Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reggie Watts

I've seen Reggie Watts twice, once at "Kingdom of Heaven" at the legendary Creek and once opening for Conan O'Brien. He blew me away both times creating sophisticated, layered, hysterical beats armed only with a Line6 DL4. Now Comedy Central has produced a video for his song that I can't get out of my head. I won't tell you the title but it's a closeout warehouse of obscenities. There's Kumail Nanjiani in there and I think I see Tom McCaffrey in the background.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Walking Dead" Trailer

Everybody knows zombie movies are pretty cheap, ever since George Romero made the original "Night of the Living Dead" for nothing. And yet it took forty more years before someone realized they could afford to do them on a weekly basis.

Even better than just a weekly series, "Walking Dead" is based on a great comic by Robert Kirkman. I read the first forty or so issues and loved them. Not sure why I didn't stick with it but chances are Batman did something and distracted me.

AMC has quickly become a pedigree. From a network which originally claimed that every movie in black and white was a "classic" so a commercial free network that just started showing commercials one day (and no one believed me!) AMC has risen incredibly high on the merits of two series, "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" two shows which are so undeniably great everyone believes the network has greenlight nothing else.

This looks awesome, it's 90 minutes for the first episode and starts on Halloween!

Friday, August 27, 2010

DC Universe Online Trailer

As you may know, I'm no gamer (a fact I tried desperately to hide on my Nintendo job application two years ago). I finally sold my PS3 last month. I didn't have a Wii until last Christmas and only changed the batteries in the controllers once. The fact is I don't put in enough time to get any good at video games and every time I do I think of all the things I could be doing instead.

But everyone went nuts over "Batman: Arkham Asylum" last year and neither my Wii nor my desktop could handle it. It galls me that there's good Batman out there I can't experience. And now there's this:

I'm going to need a PS3.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


My allergies are usually done by now but this week they came back with the force of a cold. I guess it comes in waves out here.

I'm going to have to make daily trips to pollen.com. There's a national map that tracks the pollen count dya to day as if it were the weather. And if you're like me, it's more important than the weather.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guitar Shots

Speaking of real guitars, the light hit my guitar stand well yesterday so I took pictures of everything.

The original. Applause Ovation copy. $169 from King James Music in Brooklyn, 1989. I learned how to play on this thing and played it half to death. I played at my first show (the Cathedral talent show). There's chips in the headstock from multiple doorways and a crack in the finsh from playing in Central Park on the anniversary of John Lennon's death. I often think of taking it in for repairs but I know the cost will outweigh the original value.

2004 Martin 12 string. A xmas gift from Renee the year we got married. I record with this a lot and it's come with me to a few bar sessions and one rooftop gig. Truthfully, I don't play this enough but then again, I don't play acoustics enough anymore.

1968 Gibson acoustic. Looks fantastic, feels good but the bridge came up after a month or so. Had it fixed and it's not quite the same. I keep wanting to play it more and I keep putting it down.

1991 Tele Plus. Bought from Sam Ash on 48th St in 1992. Those are Lace Sensor pickups which a coil tap switch for the humbucker. My only electric for ten years. It's taken some major abuse from both the grunge era and my twenties. Still sounds great, still too heavy.

2006 60th Anniversary start. Bought from Matt Umanov Guitars in 2007 on my way from jury duty and to a comedy open mike. This has become the project guitar. That's the Tele's locking tuners and bridge in there. Rewired it to turn the neck pickup on and off and combine the middle and bridge pickups into one humbucker. Comfortable to wear and shreds my wrists every time.

2001 Les Paul. 30th birthday present. You've seen this before and you've seen the P-Rails I put in last year for my 37th birthday. A completely versatile LP. My #1 and my only audition guitar.

Rickenbacker 330/12. First guitar I ever bought from craigslist and a phenomenal deal. This was a lifelong dream come true. I started playing on an acoustic 12 string in the chapel at high school (the choir had one lying around)and after hearing "Full Moon Fever" I knew someday I'd have to have one. Adore this guitar and the vintage pickups pushed it higher up my list. Just wish I had more songs to play it live.

Gretsch 2001 Tenessee Rose. First ebay purchase of a guitar after two amps and many pedals there. The owner refinished it in a burst and added a midrange control under the pickguard. He also painted the pickguard gold, which I hated. I got this when I moved to Chicago as the owner of the guitar store here is a big fan of hollowbodies. Realized I didn't have one. Also realized I didn't have a great acoustic and I figured this could do both. This will be jam session bar guitar whether it's in a band or with me on a stool.

2005 Musicman Axis. Used from Guitarcenter.com. I played an EVH at King James in 1991 and it instantly became another "someday" guitar. When Eddie Van Halen left Ernie Ball, this became the Axis with almost no design changes. I always wanted a light, fast modern shredder guitar. I've also been curious about owning a Floyd Rose as I started playing when they were all the rage. It's tight and loud and so small it fits my 5 foot 7 frame better than my other axes. Took this one down to Puerto Rico and it was so easy to tweak with the climate change it remains my #1 traveling guitar.

Epiphone Hofner bass copy. On sale at Guitar Center. I borrowed Matt Kinkel's Ibanez Precision copy about 15 years ago and when I moved, it was time to give it back. Stopped by Guitar Center during their Memorial Day sale and got this for less than $200. It's only for recording but it sounds great running direct. And you never know when you'll need a bass.

My newest and quickly becoming my new #1: 1984 white Gibson SG. I've wanted one since 1988 when I first saw "This is Spinal Tap". When I got my Tele Plus it was a white SG I was going for. Found out the color is rare, with Gibson only producing them eveyr five years or so. In 2002 I bought a black Epiphone SG and gave it away a few montha later, once I had a Les Paul. SGs are so thing and light that they get top heavy and you spend most of your energy holding it up. I've tried Gothics, Fadeds and signatures and hated them all.

Then I saw this guy on ebay. Turns out the seller owns a store in Lincoln Park so I waited the auction out, offered him $300 less than he was asking and picked it up to avoid shipping charges. It's amazing, balanced and sounds the way I always thought I sounded. I've had it a month and have already taken it to band practice more than my Les Paul. I'll definitely be gigging with it.

When I lived in my parents' basement apartment, I converted that living room to a rehearsal studio. Apart from my two guitars and one amp, I covered the walls with Guitar World centerfolds. There was Eddie's frankenstrat, Jimmy Page's Les Paul, Clapton's psychedelic SG, McCartney's Hofner all on that wall. It's taken twenty years and four addresses but I've finally assembled that collection for real.

There's an old joke among guitar players when asked how many axes they need. "Just one more." I think I'm good now. But there is that Rickenbacker 360 at the store...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rock Band 3 Uses Real Guitars

One of my biggest problems with the "Guitar Hero" games is that as close as it is to playing the real guitar, there's fundamental differences that totally blow the reality.

Looks like Rock Band has solved that problem. They've teamed with Fender to make a real guitar that works as the interface. While it's not as cool as say plugging my Les Paul into the game, I realize that's impossible as this Squier has sensors running up the neck itself. Still it should fundamentally change how musicians see the game.

But will it work for the Beatles version?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Guitar upgrade

Since I moved out of NY, I have not stopped screwing with my guitars. When I'm not buying new ones (and oh, I AM buying new ones)I'm improving my existing axes. At least once a week I'm changing the action on one. Got a set of Nashville strings on my Tele so I can play "Wild Horses" over and over and over again. Rewired my strat (again) so at the flip of a switch I can turn the middle and bridge single coils into a single humbucker ( I can already control the neck pickup with another switch).

And I went on ebay to get vintage pickups for my Rickenbacker:

Got a 1967 "toaster" in the bridge position now and a new one in the neck. They are way cleaner and brighter than the stock high gains that came with the guitar so it really nails that 1965 sound. Plugged it into the Vox with some compression and played more Byrds songs than I ever have before.

By the way, if you want my old pickups, I'm selling them on ebay here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mister Bob

I'm no fan of techno. But I have to admit the Nick Vernier Band took a Monkees throw away bonus track ("Zilch") and made a really cool song out of it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford on the Today Show

Since Star Wars Celebration is starting in Orlando today, I keep finding more awesome Star Wars stuff online. Look at this. As far as I know this is the only time this has ever happened.

Part 2:

Harrison Ford actually says he likes the movie (that won't happen again). And Mark Hamill accurately predicts the prequel trilogy that would happen almost twenty years later. Although he doesn't predict it will suck.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Batman

It's a new decade so it's time for a new Batman costume. And I dig this. I missed the yellow bat symbol since it disappeared in 2000. I like that the shades of gray eliminate the black/blue debate on the cape and cowl. But mostly I like that Bruce Wayne is no longer built like a tank. There's no way a self-taught guy with no super powers should be as big as Superman.

It also reminds me how smart and subtle DC is with their costume redesigns (Wonder Woman nonwithstanding). Unlike Marvel whose approach seems to be altering the character far enough that they can spin the costume into a new character while the favorite goes back to the established icon (look at any Spider-Man redesign) every decade or so DC makes subtle changes that get the fanbase excited while doing nothing to rile the casual fan. Superman gets a darker blue, a bigger "S". Batman goes from blue to black, Green Lantern loses the trunks for a beltline. So I could go on and on about the ear length and the body seams but many of you will look and say, "Yeah, it's Batman. And?"

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ron Zabrocki's "Crossroads"

There's something I love about this new age. While big name bands are no longer putting any money or energy into music videos because there's no network that will run them, one of my favorite musicians but this really cool piece together without backing, a record contract or even a band.

Yay Ron!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010