Sunday, December 30, 2012

Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

The trailer for this film left me scratching my head. Crazy guy and crazy girl start dancing to get...less crazy? I saw De Niro playing Bradley Cooper's father but, after decades of phoned in performances in sub par movies, I'm sad to say that doesn't mean much anymore. There were only two things that caught my interest about this film. The return of Chris Tucker (Smokey from Friday, funniest movie ever!) and it's director, David O. Russel. Well, Russel delivers yet again. I loved this movie. I really did.

Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a man with bi-polar disorder whose life has been turned upside down following a traumatic episode that resulted in him being institutionalized. He get released but must now live with his oddball, elderly parents. As he struggles to get his life back in order, he meets a young woman with mental/emotional problems that seem to match his own (Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany). The film follows their strange relationship, two "crazy" individuals who help each other maintain their sanity...even though the rest of society and it's "normal" people seem to act worse than them.

I can't say enough positive things about this film. The acting is top notch. I've never been a big Bradley Cooper fan but he knocks this role out of the park. His take on Pat, a violent, rage filled man who desperately longs to atone for his sins and settle back down to his once normal suburban life, is tragic and hilarious at the same time. Jennifer Lawrence is simply stunning. She's beautiful and her dance sequences, maaaaaaaaan. Her chemistry with Cooper is amazing. Their back and forth, often volatile exchanges had me laughing and at the edge of my seat at the same time. Chris Tucker, it's just so good seeing him back on screen I really didn't care what he did, but he makes Pat's crazy friend from the mental hospital seem like someone I'd want to hang out with too. Finally, De Niro...he's back. No Meet The Parents/New Year's Eve cash grab acting here. This is one of De Niro best roles in a long, long time.
David O. Russel knows how to craft family dramas and explore relationships. His films, are like "people persons," they're for everyone. His use of handheld cameras for flashback sequences, as well as music and pop culture references (Metallica and Megadeth REPRESENT!) up the fun factor in the film. What could have been a sad story of two people with mental health issues turned into one of the funniest, touching and entertaining films of the year. Go see Silver Linings Playbook. It's worth it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

First, I must make an admission. I’d never seen an entire James Bond film before this. I grew up playing GoldenEye on N64 and might have seen parts from other Pierce Brosnan flicks over the years (which all pretty much sucked), but I’m a 007 n00b basically. I heard all the hype/positive word of mouth this film was getting, and saw Sam Mendes was the director and said, why not?  That being said, I enjoyed Skyfall.

The film follows James Bond’s return to the espionage world after a near fatal accident in the field sent him into self imposed exile. Bond returns to find his beloved MI6 spy agency in ruins. Bond has to rush back into action, even though he’s horribly rusty and not fit for active duty, and stop the deranged cyber terrorist/rogue MI6 operative who plans on destroying the agency and kill its director; M. 

Daniel Craig is the coolest Bond I’ve ever seen (that doesn’t say much). He’s got the sophisticated British charm thing down, but looks like he would generally enjoying beating the shit out of someone at the same time. Javier Bardem is much creepier as the villain then I imagined. He puts a tortured, quasi-homoerotic spin on his character. He’s a damaged man, both physically and mentally and is just really fucking weird. The film’s visuals look great, even the shots of Bond’s gloomy pad in Scotland are beautiful. I did have a problem with the final act of the film. It sort of turns into a super spy version of Home Alone, and the big finale is a little anti-climactic. Eh, it’s still a good movie though.

Also while I was watching Bond wreak vengeance on that sniper in the Chinese hotel, I suddenly realized where Christopher Nolan gets all his juice from. Most all of Nolan’s films follow sharp dressed dudes who jet set around the world, using fancy gadgets on some epic adventures (The Prestige, Inception, Batman Trilogy) and now I totally see the Bond worship. It makes sense, Nolan is British and probably grew up on this stuff. In Skyfall, Mendes seems to acknowledge the cultural impact of Nolan’s recent Bond worship films (and their use of Bat-wings, memory extraction/inception devices and clones machines) and decides to root Skyfall in good ol’ fashioned reality. The villain is a high tech computer hacking terrorist while Bond is armed in the latest cutting edge gadgets: a radio and a gun. It may be old school, but it’s very refreshing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gaza @ Aladdin Jr's, Pomona. 12/10/12.

Gaza's music is challenging. Some might call it abrasive, ugly, or sheer noise...I call it tragic. Imagine the Frankenstein Monster immolating himself after throwing that poor girl into the pond. Gaza's blend of hardcore/grind/sludge and even shoegaze, sound like the woeful screams of the Universal monster.

Back in 2010, I saw Gaza nearly steal the show not once, but twice, when they opened for my beloved Converge. I've been hooked ever since. From my spot perched above the stage (on some sketchy wood pallets), I watched Gaza knock the Pomona audience into a stupor. New songs off their glorious 2012 album, No Absolutes In Human Suffering were absolutely crushing live. New jams such as "This We Celebrate" and "The Truth Weighs Nothing" mixed with older tracks "Calf" and "Canine Disposal Unit," it was enough to make want to jump off my perch and raise hell on the floor. Of course I couldn't do that, I had a birds-eye view of Gaza's drummer Casey Hansen shredding his kit all night.

I watched young fans in the crowd, who had previously moshed their hearts out during opening act Code Orange Kids, stand mouth aghast during the heavy mindfuck sludge parts of Gaza's music. Jon Parkins, Gaza's vocalist/frontman/tallest dude in the building, spent most of his time offstage. He was on the floor, interacting with the crowd often times screaming without a microphone and still manged to be heard.

Gaza aren't rock stars. I don't think the word "ego" is in any of the band member's vocabularies. I went to both Southern California stops on their 2010 tour with Converge. After their set on night one, I asked Jon if they could play my favorite Gaza song "Hospital Fat Bags" during their set in night two. They did. Instant lifetime respect points earned.

Gaza make ugly, tragic, fucked up music that reflects the ugly, tragic fucked up world we live in. They say the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. Gaza has doing most the lifting for the human race in that department since 2004. Keep up the good work fellas.

My favorite Gaza song. DAT ENDING:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hell is empty and all the Devils are here:

Last week's massacre in Connecticut
was beyond horrible. It took a little bit of time for me to wrap my ahead around what actually happened. I've never been so ashamed of my species before.

These are odd times we live in folks. Mankind has progressed enough to accomplish great things, yet not enough to stop killing each other. This event will probably start a long debate about gun control and mental health issues here in The United States and I think it's about time. But that isn't enough.

The day of the shootings, after spending all morning shell shocked in front of the TV, I went to run some errands in the afternoon. As I locked my door the lady from the apartment across the way was coming home. We didn't say anything to each other but we made eye contact. I knew from her expression that we were both in the same boat. Disgusted, frightened, heartbroken people. People who under normal circumstances, were too caught up with the mundane "importance" of their everyday lives, and never interact with one another. But not here. In that hallway, on that horrible day, we were just human beings. Acknowledging each others existence and hoping for better days ahead.

I wish one day, this song won't be so accurate.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Savages In This Town: Car Vandalized Edition

Hey. Long time no blog. I've been MIA for a bit and here's why:

My car was vandalized last Thursday night. Had a fun time out with friends near down town, came back to find my automobile utterly annihilated. times.

Aside from smashing four of the car's six windows, my favorite pair of sunglasses were taken. That's it. The stereo, iPod, and other personal items (including an extra jacket) were spared. As you might imagine, the inside was completely covered in glass. It's been nearly a week and I'm still finding small chunks of my windows inside.

The car was towed, the windows replaced and I was driving it home within 24 hours. Since I only have liability coverage, my insurance wouldn't do a thing to help, so naturally I was forced to pay out of pocket. I have zero information about what actually happened. I spoke with several business/building owners on the street where the incident took place hoping to use any security cameras in the area to fill out a police report. No dice there either.

Looks like some random asshole(s?) raped and pillaged my car and there's nothing I can do about it. My blogging activity has been sparse, and will continue to be so for the immediate future as a result of this little Christmas miracle. I'm trying to pick up some more shifts/sell some items to pay the damages.

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Aaron Sorkin is a famous, Academy and Emmy award winning writer. His successful string of hits in film and television have made him akin to Hollywood royalty as of late. Yet, this following video will illustrate that Sorkin is a con man. He's gotten famous from plagiarizing, his work filled with recycled quips from none other than: Aaron Sorkin. Aaron Sorkin for all his success, is guilty of ripping off, himself.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Annual " I Love Rain" Post

MFW it rains
"Woke up to the sound of pouring rain (Skid Row, what?!?!)." No Really. It's raining outside. Here in Southern California, whenever the temperature drops below 70 degrees it's a big deal. When it rains, OMG forget about, the sky is literally falling one drop at a time.

I enjoy this weather though. I have today off and plan on sitting by the window blasting some rainy day jams to mark the occasion. Like this:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No Doubt @ The Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City Walk. 11/24/12.

Hella Good

No Doubt. The unofficial ambassadors of Southern California are back. I caught them on their "reunion" tour in 2009 and it was easily one of the best concert experiences I've ever had. After some satanic conjuring and Matrix style hacking (F5, F5) of the Live Nation site, we got our tickets and were headed to No Doubt's first show in years at the always awesome, Gibson Amphitheatre.

You have to understand how big of a deal No Doubt is for us Southern California folk. They were some goofy ska kids who grew up outside of Disney Land and turned into one of  biggest bands in the country. Their song "Don't Speak" was the most played song on American radio in 1996...and it wasn't even an official single! They have the quintessential drop dead gorgeous frontwoman who puts movie stars to shame. Their music, like SoCal itself, is an eclectic hodgepodge of just about everything, perfect for skating, moshing, dancing, surfing, smoking or sitting in traffic. The band is just rad as hell...and they're like us! Well, onto the show.

Night one of No Doubt's residency at the Gibson was sold out. The opening band we caught, Group Love, was cool but really, everyone was waiting for the main course you know? The second No Doubt took the stage the 6,000+ capacity crowd went nuts. The loud (and I mean LOUD) screams of excitement turned to silly smiles and wide eyed amazement once the band began playing "Push and Shove." Now I'm not a big fan of their new record. It sounds more like a pop/polished Gwen Stefani solo album than a solid band effort; and it initially left a bad taste in my mouth. Then I heard the new songs live. Holy balls they sounded great. Hidden under the lame studio trickery of the new album, there are some sweet ass songs there. "Settle Down," "One More Summer," "Sparkle," and the title track have been stuck in my head since I left the venue. 
Aside from being a ridiculously tight live band, capable of turning previous roadkill tracks into a feast for the ears, No Doubt also serve up some world class visuals onstage. While not as dazzling as the set from their last tour, the band still used the same massive display screen that projected film footage, photos and other crazy/hypnotic videos behind them as they rocked out onstage. The screen also doubled as a giant TV monitor for the audience, allowing us to see different members at different times as giant IMAX figures. Oh yeah, and everyone in the band has officially stopped aging. They're all in their 40's now but you wouldn't know it if wikipedia didn't tell you. Gwen is more beautiful than ever. Really. I was watching some of their old music videos on Youtube this weekend and 90's ska/punk Gwen was cute and all, but momma/fashion model Gwen takes the cake, no contest. Her voice has actually gotten stronger over the years as well.

That's the thing, No Doubt have become likes icons to a lot of their fans but they're really just a kick ass rock band. Tony and Adrian are one of the sickest rhythm sections around. Watching Tony leap onto Adrian's drum riser, and Adrian zone out during "Just A Girl," when he's in the pocket and simultaneously beating his snare to hell. Like I said, Gwen's voice was better than ever, and her energy level was insane. She's 43 and has two kids and danced jumped and sang for close to 2 hours while still looking gorgeous. I'm half her age and was tired walking from the car to the venue.

They ended the night with "Spiderwebs" and all was right with the world. Sure I wish they played a few different songs here and there ("Running" > "Simple Kind of Life") but I'd be content watching them play the phone book. No Doubt are back. Southern California is now brighter for it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Municipal Waste & Napalm Death @ The House of Blues, Hollywood. 11/14/12.

"Napalm Death! Napalm DEEEEEEEEEEATH!" I'll never forget those words. It was my first time seeing Napalm Death back in 2004. They were touring with Cannibal Corpse (my first time seeing them also) and playing the same House of Blues. I had already been to my fair share of shows before...then Napalm Death came out. This tiny Mexican dude in a ratty leather jacket and gloves, who looked and smelled like a drunken Oz retiree, spent the whole night screaming "Napaaalm Deeeeeeeeeeeath!" during the opening acts. When Napalm came out, the floor exploded with energy and this same dude who could barely stand earlier sprung to life and moshed his drunken heart out. He spent the rest of the night calling for songs they already played ("The Kiiiiiill!") and booked it as soon as Cannibal Corpse started playing because he realized that they, were no Napalm Death.

That's the Napalm Death effect. They are so rad live they make other awesome bands look like shit by comparison. They are, Napaaaalm DEEEEEEEEEEATH!

So, on to the show. We arrived early, but due to a unexpected lineup switch, we missed Exhumed. Same thing happened last time I was supposed to see them at Summer Slaughter. Bummer. I guess they swapped places with punk rock icons The Dwarves and went on earlier expected. The Dwarves were cool though. I forgot that Nick Oliveri (ex-Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss) is their bass player so it was a nice surprise watching him onstage again.

During the Dwarves set, Barney from Napalm was chillin' by the bar, swamped by a handful of lovely ladies, watching their set and being cool as fuck. Taking pictures and chatting with fans, he was a totally polite and friendly dude. Then he went on stage and transformed into the rabid bulldog from hell vocalist we all know and love. Seriously, Barney Greenway has one of the gnarliest and distinctive voices in metal.
Napalm Death came out and laid waste to the joint. They played a lot of material off their new album Utilitarian which was to be expected. Even though I have some issues with the album's production, the songs were awesome live. "Everyday Pox," and Errors in the Signal" fit right alongside classics like "Suffer the Children" and "Human Garbage." Barney's kooky stage moves never get old, like he's dancing and exercising demons at the same time, and Mitch has some of the sickest backing vocals (those high screams of his pierce through everything in the audio mix) around. Danny's single foot blasts sounded a little sloppy at times, but who am I to talk shit? The dude's been blasting since I was in kindergarten! Also, Shane has the filthiest bass sound in history. That's a good thing though. "Napaaaaalm DEEEEEEATH!"

Municipal Waste had the arduous task of following Napalm onstage. Luckily, the Waste are a ridiculously fun live band and were able to hold their own against the British grind legends who preceded them. That was a bold move on Waste's part, taking a band like Napalm out on the road who are famous for stealing other band's thunder. I'm guessing it forced them to be firing on all cylinders every night. Municipal Waste might have been the headliner's of the evening but they played to a slightly smaller crowd than Napalm. It was a weeknight and a lot of the older grind fiends probably had work the next day and took off early. No matter, the Waste still had a legion of fans inside, the young ones with energy for days and love stage know. Tony's voice sounded a little hoarse when he talked in between songs but his vocals sounded fine, i.e., like a dude screaming his balls off after drinking a lot of red bull. Ryan and Phil hammed it up for the audience to everyone's delight as Dave "coolest drummer alive" Witte chilled behind the drum kit. Seriously, Dave was so relaxed playing drums all night, making Municipal Waste's thrash metal tunes look like child's play. I haven't heard their latest album but I couldn't help but lose it when they played the jams from The Art of Partying.  My favorite Waste album period. Also, kudos to the House of Blues security staff, for catching the army of crowd surfers during Municipal Wastes set. Really, that's a lot of sweaty dudes they put up with that night.

Born To Party

Friday, November 23, 2012

Movie Review: Flight

Despite what the commercials and marketing campaign might lead you to believe, Robert Zemeckis' latest film Flight is more an emotional roller coaster, than a literal/exciting one. I sat in amazement as three separate families abandoned ship during the first ten minutes of the film. Parents dragged their kids out by the arm as the children drank from their x-large tubs of soda and took one last glance at the screen. I don't see the big deal. I mean, if a kid's gotta see a naked woman doing drugs, it might as well be Nadine Velazquez on a giant screen right?

Since kid's love pilots and action flicks and middle aged mothers love Denzel, they must have thought Flight was fun for the whole family...despite the film's R rating. Well they were wrong. The first twenty-five minutes of the film aka, the place crash from hell sequence, is a total heart pounding dose of onscreen carnage. It's some of the scariest shit you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. But the rest of the movie, like the remaining two hours, is a serious take on addiction and personal relationships. It's an adult movie basically, with drugs, sex, nudity, cancer jokes and porn references abound.

I need a another line!
The best thing  Flight has going for it is Denzel Washington. I've never seen him in a role like this before. He's played a heroic slave (Glory), Malcom X,  a cop/soldier (Courage Under Fire, Crimson Tide, The Siege, Inside Man, Fallen, etc. etc.) and a villain (Training Day, American Gangster), but I've never seen him so exposed and vulnerable as here (except maybe Glory, that flogging scene...c'mon). His character in Flight, Capt. "Whip" Whitaker is a mess. He's a divorced drunk, who's family and very grasp on reality has slipped through his fingers. He spends his off time banging sexy flight attendants (thank you Zemeckis!), getting plastered then doing a few lines of cocaine to bring him back to speed before he's off to work...flying passenger planes. It's crazy but he just so happens to be like the best pilot in the universe who can pilot a rouge jet upside down all while nursing a hangover.

The film is about the investigation of the plane crash and about Whip battling his alcoholism before it destroys both his personal and professional life. Despite it's epic length, it's a pretty engrossing film. I wouldn't say entertaining, because who likes watching a drunk stumble around for over two hours. Zemeckis is still an ace at tugging at his audience's heartstrings, and crafts an awesome soundtrack for the movie as well. I wish there was more John Goodman and his wise ass drug dealer role (because he's basically paying homage to The Big Lebowski) but what are you gonna do? Overall I'd say Flight is a good movie, a solid makes you think type drama. Kudos to Denzel, quite the performance there sir.


Robert Zemeckis is back! Well, back to making people movies that is. Zemeckis spent the last decade cranking out CGI/motion capture flicks like The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. His last human movie, i.e., his last film I watched, was Cast Away...and that was in 2000!

For those of you who don't know, Zemeckis is the man behind the holy trinity of Back to the Future (The whole series!), Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. These films basically defined my childhood and have earned Zemeckis a lifetime badge of honor/pass. He could start shooting 3D motion capture Nazi propaganda films and he'd still walk on water in my book.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stage Diving: It's Raining Men

I've been going to metal shows for ten years now. In my younger days I'd always fight for a spot near the front of the stage. Right in front of the pit, where the band's sweat flies freely and stage divers crash land on a regular basis. A busted lip here, scrapes, bruises, sprained wrist, dislocated finger, broken glasses here and there, twas a small price to pay for having so much fun down in the front. I think this video encapsulates the sheer awesomeness of the underground metal concert, and the art of stage diving for all you normal folk out there:

Converge + The Weather Girls = GENIUS

Monday, November 19, 2012

Awesome Photo (11)

Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney and President Obama doing McKayla's famous: "not impressed" face at the White House.

The sixteen year old gymnast made headlines during this past summer's Olympic Games with her less than enthused reaction to winning the silver medal. The "not impressed" face is now her thing and getting Obama in on the action is priceless! I also think this photo is an indirect attack on Romney's campaign but maybe I'm just being silly.

McKayla and Female Obsession honoree Maria Menounos are also, not impressed.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Movie Review: The Sessions

Like Argo, The Sessions is yet another film based on extraordinary true life events that seem too out there, too impossible to have really happened. But they did. If you are lucky enough to see this film, prepare to be awed, and inspired.

The film follows Mark O' Brien, a brilliant poet, journalist and polio victim who has been paralyzed from the neck down since childhood. He spends nearly twenty hours a day confined to an iron lung. He lives alone and is completely dependent on his team of caregivers to feed, bathe and transport him into the outside world. While he may be physically disabled, Mark's mind and will power are stronger than most anyone else. He "lives inside his head," and uses his mouth and a push stick to type and use the telephone to communicate his thoughts/ideas. Mark graduated from college and has a career in writing, accomplishing more than most "regular" people might ever do, but as his time on Earth winds down, he realizes that he's never known intimacy or love and decides to do something about it. He turns to Helen Hunt, a sexual therapist/surrogate to help him lose his virginity.

Yeah, kind of weird I know. Not as weird as when he describes his sexual habits with his hippie priest. That was odd, but funny...and moving. That's the thing. Mark is so fragile and vulnerable because of his condition, he's also past the life expectancy for polio victims, he literally has nothing to lose anymore and is just the most open and painfully honest dude around.

Major props to John Hawkes. He literally carries the film on his shoulders. He's a shoe in for a Best Actor nomination in my book. Hawkes has been a character actor for more than twenty years but after his performances in Winter's Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene and now The Sessions, I hope his career blows up into leading man status the way it should. Helen Hunt and William H. Macy (when is Macy NOT phenomenal?) are great as well. I sort of forgot Helen Hunt existed for the past decade, it's good to see her back, in fine acting...and physical form (she plays a sex surrogate, she's naked a lot and looks amazing). My favorite supporting character is that of Mark's collegiate caregiver Vera played by the wonderful Moon Bloodgood. She transforms from a frigid academic type to one of Mark's most caring friends and really impressed me with her performance. 

Great acting coupled with a truly powerful and inspiring message. I don't see how you can go wrong with The Sessions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Movie Review: Argo

The Town was the first movie I reviewed here at Jim's Fear back in 2010. Although I really enjoyed the film, I was more stoked that it redeemed it's star/director, Ben Affleck, who had spent most of the 2000's pissing me off in really shitty roles . Well, if The Town was Affleck's great comeback, Argo appears poised to be his great victory. It's a hell of movie and has some serious Oscar hype behind it.

cheers: to my comeback...and 70's wardrobe
On paper, Argo sounds like it should have been a horrible movie. It's a period film that's also a historical/political drama, based on actual events that are so insanely far fetched, mostly everyone involved in the real life incident couldn't believe it either. But somehow, someway, Affleck pulls this thing off masterfully.

So the film revolves around the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979. More than fifty Americans were taken hostage when members of the Iranian Revolution stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran. During the chaos, six Americans managed to escape and hide at the Canadian ambassador's residence. The film's plot centers on how the CIA tries to get those six unfortunate souls out of Iran without getting them discovered and or killed by the Revolutionary Guard. Affleck plays the CIA spymaster who proposes that the hidden American diplomats pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations in Iran. Argo is basically a movie about the development of a fake movie, where Americans pose as Canadians because they're trying to flee the the Iranians...all orchestrated by the CIA and some old Hollywood producers. Again, this sounds beyond retarded, but it actually happened and it worked!
crazy like a Fox
Despite all the craziness I just mentioned, Affleck has crafted a compelling, suspenseful and powerful film. The opening scene, the storming of the embassy sequence, sets the tone for the entire film. Mixing archival news footage with some awesome handheld camera work, Argo achieves an amazing sense of realism. The sets, props, wardrobe (viva those ugly late 70's get ups) and kick ass classic rock soundtrack (Aerosmith, Dire Straits...Van Halen!) made me feel like I'd time traveled back to the Carter years. Everyone in the cast did an amazing job, from the six hostages in exile who slowly start to go crazy, to Affeck's CIA and Hollywood homeboys who back him up throughout the film (Bryan Cranston and John Goodman are everything), even Affleck himself is pretty believable as the CIA's top extraction specialist. I just have a problem with him acting and directing his films. I know he's the director (and now, certifiably a great one at that) so when I see him on screen I imagine him directing himself in the same outfit and it just pulls me out of the movie. At least that's what happened in The Town...not as much during Argo.

That's probably because I was too busy sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. Yes, I wasn't kidding when I said Argo was suspenseful. As a History geek, I pretty much already knew how the movie ended, yet I was hooked from start to finish. I kept marveling at how Affleck had me by the balls every time I fought the urge to use the restroom. It's really that suspenseful. Go see it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Converge/ Torche/ NAILS @ The Echoplex, Los Angeles. 10/28/12

We Are The Champions
Converge are easily one of the best live acts on the planet and one of my favorite bands of all time. I'd watch them perform the phone book in a basement (with more growls and d-beats than usual) if I could. Some of you might recall my last Converge story from this summer's FYF Fest. Well, my wounds had healed, sinuses cleared, and shoe laces tied extra tight. I was ready for another dose of Converge on their All We Love We Leave Behind Tour.

Talk about a lineup. This tour was siiiiiiick. Like "OMGZ" I need to sit down and catch my breath after reading the lineup. Torche, Kvelertak and NAILS. All three bands have released killer albums, all produced by Converge's Kurt Ballou, in the past few years. This overs the creme de le creme of metal, rock, hardcore/grind. Even the local opending act Dangers is ridiculous!

So we arrived early to catch Dangers because they impressed the hell out of me when they opened for The Dillinger Escape Plan back in January. This time I was familiar with their songs, and impressed by how tight and close to their album they sound live. Their singer Al is a madman on stage, jumping into the the crowd and running around the pit like a wild injun, jumping and crawling while shrieking at the top of his lungs...while barefoot. Can't wait to see these guys again.

Kvelertak was next. I really enjoyed their self titled debut album from 2010, and was looking forward to watching them rock out, but alas, I was starving. My girlfriend and I headed to the back of the venue (where you can't see jack) to get some pizza during Kvelertak's second song. The band sounded awesome from what I heard...but after a long day of work, we needed to eat. Sorry guys, next time.

Glad I ate, because NAILS was fucking exhausting. Imagine trying to work out with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1970s. NAILS mantra: "We came, we saw, we kicked it's ass!" This band is so heavy it's retarded. Really. I described their sound as "a monolithic slab of caveman brutality" when they opened for Dillinger in January (yeah, them and Dangers...go figure) and now I want to add, "violent" to said description. Something about this band makes causes me to speak in grunts and long for a 2x4 to smash over people's skulls. Their songs are short, fast and fucking awesome. The 2nd guitar player they added only made them sound heavier. I simply can't get enough NAILS.

was next and were totally a welcome change of pace. I think I might have turned into a total werewolf if the aggro streak didn't halt right there. Luckily, Torche is all about having fun. They played a lot of new stuff of their latest album Harmonicraft, and had a lot of little HD cameras set up on stage, leading me to believe they were filming for a new video or a TV performance in the future. Their newer stuff is poppy enough to get dudes and ladies alike to move and dare I say, even dance, near the front of the stage. Then their older material comes along and is so heavy it has heads banging throughout the venue. So glad Torche was on this bill. Kudos fellas.

Finally, the headliners and heavyweight champions of the underground metal/hardcore universe took the stage: Converge.

They opened with "Concubine" and the Echoplex exploded. I learned my lesson from my FYF. My girlfriend and I retreated to the outskirts of the floor, away from the pit, but still close enough for me to get some awesome videos. Since their superb new album, All We Love We Leave Behind, dropped in October, it was almost a given that Converge would be playing a lot of new songs. However, the band went online and asked fans what other songs they'd like to hear on this tour. The response was massive. EVERYONE had a thousand old song they wanted to see live. I was stoked they played "Heartless," one of my top choices!

Rare gems like the ultra dirge-y "You Fail Me" and from way back when "My Unsaid Everything," gave Converge's  old school fans a nice nod, while all the new jams from All We Love flat out slayed. "Trespasses" "Sadness Comes Home" "Glacial Place" "Empty On The Inside," etc etc. I've never been
more stoked to hear a band play new stuff in concert before.

The venue had lots of floor space, which gave the sold-out capacity crowd room to breathe. I think that's what kept the energy level relatively high throughout the night. People could take a step back and catch their breath before jumping into the pit for the next song. After a full night of ass-kickery, and a full day of beforehand, I was exhausted by the time Converge wrapped their hour and half set up with the always epic, "Last Light." After paying homage at the band's merch table (and getting a sweet ass Axe to Fall flag) I ran into Converge singer/visual artist/record owner and awesome human being Jacob Bannon outside. Dude looked drained. He was covered in sweat, his voice barely audible and was still chatting it up with fans outside. He may have gone through the ringer onstage, (and every night) but you know he'd do it again, to the delight of assholes like me, in a heartbeat...forever if he could pull it off.

That's why Converge rules folks. Check em' out next time they're in driving distance. And if you ever see NAILS, bring ear plugs and a baseball bat.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012

douche v. turd
It's election day here in the USA. I'm not impressed with either of the two candidates running for President. Romney is a corporate shill and Obama is hardly the agent of "change" he promised to be in 2008. Back then, anyone who wasn't George W. Bush would have done fine. Not so much these days. Obama is basically Bush Jr. in some regards also. Total bummer.

That's the problem with the American two party system. Democrats or Republicans, both groups are beholden to the corporate interests that REALLY run this country. I may share more ideological views with Democrats, but they're a bunch of passive aggressive pussies who will never get any real socioeconomic change done. Vote Republican? Are you fucking nuts? Really.

Too bad we don't live in a world where Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, stands a chance of winning. I spent some time on Jill's website this past week looking over her stance on the issues and thought: THIS is the change we need in America. Check it out HERE.She won't win though. She doesn't stand a chance actually. Bummer. Major bummer. The American political system is broken. I'm tired of choosing between the lesser of two evils, between a douche and fucking turd. Choices like that, leave us with really no choice at all.

We need more choices on election day. REAL choices. Until that day comes, the sadly prophetic words of the late George Carlin with remain true:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fatty Boom Boom

Sorry. I had a new post lined up for today but I seriously cannot stop watching the new Die Antwoord video, for their song "Fatty Boom Boom." It's a fucking trip and super, super RAD

Love the shots @ Lady Gaga and all the other bland "pop" stars in the mural also =p

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

Happy Halloween everyone!

I work tonight so, won't be doing much celebrating. Here's a photo from this past weekend of my girlfriend and I in our costumes.

coordination is key
She was Harley Quinn, I refused to be the Joker because that's kind of played out, so I went as a halfassed Evil Jester. At least we match. haha. Last Halloween I selected some "spooky" themed metal tunes for you bloggers to enjoy. This year I'm going the opposite route: Sexy Halloween costumes. That's what Halloween is all about anyways. Dem Nekkid Ladiez. Heeeey. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Movie Review: End of Watch

David Ayer makes some damn good cop movies. Training Day (writer), Harsh Times, and now End of Watch. The film isn't perfect, in fact, it's kind of odd, but overall it's safe to say Ayer's latest cop drama is a damn good movie.

So End of Watch is a kind of sort-of, found footage type film. Stop right there, I know what you're thinking: "I hate all these Paranormal Activity type found footage crap fest movies of the past few years." Yeah I know, me too. Luckily, End of Watch isn't like that.  It goes like this:

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are two cops patrolling the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles. Gyllenhaal's character is also taking a college film class, so he goes around recording his daily work routine. I thought this plot device was kind of lame at first but then I realized it's a cool way to show car chases and heighten tension, walking into a dark house from the cop's perspective, etc. etc. Also, the film does not consist entirely of "found footage" stuff. Ayer utilizes some crazy handheld camera work, and chooses some unconventional shots/angles, which appear to blend seamlessly into the rest of the footage and successfully draws the viewer into Gyllenhaal and Pena's world.

That's basically the what the film is about. The plot is kind of irrelevant. The core of the film is Gyllenhaal and Pena's AMAZING chemistry together. We follow these two cops in their patrol car and become so engrossed in their partnership that by the end of the film, they feel like real people that we know and care for.

Also, I just love LA movies. Hollywood may sit in Southern California, but they don't film jack here anymore and if they do, it's in a sound stage or the same yuppie ass parts of town they always use. End of Watch was filmed on location, in Los Angeles. As a SoCal native, it's cool seeing landmarks or references to streets/cities that you know. All the random Spanglish dialogue was rad too.

The movie isn't perfect. Some of the "gangsters" go a little overboard in their performances, and at times, you might ask yourself: "why on Earth are they recording themselves doing that??? Oh yeah, found footage..." but other than that, I have no real complaints about this film. Gyllenhaal and Pena are dynamite together, along with most of the cast and I think it's safe to say this is Ayer's most powerful and moving film.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chicks With Drums: Lux (2)

In honor of my previous DrumTHRONE inductee, Mr. Igor Cavalera, here is the lovely Lux covering Sepultura's thrash classic, "Arise." She's fast folks =p

Friday, October 26, 2012

DrumTHRONE: Igor Cavalera

Igor Cavalera was one of my earliest drum heroes. I remember having geeky discussions about who was better, Igor or Dave Lombardo (that's what teenage metal heads do man) and being torn. The dude is a natural behind the kit. An amazing combination of speed, power, grooves and a unique playing style that is all his own.

80's hair FTW
Igor first rose to prominence playing with his brother Max in thrash metal legends Sepultura. In the late 1980's, Sepultura took the underground metal world by storm. They started out as a sort of proto-death metal band and Igor's playing was fast but kind of sloppy. Then, at the ripe old age of 17, Sepultura released Beneath The Remains, a certified thrash classic, and Igor began perfecting his trade mark drum sound. Unfortunately there aren't too many HD videos of Igor's playing in the early days. Here is his isolated drum track from "Inner Self" to illustrate his awesomeness though.

Flash forward to the early 1990's. Sepultura begin to step away from their trash metal comfort zone and begin incorporating more elements of their native Brazilian music into their sound. Igor's tribal drumming on 1993's Chaos A.D. and especially on 1996's Roots, set the standard that just about every Nu-Metal band in the late 90's/early 2000's would rip off.

Igor and his brother Max had a falling out after Roots. Max left Sepultura but Igor and the rest of the band continued on without him. They kept going for nearly a decade until finally, Igor and Max resolved their brothers quarrel and Igor left Sepultura to form Cavalera Conspiracy in 2006. Sepultura still exists as a band to this day but it's basically a karaoke/tribute band at this point. The Cavalera brothers started that band, without Max or Igor, they cease to exist in my mind.

Igor remains one of my favorite drummers but I must say he has one of the oddest, most painful looking drum setups I've ever seen. Just look at his toms. I'd break my wrist in a minute playing his kit.

arthritis incarnate

Now in his 40's, Igor seems to have grown past the confines of "metal" music. He's a successful DJ and member of electronic music duo MIXHELL (performing alongside his wife) and also a father of four. Either way, I'm just stoked the Cavalera brothers are back together and cranking out the jams again. It's the closest thing to a Sepultura reunion we'll ever see, and any excuse to have Igor bashing the drums again is fine with me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Superman VS. are not ready:

Wow. Just WOW. This dude Mike Habjan has made the gnarliest CGI video EVER. Superman VS The Incredible Hulk. Watch. WATCH!

How awesome is that? Superman looks exactly like Christopher Reeve from the original movie. I'm no DC fanboy, and I'll be the first to bash Superman as being a boyscout/boring, but holy shit he looks intimating as fuck at the 0:42 mark in the video. That insane, Kryptonian swag walk he's got going on there. I'm super stoked as you can tell.

DC/Warner...give it up. You'll never make an awesome live action film like The Avengers, There's no way your boy in red and blue pajamas can pull this off. Instead, please follow Mike Habjan's lead and go the CGI route. How awesome would a full length computer animated comic book movie look on the big screen?

Can't wait for the next installment of this series Mike! Keep it up!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hatebreed: 10 Years of Perseverance Tour @ The Fox Theater, Pomona.9/29/12.

I can't believe it's been a decade since Hatebreed dropped their major label debut/Earth shattering album, Perseverance. Has it really been that long? I remember carefully placing that Hatebreed sticker on my high school locker like it was yesterday. Bumpin' this album during countless workout sessions, and grueling car rides to work over the past 10 years...this record has become like a close friend. Even though I sort of stopped following Hatebreed over the past few years, and haven't seen them in concert since 2006, I was beyond stoked for this special anniversary tour, where they promised to play the entire Perseverance album in it's entirety.

A little something about this record. It's the soundtrack to your personal revolution. You can accomplish anything with this album. Like the title says, it's about PERSEVERANCE. No matter what kind of shit you're going through, this album can and will help your overcome. Yeah it's a fast and brutally heavy hardcore record, maybe a little too aggressive for the average Top 40 fan, and although aggressive, the music is simple, catchy and most of all, the lyrics are positive and motivational beyond belief. Jamie Jasta is my personal Drill Sergeant. Check it out:

I know your fear of loss
And your struggles with faith
And how it takes everything that you have to face the day
The virtues you possess now bring you eternal pain
All you have is contempt for a life you can't obtain
All your heroes have failed you
Yet you try and prevail
Face your torment and dismantle your doubt
Refuse this legacy of shame and deceit
Cause the only real truth in your life that you know is hostility

Your world is coming apart
Remain steadfast

Against all opposition
Crushing all limitations
Pure strength through solitude
Discipline and determination

You can't accept what you've been told
Anchored in sin you must reverse your descent
Declare the weight of the world has yet to claim you
And admit that your faults will not restrain you
Glimpses of fate bring light to your despair
Realise hope isn't short of your grasp
Resurrect every dream that you've buried alive
And never succumb to the war that you fight in your heart

Your world is coming apart
Remain steadfast

Against all opposition
Crushing all limitations
Pure strength through solitude
Discipline and determination
 Jesus H. Christ. How does that NOT get you pumped? I'm a relatively scrawny guy but I feel like fucking Superman (nay, THOR) after listening to Hatebreed.

Anyways, on to the actual concert. We missed the first opening band who I never heard of, and caught the last song from All Shall Perish which was a bummer since they're pretty cool. Oh wells. Whitechapel was next. They got a good reaction from the crowd and even though I'm not a huge fan of their deathcore sound, they put on a good live show and their drummer rips. 

Of course the main event was Hatebreed. They came out, the place went nuts. I went nuts. Instant time travel to the early millennium. I've been to some crazy shows at the Fox before, but I've never seen the floor turn into an absolute war zone like this. This was my 4th time seeing Hatebreed live, but first in about 6 years so I kind of forgot how insane the crowds get at their shows. People jumping, moshing, kung-fu fighting and singing, dear lord the singing. It felt like the audience was louder than the band at some points.

The band mixed their setlist up a bit. They played their entire Perseverance album, with songs from throughout their discography mixed in between. All of Hatebreed's songs have the same, uplifting/chest beating quality to them. "Before Dishonor," "Tear it Down," "Live For This," "Destroy Everything,"  "In Ashes They Shall Reap," these additional tunes kept the energy going all night.

I don't usually lose my voice from singing along at concerts, unless it's Iron Maiden or something epic, but I was definitely a little raspy the next day. My love of Hatebreed has been rekindled and my undying respect for their Perseverance album has only been reinforced. All an all, an amazing show.

Pomona/SoCal represent.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Movie Review: Looper

Well, that was unexpected. I loved director Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's previous collaboration, on Johnson's 2005 film Brick, so I had high hopes for their new project Looper...but I still wasn't prepared for what they actually delivered.

Looper has been hyped as a sci-fi, gangster film but it's really much more than that. Although we've been led to believe the movie is about a hitman trying to kill an older, time traveling version of himself, like the Wu-Tang Clan of old, Looper is actually all about da' children.

hello me, meet the real me
The film takes place in 2044. In this bleak Blade Runner-ish future, the cities are filthy and crime ridden, poverty and lawlessness are facts of life, and a small percentage of the population even has freaky mutant powers (parlor tricks, not X-MEN level...). In 2074, time travel is invented and mobsters from the future send people they want killed 30 years into the past, where a handy dandy hitman (a "looper") blows them to kingdom come. Well, Joseph Gordon Levitt's character Joe is living the looper life in the fast lane to the fullest (money, drugs, call girls) until one of his targets gets the drop on him and escapes. This is frowned upon, because dudes from the future running around in the past can have dire consequences on the space time continuum...especially when that dude is a pissed off older version of yourself  (Bruce Willis).

So that's the plot. It's cool but you're not supposed to take it too seriously. Willis even warns Levitt (i.e. himself!) not to think too much about all the time travel mumbo jumbo or it'll drive you nuts. What you do need to focus on is the human aspect of the film. Winning hearts, minds and children. Yes for all the violence, geeky sci-fi elements and Piper Parabo getting naked, Looper is really a family film. I can't explain how or why without massive spoilers but trust me, it is. In fact by the film's end it should leave you feeling all warm and gooey, and even choked up inside.

Levitt carries the film on his shoulders and does a great job as leading man, even with all the silly prosthetics on his face trying to make him look like a young Bruce Willis. Speaking of Willis, it's so good seeing him actually act again and not just phone it in playing the same old decrepit version of his 80's action self. In Moonrise Kingdom he did wonders as the sad and lonely police chief and here in Looper, he's the sad and angry avenging husband. Turns out emotions are Bruce Willis' secret weapon. Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels are great too. Daniels' role is small but he had me laughing like it was 1994 all over again.

I loved how grounded and probable the future world Johnson created looked. People wear jeans and t-shirts. They drive regular looking cars & trucks (albeit with solar panels and bio-fuel rigs on em') and cell phones/computers are still practical, not floating orbs of omniscient power. In Johnson's future world society has all but crumbled. People have access to weapons and dangerous technology like time travel, which can effectively shape and reshape the world around them as they see fit. But none of that matters if deep down inside, you're still an asshole. Who we are as people, individuals and collectively is what matters most. All the gadgets and plot devices in the world can't change a bad apple's core. The underlying theme of Looper is, raise your children right...for everyone's sake. You never know what kind of shit they'll do when they grow up.

Pretty deep for a sci-fi gangter flick.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Obama/Romney Rap Battle

I worked last night so, I'm catching up on the Presidential debate on youtube. No matter, this video is the only debate that matters:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Female Obsession: Amy Adams

Amy Adams is amazing. She's beautiful, is a talented actress and has an amazing singing voice. None of this is news though. What is news is that Adams, a petite woman with hypnotic green eyes, is also, absolutely terrifying. I'll get to that later.

Amy Adams first came to my attention in Spielberg's 2002 film, Catch Me If You Can. She played the sweet love interest duped by Leonardo Dicaprio's conman character. I really liked this movie (probably the last Spielberg flick I've raved about) and even though this was Adams big break into the industry (she did some musical theater, worked at Hooters, and starred in b-movie classics like Psycho Beach Party before hand) I still wasn't too wowed with her and she kind of drifted off my radar.

Then came Enchanted. Words cannot describe how much I love this movie. It took the awesomeness of all the Disney Renaissance flicks I enjoyed as a kid and merged them into a live action film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit style. Amy Adams nailed the naive Disney princess thing to a friggin' tee. I was already a grown ass dude but I couldn't help but fall in love with the songs, and more specifically, Amy Adam's  voice.

She may have stolen my heart as a saccharine princess, but Amy Adams earned my respect for her work in 2010's The Fighter. She played Mark Wahlberg's ultra tough/supportive working class girlfriend, who battles drunks and bitchy females alike, and proved she truly was a gifted actress and not just a pretty face (and voice!). Adams did more cutesy song and dance stuff in The Muppets (which I also loved).

Well, the Amy Adams Enchanted high has come and gone. She's still gorgeous and unquestionably a great actress, but after seeing her performance in PTA's latest film, The Master, I am in absolute awe of her. The way an ant trembles at the sight of human shoes, that was my reaction to Amy Adam's commanding performance in The Master. She plays Philip Seymour Hoffman's wife, the woman who pulls the strings, through domineering stares and twisted sexual manipulation, behind the film's enigmatic and seemingly all knowing & powerful cult leader. This performance makes her gritty character in The Fighter seem like, well, a Disney princess. 

Gorgeous. Talented...and now: Terrifying. HA. No, we can't go out with that. Just because Amy Adams is capable of scaring the bejeezus out of us doesn't mean she's frightening. In fact, she actually seems really down to Earth and funny. *Swoons*

Clip of Amy being adorable:

...and now, pics of Amy looking gorgeous: