Review: Static X – Shadow Zone

This aint no in-depth review, just a quickie on what I think of the new album.

Well, first thing I noticed is it’s short. I don’t care as much anymore though cuz A) so many albums are short nowadays it aint worth bitchin’ about and B) as long as what’s on offer is good who gives a fuck?

Second thing I noticed is that… it’s different. Very. In fact if someone had played pretty much any song off the album without tellin me who it was I woulda had a hard time figuring out who it was. Well, maybe not, because I’m gifted when it comes to music ‘n stuff but the general sound, ESPECIALLY the vocals, are completely different to what I’ve come to expect from the X.

Which is a good thing, frankly. Linkin Park take note. Limp Bizkit… uh… don’t ever pull that soft shit on the masses again. Bastards.

What was I on about? Oh yeah, vocals. I am VERY impressed. I never really thought ol’ Wayne had it in him but he has, in fact, got a great SINGING voice. Thankfully though he still screams his little heart out and gets all gruff ‘n shit, which is what The RKanester likes.

“Destroy All” is the perfect opener, short and to the point. Kicks off with a distorted riff, then breaks into a relentless barrage of nuttiness with the crunching guitars and Wayne’s throaty vocals.

Fortunately things remain distinctly uphill, with “Control It” and title track “Shadow Zone” showing off Static’s new (though not so new as to dignify a reinvention) sound nicely, with “New Pain” slotted nicely in-between, sounding like grade-A single material.

“Dead World”, “Monster” and “The Only” follow, each track keeping up the pace and overall “feel” of the album. It’s about this time you begin to appreciate the direction Static-X have taken, because they COULD have just churned out another Wisconsin Death Trip and made everyone happy but no, they’ve obviously taken things back to the drawing board, kept all the elements that made them such a success and thrown in enough changes in the process to allow them to come out with something genuinely “new”, all the while retaining the core elements of hard, often fast-paced accessible industrial metal. I can imagine some Static fans are gonna be a tad taken aback by this album but that’s a good thing. It won’t just be “another” Static-X album in their collection; it’ll be “that” Static-X album.

We’re reminded of the old Static-X though with “Kill Your Idols”, which I’ll admit is my fave track on the album. I’m just a sucker for the more slow-burning malevolent tracks cuz, like, I’m evil. Plus it’s just a bad-ass song.

“All In Wait” and “Otsegolectric” keep up the pace and then, in a move that caught me totally off-guard… we get the soft song.

Well, it’s as close to a ballad as we’re gonna get from these guys anywayz. “So” is a totally radio-friendly track but not in a way so as to offend the Static-X zealots. It’s a different song for a different album, simple as, and it seems only fitting.

Then we get the little intermissionary (t’is a word, honest) track in “Transmission”, which leads us straight into closing track “Invincible”. Again, COMPLETELY different from what you’d expect. Not particularly heavy, though not as mellow as “December” off the Wisconsin Death Trip LP. In any case it winds you down nicely after having your ears assaulted for the past 30 minutes, give or take.

So yeah, overall it’s a great album. I won’t lie and pretend that the shortness of the album (it comes in at around 35 minutes total I think) doesn’t bother me but I can deal with that. What’s on offer is great and nothing really stands out as being bad, and I’d definitely say that “Kill Your Idols”, “All In Wait” and “New Pain” are the stand-out tracks, at least for me.

Is this Static-X’s best album? Depends on who you ask. For me? No. Though it’s a great album I still have a soft spot for the rawness and anthemic feel to the majority of Wisconsin Death Trip’s tracks.

I suppose I better hand out a rating so here goes…

OVERALL: 4 out of 5.

A very fair rating methinks. Definitely one of the better releases this year from a major name.

Anyone else?

Wasted Words 2

Recommended download: Avenged Sevenfold Chapter Four

Understatement of the year: President Bush says that the media doesn’t tell the truth. What, does this asshole live under a rock? But isn’t that like the pot calling the kettle black?

Hey there, it’s me again. Yep, that annoying voice in your head that just won’t go away and keeps telling you to jump as you look out of your second story window. Back at you again with another dose of news, reviews, opinions, and some other bullshit thrown in. As I sit here typing this, I’ve got two fresh tattoos, one on each arm. A few months ago I had red and black nautical stars done and tonight I went back and added to them. I added flames to the one on my left arm, and some oriental style water around the one on my right arm. They’re still pretty sore, but I’ll manage. Let’s see, latest albums. I picked up The D4’s album 6Twenty, used at the local record store. If you like stripped down, good old fashioned rock n roll, then this album is for you. RnR MF and Running on Empty are two of my favorite tracks from the album. I also picked up Anti-Flag, A New Kind Of Army, used as well. I’m a big fan of Anti-Flag, so naturally I love this album. They have a new album out on the 21st, titled The Terror State. I’ve heard some of the material off of it, and it sounds real nice.

There was a riot in Montreal on Tuesday after the announcement that the Exploited/Total Chaos show was canceled due to problems the bands had crossing the border. The news was announced while people were already lined up waiting to enter the venue, and fans apparently didn’t like it. They began breaking store windows, car window, lighting fires, and over turning cars. Apparently only two people were reported injured, one being a police officer. What does this prove? One thing, and one thing only. People are fucking idiots and don’t know how to act right! So you don’t get to see the show. Would I be pissed off? Your damn right I would be pissed off. But breaking peoples shit isn’t exactly going to make the concert happen, now is it? Think about it. People waiting to see a show decide to start fires and break into buildings, causing the riot squad to be called out to disperse the crowd. Now, maybe it’s just me, but wouldn’t this make people a bit apprehensive of booking another show there? People just don’t get it. In the end, they’re only fucking themselves because sooner or later there won’t be any live shows allowed.

Some Limp Bizkit fans, 172 to be exact, are suing because the band walked off stage 17 minutes into their set during a Summer Sanitarium show. I’d probably walk off stage too if the crowd was booing and throwing things. Apparently the fans who’ve filed the lawsuits each want a third of their ticket price, twenty-five dollars, refunded. Hardly seems worth the trouble to me. Then again, I wouldn’t pay seventy-five dollars to see the Summer Sanitarium tour.

So Jay Z is retiring after his next album. Wouldn’t it be best to save some face and just go now while you still have a shred of credibility left? Wait, didn’t he do a duet with Beyonce Knowles? Nevermind, too late. That’s okay, cuz Ja Rule has a new album dropping soon and he says he’s gonna give us what Hip-Hop’s been missing. Riiiight. The guy got booed at The Source awards. He’s done and he should just join Jay Z in retirement.

Congratulations to Oblique on their song, Presence Guiding, being named Song of the Day on You can check out some of the reviews by going here. They have also advanced to the semifinals in the local battle of the bands competition, which takes place on November 14. I’ve been following these guys for well over a year now, and they definitely deserve the recognition they’ve been getting.

Last but not least, to celebrate one of my favorite holidays, I’m planning a special Halloween edition of my column in a couple of weeks. If you have any Halloween memories you’d like to share, type it up in a quick paragraph or two and email it to me at Type HALLOWEEN as the subject so I don’t delete it by mistake. I’m going to compile all submissions and post them here on the site as part of my column, along with some memories of my own. Depending on the response I receive to this, I may have to operate on a first come, first serve basis. So stop procrastinating and get that shit in ASAP!

Thanks for reading. I’m out, peace.

What rhymes with heartless bastard?

I’ve been writing songs since I was about 16. However, creating music only works for me when I’m all angsty and sad. What will follow has been my song writin’ situation for the past couple days. (i’ve been going through a tough time with an ex so i have plenty to write about)

My guitar is on my lap. The chord progression is different than im used to but still sounds good, and it even contains my favorite chord (F# Major played open hitting all the strings on the way up).

The melody? Its good! Its better than alot of other melodies I have thought of, and even have some of the cool June Spirit’esq triplets.

……………………Lyrics? Fuck me. Why the hell can’t I think of lyrics?

…”Do you think of me? when you’re…”
shit..ok. Think Nina, what would he be doing with that whore he’s dating?

..”Do you think of me when you’re lying wrapped up in her arms?”
ok good start now..arm….arm….harm? farm? chicken parm? alarm? HARM! Yes…

..”Do you think of me, and how you said you never want to cause me harm”

eh..ok..its an alright start. better pickitup pickitup! (ska! hah!)
Ok Nina..what has been on your mind when you think about him and that girl.

..”Do you think of me, when you lie down and kiss her goodnight?”
GOOD! You actually said that to him so thats pretty relevant.

Ok now the next one, you have to think of something interesting. Something that hasn’t been done before. What would be cool…it has to rhyme i guess. “do you think of me when you are out there flying a kite?” no….thats lame….”when you poke her eyes out and rob her of her site?” very oedipus, not very nina.

Ah fuck it, go with what seems natural

…”do you think of me, when you’re in bed, holding her tight”

OK that sucks, but thats all I can think of. Must add cool JS’esq triplet here to make it sound cool even though the lyrics suck.

Enough verse! ON TO THE BRIDGE!!!!!!!!!!!!

(F # MAJOR!) “How could you do this…” (A!) “ me?” (F# MAJOR!) “How could you do this?” (A!) “What happened to your heart?”

YES!!!!!! HAH! That will make that jerk think! And its relevant. I think i’ve found my hook! Hooray!

*songwriting tip* (I’d say to all the aspiring song writers in there, make sure every song you have has a hook. Even a little teeny unnoticible hook, but a hook.) Now back to the stupid second verse.

Ok Now E major, E major again, B, A

My last pick falls into the body of my acoustic.

Fuck it…that jerk doesn’t diserve a song about him anyway.

….i bet Conor O’berst never had this problem.
boy do i suck.

THE GUT: week 3

Welcome to the third installment of “The Gut”. This week I will be writing a little bit longer of an article because there is more going on in the world of sports than just the NFL season. This is one of the most exciting times in sports. You have the NFL season in full swing, the baseball playoffs rounding into form, and the NBA and NHL seasons are just about to start. Hope is all over the place in the world of sports, well except in Cincinnati where they don’t have anything to cheer about.

One of the places where the hope is shining the brightest is Boston. The Patriots are looking pretty good, the Celtics are a shoe in for the playoffs and the Bruins are also coming off a really good season. And what about the Red sox? If they win game 2 against the Yankees, or the evil empire as they are referred to in Boston, the Red sox will be up 2-0 with out their ace Pedro Martinez having thrown a pitch. I really feel that if they win game 2 they have the series. If not though it takes all the wind out of their sails and then they become to dependent on Pedro.

Another bit of sporting news I saw today is that the New York Knicks signed aging center Dikembe Mutombo. I hate to say some of what I’m about to say but thank the good lord for the Islanders, Yankees (did I just say that?), and the Giants. The reason I say this is because it seems like the teams that play inside Madison Square Garden are trying to make as many bad moves as they can. Kind of like a game of one-upping each other but in reverse. Dikembe and Keith Van Horn in the same off-season? MSG might implode this year before I get to see Wrestlemania.

Now some of you may have noticed that in the paragraph above I didn’t mention the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets. The reason for that is they are worse off than the Knicks and Rangers. Both of those teams play over 80 games, they have to win at least 1 game, the Jets only play 16 (17 if you count last weeks 27-6 beat down against the bye week) and very well could lose them all.

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
What is Jets coach Herman Edwards favorite part about this time of year? He can always count on the Yankees to take the spotlight off his horrible team. Now I must say as impressed as I was with the Bills the first 2 weeks, the last few have been not so good. They did win last week again against the Bengals but in overtime. The good news for the Bills is that Travis Henry came back in a limited role last week and scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

Gut feeling: Expect Bledsoe to throw for over 300 yards and 3 TD’s. If you have him on your fantasy team thank your stars he’s playing the Jets, and if you’re going up against him good luck. Also expect Henry to get more carries than he did against the Bengals.
The Jets kicker gets a lot of points coming off the bye but its not enough. Bills 32 Jets 12

New York Giants @ New England Patriots
This might be one of the top games on the schedule. It’s always hard for me to predict Giant games. When I think they will win, they lose and vise versa. Tom Brady’s elbow still isn’t 100% and their offensive line isn’t as good it has been in the past. They have lost a starting player on the defensive side of the ball almost every week now. All of this plus the fact that Jeremy Shockey finally woke up last week and remembered that he was one of the top two tight ends in the world don’t have the Pats looking too good this week.

Gut feeling: Shockey had 11 catches for 110 yards against a dominant Miami defense last week and the Giant defense held all-universe back Ricky Williams to under 50 yards rushing. The giants are the worst defense against the pass in the league but that’s all they will be expecting against New England this week so they will look much better. Giants win a better game than the score will indicate 27-17.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
I have a feeling that Randall Cunningham will run all over Tony Tolbert and the Dallas Cowboy defense. Oh wait wrong decade; I guess you can’t blame a Giant/Mets fan for being stuck in the 80’s. This is a battle of two teams headed in oppisite directions. The Cowboys, lead by the amazing breakthrough of former Georgia Bulldog Quincy Carter, look poised to challenge the Giants for the division title. The eagles on the other hand don’t look too good. Their defense is banged up and I know they did win last week against the Redskins but they still didn’t do too much to impress me. I think the Eagles offense needs a major overhaul this off-season. They can’t expect McNabb to carry this team forever. Even John Elway didn’t win till Terrell Davis showed up.

Gut feeling: I don’t see the Eagles Offense being able to score on Dallas’ defense like they did against Washington’s. And the Cowboys do have the top ranked offense in all of football thanks to their stud receiving core. Writing this article has made me look at things from a more realistic point of view when it comes to teams like the Cowboys. I will always root against them but consider me on their preverbal bandwagon. They are better than first thought. I always new that they had the defense and the receiving core to stay close. However I didn’t think that Quincy could play this well. Expect Dallas to embarrass the Eagles 35-17

Kansas City Chiefs @ Green Bay Packers
I would like to open this up by apologizing for doubting the Chiefs last week. A special apology needs to be made to their superstar kick returner Dante Hall. I said last week they wouldn’t beat the Broncos and one of the reasons I listed was that there was no way that Hall could return another one for a touchdown. I was wrong on both accounts as Hall returned a punt 93 yards for the game winning score. That was the second week in a row that he had what turned out to be the game winning score. So now what do I do? Do I say Hall returns another kick and the Chiefs win, In Green Bay of all places? What about Brett Favre, can he muster up some more Lambeau magic?

Gut feeling: I’m going to say a little of both when it comes to KC. They don’t need Hall to return a kick for a touchdown every game. He can be valuable just by the field position he gives them on the ones that don’t get taken to the house. And I see a big game for Priest Holmes, I expect him to return to his usual 180 yards of total offense and 2 touchdowns against the Packers. KC wins 45-29

That’s all I have to say for this week. Good luck to all of your favorite teams unless you’re a Jets fan because I love watching them lose. And lets go Cubbies!

Wasted Words 1

Follow sheep and move along/Come on kids let’s sing along/Do you realize what I’m saying?

Recommended download: The inspiration for the title of this column, as well as the origination of the above quote. Wasted Words – Death By Stereo

Let’s see, where to begin. Been a busy couple of weeks for me in the music purchasing department. I picked up Thursday’s War All The Time, which is an excellent album. Be sure to check out Mike’s review of it here. I also purchased Avenged Sevenfold, Waking the Fallen and From Autumn To Ashes, The Fiction We Live. Both of them are awesome albums and are getting plenty of play in my stereo. I decided to check out The Bled, Pass The Flask which is a good album as well. Check out their track Spitshine Sonata for some good, fun hardcore music. I grabbed Matchbook Romance, Stories and Alibis as well. It’s a bit toned down from their EP, but still a great album. Though I had planned to wait and find it used, I picked up Limp Bizkit, Results May Vary. It’s not a bad album, but not a great album either. I grabbed Volume 3 of the Take Action! collection. Six dollars for two discs is a great deal. It’s an even better deal when you get bands like Poison the Well, Thrice, Thursday, Vaux, Avenged Sevenfold, The Ataris, Further Seems Forever, and many more of your favorite punk, emo, and hardcore bands. On top of all that, the money goes for a good cause with 5% of the purchase price going towards The National Hopeline Network which is a suicide help line. Today while I was out, I picked up the new Early November album, The Room Is Too Cold and 2Pac, Nu-Mixx Klazzics. Haven’t listened to The Early November yet, but the 2Pac album leaves a lot to be desired. As the title suggests, it’s a remix album and it consists of 10 tracks from Pac’s Death Row albums. The problem is, the remixes aren’t that great and they sound nothing like anything Pac would’ve done. Of course, his lyrics are there, but the beats aren’t him at all. To be honest though, I wasn’t expecting anything great considering it was released through Death Row Records. All they seem to do is bastardize Pac’s music to make more money off of him. Trying to save a sinking ship I suppose. Still, knowing that ahead of time, I bought it. Afterall, it is 2Pac.

In the DVD department, I’ve purchased four within the past couple weeks. First there’s the Scarface Anniversary edition. This movie is excellent! If you’re into gangster movies at all, and you haven’t seen this, you suck. Badly. I bought Deuces Wild and Ice Age as well. Haven’t got to watch either one, but my two year old really digs Ice Age, so it must be good. I also picked up The Osbournes Season 2. I own the first season on DVD, so I thought what the hell. I get to watch it without the bleeps. On a side note; If you were wondering the same as I was, and I’m sure you were (or weren’t, whatever)..the nickname for Bert of The Used that they bleeped out was “Cauliflower Dick.” Yay.

I watched two new movies the other night. Well, they were new to me anyway;Requiem for a Dream and The Hunted. Most people on this site have seen Requiem, so no need to go much into that one. In fact, I saw it on the recommendations of people from this site. Basically it deals with drug abuse, and is quite disturbing at times. The Hunted features Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro. Del Toro plays a military assassin who’s gone crazy and begins killing people outside of his missions. Jones plays the man who trained him and he’s brought in to catch him. While it didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, it was a decent movie. Lots of action and good fight scenes.

You hear about the Florida metal band, Hell On Earth? Me neither, but their latest publicity stunt has sure put their name in the headlines. They were promising to allow a terminally ill fan/friend commit suicide on stage at one of their live shows. Not only that, but they were gonna broadcast it on the Internet. Johnny Law caught wind of it and put a stop to it, apparently. They were still promoting the suicide, although it was to take place at an undisclosed location. First off, publicity stunt or real, this is a dumb ass idea. That’s all I’ve got to really say about that. I think I’ve given these guys too much of my time in just typing this paragraph.

So Tim Armstrong worked with Pink on writing her new album. Good for him. I’m happy for the guy. He deserves to get his name out there and get recognized for what he does. Besides, I really dig that Trouble song. I know the punk police will be out in full force though, so an early middle finger goes out to you assholes who talk shit. He’s planning to work with Gwen Stefani on her solo debut as well. That should keep the busy bodies talking for a while.

Seen the new White Stripes video, The Hardest Button to Button? I’m not crazy about the song itself, but the video is wicked. You have to see it to know what I’m talking about.

So Courtney Love overdosed on narcotics. Does anyone really care anymore? It’s about as meaningless to me as the Ben & J-Lo saga, or who Demi Moore is dating.

That reminds me…what is Americas obsession with the tabloids? Are we natural born nibshits and gossips, or did we have to work hard to perfect it? I couldn’t care less who is dating who, who’s banging who, or who’s cheating on so and so! Get over it and get your own life!

If you live in the Chicago area and play drums or know someone who does, Numb is looking for a new drummer. If you’re interested, head over to their website to find out the details. Numb

Oblique, a local band in my area (Muncie, Indiana), have just recently finished recording some new material. You can stream the new tracks at their website. I recommend the hardcore track, Mason. They’re a great band, so please check them out. Oblique

As some of you may or may not know, there was a tragic accident at a Death By Stereo show where one person died and 5 others were injured. There was also a person stabbed to death at a rap concert featuring Snoop Dogg, Warren G, and others. Why is it no longer safe to go anywhere? Even at a concert where people go to have fun and enjoy some good live music, it’s no longer safe. Promoters overcrowd clubs, making it unsafe for concert goers. For what? To sell more tickets and make more money? Since when is the almighty dollar more important then human life. To the idiots that would murder a guy at a show, or even start a fight, do you enjoy watching concerts? If you do, then stop the bullshit because if it keeps up, there won’t be a venue willing to host the shows. All this bad shit happening will eventually cause people to wash their hands of it and then what? CD’s are good, but live shows are even better. Don’t fuck it up for the rest of us, assholes.

On that note, I’m out. Peace.

Buried Treasure – Review – The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank

The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank

Fast Facts
Series: The Punisher
Title: Welcome Back, Frank
Format: Trade paperback, encompassing The Punisher: Volume 3, Issues 1-12.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Garth Ennis
Pencils: Steve Dillon
Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti

“New York City says… Welcome back, Frank”. And so do I. The Punisher returns to the Marvel line-up, this time with Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon running the show with able inking assistance from Jimmy Palmiotti. Frank Castle, the Punisher, is back with all the frills stripped away. Now it’s just Frank, guns, and scum that don’t deserve to be alive. Just as it should be.

The story of the Punisher’s return to New York City and his subsequent crusade against the notorious Gnucci crime family is told from Frank’s perspective, which allows the reader to really get into our hero’s mind as he resumes his quest to rid New York of the criminal filth that call the Big Apple home. Garth Ennis is an extremely talented writer, and the narrative inside Frank’s head as well as the dialogue flow seamlessly. Unlike many comics, this book isn’t packed with “comic book dialogue”; the stuff that works in a comic book but if you ever heard anybody say it you’d be looking at them like they were crazy. Instead Ennis’ dialogue sounds realistic, adding a level of respectability to the story that takes the tale told and elevates it to a greater plateau.

In addition to the storyline with the Punisher pitted against the Gnucci family there are also two related sub-plots. In one of them, the hapless Detective Martin Soap teams up with the NYPD’s biggest embarassment, Lieutenent Molly Von Ritchthoffen in an attempt to bring down both Ma Gnucci and the Punisher. The other sub-plot involves three vigilantes attempting to bring justice to New York in their own way. The Holy kills sinners in the confessional, Mr. Payback goes after the corporate pigs, and Elite murders those “lowering the tone” in his neighbourhood. The interplay between the three storylines is exquisite, with each affecting the other two.

Of course, great dialogue and narrative doesn’t matter squat if the art isn’t appealing. Of course, whether or not the art is appealing is really a matter of personal preference, but I will say this: Steve Dillon’s storytelling demands respect, whether you like his pencil-work or not. Frank Castle looks the part of the grizzled warrior whose sole duty is to purge the evil from the world with hot lead and cold steel, and his nemesis in this story arc, the vile Ma Gnucci, has an evil look to match her evil mind. I can’t forget Jimmy Palmiotti, though, for his inks add greatly to Dillon’s already stellar pencils, making the book come together with a darkly attractive visual style that serves to enhance the story being told.

I would be remiss not to mention that the Punisher’s creativity in dealing death is really enough on it’s own to give this book a read. I won’t spoil any of it, but I will say that the trip to the zoo is a great example, and that chapter eleven contains what is arguably the most unique bit of improvisational combat ever seen in a comic book. Or any other medium, for that matter.

I really only have one complaint with “Welcome Back, Frank”: it ends. I got so into this book while I was reading it that I was actually disappointed to know that it was over when I finished it. This was remedied with reading it over again, then picking up “Business As Usual”, which features the next six issues of the Punisher.

Whether you’re a die-hard Punisher fan from way back when or a virgin to Frank Castle’s particular brand of vigilante justice, you owe it to yourself to give “Welcome Back, Frank” a read. You won’t regret it.

Also available in the new Punisher series:
The Punisher Volume 2: Army of One
The Punisher Volume 3: Business As Usual
The Punisher Volume 4: Full Auto

Open Mic w/ Bear Frazer : Volume II

Once again, it’s time for the latest and greatest in pop culture with your host, Bear Frazer. I just got word that people on the West Side are talking about how incredible my column is. I would like to say it’s nice that I have some fans all the way in Cali. Anyways, here I go.

One thing that has made me mad in the past is that some artists can easily top the Billboard Charts not by their skill, but by who they are. Take our latest example: Hillary Duff, the star of the Disney movie and television series, Lizzie Maguire. She doesn’t have the best voice or the best music around, but who she is guarantees her a platinum record and a #1 album on the Billboard 200. Her song, “Why Not,” wasn’t impressive whatsoever. There are so many pop stars out in the music scene who could easily make a better tune. This brings up the typical question, what’s the point, better yet, what are you trying to say? I’m not trying to say anything … I’m flat out saying that the only reason why Hillary Duff has a #1 album is because there are so many little kids who look up to a childhood Disney role model and second, but more importantly, there are so many sick men who can’t help but imagine getting the 15 year-old girl in bed, so of course they’re gonna buy the album, bottom line. I bet half the followers of my writing are probably thinking those sick thoughts right now … hey, whatever floats your boats.

Speaking of albums, a lot of albums have been dropping in stores recently. A Perfect Circles, “Thirteenth Step” came out September 9th, limpbizkit’s (not Limp Bizkit anymore) “Results May Vary” appeared in stores on September 23rd, and Ill Nino’s “Confession” out on September 30th. Also out on the 30th was Lo-Pro’s self-titled debut album. Lo-Pro is a band that could get really big soon. They are the first band signed under Staind’s record label, 413 Records and the group’s drummer is the former Godsmack drummer, Tommy Stewart. Just some side information for the metalheads.

Hey, does anyone remember Billy Corgan? He was the frontman for the Smashing Pumpkins who produced such songs like, “Tonight, Tonight,” and “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” After the band split in 2000, Corgan immediately started up a new band called Zwan. After a few years of hype, Zwan finally released their album, Mary Star of the Sea. The album started well on the Billboard 200, where it debuted at #3 on the charts, but it slid all the way down the charts, selling fewer than 270,000 copies. So what does an unsuccessful band do? They breakup. That’s right ladies and gentlemen … Zwan is Gone! Corgan told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that, “The band wasn’t going to reach its full capacity spiritually and musically. I didn’t see the commitment necessary. I was reliving ‘Behind the Music,’ and I’m not getting on that train to hell again.” Corgan plans to be releasing a book of poetry and an album, which covers six new acoustic songs. As far as the rest of the members of Zwan, who knows, but maybe the question is, who cares. There is only one thing for certain folks … ZWAN is GONE!

Eminem and Dr.Dre is currently in another lawsuit, but this time, a 70 year-old woman is the one filing the suit. Harlene Stein is suing Eminem because his 1999 hit, “Guilty Conscience” contains snippets of a 24-second piece from a song written by her late husband, “Pig Go Home.” Her husband was never credited as the song’s composer and his wife has never paid royalties for use of the song. Sure, this may be just another lawsuit on the Shady/Aftermath camp, but I think that the old lady should have filed for fees once the song was first heard. If I was betting man … which I may indeed be, but can’t repeat for legal purposes … I would bet that this story won’t grow much in the future.

And lastly, this is something I need to comment on, since everybody is doing it. Yea … I’m down with peer pressure! The talk of the month has been between J’Lo and Ben Affleck. Originally, their wedding was supposed to be postponed due to severe media all over the place. Now, the wedding is off and the two are no longer together. This is supposedly due to two reasons. The first of which is because Ben had a talk with his mother and she persuaded him not to marry her. Now what the heck is up with this? Are you saying that Ben’s mom didn’t know he was dating J’Lo or something? Damn … anyone who has some brain cells know that if you pick up a magazine or watch TV, all you ever see is Ben all over J’Lo. What Mrs. Affleck? Did you think they were good friends? Do you think they had teatime just for kicks? Come on! The second, which could be believable, is Ben was caught in Chicago gambling and partying. According to an interview back in 1999, Ben Affleck told Playboy 1999 that he’s prone to creating some incident in order to get out of a bad relationship. Seems like Ben is taking it well while J’Lo is not. Three words about this drama: Oh ____ well. And seriously, it’s not like the two weren’t going to break-up sooner or later. J’Lo likes a different guy every single year. Just wait, in 2004, she’ll probably be in love with someone like Trent Lott, Al Sharpton, or Ron Jeremy. Who knows, maybe even Carson Daly or Bill Clinton …

With all bases covered in entertainment for now, I must retreat like Saddam out of Iraq. This is for my peeps … lataz!

Music As A Religion

“Give me the beat boys, and free my soul. I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away..”

W.I. Thomas, a sociologist stated that religion is what the participant says it is. Under this statement, religion is Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism. Religion can also be the Raalians, the Heaven’s Gate Cult, or even a man in a field worshipping a wooden statue of a cow. Religion can be found in conventional places like churches, synagogues and temples. Followers of the religion read the words of the Qu’ran, the bible, the torah, and other holy scriptures and find spirituality within the sacred words. However, I found no solace in these books. I often thought of myself as being without religion. I attempted to adopt the belief in Judaism like my parents had. I tried so hard to believe the teachings of the Torah, the stories of the 10 plagues and Jacob and Esau. I just couldn’t believe no matter how much my parents wanted me to.

After realizing I could never connect with the Jewish faith, and resigned myself to the label atheist. After reading Emile Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of Religious Life, and Sociology of Religion, I have realized there is religion in my life. I can now proudly state when someone asks what religion I am, that my religion is music. It would be simple to justify music as a religion by using simply the situational approach backed by W.I. Thomas that all religions are true as long as the participant believes in it. However, by using Durkheim’s theories of religion, my belief in music can be more thoroughly examined.

Just like in conventional religions, Christianity for example, there is secularization. There are Catholics, Protestants, Methodists, and Baptists. This is also true in music. There are metal-heads, punk rockers, hippies, indie kids, gangster rap fans, and other groups which revolve around the music that they devote themselves to. This relates to Durkheim’s theory that God equals Society. In this case the music which is favored by the group spawns an entire society around
it. Fans of the music will dress in the fashion set forth by the musicians that they listen to. They will modify their body with tattoos and piercings to help identify themselves with the genre of music that they listen to. Go to any mall and you will see people dressed to identify which musical sect they belong to.

Within each society money is spent on c.d’s, t-shirts, concert tickets, and various other music related paraphernalia to help support the music. They will make mix tapes in the hopes that they can get other people to enjoy the music that they love. Many people within a church will donate 10 percent of their salary to support the church. They will participate in fund raisers, attend church functions, and proselytize to get people to join the church.

Durkheim states that within each church lies a charismatic spiritual leader. In Baptist churches, this means usually a minister who will speak with such power and intensity that it causes people to rise up out of their chairs and cry out praise to the lord. Each music genre has its own spiritual leaders, who are so powerful that they can cause someone to react so strongly simply through the lyrics to their songs. I attended a concert by an acoustic indie rock band called Dashboard Confessional. As I looked around, I noticed everyone in the audience was singing along to every word of every song. During one particularly sad song, I sobbed as I sang along with the lyrics. This may seem like just one incident, but I looked around and many other people around me were singing at the top of their lungs while tears streamed down their faces. Chris Carrabba, the front man for Dashboard Confessional, had his entire audience captivated and moved through his music. Carrabba had created what Durkheim calls collected effervescence. He created the music which uplifted the entire audience, some to the point where they could only express their joy by emitting tears as they sang along.

Kurt Cobain is perhaps the strongest point in conveying Durkheim’s idea of a spiritual leader. He was such a dynamic, revolutionary figure that he spurred an entire generation’s worth of music. He became the musical icon of a generation, much like the Pope is to Catholicism. When he commited suicide, it caused such an impact on his loyal fans that some of them took their own lives aswell. He is still thought of by many of his diehard fans as a martyr, much like Jesus is seen as a martyr by the followers of Catholicism.

According to Durkheim a religion has its own sets of rules and beliefs which are sacred. This too is true in music. At a concert, it is always certain that after the band finishes its last song, the stage darkens and the audience screams for more until the band members resurface for an encore. All the members of the different communities have very similar beliefs. Fans of the folk music in the 1960’s had strong beliefs against the Vietnam War. They valued peace, and love, and equality and they held these beliefs very close to their hearts.

Music to me has always been the source of my escape, my spirituality, even my salvation. When all was wrong in the world, I turned to music, and I was able to find the strength inside me to carry on. It has had more power over me than any recognized religion ever had. I can understand if someone is skeptical about how music can be my religion but as J.M. Barrie said, “One’s religion is whatever he is most interested in.”

May is a *CENSORED* nutcase!

Well, welcome back, my friends, to my unnamed column. The raven comes down to the bleak land of music and sets up his hut of enlightenment into things that are not music.

First things first, I’d like to remind you… Equilibrium. If you didn’t see it yet, you don’t matter. Understand? Go. See it. Now.

Today, I want to talk about a film I’ve seen yesterday on the university movie channel. This film, my friends, is called “May”.

This here film is about a girl named May, who, as the title says, a fucking nutcase. I’m not going to bore you with a list of actor names – if you’re interested, just hit “May” on Amazon or something and find out.

Anyway, as I was saying, May is a nutcase. This film starts out a comedy-drama-romantic movie. But don’t be fooled, boys and girls, for this is a comedy not. As you watch the movie, you slowly figure out how fucking disturbed May is. A doll given to her by her mother, shown in the beginning of the movie, is the symbol of her disintegrating mental, well, saniness. The doll is incased in a box with a glass window – cuz it’s valuable and stuff – and this glass slowly cracks throughout the movie, representing May’s mind. May is a weird young woman who works at a animal hospital as an assistant, and sews in her own free time. The movie starts as she saw a guy she liked, and stalks him. She eventually got a date out of him, and got him to like her. Sounds like a sappy romantic teen flick, eh? Thought so myself as well. Then things just starts to get more and more fucked up.

Now, there are major spoilers ahead. If you don’t like spoilers… Get the **** out of here, whippersnapper!

During the movie, May displays a love for certain body parts of certain people. For instance, she loved the first guy becsuse of his beautiful hands. She went all lesbian with a chick because she likes her neck. She also went out with another guy that have desirable arms. And there’s a girl that the lesbian goes out with, who have nice legs.

Well, when her doll finally went in a freakish scene including groping blind children, shattered glass and “I want to meet your friend!”, May went nuts. Frankly, I don’t blame her. Except for the fact that she is already going nuts all along. So anyway, she wants a perfect companion, so what does she do? She makes one herself. With the body parts she wanted. That’s right, she donned a freakish consume on halloween day, and went and slew all those people in turn, putting their parts in a cooler and sewing them together, making a fucked up bi-gender Frankenstein’s monster.

You gotta see it to understand why that movie fucking messed me up. In the very end, May realizes that the body couldn’t see her, so she – get this – scooped her eye out, and put it on the body’s head.

Then she laid next to it, the eye rolling off the head and falling on her cheek, and the body’s hand goes and strokes her cheek. Most. Freaky. Scene. EVER.

Jesus, you probably gotta go see the movie to realize how truly messed up it is.

And do society a favor and don’t ever, ever see this movie stoned.

(Thanks to J’s friend for that quote)

Hope you enjoyed this column. Watch “May” with caution is all I say. Don’t get caught off-guard like I did last night.

Raven out.

THE GUT: week 2

After reading the article I wrote last week I realized a few things. The first thing is I went 3-2 in my picks, not great but it would have made me some money. The second thing is, it is really hard to make picks on Wednesday for Sundays games. The Jacksonville Houston game was a perfect example of that. The Jaguars decided to go with their first round pick Leftwich instead of Brunell, which is good for the long term but a rookie starting quarterback is never a good thing. Well on to this weeks picks…

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

Let me say this as I start, I am on the chiefs bandwagon. They are my pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. But this should be a really exciting game; you have a battle of two very improved 4-0 teams. Both have great running backs, I give Priest Holmes of the Chiefs the edge over the Broncos Clinton Portis because he is a more versatile running back with his pass catching abilities. This game has two very important factors in it. The first is former Arizona Cardinal starter Jake “the snake” Plummer ready for a big game. Lets face it playing in the desert the only “big game” they play is when I watch them play the giants and they beat them just to spite me (on a personal note I don’t ever watch games between the giants and cards anymore, that’s the only way the giants can win). The second factor, which is something I pointed out in last weeks game as well for KC, is Dante Hall. This is the most amazing kick returner I have ever seen. He has 6 kick returns for touchdowns in his last nine games. By comparison Brian Mitchell, the NFL’s all time leader in return yards and touchdowns has 13, in his 14-year career. Hall has produced nearly half of that in 9 games.

Gut Feeling: I see the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl, but I don’t see them breaking the Dolphins 1972 mark for going undefeated. Priest Holmes hasn’t looked like himself the last two games due to a groin injury and Jake “the snake” has something to prove. Look for a high scoring game with Denver coming out on top 35-30.

Oakland Raiders @ Chicago Bears

While watching the Oakland vs. San Diego game last week I remembered what I wrote about the Raiders and their superstar Quarterback Rich Gannon. I said to watch out because they were going to make a comeback. I couldn’t help but think I was a moron as the Chargers were up 31-14 in the fourth quarter of that game. Then Gannon must have read my article because he started playing like Steve Young. Tim Brown and Jerry Rice both had over 100 yards receiving and Charlie Garner had 70 rushing yards on only 12 carries. The Bears on the other hand lost to the Packers 38-23 and don’t have much on the way of offense or defense. Kordell Stewart has a quarterback rating of 49.8. Now I know to most people that doesn’t mean anything because it’s easier to make explosives from chewing gum than to figure out a QB rating. Think about this Kordell 49.8, Vinny Testaverde of the 0-4 jets 82.5. My only hope is that the Bears start Kordell all year so they don’t get first round pick Rex Grossman killed.

Gut feeling: There should be nothing better for the Raiders than a visit to the windy city. Expect Gannon and the Raiders to look like the team that went to the Super Bowl and not like the team that played in the Super Bowl. Raiders roll 35-13

Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills

The Bills lost to the Eagles, shouldn’t that mean their seasons over? No, not yet. The Bengals have already won their one game for the year when they beat Cleveland last week 21-14. Now I’m a big fan of Marvin Lewis and I hope he turns it around in Cincy, but this isn’t the year it’s going to happen. The Bills on the other hand might have a similar situation on their hands this week as they did week one with Takeo Spikes playing his old team for the first time. The Bengals are actually quite talented on offense with three possible big play receivers in Peter Warrick, Chad Johnson, and Kelley Washington. The problem is in the defense where the only real talent lies with right defensive end Justin Smith. I think Drew Bledsoe and all of his weapons will be too much for Mr. Smith and the rest of his Cincinnati counterparts.

Gut feeling: Can the Bengals make it two in a row? Yes they can, if the Bills go without their starting tailback Travis Henry again they will have trouble running the ball again and the Bengals can drop a linebacker into coverage or bring in their nickel package and confuse Bledsoe. But that wont happen, Henry should be back, even if it’s in a limited role it will help the bills maintain some balance. And with Cincinnati double teaming standout wide out Eric Moulds, expect a big game from second year man Josh Reed. Bills win a closer game than they would have liked 24-17

Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers

The frozen tundra of Lambeau field. It is one of the most storied stadiums in league history. An interesting note about the packers, you never hear about their owners threatening to move or hear them complain about ticket sales or they’re not making enough money. Ever wonder why that is? The city of Green Bay and its residents own the packers through stock and it is written into the teams bi-laws that no one person can own more than 200 shares in the team. So the only way the packers are leaving Green Bay is in Madden 2004. Enough interesting info, on to the game. This isn’t the same old walk all over me Seahawks that we all grew up with, Mike Holmgren finally has this team ready to make a trip to the playoffs with a team built around explosive offense. Matt Hassleback has really matured into a fine Quarterback and he doesn’t have to be much more than that with Shawn Alexander to turn around and give the ball to. Alexander is one of the leagues most underrated players. If you get him the ball enough he is going to break a big run on you, guaranteed. If you took Alexander’s name out of the last few sentences, you could easily just plug in Ahman Green’s name from the packers. Green is a better all-a-round running back because of his pass catching ability. He is Brett Favre’s main weapon. At times he is his only weapon.

Gut Feeling: There was a time a year or two ago I would have laughed at this notion but I think the Seahawks are going to beat the Packers this week. I didn’t even mention above Seattle’s star receiving core or improved defense. I just don’t think Brett Favre is enough to beat teams by himself anymore. And his go to guy, Donald Driver still isn’t 100 percent after landing on his head a few weeks ago. Green makes this game close by getting over 150 total yards but Seattle wins 27-16

Miami Dolphins @ New York Giants

HERE WE GO!!!! I would like to say before I go into this that I am a die-hard Giants fan but I am going to write this as fairly as possible.

The 2-1 Dolphins come into a place they know very well to meet the 2-1 Giants. What are going to be the keys to this game? In two words for the Giants Jeremy Shockey. Not because of his trash talking or any of the other things he does for this offense. The G-men need to get Shockey involved so he can keep all-world linebackers Junior Seau and Zach Thomas off of Tiki Barber. If Shockey gets the ball early, and doesn’t drop it like he did against Dallas, expect the Dolphins to counter by covering with Thomas or Seau or even both. If this happens expect Tiki to have a big day. On the Miami side of things, is there anyone better than Ricky Williams. Number 34 is the truth, and since he got to Miami he has gotten much better at doing one thing, (are you listening Tiki) fumbling the football. Ricky use to fumble all the time in New Orleans, but coach Dave Wannstedt must have taught him something because he is much better at holding on to the rock.

Gut feeling: My gut feeling is that anyone of my friends that is about to read this is going to be really mad at me. Jason Taylor and the rest of that Miami D-line is just going to be too much for the Giants young, inexperienced offensive line. On top of that Tiki Barber is good for about 2 fumbles a game and Shockey about 3 drops. The only chance the giants have is if Kerry Collins has the game of his life and Michael Strahan finds a way to put consistent pressure on Jay Fiedler. I see the Dolphins winning this one 35-21.

New York Jets @ bye week

This is going to be the best game Vinny and the Jets have all year. Finally the Jet fans have something to cheer about, a week where they cant lose! Somehow offensive coordinator Paul Hackett finds a way to even mess the bye week up.

Gut feeling: Bye week 14 Jets 3

That’s all for this week. This is Hector Mercado saying I hope all of your fantasy dreams come true. Well football-wise that is.