Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Local Style

Here's my favorite pic of me and my Dad with our rides, taken by good friend Eryk Frias.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Remembering Otis

Today marks 45 years since Otis Redding's plane crashed, killing him and his band, the Bar Kays: Jimmy King, Ron Caldwell, Phalin Jones and Carl Cunningham. Only their trumpet player Ben Cauley survived.

Otis is by far my favorite vocalist. His voice carried so much emotion in it, you can't help but be moved by him.

So remember, when life is playing rough, just try a little tenderness.

RIP Otis

Friday, November 16, 2012

Offbeat Bikes

When it comes to just about anything, daring to be different can yield some very cool or some very bad results, though "different" is often times simply synonymous with "bizarre".

I recently went on a hunt for different & cool. Here's some bitchin' sickles built from unusual, uncommon or flatout rare breeds of bike. How many could you name just by looking at the engine?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Music Lovers

Metal is my favorite music (Progressive & Technical Death Metal, to be exact). But I love music in all its forms. That in mind, I just wanted to share today's MP3 player-on-random, morning-commute playlist! Enjoy :)

Los Lobos feat. Antonio Banderas: Cancion del Mariachi

James Cotton: High Compression

Rage Against the Machine: Snakecharmer

Son House: Yonder Comes My Mother

Black Sabbath: After Forever

Opeth: Closure

Gamblers Mark: Another Potion

Monday, November 5, 2012

Indecision 2012

Tomorrow is the big day. Time once again to vote for President of the United States. Seems like every 4 years the choices get worse and worse. Is it just me? I've heard and seen Pros and Cons on both sides, but I have to say that I think the Cons far outweigh the Pros on BOTH sides of this election. Same as the last and the one before that...

"We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate." -Kin Hubbard

Is it because each of these individuals is a genuine p.o.s.? Or is it simply because The Republican and Democratic parties are both inept, greedy and elitist organizations who care nothing about the people within our country? They both talk a big game, but from my perspective, both sides have done an excellent job of messing up the United States. Am I saying that they are all completely bad or useless or that the blame lay solely at their feet? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that the current Two Party system is antiquated. It's failing. It also seems to have Alzheimer's since they can never keep their stories straight... It's time to move on.

"Our two party system is a bowl of sh*t staring at itself in the mirror." -Lewis Black

In the last election when Obama ran against McCain, I remember feeling the same helpless, hopeless pessimism that voting for "the lesser of two evils" was no longer something that I could do and still feel good about my vote. When Kerry ran against Lil' Bush, I did just that: I got wasted and voted for dumb ass Kerry. My reasoning was that I would rather have a fresh douche than an old, chafing one. But last election? Nope, I willingly and (almost) gladly threw my vote at a 3rd Party Candidate. I won't say which one, because it doesn't matter. I simply REFUSED to give my vote to Barack Obama or John McCain. Why? Because they both SUCKED. They sucked and so do our current options. I will not go into WHY they suck because I could spend all day doing so and YOU could spend all day debating me. We all know why they each suck, let's just leave it at that.

"When I think about who I would vote for... I don't even look at their policies. I just look at their character." -Dave Chappelle

Most people say that voting for a 3rd Party is bad because A) It takes votes away from the 2 main choices B) It's "throwing away" a vote because a 3rd Party has no chance of winning C) Voting with your conscience is meaningless, etc. I've got news for ya, folks. If I take 1 measly vote away from either of those morons, I'm absolutely STOKED. Because if you're voting for who you feel is the right choice, your vote is never wasted.

"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting." -FDR

It is our duty and responsibility as citizens and voters of these United States to vote. BUT, it's also up to us to educate ourselves about the candidates. Why is that? Because nearly all of the major news organizations have been bought and paid for by the Right and the Left. So what we get is NOT the news. What we get is OPINION, spin and straight-up propaganda. So it falls on us to sift through the bullshit and make a responsible and educated vote. Do not give in to hate, fear and all of the other modes of control. USE YOUR FREAKIN' HEAD and back it up with your heart.

"Fifty percent of people won't vote, and fifty percent don't read newspapers. I hope it's the same fifty percent." -Gore Vidal

As far as my actual political views are concerned, I will say only this: I have no political allegiance. I try to remain non-partisan. I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I have been called a non-conformist, a contrarian and other colorful terms where my political views are concerned. Obviously, I disagree. I vote how I feel makes sense and what I think is best for the nation. If that's being contrary to the b.s. status quo, then so be it.

"Liberal and conservative have lost their meaning in America. I represent the distracted center." -Jon Stewart

Tomorrow I will once again vote for a 3rd Party candidate. Just who that person is I feel is irrelevant, because I'm not here to tell you who to vote for. I'm just asking you to vote responsibly and logically.

"Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains." -Winston Churchill

^This is my favorite political quote^. It reminds me to walk the fine line between emotion and logic when it comes to making my decisions as a voter. I know that's probably not what Churchill meant, but that's what it means to me. I hope it does the same for you.

See you on the flip side.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Free concert? What??

It's been over 5 months since my last post, for reasons that I will elaborate upon at a later date.... For now, let's just get down to another of bob_o's magical music reviews!

Thursday April, 26th started off like any other day. Rolled out of bed, rolled into work, grabbed my much needed morning caffeine and started checking my email. One in particular immediately grabbed my attention; "Congratulations! You're Blistering.com's winner...." Jeeze. This spam filter really isn't working very well. But curiosity got the better of me, so I opened it. According to this email, not only had I won www.blistering.com's contest, I had won tickets to see Ghost, Mastodon and Opeth. Bull. Fucking. Shit.

 I've never won anything in my life, let alone something that I would actually want. After a few disbelieving emails back in forth with Blistering Editor-in-Chief David Gehlke and Live Nation rep Lennora Jules, they convinced me that this was not a joke. I had indeed won tickets to see 2 of my favorite bands together. As in, at the same time. But wtf? I hadn't entered any contest, nor was I familiar with Blistering (which, by the by, is a bad ass website dedicated to only the best hard rock and metal). But that was now peripheral to the fact that there was two tickets waiting for me at Will Call! So I hit up my friend, co-worker and fellow metal-head Juan Ibarra. Me: "Hey Juanito! You want to go see Ghost, Mastodon and Opeth tonight at City Walk? For free??" Juan: "What?? Do I have to decide right now?? But yes! Jessss!" Hahaha! I love it when an impromptu plan comes together. (I found out a week later that good friend Cody Strong is the one responsible for entering me into the contest. Thanks Cody!)

The drive to Universal City went smoothly, except that when we got within 10 miles of City Walk, my GPS and Juan's GPS started bickering and we got slightly lost. No biggie.

We picked up the tickets from Will Call and entered the Gibson Amphitheater right as openers Ghost were taking the stage. We took our seats and started listening to the odd Swedish quintet. Neither Juan or I were overly familiar with their music, but I can tell you that half-way through their set, we were both converts to what some have jokingly called the "easy listening" of metal. They have a very laid back and somewhat progressive approach to their music.

It flows nicely, while still having the ability to make you bang your head, despite the absence of what has become standard fare for metal vocals: screaming, growling, shrieking, etc. In fact, the most extreme aspect of vocalist "Papa Emeritus'" vocal style is his accent, which is actually very mild. I think that one of the most hypnotic things about Ghost is their stage presence. Papa Emeritus glides onto the stage, looking like a Pope from your nightmares, complete with ghoulish face paint and bizzaro-world Habit. The other members of the band, known only as the "Nameless Ghouls" don Monk's robes that look like they were stolen from the late 15th century. Their appearance aside, this band is awesome. And despite their relative anonymity in the American metal scene, the crowd seemed to be enjoying it as much as Juan and myself. Regardless of the overtly Satanic lyrical content, haha!

Next up was Mastodon. And while I was really excited to see them play again, my apprehension definitely got the better of me (read why here). Unfortunately, my skepticism became reality as Mastodon launched into one of the most lackluster performances I've ever seen from a band as big as they are. It felt like an hour of goin'-through-the-motions. And while musically they sounded perfect, the vocals were weak, with the exception of Brann's vocals which were near flawless.

To be fair, when Troy and Brent were singing newer songs, they sounded a lot better. But while playing pre-Crack the Skye tracks (though they only played 4), Brent's pipes sounded likely to give out at any moment. Being a metal vocalist, I can understand what a strain their style of vocals can be on your vocal chords... But why not simply change it up a bit so that it's easier to perform? I dunno.
Also much to my disappointment, as previously mentioned, they only played 4 older tracks: "Hand of Stone" and "Crystal Skull" from Blood Mountain, and "Blood & Thunder" and "Aqua Dementia" from Leviathan. And admittedly, I hate to be "that guy", bitching about wanting to hear "the old shit", but here we are. Well written, recorded and executed though it may be, it lacks intensity. Though admittedly, what it lacks in intensity, it makes up for with tasty progressiveness.

I guess my biggest gripe with them was their near complete lack of stage presence. They can't all be zingers, right?

Opeth. What can I say? Opeth came out and wowed as usual. Mikael was his same dry, sarcastically entertaining self. And they performed an awesome assortment of their material spanning their entire 22 year career. From beginning to end, Opeth delivered the goods. Though I should admit, that this seems to be business as usual for the Progressive Metal band (and I don't care if you don't want to be labeled a "Metal Band", Mikael! You write and play metal, albeit some of the most progressive of metal ever to be recorded). 

They began with the first 3 tracks from their latest release, Heritage ("The Devil's Orchard", "I Feel the Dark" and "Slither", respectively). They then played what sounded like listening to their catalog on shuffle: "Windowpane", "Burden", "The Lines in my Hand", "Folklore", "Demon of the Fall" and "The Grand Conjuration". Every member of the band was on-fucking-point. Amazing. Opeth never disappoints.

Here's a few from their set list:



And I know they didn't play it, but here's "Heir Apparent", just for fun!


Overall, it was a great night. And I know I shouldn't complain about Mastodon, considering I got the tickets for Free Ninety-Nine. But... seriously Mastodon. C'mon guys, seriously. . 

I'd like to thank David Gehlke at Blistering.com and Lennora Jules at Live Nation for their patience in regards to my incredulous correspondence and for the the tickets! I had a blast! Thanks to Cody for entering me in the contest and thanks to Juan for accompanying me! 

Thank you for reading.