Conference With NOFX and Bad Religion

A few months back MR representatives, John Morrison and Christine Bell got the opportunity to participate in a press conference with Mike Burkett, (Fat Mike), front man of punk band NOFX and founder/owner of indie label, Fat Wreck Chords; and Jay Bentley of the punk band Bad Religion.

For the sake of the reader, we have edited some of the conference. We have done our best to maintain the context of both the questions and answers to fairly represent Mike and Jay and ensure that their statements are not misunderstood or ‘spun’.

Fat Mike of NoFXFor people that don’t know a lot about Warped Tour, and the meaning behind it, can you tell us something?

Mike: From behind the scenes, it sounds clichéd, but it’s punk rock summer camp. It’s the best time a band could possibly have, because your hanging out with 50 other bands everyday. There’s gambling and drinking and uh, barbecuing, yeah we drink beers or vodka. And you can’t have a better time, that’s why these bands keep doing the Warped Tour, that’s why it’s so successful, because the bands have so much fun. The other tours, it’s more about business. And even Kevin Lyman, the owner, he doesn’t make that much money, you know, he makes a living. But kids don’t get charged a lot, the bands don’t get paid a lot, it’s just a good time.

Why do you think Warped Tour succeeds where other tours, like Lollapalooza, fail?

Mike: Well first of all the line-up for Lollapalooza is terrible this year. Those head-lining bands are probably taking 250 thousand to 500 thousand dollars a night, where Warped Tour bands take between $200-$10,000; somewhere between there. Almost every band on the Warped Tour takes a pay cut to play the Warped Tour. But they do it because it’s fun and it’s cool. But the other bands on the other tours, they do it for the money and the promoters do it for the money. That’s why the prices are so high and that’s why it’s failing. I think the kids know that the Warped Tour is fun and the bands are having fun. I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t fun. We’re here for us.
Jay: In our world of music, other tours that were out there folded, they couldn’t sell enough tickets to keep themselves going. This is the music that people who are buying tickets and buying records want to hear. This is, fortunately, a musical expression that speaks to them. I don’t know whether it’s the anger, the fear or just the over all sense of something exciting that gets people going. Speaking for myself, when I was 14, it was the fact that a band could speak to me about something other than girls. That was very important to me. I mean, it’s a 20 or 25 dollar ticket and there’s 50 bands….

Do you think that the reason there are so many more kids and so much more influence is because of mainstream punk bands like Good Charlotte and Blink182 that get radio play and get people into the scene?

Mike: Yeah, all those bands are helping a lot. Yellowcard, Ryan from Yellowcard announced Rock Against Bush: Vol. II, he said he’s going to be signing copies… and you know, suddenly there’s 500 kids at the Punk Voter booth buying this, because he said to. And, bands like Good Charlotte, Yellowcard and New Found Glory, they’ve all gotten tens of thousands of kids involved that we wouldn’t have gotten. So I’m all for it. They’re standing up, although Good Charlotte totally screwed me (laughs).

What do you think about the Sony BMG merger?

Mike: I have no idea, what’s BMG? I’ve heard of Sony but…

There are five major record labels now, and two of them are merging to become one, there are going to be four major record labels controlling 80% of the market, with only 20% independent.

Mike: They’re all going down, ‘dinosaurs will die’ I think all the major labels will get killed anyway. (editors note: “Dinosaurs Will Die” is a NOFX song about the death of the music industry)

What’s the best way to go, independent for everybody?

Mike: No, make you’re money now while you can, they’re all going down. You can only make money playing live for 95% of bands anyway. If you can sell a few hundred thousand records, you should go to indie.

What about Apple and iTunes and all of that, that is coming about now? You think that will save the music industry?

Mike: Downloading isn’t what is killing it, it’s people burning CD’s for each other… it’s so easy. Downloading is actually, well, kinda hard. I don’t do it. But you know, after losing three Nirvana Nevermind CD’s I finally burned one and kept one spare, so I wouldn’t lose it. That’s what’s killing it, it’s burning, it’s not downloading.

Is there a reason why Fat Wreck Chords isn’t on iTunes?

Mike: We’re working some agreement out, I don’t know why. We will be. I think it is a good service they do, I might get an iPod one day. But I don’t like music that much anymore.
(Editors Note: since this interview, most of Fat’s catalogue has been added to iTunes.)

Bad Religion and NOFX are two of the most successful punk bands, but you scarcely make an appearance on MTV or in a video, have you turned MTV down, or do they have no interest?

Mike: In the mid-nineties they wanted our video and we decided not to do it. It wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, we’re not a commercial band, that’s why we turned them down; it doesn’t make a fucking difference.
Jay: We made 20 videos and they were all terrible. It didn’t pan out for us.

Jay of Bad Religion Music has changed over the past 20 years. Do you think if you started out today you would be more mainstream?

Jay: We wouldn’t be very good (laughs).
Mike: Yeah, I think if we started out now we wouldn’t be very successful (laughs). The only reason people still like us is because…
Jay: That’s why we’re still here, there wasn’t much competition. This is just tenacity at work.

How do you think a band like Bad Religion has lasted so long with so little radio play?

Jay: Well we don’t make singles, so when a radio station starts to play our song it’s pleasantly surprising. I’m never disappointed because I figure no one is ever going to pay any attention to us, so yeah, it’s thrilling.
Mike: And the careers our bands (Bad Religion and NOFX) have had are so long, its ludicrous. We have no business doing what we’re doing…
Jay: At all! Come on hurry up!!! (laughs)
Mike: They’ve (Bad Religion) been around two years longer than us (NOFX)… When they say ‘we can’t do it any more’ we’ll say ‘ ok, we’ve still got two more years’ (laughs).
Jay: As long as we’re out here, you can still be out here. That’s a good rule.

What does college music mean to you guys?

Jay: Hootie and the Blowfish?
Mike: (laughs) R.E.M.?
Jay: Uhh… Phish. What’s with the Phish? College music is where we all got our start, believe it or not. Not that style of music! But college radio…
Mike: I started writing good songs in college.
Jay: I didn’t go to college, they wouldn’t let me….
Mike: No, but their (Bad Religion’s) singer, Greg Graffin went to enough college for everyone.
Jay: A ‘professional student.’
Mike: He still goes to college.
Jay: No he’s done, he got his PhD last year.
Mike: I did five and a half years of college… I was Bluto (laughs).
Jay: No, he (Greg) did like 11 years in college.
Mike: Wait until you try to get a job when you are out of college, boy are you in for a surprise!

What do you see yourself doing after this?

Mike: I’m loaded, I’ve got a record label (laughs). I’m fucking….
Jay: Yeah, after this tour… I’m going to [go to] my island and just do nothing.
Mike: He has an island….
Jay: Yeah, the Greek Islands, I have a giant bull…. oh wait, that’s not me. I live in Mattersville… that’s where I’m going, start building it now!
(Editor’s Note: “Mattersville” is a NOFX song about a fictional community of punk rock senior citizens)
Mike: Yeah, being on an independent record label in a punk rock band, we’ll probably get royalties for the next 20 years.
Jay: (laughs) I’ll do pretty well, I’ll stay in the business. I’ll manage his (Mike’s) bands, how’s that?
Mike: I’m going to have a career in poker. I’ve been killing it on this tour!
Jay: Yeah, he’s pretty good. He’s better than Mike Leonard. (yells) Fat Mike is better than Mike Leonard at poker!!!

Punk Voter Conference – Warped Tour 2004

On August 7th, 2004 MR representatives, John Morrison and Christine Bell got the opportunity to participate in a press conference. Mike Burkett, (Fat Mike), front man of punk band NOFX and founder/owner of indie label, Fat Wreck Chords; as well as Jay Bentley of the punk band Bad Religion served as the representatives from Punk Voter.

Fat Mike and other members of the punk community came together to form Punk Voter after the 2000 presidential elections. Citing “illegal and ‘chaotic’ actions of the Bush administration”(, Punk Voter was created to mobilize the disenfranchised youth of the punk community and beyond.

For the sake of the reader, we have edited some of the interview. We have done our best to maintain the context of both the questions and answers to fairly represent Mike and Jay and ensure that their statements are not misunderstood or ‘spun’. The interview has been broken up into two segments: politics and music, the latter will be posted next week.

Fat Mike of Punk Voter What made you organize Punk Voter?

Mike: Someone had to. Someone had to organize the scene. And I thought I was the perfect person because I know a lot of people and I don’t have many enemies. I can easily call all the bands, so it was easy.

Can you tell us more about the Punk Voter Tour?

Mike: Well, there are two different tours: Flogging Molly is headlining one and Anti-Flag is head-lining one, I think with International Noise Conspiracy, The Epoxies, and some others. But the Warped Tour, this is the most significant [tour]; 200,000 kids are seeing the Warped Tour. This is a Rock Against Bush tour, I mean, half of the bands are saying ‘fuck him’ and ‘go vote’ or whatever so, this is it, this is the big one.

Do you think Punk Voter is informing people on why they should vote or do you think your audience is already informed and planning on voting?

Mike: Well, I think 95% of these kids don’t like Bush in the first place. That doesn’t mean their angry, maybe they don’t know why. If they just don’t like him, it doesn’t mean they are going to vote. We tell them things like, ‘oh abortions going to be made illegal if he wins again, and it’s going to stay legal if John Kerry wins’ and they go ‘wow, it is important, that does effect me… and my college funding’s getting slashed and I’m gonna get drafted’ and these are things that directly effect kids. We’re helping them get off their ass. And a lot of these kids are anarchists and they don’t wanna vote for anyone, but we’re trying to show them that we’re gonna keep going downhill fast if this guy is in office.

Do you think that the traditional punk philosophy of Anarchy has gotten in they way of trying to organize support for the democratic party?

Mike: Punk Voter isn’t about the Democratic Party at all. It’s just [that] the biggest political problem in the world right now is George Bush. So how is he gonna get beat? He’s going to get beat by the Democratic Party. We have tons of other concerns, maybe some Anarchist concerns. The next big battle we’re going to fight are incest laws in this country; where if you fuck your kid you only get a couple years in prison, but if you fuck a strangers kid you get 20 years. And these incest laws are on the books everywhere and we’re going to try to get them repealed. So, yeah, we have nothing to do with the Democratic Party.

Are the “Rock Against Bush Tour” and “Punk Voter Tour” two separate things?

Mike: Well, we did a college/university tour and we called it the Punk Voter Tour, but when we played clubs we called it Rock Against Bush.

Why’s that?

Mike: Well, colleges try not to get to partisan.

There are many other politically-driven tours out there, for example, the “Vote for Change Tour.” What are your feelings about it?

Mike: I think it’s great. Punk Voter is helping set the stage for these bigger tours because we’ve been doing a lot of these [political] tours and we’re very successful, and we’re not getting killed, and our record sales aren’t going down. The Dixie Chicks said one bad thing and everyone got a little scared, but I don’t think bands are scared anymore and everyone’s doing it. And really, almost every rock band is against Bush. Really, the only ones who are supporting him are country bands, and you know, generally people who like country music aren’t smart, they’re not educated (laughs). (Sarcastically) Midwesterners (laughs).

Do you think you are smarter than Bush? Would you be better in the White House?

Mike: Uh, no, I don’t think so. He’s an average thinker. You don’t want an average thinker in the White House. I don’t think I could give a much better speech than he could. That’s why someone like Clinton, who was a ‘President’ should win, not a C-student.

A lot of people are saying you are in a rock band, and what does a musician know about politics, why should people get their information from you?

Mike: Right, well, you should get your political information from anybody. If you’re in a cab and the cab driver gives you some good piece of politics that’s great. Me? I graduated from college, I’m not the smartest guy. I’ve read a lot of books, but I’m not the most articulate person. But, uh, I have a pretty big soapbox, so I’m using it. Everyone should use it. I tell everyone… they go, ‘how can I help?’ and I say, ‘get five people to change their minds.’ That’s it. I flew to Atlanta from San Francisco and I talked to this fucking idiot for two hours and I changed his mind. He was going to vote for George Bush, but he said ‘I’m honestly not going to vote for him anymore, because I did not know all these things[about him].’ So there it is; if everyone would do that, it’s over, it’s done, you know? So just ‘cuz I’m a musician you shouldn’t listen to me? That’s ridiculous.(sarcastically) Let’s only listen to billionaire politicians.

Young people are stereotypically apathetic, do you think that young people now are more likely to go out and vote in the upcoming election?

Mike: Every one is getting excited now, because everyone is finding out what’s really going on and they’re getting angry and scared. And really, they don’t want to go fight in a war. When kids get scared that’s when they start to do something, when everything is fine that’s when they are apathetic. I didn’t vote until the 2000 election, until I was 33. I didn’t care either; things were ok. It took someone like George Bush to get people off their asses.

Punk was thriving when Reagan was in office. Do you see Bush as a bigger threat than Reagan?

Mike: Uh, Yes. Well Reagan sold arms to Iran, took the money and gave it to who? the contras. That was pretty fucked up. [He] started some small wars, had a lot of people killed. But I think George Bush is really spinning the world in a huge downward spiral, especially for America. There was not this much American hatred when Reagan was president.
Jay: And half of George W. Bush’s administration are the people that came out of Reagan’s camp. And they’ve been waiting for the right person to say, ‘here’s what you are going to do.’ I mean, this isn’t something he [Bush] thought about on his ranch, eating pretzels. This has been waiting for the right guy. It was actually ’91, when his father went to Kuwait and that was when Tim (Yohannan)… they(“Maximum Rock ‘N Roll” magazine) put out the “‘Maximum Rock ‘N Roll’: New World Order” flip-side. And there was a lot of activity in the punk world, but it didn’t last long because he [George H.W. Bush] was also a one-term president.
Mike: And when Reagan was president the punk rock world was very united. There was a “Rock Against Reagan” tour. But, you’re getting 500 kids in every big city, and that was about it. Now there’s millions of kids, so it’s a lot easier now, and it’s a lot more effective. But yeah, I think Bush is a much worse president. I mean, he’s trying to ban abortion; to make it illegal. And he will, if he gets elected again.

What do you think about Ralph Nader running in this election again?

Jay: Do I have to get down on my knees and beg him not to, like Bill Maher?
Mike: Yeah, I just think someone should really off him (laughs).
Jay: (laughs)
Mike: He’s got some kind of crazy ego going on, because there is no reason why he could be doing this, other than ego. This is the ONE time we don’t need a third party.

You don’t think it’s possible for him to get 5% and for Kerry to sneak in with a win?

Jay: No, that time came and went. The goal right now is not to get votes to a third party, it is to get votes to get Bush out of office, and the way to do that is to vote for someone who middle America will also vote for and feel strongly about, someone who will protect them. My other feeling is, it’s not a very good idea to vote for a third party president without a third party.
Mike: Right, the Green party even rejected him.
Jay: What if Ross Perot had actually won? No one thinks that far, right. You have to be realistic about this. There should be a third party, but there should be more than just one sitting senator.
Mike; Right, and a third party should be able to take votes from both sides. You know, like the Labour Party in England, it’s the smallest party but it can swing its votes either way, depending on where it sends its people. Which makes sense, that’s the third party that helps out. This third party, it’s not helping anyone but itself.
Jay: You should see what they say on the website, they say that Nader is going to start taking votes away from Bush (laughs). It’s true (laughs).
Mike: No, I think that the Bush administration has something over Nader, they have him in some compromising position and they’re blackmailing him to keep him running. He’s certainly not helping anyone in this country. Any liberal. He should be on John Kerry’s cabinet; he should be head of the EPA. Get a cabinet post, be in government, make a difference, but you’re (Nader) just wasting everyone’s time right now. And if you like him – just not this election. That’s what we are telling all the kids, all the Anarchists, all the Green party members: not this election! We have to stand together.
Jay: Right, get Bush out, and then you have four years to build up your party and make a good presentation.
Mike: Right, I mean, you could have a Republican president, that’s not the worst thing ever. It’s this president that’s the worst thing ever.

Is PunkVoter going to be as critical of John Kerry as it has been of George Bush?

Mike: Uh, dunno. We’ll see how he does.
Jay: Well, right now, the Republicans are basically in ownership of D.C. Senate, House, President. So what happens now is, replace a Republican sitting President with a Democrat sitting President, and work from there.

Michael Moore has said that as soon as he is done with Bush, and Bush gets voted out of office he will be just as critical of Kerry.

Jay: As he should be.
Mike: Yeah, I don’t see why not.

I’m just curious if Punk Voter is going to keep its base mobilized to try and reform the Democratic party instead of just trying to get rid of the Republican party.

Mike: Sure, we’ll be on Kerry’s ass for sure.
Jay: We all want something. We all want something better, don’t we?
Mike: Your not going to get anywhere with Bush though. He’s not going to compromise on anything. You know, I think if enough lobby groups say this, say ‘we want three strikes laws to be made unconstitutional’ you might win, you might win some small battles [under Kerry]. I don’t see why not. But, you know, the Iraq situation is so bad that Kerry is probably going to do things that none of us are going to like, but it’s not a problem he made, he’s just trying to get out of it. You know, a draft could come back with him in office. What can you do?

Who did you like in the Democratic Primaries?

Mike: Uh, Kucinich, but that’s pointless. Or Dean.
Jay: I liked Dean a lot until he kinda went nuts.
Mike: He didn’t go nuts, that was a media trap.
Jay: I know, I know, but…
Mike: He’s not a weird, angry guy. They got one [clip] of him going “YEAAAAAAAAH!” And then [Dean and his wife go] on Barbara Walters and every question is like ‘why is your husband so aggressive? do you fight at home?’ (laughs)
Jay: But when your goal is to replace the Republican President you have to realize how mainstream America is going to view this guy, so he’s no longer the rational candidate.
Mike: Right. But the Democrats took him out, it wasn’t the Republicans that took out Dean. But I think the ticket right now is fine.
Jay: I agree, I like the way it stands.
Mike: Edwards might make a better President than Kerry, who knows.
Jay: He’d make a better President then Quayle (laughs).
Mike: I wish I had my shirt on right now, I have this great Bush/Quayle ’92 shirt. Some kid gave it to me, I wore it on CNN; it was great.

What would you say to college kids who are undecided between Bush and Kerry? What would you say to help them make up their minds?

Mike: I’d say, firstly, Bush is going to make abortion illegal through the Supreme Court. Kerry’s not. That’s a big reason. Well, if you’re pro-life, go with Bush!
Jay: Well he’s also going to spend your college tuition money, he’s going to spend your book money…
Mike: He cut Pell Grants for universities more than anyone else…
Jay: His whole take on the “No Child Left Behind” thing, where each school is being funded by property taxes, that’s not working very well in the inner-cities is it? People who don’t pay high property taxes don’t have very good schools.
Mike: And when you get out of college you’re still going to be eligible for the draft, so if you wanna keep fighting wars for money and oil…. You [college kids] are the ones that are going to go [to war]. So, pay attention.
Jay: And I don’t think you can win a war on a verb…. Terrorism.

Do you think that if Bush is re-elected we are going to go into other countries/ And if so, which?

Mike: Iran probably, there making some sort of case against them now
Jay: (sarcastically) Canada, because they’ve got more oil than America… and water.
Mike: They are trying to take over the Middle East, mainly to get oil and stop nuclear proliferation. And, hey, you know, I think religious fundamentalists are the scariest people in the world, and I am scared of any country whose leaders are religious fundamentalists, including ours right now, because that’s what Bush is. But, uh, the Middle East is going to be the biggest problem in the world forever, and it’s because their countries are run by religion. Including Israel…
Jay: Well Kerry said it, he said ‘it is everyone’s problem’ and he said ‘I’m going to bring everyone to the table and make them realize that this is all of our problem’s’
Mike: And Clinton was doing great in Iraq. I mean, sorta, in some respects. They weren’t a threat to anybody. And they still weren’t [when we went to war]… and that’s what you want. Until Bush pretty much ruined everything. I was eating dinner with Scott Ritter, on of the first weapons inspectors. He was one of the first whistle blowers, he was the guy who came back and said, ‘hey! there’s no weapons there! and any weapons they do have are no good anymore because anthrax has a shelf life of two years and it’s from 1991…’ the whole war is based on bullshit.

Do you think that national security right now is good? Do you think that we could possibly see another 9/11?

Mike: There’s no national security. It’s like Risk, you can’t secure a country this big. [Look at] Fahrenheit 9/11, the Oregon boarder. All you have to do is but a bomb on a big boat and put it in the harbor.
Jay: Two words for you: Timothy McVeigh, how hard was it for him to get in the country? Oh wait!
Mike: …Or make explosives? There’s no way to prevent a terrorist strike. What you have to do is make sure the terrorists are happy…
Jay: Or find out why they’re so pissed off. Maybe it’s the 100,000 people sitting in Saudi Arabia right now with American flags on their shoulders.
Mike: I mean the whole thing Osama Bin Laden said is ‘we want American troops off our soil. Thanks for helping us out with Kuwait, now can you get off our Holy Land?’ that was the entire problem. There wouldn’t be any of this if it wasn’t for that. And you can’t blame George Bush for that. Anyway, you find out why these terrorists are so upset, and try to fix the problem. That’s why I don’t understand peace between Palestine and Israel, because people on both sides will never bend.

What do you think of George Bush’s failure to capture Osama Bin Laden?

Mike: It’s not him[Bin Laden], it’s the fucking movement.
Jay: Is it possible that he’s just going to wheel him out right before the election, ‘look what I got?’ It’s possible.
Mike: I just hope everyone is ready for it and doesn’t say (claps) ‘oh, look how good he did’
Jay: Well they also have to realize that it means nothing.
Mike: It’s not [Bin Laden] though, he’s the start of it… but if the Bush administration takes me out, Punk Voter’s not dying (laughs).
Jay: That’s right!
Mike: Hey Jay, you’re the second in charge
Jay: (feigns crying) Stop it! I am not!

Stylistic Reality

There is no compromising the effects of style on an individual, especially a modern American individual. Even the social drop outs who claim to not care in the least about style, avow their individuality through no descript “guilt free” clothing, or clothing that wasn’t made in a foreign sweatshop. From the trendy to the punks to the goths, style is the mode of asserting identity, it is the means by which all of us proclaim our individuality (or lack thereof) and show the world what we want other people to think, and what we think of them. Style is the most visible and the most defining of our visual culture, it is the most absurd and the most everyday.

So it is only fitting that in a society that places such emphasis on an assumed reality, that style would play a large component. Style, like reality, has become the new farce of the entertainment industry. Just like “reality TV” delivers the scripted and manipulated reality of the personal lives of strangers into every living room in the first world, style has become the new mode of entertainment, and the new way in which the entertainment industry has turned towards for approval ratings by appealing to the most basic of cultural characteristics. The society we have built cannot live without style, and so, entertainment has staked its claim in the plentiful real estate of style and as uncovered a modicum of worthy subject matter and transformed it into a booming industry.

This new wave of entertainment glory came hand in hand with the boom of reality TV. In every episode of realistic fabrication that comes with American Idol, The Bachelor and numerous other reality TV shows, there is style. The symbolic nature of clothing and accessories has made of broke many familiar strangers of the reality TV phenomenon. But the fun style can bring through the big bad machine of entertainment does not stop there. Style has its very own shows that tell you what to dress, how to act, how to host a party, design your bedroom, your garden, your spouse. The greatest feat of all was the industries ability to create a network devoted to this mound of crap. The style network is a great idea, don’t get me wrong, just as much as I believe style is important to the formation and assertation of identity, I believe that our chosen modes of entertainment and the creation of such entertainment are fundamental to the human cultural experience. But why are we so eager to accept not style as representation, but style as both form and function.

I confess, I have my guilty pleasures, I thoroughly enjoyed Trading Spaces when it was fresh and funny, and I do get into the whole frenzy of American Idol every now and then; it just seems absurd to me that the ideals and attitudes of runway models, fashion mavens and designer guru’s that were once relegated to an elite group who looked down their noses at the rest of us bumbling fashion victims has not only lost a whole lot of class, but is a integral part of the average persons TV consumption. The dumbed-down versions of interior decorating, personal shoppers and grandiose makeovers are being sold to the public as the be all and end all of the ‘reality’ of life. Style is no longer seen as personal taste and expression, but that which is to be controlled and dominated, a mysterious beast that needs conquering not to mention a cast of characters to help you, worthy of Quixote himself.

Bombay Dreams

I have to admit, before I start this article, that I am a bit out of practice. Out of practice of being an audience member for a Broadway play that is. It has been some time since I have seen a play and a lot has changed since the time when I would frequent the midtown theatres and second rate off-off Broadway shows on Long Island. So, feeling a bit out of touch with the grandiose world of Broadway, I made my way downtown to the Broadway Theatre to see the preview of Bombay Dreams.

Back story: Bombay Dreams is the story of a young man living in the slums of Bombay who dreams of becoming a Bollywood star to save his family’s home from destruction. Exceedingly simple plot, which I thought would grow into a predictable but endearing story. The plot includes all of the predictable twists, including romance, fame, conflict of interests and morals etc. Obviously this set up has enough leeway to prove itself either a disaster or a smash hit. Production by Andrew Lloyd Weber gave me much of the same ambivalence, with a wonderful hit like Phantom of the Opera, one of my favorite musicals, and another miraculously long-running demon of a musical, the ever-infamous, Cats. So up to the point of the big opening number I was both excited and wary.

Akaash, the main character played by Manu Narayan enters and addresses the audience to prepare them for the “big opening number” (“Salam Bombay”). I assume that this little break of the fourth wall was suppose to set up the premise of the spectacle of Bollywood that the play was proposing to emulate and preparing the audience for the joking manner in which the play would repeatedly refer to itself. Unfortunately the chosen words of the script are poor. It was this that I feel was the ultimate downfall of a promising play.

The opening number was, to say the least, contrived. But there were a few redeeming values, that remained the strengths of the musical until the final exhausting curtain calls. The costumes were absolutely fabulous and ridiculous in a most endearing way, reminiscent of Bollywood flamboyance. The staging, lighting and set design are also fabulous. My area of expertise (if you can call it that) in the theatre is production, so from a technical standpoint Bombay Dreams is impeccable. The set boasts a revolving center stage, fountain and a Les Miserables barricade-esque slum contraption that is lower from the ceiling and sits diagonally across the stage. The lighting includes subtle moments as well as cheesy Bollywood flare and Broadway spotlighting for the emotional solos. Although it might sound a bit much, the overall effect is stunning.

But perhaps the most exciting element of the play is the music. The music is both true to Broadway and respectful of the strong ethnic element of the play. The cast, mostly American and British vocalist, obviously trained for the stage, does a surprisingly good job with the vocal acrobatics of Indian music that are threaded throughout the score, and sometimes prominent in the songs. There were also a few cast members who were clearly familiar with Indian style music and their strong vocal range and ability added an authenticity to the music. However, I can’t say as much for the rather pathetic lyrics. Often cheesy and nearly always predictable, the lyrics were only a hair shy of abhorrent.
The direction was decent but the character development severely lacking. This leads me to ask whether this is the fault of the script, the direction or the actors. The romantic couple, Akaash and Priya, have a complete lack of chemistry on stage. The only characters that were believable and fully developed were Sweetie, a eunuch and best-friend of Akaash, played by Sriram Ganesan; and Shanti, Akaash’s grandmother, played by Madhur Jaffrey. Perhaps the most disturbing thing was my lack of interest in any of the main characters. Most of the main characters evoked no emotion either way, and Narayan truly made me embarrassed for him several times (flat notes and a hideous choice to do “the worm”, very poorly, in one of the ensemble songs).

The overall feeling I was left with after an exhausting amount of curtain calls in an attempt to extricate a standing ovation from the audienceambivalence. The show was most definitely extravagant and over the top, it was trying very hard to emulate Bollywood, but it somehow fell short. There was a definite attempt by the play to poke fun at itself, and attempt that failed. The play was fun, it was aesthetically pleasing but I found it somewhat disappointing. Maybe I have been watching too many independent films, or maybe I truly am just out of the Broadway loop, but for a play that has been proclaimed a “smash hit” for two years running in London, I expected more than flashy costumes and a good score, but that could just amount to the complexities of British humor. I can’t say it was great theatre, but it was enjoyable in that mindless, fun entertainment sort of way. I enjoyed the majority of it, but definitely won’t be seeing it again. My advise: go see this play if you are in the mood to be entertained by flash song and dance, colorful lights and costumes, not if you are jaded and seeking thought provoking wit. Stars: 2.75

Viva La Radio

Growing up at the height of grunge will do things to a person. Things like instill a mistrust for things mainstream and people who bathe too often. As a child of the ’80’s and an adolescent of the ’90’s, I have found that after the death of pop-grunge, a lot of kids went underground to find ‘good’ music; music that those poor, ignorant mainstreamers were not exposed to. The underground and indie scene fed young teens with enough disenfranchisement propaganda to jade even the most innocent of 13 year-olds. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but like all “movements,” it had its flaws. For those kids who had a brain enough to understand the motives behind the movement, indie became a way of life. Some of us dropped out and glided back into the mainstream, but only enough so that the guidance counselors didn’t mislabel us as “gothics.” Most found a nice blend of mainstream loathing and complete ignorance of the scene. Funny how “scene kids” never really seem to know what the scene is all about.

So many of us mainstream drop-outs are the same today, wondering what exactly it was about the nineties that made us want to rebel against the system when we didn’t even know what the system was or why we were rebelling. I have finally come to the realization that the scene has done nothing to promote individuality or alternative thinking. When your biggest fans are under 18, how can you possibly create a movement free from human vice? We are all animals, slaves to human nature, and no matter how the scene tries, thirteen year olds will be sheep no matter what. We indies make snap-shot judgments just as quick as the pop-punkers of today. We just aren’t as quick to admit it. So it all leaves me wondering, just what is so evil about mainstream?

With the advent of mainstream music’s new strategy, I have been finding it increasingly harder to be the disenfranchised jaded youth I so proudly thought I was. Radio has been, so my surprise, decent, for the first time since Pearl Jam made that horrible business move and Courtney pretended she didn’t kill Kurt. That tricky beast that is public radio has made me both squirm and jump for joy. Take K-Rock for example, the well known home of Howard Stern and New York City’s one and only new-rock radio. I hardly ever tune in because I can satisfy myself with enough distaste at the nu-metal, pop-punk; white-rapper-only crap they play that makes me cringe (even though I can usually recite all the lyrics with a shameful face). But I have invested time and interest in the radio as they have begun to cater to a more enlightened audience. Mainly the entire lot of us grunge-rockers of the early nineties. The chalk lines of mainstream have been erased and we are united once again. The trend-grunger’s, grunge-gone-indie’s, and mainstream-drop-out’s are back together.

Here’s the deal: radio stations across the country have been mixing in a lot of decent new rock with a good portion of stuff that hasn’t seen much air-time since the early ’90’s. Why? well we grunge-rockers have reached the age of ad-campaign glory! The drinking age. With the radio stations pulling most of their listeners from an underage audience, they cannot find the backing from alcohol companies who have suddenly grown morals (well, legal morals anyway). So to bring back the twenty-something’s to the airwaves, they are employing a strategy not used for as long as any of us young-adults can remember. With a movement like this, maybe we can break out of the teeny-bopper mentality that has plagued even the most hard-core of anti-establishment movements since the turn of the 20th century. So maybe all mainstream isn’t badonly the mentality and motives of the big business world that surround it.

Case and point: the squirming part mentioned above comes in at my frustration at the Howard Stern situation. Clear Channel and the FCC have concocted yet another evil plot to silence a voice that threatens the world of politics and business. Motivated and supported by the political silencing of the Bush era, Howard Stern is being forced off the radio after many years of pleasing listeners with his one of a kind brutality in the business of shock-jocking. Now, I never listened to Howard Stern all that much, and sometimes I whole-heartedly disagree with what he does and says on the radio. But I like his vibe, what he stands for and I defend his freedom of speech that is being stripped from him on a technicality. Even K-Rock, his home station, is supporting him in his battle and is proudly proclaiming their role in his rise to fame and glory. This whole fiasco has reaffirmed why I dropped out of the business of radio patronage and sought to defeat the beast with a pubescent fire in my heart like so many of us back in “the good ol’ days.”

Radio, admittedly for monetary reasons, has finally heard the call of their would be listeners. Catering to an older audience while appeasing the younger crowd and exposing them to music that was popular only a decade ago is a huge step for mainstream airwaves. The possiblity of defeating the short time in which a good song or band can be popular (with more music to play, songs stand a better chance of not being played out) and reviving Generation X (and the younger ones) to acknowledge that the lack of definition is definition in and of itself. Radio has the power of the people on it side, and unlike the moderate success of pop-punk’s anti-establishment gone mainstream, this new mix and ‘customer relations’ policy might actually revive musical society; a group who have either dropped out or given up, both with little results to show for themselves. I now realize that it’s not the music that we hate, it’s the people behind the marketing scams and ad-campaigns and the shock-jock silencers that we loathe. While their motives may not be pure, I will support K-Rock and the new breed of radio, if only to let them know that in my mind, and the mind of thousands of other twenty-something’s, they are on the road to redemption. VIVA LA RADIO!

For Whom the Bell Tolls: VI

I have decided to leave my feature article piece for another day as it might insight a bit of controversy, as well as the fact that I am having a rough time formulating a final draft. Some things just aren’t meant to be I guess. Luckily for me I am an entertainment whore and I have a stock pile of things to review! So here is another mini.

Literature: M. Butterfly, a play by David Hwang. Most of America is familiar with the acclaimed opera Madame Butterfly, the story of a U.S. soldier, Pinkerton, and his love interest in China, Cio Cio San. It is considered one of the corner stones of fine Western Opera. In Hwang’s spin-off of the opera he explores the story of a French diplomat, Gallimard, in communist China and his affair with Song Liling, a Chinese diva. The story uses the basis of Madame Butterfly, a western man infatuated with an exotic Eastern beauty and that which she represents. It is a wonderfully written play that explores the dualities of gender, sexuality, race, culture and imperialism. It spent a good deal of time on Broadway and is critically acclaimed for its originality and candor. The play explores the meaning of sexuality, love, and stereotypes when, after a 20 year affair, Gallimard finds out that his lover is both a Chinese spy and a man. It is extraordinarily composed in both dialogue and staging; its motives are relevant to modern society and revealing of the way in which global politics affect our perceptions of the world and the roles designated to each person by society. Star Rating: 5

Movies: Twisted, with Ashley Judd and Samuel L. Jackson. Judd plays a homicide detective, neo-feminist-tough and troubled by a dark past. Her father went on a killing spree which ended with his wife and himself, leaving Judd’s character orphaned, to be raised by her father’s partner in the force, played by Jackson. The plot is set up from the start Judd has anger-management problems and an appetite for alcohol and anonymous sex. After she is promoted to homicide a string of murders occur. In the hunt for the killer, Judd finds that all of the men are previous lovers of her, all signs point the blaming finger at her. The plot reveals that she has a stalker and several possible suspects emerge: her new partner, an obsessive ex, a former lover and lawyer of a convicted murderer, among others. The movie had great potential to be an “edge-of-your-seat thriller” and a smart movie with great plot twists. Unfortunately all the twists were formula and the ending predictable. For the average American viewer, the movie was decent and moderately surprising, but for a person accustomed to thriller movies, it was a let down. Not only did I correctly guess the identity of the stalker within the first half hour (granted I did doubt my suspicions at points), but there were many loose ends and unexplained variables. In addition, the accuracy of the directors and writers research was obviously poor. The ballistics were not in keeping with reality and the twists fell short of my expectations. It was a decent movie for the twenty-first century viewer who wants to sit and be entertained without thinking, but for the more intelligent and movie-savvy, it was yet another trite cop-flick with an empowered chick and a crazed man whose obsession turns foul. Star Rating: 2

In closing I would like to ask all of you who have read this to please post a comment. The staff and writers of BP love to hear feed-back, we all work very hard in our free time to bring you the wonderful articles you read here. I do my best to comment on everyone’s articles and I would greatly appreciate it if you all commented on mine, even if it is one word, even if you didn’t like it. Thanks so much for reading!!

For Whom the Bell Tolls: V

Okay children, today I will be doing one of my trademark mini-reviews. I’m not really sure what alternate week I’m on but I have two very hot review prospects, so my feature article will be next week.

Movie: Osama, written and directed by Sidbiq Barmak, winner of the 2003 Golden Globe Award for best foreign language film. The basic plot is the story of a girl who masquerades as a boy in order to work for her mother an grandmother (women were not allowed to work, or appear in public unaccompanied by a man). Clearly written to make a statement about life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, the film as a work of art is left far behind its political motives. The characters are, for the most part, undeveloped and uninteresting. The film would be poignant and effective if I cared in the least bit about the characters; unfortunately the film was blatant and simplistic and had none of the effective tactics of procuring sympathy from the viewer. The central character was presumably being displayed as conditioned; however, I felt that she was weak, obnoxious and poorly conceived. The only interesting character in the entire film was a young orphan/beggar boy whose role was minimal. Not only is the character development poor, but the film managed to turn a very promising plot into a series of interesting scenes that, when strung together, become tedious. The writing and acting were also points of some distress, but none that I can go into without being confronted with the obvious language barrier, so I will let well enough alone. The films redeeming values? The storyline was, despite its fine-tuning flaws, quite interesting and the scenes individually compelling. For instance the scene when she gets her period is very powerful. Some of the cinematography was breathtaking and shocking, but I was sometimes left feeling that the film was trying to hard to be provocative and shocking. The overall package was less than appealing. I think the biggest downfall of the film, besides my Hollywood trained pet-peeves, was the desperate urgency of its political motives. From the very opening until the final shot the film was self-righteous in its attempt to bring light to issues of human rights and anti-dictatorship sentiments. I say, wait for the video. Star Rating: 1.5-2

Literature: Woman Warrior, a collection of interwoven stories written by Maxine Hong Kingston. This book was written years ago, and has caused uproar in both the Asian-American community and the literary community for its somewhat conflicted and confusing views of Chinese-Americans. Kingston uses words as her weapon against the injustices she has experienced both within the Chinese-American community as well as the larger American community. She employs elements of satire and candor as she explores the role of her femininity and individuality in her Chinese family, the greater Chinese culture and the American society in which she grows up. Her stories are intricate tales that blur the borders of fiction and non-fiction employing the Chinese tradition of talk-story to weave fable like stories that create an image of her life as a child torn between the Chinese traditions of her family and the expectations that American society placed on her. She tells personal anecdotes as well as doctored vedrsions of Chinese myths, such as the story of the warrior Fa Mulan (of recent Disney fame). The book is phenomenally detailed and the five tales intricately woven into one another. She writes from several perspectives and employs many styles, thus the texts moves quickly. However, the book is not disjointed and feels more like an abstract novel. Excellent read and a wonderfully interesting book to pick apart as there are many layers to Kingston’s writing and many different elements of the Asian diaspora and her personal experiences. Star Rating: 4.5

Zack is Right, You are Wrong Vol 1, Issue 2.

Zack is Right, You are Wrong Vol 1, Issue 2.

Sup, sup everyone? Alright, we had to skip last week due to just too much shiznit going on, but we’re back. My gaming time has fluctuated from the last installment. Instead of Madden 2004 and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, I’ve been priming myself for the release of Monster Rancher 4 by playing a lot of Monster Rancher 3 and Monster Rancher Advance 2. Both games are totally awesome and I can’t wait for MR4.

You may remember that I was pumped that MR4 was to come out the day after Smackdown 5, but those bastards over at Tecmo decided that I could wait another month. I tell you what, they were solid wrong! So I go into work on the Friday after it was supposed to come out and BLAM! I’m hit with the terrible news that we won’t be receiving the wonderful bounty that is Monster Rancher 4 until November 18. So, I’ve been damned patient, but I’m starting to get TOO anxious. I want my game and I want to piss my roommates off by playing it when they want to watch Sportscenter. Is that too much to ask? I didn’t think so.

Alright, so let’s pick up a game to review. I guess I promised a complete review of Smackdown 5, didn’t I? Ok, so let’s get to it.

Smackdown 5! Here Comes the Pain.

From the last column “It’s more in depth than any other Smackdown game. The grappling system has been revised and split into four categories. Quick moves, Power moves, Submission moves, and Signature moves. The initial grapple is to chose which one of these categories you want to choose a move from. Then you are put into one of a few different animations from test of strength to hand shake to pick your move in typical THQ game fashion.

The season mode already looks a lot more promising than Smackdown 4’s mode. Instead of having to wander around the arena aimlessly looking for people to talk to, you are given a choice of places to go and if people are there or not. Sometimes they are there, sometimes they are not. This is good though, I don’t have to go through the entire arena just to find Test wandering around again to give me a one liner wishing me luck. No, everything has a point now and that makes me happy.”

The updated version of my commentary would be that the season mode, while good probably once as a face and once as a heel, loses it after that. I got the same storylines when I was on Smackdown as I did on Raw. That was no good. Also Vince likes to switch back and forth from evil Vince to face Vince on occasion, without warning, thus pissing me off. Eric Bischoff doesn’t have too much of a role and Stone Cold is a wrestler and not a co-GM. Oh, and does anyone remember the Wheel of Destiny that Eric did in Vegas? Well, if you’re on Smackdown, that dumb bitch Stephanie McMahon steals his idea when you pas through Vegas! And what’s with no Tazz and Michael Cole on Smackdown? They’re models in the game, would it have been so hard to program Tazz in Lawler’s spot and Cole in JRs? No, it wouldn’t have. Bastards…

Enough about the season mode. Now, let’s go into the CAW mode. Well, think Smackdown 4 and then take away such things as body hair!!!!!1!1!!!!1!!! You have no idea how pissed I was when the only body hair I found was a skin type and didn’t even have hair in all the right places. How in the hell am I supposed to make a ZRM CAW when there is no choice for body hair unless it is hideous red and not in the right spots???? I’ll tell you how, you can’t make a good one~! I don’t really like the way you choose a type of clothing, then the pattern. That’s kind of dumb to have 76 pages of patterns that no one is going to use. Seems like a waste of space that they could have put in things that people wanted. Like body hair~! Yeah, I’m a bit bitter and I deserve to be. You don’t agree with that? You’re wrong, get over yourself.

I still like the gameplay. I totally kick the hell out of my roommates who all like to strike and that’s it. I’m the champion of the room and anyone who wants to challenge me can eat my schlong, cause I’d beat them like I plan on beating my children. Don’t like that? You’re wrong, get over it. So now, we want a final score, eh? Well, it lost half a point.

Smackdown 5 original score, 7.5.
Smackdown 5 Complete score, 7.

The graphics are awesome, except for Cena, who looks more like a retarded ape. The sound reeks some major heinousity. Again, think, Smackdown 4. It’s the same gameplay music and guess what?! The fools decided not to liscense some of the wrestlers themes again! And the legends, they have no music or video! I was looking forward to the Undertaker’s theme and to the LOD’s theme and to DiBiase’s theme, but no, I got hosed. The gameplay is where the game shines. Best gameplay from a Smackdown game yet. The submissions turn into a button mash fest which can always be hilarious. The CAW pisses me off because of no body hair and I refuse to talk about it anymore.

Final thoughts on Smackdown 5: It’s the best Smackdown game yet, so you might as well pick it up, because unless THQ makes Wrestlemania XX perfect, it’s the best wrestling game they’ll have for awhile.

So now you’ve finally got my full review on Smackdown 5. Was it all you hoped for? No? Well then you’re wrong for hoping for so much, go listen to some stupid Emo music you dork. Quit making gamers look bad. Now we’re going to go to the classic gaming moment before we hit up the disappointment of the week.

I love RPGs and I’m not ashamed to say it. In fact, if you don’t like RPGs, then you’re wrong. You don’t deserve to live because you’re a lying sack of Bantha fodder. Did you catch the Star Wars reference? Good, you’d be an idiot if you didn’t. That’s right, this next game is going to be a Star Wars game. This game is perhaps the greatest game on a “Next-Gen” platform. I hate saying that because the “Next-Gen” platforms are in development, not what is out now. Anyway, the XBox’s only claim to staying a major competitor (other than the fact that if you mod your XBox you have the ultimate gaming machine) is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

The first to words that came to my mind when I first popped the game in was “shit” and “holy”, not necessarily in that order. This game is ever Star Wars fan’s dream. And if you also love D&D, this is your very own wet dream. Yup, think Neverwinter Nights. It’s just like that except in a 3D Star Wars based world. And unlike Star Wars Galaxies (A major disappointment for another day) this game runs perfect because it was developed for the hardware provided~!

Is it just me, or is using the dominate mind force power the greatest feeling in the world? Of course it is, I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t. Traveling from planet to planet, chilling with the awesome Mandalorian by the name of Canderous Ordo, slicing chumps up alongside your jedi companion Jolee Bindo, or ripping the arms off some chumps with your very own life debted Wookie, Zaalbar. Damn skippy it sounds great doesn’t it? Well if you said it doesn’t, you are dead wrong. Stop reading my column now and go listen to your stupid Emo music before I come in and shoot you to put you out of your misery.

No, in fact this game is the only reason to have an XBox, unless you are a 1337 |-|4>Zack the Mack Macomber


Five Easy Steps to Mosh Pit Survival

Step One:

Identify mosh pit and possible dangers. There are many genres of music that produce mosh pits, however; there are three basic styles of mosh pits, each with its own dynamic and therefore dangers.

Hard Core Mosh Pit:
Music: Loud, angry and screaming.
Consists of large skin heads with forearms the size of an average persons neck,
windmills—the act of spinning ones arms violently while running in circles to create maximum damage; and lots of raspy screaming voices, large men slamming into one another and thrashing.

Punk Mosh Pit:
Music: Fast drum beat accompanied by rebellious and/or politically charged
lyrics. Lots of crowd sing-a-longs.
Consists of many spiked and pierced individuals, plenty of arm and leg thrashing as well as synchronized jumping and finger pointing (especially middle fingers and ‘rock on’ [first and pinky fingers]).

Ska Mosh Pit:
Music: Reggae or punk beat with a horn section peppered with plenty of ‘yeahs’
‘heys’ and ‘ois’.
Consists of skanking—the act of lifting ones knees and kicking out ones legs
while thrashing arms and body to the beat; spinning, jumping and general
pushing also included.

Step Two:

Remember general mosh pit rules. These include: never let your hands get pinioned to your sides, keep your elbows out to fend off unwanted roughness, as well as to propel yourself forward through the crowd; secure a spot for your feet to prevent falling over, steer clear of anyone without a shirt on (sweaty skin heads are just no fun), and remember that shoving is always an option. Never at any rough point should you stick your tongue out, you are liable to bite it off, and never crouch or bend down, you might not come back up.

Step Three:

Courtesy might seem like a foreign concept in such an environment, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Moshers have a deep and unspoken respect for one another. So logically, if you are entering a mosh pit, remember your manners, that is: don’t be the asshole who gets rough in a ‘calm’ area, if people wanted to get pushed around they would move to a circle or ‘rough’ area; if someone falls clear a small area for them and help them up, getting trampled is no fun; if you decide you don’t like the band that is playing leave the pit, don’t shout obnoxious comments or attempt to beat up the fans, that’s just rude. First and foremost, always sing if you know the lyrics, get rough and have fun!

Step Four:

Be prepared for mosh pit phenomena. Phenomena can be defined as the events that occur uniquely within a mosh pit, or specific mosh pit style. Any and all phenomena can occur in any pit, so always be aware. The following are some common phenomena in their indigenous styles of mosh pits.

Ska Pit:
Flying Elbows! Those skanking around you will most probably be throwing their elbows back in your direction, make sure to steer clear and never stand behind a person more than five inches taller than you or you could leave the pit with a broken nose.
Spinners. If you’re standing on the edge of a circle beware of people who grab hands and spin. Eventually you’ll either get pummeled by a fly-by spinner or wind up as a catcher when the two finally let go.

Punk Pit:
Wall of Death. If you are participating in this event, remember to keep your arms up and keep up with the charging crowd and pray you don’t get trampled!
Circle Pit. A circle pit is one of the most adrenaline inducing mosh activities, while engaged in a mash of people running in a frantic circle while thrashing arms and legs and creating general havoc remember these simple rules: keep moving, when you need to exit move towards the edge and thrash your way out and remember to keep your arms up.

Hard Core Pit:
Crush! This is not an activity for the claustrophobic, if you are inclined to close contact paranoia and notice a crush coming on, leave! If you get caught in a crush of people above all else, stay on your feet. Try to flow in the direction of the crowd. Do not panic if you are lifted off the ground, step on peoples legs if you must until the crowd thins. Be aware of your surroundings, this is possibly one of the most dangerous moshes.
Crowd Surfers. If a crowd surfer is over head help with the support and shove forward with all your strength. If you intend to participate do not ask the six foot eight inch, 250 pound man who as just lifted twelve people to lift you; that’s just rude. Try not to flail, remember that you surf at your own risk and have a very good chance of falling.

Step Five

Be prepared, not stressed. A good mosher is aware, but not paranoid. As with any endeavor, practice makes perfect, so get out there and mosh as much as possible! Go to as many shows as you can, look for new experiences and try out a different scene every once in a while. Even the most dedicated punk rocker should go and experience the hard core scene, at least once or twice. Remember that moshing isn’t about disgruntled youth just being rebellious (although that’s part of it), it demands a respect for others and a dedication to music and the culture that music creates. So be open minded, look for new opportunities; have your pop culture friends come to a hard core show, and make your punk rocker buddies experience the thrill of a ska pit. Moshing was designed to bring people closer (not just physically), release pent up emotions and celebrate the inspiration that the music awakens in each person. Get out there and create some chaos!

Warning: Author is not in any way responsible for any injuries and/or emotional scarring due to the moshing activities listed. The aforementioned description and advice is the result of the author’s personal moshing experience and is subject to interpretation and change.

Zack is Right, You are Wrong Vol. 1

Sup, sup everyone? This is the first installment of my new column. I’ve been kicking around names for awhile. Originally I was just going to go with Nightly Shaded with a Pinch of Gaming, but then I realized that it sucked. So instead, I’ve settled on ” Zack is Right, You are Wrong”. That’s right, my opinion is law. Trust me. Gaming is like a seventh sense to me. When I’m not in class or doing something on the ole’ computer here, I’m gaming.

Lately, my gaming has consisted of a lot of Madden 2004 and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. These are two of the great games that have recently been released. However, no matter how much I may love them, they will not be the center of this column. No, the point of my column will be to review a game that is new, a game that is old, and some new releases on the horizon.

Again, I love video games. I’ve been hooked since I’ve been like two years old. Back in the day I played great games like Joust, Mickey Mousecapade, and Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. Now, you don’t get games like that these days, but once in awhile you get some gems. Thus I will come to the first part of the column, a game of old that you just can’t go wrong with.

Chrono Trigger.

Chrono Trigger is an AWESOME game. After a year of looking for Final Fantasy Chronicles, I ran into it at my buddy’s used game store. Boy oh boy, was I thrilled! I loved Chrono Trigger back on SNES and everything is preserved on PSX. But there are two things which would alter the original 9.0 scoring that it gets from me. First off, Akira Toriyama draws the sexiest cutscenes ever. They enhance the game up at least a half point. However, there is a bad part… the loading times for EVERYTHING. Upwards to seven seconds everytime you go to a new screen or try to go to your menu… This, sadly, brings it back down at least a half point. So, the final rating of this game is 9.0. What a great game… If you see Final Fantasy Chronicles, get it. It’s a collector’s item and only a small number of copies were released in the States.

Final thoughts on Chrono Trigger: This is one of the best games of all time. You need it.

Well, we’ve seen an old game that I definitely love, now let’s take a look at a new game. This game just came out on Monday night, actually. It’s the continuation of the popular series of Smackdown!

Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain

Now, I’ve gotten into the game only a little bit so far, but I promised a review. It’s more in depth than any other Smackdown game. The grappling system has been revised and split into four categories. Quick moves, Power moves, Submission moves, and Signature moves. The initial grapple is to chose which one of these categories you want to choose a move from. Then you are put into one of a few different animations from test of strength to hand shake to pick your move in typical THQ game fashion.

The season mode already looks a lot more promising than Smackdown 4’s mode. Instead of having to wander around the arena aimlessly looking for people to talk to, you are given a choice of places to go and if people are there or not. Sometimes they are there, sometimes they are not. This is good though, I don’t have to go through the entire arena just to find Test wandering around again to give me a one liner wishing me luck. No, everything has a point now and that makes me happy.

Also in the season, you have the choice to build a superstars attributes up from 1’s across the board. The attributes are great. They are strength, submission, endurance, technique, and speed. Unlike the other Smackdown games, they do not conform to different move styles and the damage they do, but to how much damage your moves do, how long you hold a submission on, how much beating you can take, how easy it is to counter moves, and how fast the wrestler moves around the ring. Like an RPG, you gain experience each week and it goes towards attribute points. Very innovative, especially for when you make CAWs and want to build them from the ground up.

I haven’t touched the CAW mode yet, I’m saving it for next week’s column, but so far, I like this game a lot. It’s gone back to the roots of using L2 to reverse strikes and R2 to reverse grapples, giving it somewhat of a hybrid feel between No Mercy and Smackdown. The wrestlers are beautifully rendered, and Lita looks great. The first thing I unlocked in the Smackdown Mall was Lita’s loading screens. They make me a happy, happy man.

While this isn’t a full review, it is enough to tell you nay-sayers to go buy the damn game, if not at least rent it. It’ll be worth the cash. I’m giving it an initial score of 7.5 due to me not playing with the CAW yet.

Now, we’ve taken a look at gaming from the past and present, so let’s take a look at the horizon for video gaming. I’m looking forward to one thing. Being released on Wednesday is Monster Rancher 4 for the PS2. Now, I am a huge fan of the Monster Rancher series. Those are just some plain fun games. The sad thing is that I’m one of the only people who think that (out of people I know). Not many people will give it a chance because they think it’s just another stupid Japanese kid game that they ported to the States. Well, those people are wrong, obviously. Monster Rancher 4 is going to be great and will be on the review block next week.

Welp, I’m gonna wrap this article up as I want to play some Smackdown before I go to bed. To summarize what you’ve read, Chrono Trigger is awesome and scores a 9 .0. Smackdown 5 has amazing promise so far and due to a lack of me checking everything out yet, gets a 7.5. This score will likely change by the next article, because I plan on playing a whole hell of a lot more. Keep your eye out for Monster Rancher 4, coming out in stores everywhere Wednesday morning.

So there you have it kiddies, I am right about everything you have read in this article. If you think I am wrong, take a look at the title of the article and remind yourself.

Zack the Mack Macomber