down... "They were good and all... For what they do... Wasn't really my thing though." Yeah, I suck. But you're just like me. High five. Regardless, th
e show was great and the crowd seemed to like all the bands which is usually rare at 7 band shows. After the show we went back to the drummer of Health's place (names... always forgetting names...) and had a hushed hang out with all 14 or whatever there were of us, which turned into one of the funniest nights of the tour for me. The first treat was meeting Brian and Josh of Yip Yip and observing them interact with each other for the first time. Their personalities are similar to their music, which sounds like a Nintendo in a blender, and they argue like an elderly couple that has come to terms with the fact that the only reason they love each other is because they really really hate each other. After the first semi awkward round of introductions, they quickly settled into their routine of making witty jabs at each other as conversation to the group. They pull it off in a charismatic yet biting way that didn't necessarily anger the 'jabbed', but merely incited a rebuttal of equally venomous humor. At first it was hard to tell exactly how light hearted it all was, but when they started fussing over who got the 3' wide couch cushion pad thing to sleep on, one arguing that it was big enough to share, the other refusing simply because they didn't want to share, it became apparent that this banter was just how they had learned to co-exist as a two man band touring in a station wagon. The culmination seemed to come a few days later as they were doing their thing in a restaurant and one of them (I forget which one) triumphantly said "Remember the time you hit me in the head?" which cause the other to go silent. It was his ace up the sleeve, and he went on to tell us about the time he got the other so riled up he unleashed and attacked. It didn't sound like anything too violent, a quick slap to the head like young brothers fighting over the rights to a trivial toy, but it was a victory, sheer and pure. He had been pushed to the point of action, and while the results were not permanently damaging in a physical sense, his counterpart forever had a trump card that could be produced at any moment if things got too hairy, forever ending arguments with the reminder of the time he lost it and resorted to a non verbal counterattack. (Picture: Yip Yip doing shakey face.)

The other treasure of the evening again came when Green Milk got stoned (which is a bi, sometimes tri, nightly event). A shelf in the room we were hanging out in had a copy of E.T. amidst a few other movies. T was looking at the movie cover, depicting Elliot riding his bike in mid air, sillohuetted against the moon, his hairless alien buddy shrouded in white, nestled into the basket at the fore of the vehicle. T started telling us about how as a child seeing the grand moment shown on the cover at the crescendo of the film he was enraptured with it, loving every second, but now as an adult balks at the absurdity of the notion that a ten year old kid on a bike can fly simply by putting an alien in it's basket. (Thick Japanese accent) "When you are small, and you see this moment, you think it's very cool. So cool," he said. "But now, as adult, you see this... IT IS A VERY FUNNY SITUATION!" It's hard to convey how actually and truly funny this was with words, so I won't try.

After LA we went to Phoenix to play at Modified. We found out immediately upon arrival via a flyer on a pole outside that Big Business was playing across town that very night. Major bummer, but possibly a chance to meet up afterwards for some drinks. The show was ill attended and the only highlight was that I didn't see any scorpions. I'm always on high scorpion alert when traveling through the desert. Nature's ninjas. We ended up getting in touch with the corporate moguls in Big Business and headed off to a bar after the show to meet up and exchange stock tips while the rest of our group split up to stay at various locations. Coady had a good head start on us and stemmed his rampage to say a few quick hellos before returning to the slaughter of innocent pints, and we three took up residence at the bar next to Jared for some hob-nobbing. When the bar closed we rolled out with our other buddies in Totimoshi who a
lso happened to be there (on their way to SxSW) and stayed with their friend at his awesome house.

Las Cruces was next. The events are best described in Michelle's post, but it was a small house off the beaten path surrounded by all kinds of broken machines and vehicles in a dusty yard. The show was just foreplay to an orgy of a party afterwards, a great evening with the whole group. Everyone took shaky face pictures at my urging, T sang Love Me Tender while drinking bourbon from an Elvis flask, we raged on the local foosball table, and in a fit of weed induced munchies K and Ace went to Carl's Jr. on a burger run and bought Akimbo a giant, beautiful bag of 15 hamburgers, which we nursed like babes at the teat for the next 2 days. At the slightest pang of hunger one could just reach down to the floor of the van, find a tightly wrapped Carl's Jr. burger with minimal effort and casually enjoy, as if taking a solitary corn chip from a Tostito's Big Bag. I slept in the van that night, deathly afraid of the scorpion/roach army that was surely waiting in silence for us to fall asleep before scuttling out from their recesses and laying eggs in our ears and butt holes.

The next day was day off day, and what better thing to do on a day off than watch scantily clad, perfectly sculpted, bare chested men prance around and fight off the forces of Prince and his army of racially stereotyped worldly soldiers while drinking jumbo sodas doused with so much rum it stings? Nothing! We drove to El Paso, found hotels, and immediately tracked down the local cinema playing 300. After the film we spent
30 minutes in the parking lot yelling "SPAAAARTAAAA!!!!" and then headed to El Paso Bowl for a few lanes before they closed. One of the best days off we've had on a tour yet. We closed it back at the hotel, falling asleep to John Ritter's dearly missed but very dead face in the always entertaining Remote Control.

We had to get up early for a big drive to San Antonio, TX. We were a little worried about going to the show that night, being that it was at a venue called The Sanctuary. A few tours back we played there with The Sword and got severely dicked over when the promoter decided it was a good idea to combine our show with a Total Chaos package tour without asking us before hand. In all his brilliance and wisdom, he had the four bands on the Total Chaos tour play before our show, which of course resulted in everyone promptly departing after they played, leaving us and The Sword playing to a nearly empty room around 3 am (this was before The Sword had put out their record and starting touring). This severely botched judgement, combined with a promise of ordering pizza and then not following through, garnished with $75 to split between both bands culminated in a heated argument in which Nat called him a "bad promoter" in so many words and threw a lit ciggarrette into his face. So naturally, we were a little skeptical about coming back, assuming that he had simply forgotten our band name but would remember our faces upon arrival. But, we were booked with a guarantee so fuck it.
As we showed up we found out that we were the last band playing on a 21 band show. That is not a typo. Dude booked 21 bands in one day, indicating he had learned absolutely nothing from Nat's stern telling off and was still somehow convinced that he could go on jerking bands around by booking shows like he's trying to figure out some kind of critical thinking math problem at a Microsoft interview. For the touring bands out there that may be looking at playing the Sanctuary and wish to avoid such a debacle, the man's name is Angel, and I cannot fathom a mother that would bestow such a lofty title on such a beast of a human, as he fails to live up to it in both deed and appearance. Unless his mom is George Carlin, in which case I can see that working out in some kind of weird, sarcastic, "I
'm playing the ultimate joke on life" kind of way, like advertising used motor oil on a dinner menu as "garlic bread".
Angel was there but we didn't talk to him (on purpose) and he made no move to approach us, which was fine by me. We dealt with another guy (again with the names) who was totally awesome and got us everything we needed. Except an audience. We played to less than ten people around 2 am, and they were all on tour with us. One thing that was indeed provided was an empty house next door to the venue for bands to hang out and sleep in, complete with a closet quite literally filled with liquor. Normally this would be the coolest shit in the world, but as the last band to play a 21 band show, it was like inheriting a dumpster packed with homeless winos. Not that bad actually. We again buddied up with K, T, and Ace (the rest of our group went on to Austin where they had a hotel room waiting for their stay during SxSW) and picked out an empty room to commandeer for the night. The house was already populated with all kinds of douche bags from a handful of the other bands that were sleeping there and had been drinking hard alcohol probably all day long, but we scored our little sleeping spot and set our bags down like we were stabbing flags into enemy soil. We rummaged through the liquor closet which had been totally picked over and was full of nothing but incessantly sweet liquors meant for mixed cock tails, stuff that you could never possibly drink straight, but managed to score a bottle of cheap yet surprisingly smooth tequila. We passed it around and Green Milk began the weed ritual. Not long into our post-show pre-sleep wind down, a particularly obnoxious and hammered dude from one of the other rooms came bursting into our locale dressed only in boxer shorts and shrouded in a blanket, and in that hurried drunken stumble we all do when we can't walk too well but we know we need to reach our destination before we fall over and/or vomit, he made his way right to the corner I had claimed not twen
ty minutes before. "Is anyone sleeping here?" he asked, in reference to my sleeping bag and pillow on the ground. Even though he was totally hammered, I ascertained that the stupidity of this question was rooted a little deeper than how many mouthfuls of triple sec he'd choked down that day. He struck me as one of those guys who kind of blunders through life by favoring bull-headedness for intelligence and rational thought, taking whatever he wants when the desire strikes and starting a fight if anyone complains. Clearly, the only thing a sleeping bag and pillow are used for is so that someone may sleep in the location they have been placed. It is the inherent function that both items were invented for. If a sleeping bag and pillow have been proportionally assembled in a location that has been established as a place of rest, such as the floor of this room, amidst other equally proportionally assembled sleeping bags and pillows housing sleeping people, then it should be obvious enough that one does need to ask if at some point in the future someone plans on occupying said sleeping bag and pillow.
"Yes." I said. "I'm sleeping there."
"Ok..." he said. At this point I figured we were done.

"I'm just gonna move this." To my surprise, and despite my voluminous protests, he drunkenly pushed my belongings aside, laid down his blanket, and immediately fell asleep. Literally. The second his body went still he was unconscious and snoring like a bull after a graze in a mushroom patch. The beast was hibernating. I was speechless. I thought about trying to get my spot back, it was a prime location in the corner away from foot traffic to the bathroom, but I had already protested and was ignored. Worst case scenarios started playing through my head, like getting punched by a drunk idiot, or worse, peed on in my sleep by a vengeful
idiot. I decided to let sleeping assholes lie and move my stuff to the other room. The one full of snoring dudes that smelled like a weird combination of ash trays and slurpees, relying on the tried and true "drink so much you don't notice how gross the floor is" tactic before I turned in.

San Antonio was two for two on horrible shows, and we gladly left the next morning for day one of our stay in Austin, TX for South By Southwest. That night we were playing Michelle's Panache Booking showcase at the Flamingo Cantina along with all the bands we had been on tour with, as well as Health who we had played with in LA, The Apes, our good buddies Genghis Tron, and Monotonix from Israel who were one of the 21 bands we played with at The Sanctuary. Monotonix were a treat to meet and watch. They are all very friendly guys and speak excellent English, and as a band are fucking fantastic. They're a vocal/guitar/drum three piece, playing feel good rock n' roll akin to Creedence Clear Water Revival only much more dirty and distorted. The drummer plays standing up and hits good and hard, and the guitar playing is super sweet, but the singer is truly the magic to the live show. He's a stout, burly Israeli with long hair and a bristling moustache, and his antics included opening 12 packs of beer one by one and pouring them into his mouth, on the drums, on the dru
mmer, and anywhere else liquid fits, jumping into trash cans and hopping around like it's a solo sack race, covering his face in shaving cream (pictured below), climbing on a hand railing and getting stuck in the splits, slow dancing with young girls, and sitting cross legged on the bar like a sexy lounge singer while people are trying to order drinks. They were one of the best live bands I'd seen in a while, and of course we were scheduled to play after them.

Despite being ou
t-everythinged by Monotonix our set went well, the bar was pretty packed when we went on and I saw a lot of friendly faces in the crowd. One of my favorite parts of SxSW is that a large amount of our friends in bands around the country we never get to see are usually there, and it's like a big punk rock high reunion. Jello Biafra also came out to the show, which I was especially flattered by as he was going to be seeing us the next night anyways but made time in his busy schedule to see the set and say hi. As if I need assurance after his label has now financed two of our albums and one reissue, but it's nice to know when you're appreciated. The rest of the show went well, topped by great sets by Genghis Tron and Green Milk From the Planet Orange. Afterwards we headed over to a bridge that goes over the river where a bunch of bands were taking turns playing to a small, stoked audience via a backline plugged into a public outlet in the wall of the bridge. It was pretty cool, but I was quickly sidetracked by the Taco Cabana next to our van. We didn't stay long and opted to head back to Michelle's hotel room where nine people slept in a space designed for four.

Day two of South by Southwest was a tornado of fun and alcohol. We had three shows to play in eight hours, and although I was expecting a certain degree of misery to come of such a busy schedule, it ended up going smooth and being a blast. The first show was for a popular music website who wanted to record us live and stream it from their site. I'm omitting their name on purpose because all said and done, once the live footage went up they previewed our video with an army recruitment commercial and there is little else they could have done to completely offend me and piss me off. I rarely ascend to the soap box to holler my political views at our small, huddled audience, but there are infinite products or organizations that while lame and not necessarily what I stand for could have been adjoined to our music without causing me the slightest dismay. Trucks, batteries, tampons, Burger King, whatever. That's all stupid and while I'm sure the people that run those companies are just as crooked as all the other mongers, it doesn't quite represent the pure evil of the Bush administration and their endless war on adjectives. The United States Army is just a little too extreme, and I never want to be associated with them in any way whatsoever, especially when it comes to my music. If you do happen to find the footage, know that we had zero prior knowledge that our tunes would used to lasso gullible youngsters into hauling weapons across the desert and ending up as barbequed grunts in the streets of Baghdad, and in no way do we endorse Republicans, the Army, or music websites that sell out to them. Disclaimer aside, the actual show was a good time. A little weird, as they had us load into an empty room and perform in front of a few cameras and the camera crew (I thought it was going to a be a live stage with an audience), but they fed us some home made mediterranean food and all the free (good) beer we could stomach at 1pm, which for Akimbo is a good amount. I just wonder if the soft spoken hippy woman who prepared the food and spreads by hand knew that she was feeding bands that would ultimately be paraded right next to army commercials.
The next show was down the street at Snake Eyes Vinyl, a small record shop in Austin just across the freeway from all the crazy "official" SxSW mayhem. They had bands playing all day, alternating between the record shop and a flatbed trailer parked on the street outside. As we pulled up we got in a few quick hellos to our buddies in Genghis Tron and Kylesa before they bailed for their show that night, and also had some joyous reunions with Dave Adelson (manager of Alternative Tentacles and all around crucial dude), Jared Warren (Big Business, Melvins), Courtney Skinner (long time friend from the Bay Area), Brian 'Last Name' (The Plot, The Prayers) and happiest of all for me my old roommate Zack Carlson (Doomsday 1999, Thin the Herd Records) who I hadn't seen in many years after his move to Austin. Amidst all the high fiving and cartwheels, we squeezed in a drunkenly raging set on the flatbed which was a total blast, and I even managed to make a few faces at some of the gawking locals driving by in their Four Runners on the street behind us.
After the set we needed to get over to 6th street for our next show, but we ended up hanging out in the parking lot a little extra to extend our goodbyes and drink a few donated beers.
With Dave in the van, we headed out for our last show which was the Alternative Tentacles showcase taking place in a huge, weird gumbo restaurant. I was pretty excited about this show as Jello was going to be doing some spoken word and I hadn't seen him do his thing since I was 15, and we were also being joined by long time Seattle friends Blood Hag and San Francisco's amazing Ludicra. Blood Hag's set was the familiar science fiction lesson via volume and impact, and right as they finished up my friend and boss from Neumos in Seattle (Mr. Mike Meckling) showed up to say hi and bought us a round of courage before we hit the stage. Our set went pretty well and we had a good time. Afterwards I saw a tall, skinny guy with a baseball hat at the front of the stage doing the "please come talk to me" stance, eagerly looking at us. I went over and said hello, he was all "You guys kick ass!" and I was all "Thanks!". He was wearing a shirt that said "Sex, Drugs, and Dungeons & Dragons" and I immediately complimented him on it, showing him my d20 tattoo. He was stoked and got a friend to take a picture of us together, his shirt and my tattoo. When this happened a bunch of other "press type" people started taking pictures as well, which I immediately wrote off as bored photographers on assignment taking an ironic snap-shot of D&D nerds bonding at a rock show, destined for their fridge as opposed to the organizations they represented. He left and then a friend approached me and said "That was Tom Morrello from Rage Against the Machine." I imploded. I walked over to Nat who was packing up his drums, star struck worse than the time Tad Doyle barged into our practice space to tell us "Keep on cookin' what's cookin'." and said to Nat "Tom Morrello from Rage Against the Machine just told me our band kicks ass..." We kind of just walked around all stupid for a bit. It was an awesome and totally unexpected compliment. After us was Ludicra, and it was a great show even though they didn't play Aging Ghost despite my incessant banter from the crowd. I hadn't seen them since our last show together in 2002 (I think) and they are still pummeling and brutal. Post show we started a long and fruitless quest for a party. We walked all the way down 4th to the Kemado party and were rejected at the gate, so instead of leaving we loitered and managed to say hi to Tony and Chris from Lords. It was about 4am at this point so we gave up and went back to Michelle's hotel and did the sardine thing again.

After a few quick errands we were off to Shreveport, Louisiana for a house show with The Prayers, featuring long time friends Brandon and Brian formerly of The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower. The Prayers were a great throwback to 50's and 60's pop rock, think early Beatles and The Kinks. While they were great, I don't think they'll have much luck winning over The Plot's old fan base as they are entirely devoid of anything "sass", and that crowd laps up the sass like it's free slurpee day at 7-11. The turn out was weak but we made the best of it and went to bed swimming in High Life.

Next show was at The Cellblock in Mobile, AL. We arrived to find four other bands loading into our club, prompting a chorus of 'what the fuck's as we parked the van. After some sleuthing around the bar staff it became apparent that someone had double booked the night, our show (us, The Prayers, The Mint Chicks, and a local opener) along with four other ska/punk bands also skirting the outer fringes of SxSW. This happens every year just before and after SxSW. All the outlying states become overwhelmed with bands on their way to and from Austin, and you end up playing a club on it's 12th consecutive night of hosting shows, or you find out that due to lack of communication or balls another package has been added to your show and you're looking at playing last on a 9 band show on tuesday night, and either way no one is at the show because there's a million shows in town every night and not enough audience to supply them all. It's lame enough to almost make SxSW not worth the drive. Almost. We made sure our bands got to play first, which we did, and then left the show to hang out with The Prayers and a bunch of local kids who were bent on partying really hard. They kind of invited us over to this girl's house to stay. She had already gone home because she was too drunk, but they insisted that it would be cool. They also told us she was "easy" and had apparently gotten knocked up in a porta potty at a 3-11 concert when she was 18. I'm not sure if they were doing the ultimate sleeze and trying to subversively pimp out their friend to the traveling musicians, or if they were merely trying to assure us that her inhibitions were at 'green alert' and therefore wouldn't mind if a party and ten dudes expecting sleeping space appeared in her house at 1:30 am. Despite our skepticism at the self invitation we went along with them, my trepidation at the situation marginally subsided with the purchase of a $2 robot bobble head at the 7-11 down the street. I was pretty wiped out from the antics that had ensued in Austin so I was leaning more towards a couch and chill conversation as opposed to complete raging. The end result was somewhere in the middle. At one point Brandon and I were sitting on a couch conversing when the supposedly passed out host came lumbering out of her bedroom, pants undone and obviously still hammered. She mumbled some unintelligible garbage, perhaps a greeting, and then came over to the couch right where Brandon and I were sitting. As if we weren't even there, she wedged herself right between the two of us, turned on her side and then lay down, her torso behind me and her legs on top of Brandon. We both politely excused ourselves from the couch and surrendered our vantage, at which point she rolled over and again passed out exposing what is commonly referred to as a 'plumber's crack' to the entire party from the top of her carelessly applied panties. She remained this way until a friend (girl, of course) noticed the almost bared booty and draped a blanket over her. I felt sorry for her, and regretted allowing these dudes to turn her house into a party venue with only her drunken consent as she was being escorted home. At the same time, we had a much needed roof over our heads and it was too late to find other accommodations. Aaron was in the van, so Nat and I decided to find a quiet spot and go to sleep. We woke up to her hanging out with her 3 year old daughter, at which point the guilt at barging in and making a mess of the place truly set in, even though it wasn't our idea and we had originally expressed disdain at the notion of going to a place we weren't necessarily invited. I helped her clean up a little, but it was kind of awkward. We didn't talk much. I didn't know if I needed to explain who I was, and she seemed like she was pretty embarrassed or was just keeping quiet because she didn't want to have to ask who I was. We politely thanked her and left.

Next stop was Birmingham, AL, our last show before three weeks of recording with Chris Owens in Louisville and always a fun town for us to play. We played at The Bottletree with Hella, who were no longer a two piece wank/jam band but now had a full lineup and not only vocals, but a vocalist. I liked their new stuff a lot and am eager to hear it recorded. We hung out with good friends Jason Barker and Ryan Russell and everyone at the Bottle Tree was great to us, a template for other venues to aspire to. We went back to Jason's where I killed him at foosball, and I slept well on a soft couch.

We got up and hit up some barbeque with Ryan and Jason, and then Ryan took us to a little dollar store where Aaron searched for a glittery light up polar bear wall clock and Nat bought BB pistols for $6. We drove all day to Kentucky and met Chris at the studio where we would be spending the next three weeks. The goal was to record a ten song album for Alternative Tentacles in addition to a five song concept EP, and with three weeks it should be a low stress, well paced, luxurious session.
It ended up being far from that. Chris's hard drive crashed after eight days of drum tracks and we lost everything and started over. The days were long and hard, but we ended up accomplishing what we set out to do and I'm happy with the end result. Big thanks to Chris for pulling the long hours at the end, Evan and Casey for housing us the entire time, everyone at Cahoots, Dave Adelson for the grocery money, and Little Caesars for the $5 large pizzas.

The rest of the shows home were fun, but after the recording was finished I was just eager to get back and rest. We played one last show with Green Milk From the Planet Orange in Chicago, where I think they played their best set of all our shows together. We had an awesome dude date with Scott Flaster where we gorged on tremendous barbeque and then immediately ran across the street to catch a matinee showing of Pathfinder, where we learned that inside every man's heart there are two wolves fighting. Crazy! In Des Moines we were lucky enough to play one of Swing By Seven's last shows, and I will very sincerely miss that band. It's a true shame that they never took off, they were one of the most explosive bands I ever have and probably will see. We raged proper with our old buddy Phillipe that night, played a drinking game to Heavy Metal Parking Lot, listened to all the old punk records in his collection and polished 60 beers between the four of us. After that I got pretty sick and stopped drinking for the rest of the tour. Denver brought us a reunion with our friend Emily at the 3 Kings, but The Stooges were playing that night so the crowd was for the most part spoken for. The last show was Boise with a small enthusiastic crowd watching us in a garage, where one of the tenants yelled Butt Trumpet songs at us. Utterly awesome. The drive home was relaxed and smooth, and now I sit in my breakfast nook typing on a laptop in my pajamas, mission accomplished.