Thursday, July 30, 2009

Concert Review: Neko Case @ The Kimmel Center

Concert: Neko Case
Open Act: Jason Lytle
Concert Date: July 29th, 2009
Venue: Kimmel Center - Verizon Hall

I got turned on to Neko Case through her side project The New Pornographers. Truth be told, I never took the time to single her out and find out if she did any solo work until her most recent album "Middle Cyclone" was released. I noticed a review in Rolling Stone Magazine and it was very positive (although I am now under the impression that they never give completely negative reviews anymore, but that is for another day) - so I checked it out and agreed. I noticed a poster in the city last month promoting the concert and that brings us to the review....

[The Venue: Kimmel Center - Verizon Hall]

Both Kimmel venues that I have seen shows at were beautiful in their own way. The Verizon hall is modern and clean. We had a great view of the stage. Nothing bad to say except for the little Nazi usher lady who yelled at me for checking my cell phone during the opener (she stayed and watched me shut the phone off and put it in my pocket like I was in 2nd grade).

[Open Act: Jason Lytle]

In my musical reviews, I have been trying not to be overly negative because it overpowers the writing and it calls into question my mental state during the time of the concert (perhaps I was having a bad day to have such a negative reaction, etc etc). I was having a fine day yesterday when I sat down for the concert and I will say Mr. Lytle's band and music were not to my taste. The reasons:

1. The entire set was sad bastard music - droning and whining
2. The whole band was sitting - their music was so soul sucking that even they didn't have the energy to get through a 40 minute set
3. Lytle used some kind of drum machine/backing track in between songs that was annoying, this device was also used during the songs which I thought was a cop out.
4. The guitar player in the band didn't look like he had much to do. He put in a couple of fills, but it was clear to me that this guy was lazy AND the songs didn't have the bones for any layers.
5. The lyrics were terrible: Rhyming sky with why and dry... very 2nd grade.

On the positive side, his drummer looked like the dude from the hangover:
Hangover Guy:


Drummer:


In this clip that someone on youtube posted, at least the man is by himself and doesn't have a lazy band or terrible drum machines to distract the audience. It still isn't good.



Jason mentioned that he made a point to watch Neko Case and her band every night which I thought was nice, but it is obvious he isn't learning anything.

[Main Event: Neko Case]

It took a while for the stage crew to get out all of the band's equipment (I counted 13 guitars and 1 stand-up bass) and get them tuned and set up. The wait was worth it: Case came out ready to sing. Belting out many tracks from her newest album, the aforementioned "Middle Cyclone", Neko was in top form. In the reviews I have read, it seems that backup singer Kelly Hogan is considered the secret weapon of the show... I disagree; it is steel guitar player Jon Rauhouse that controls the sound and mood on the stage. Regardless of who the secret weapon is, Case's band has many bombs they can drop.

The set list was focused on Case's most recently material for the most part, which was good, but I would have liked to have heard this band's interpretation of Neko's older country flavored tunes. While her archival material may have been missing, they were not without, I think I counted 36 songs performed- which considering the way Case and Hogan were singing was pretty impressive. The stand out performance of the night was "This Tornado Loves You" which closed the set before a round of encores.



The banter between Case and Hogan was entertaining and lightened up the mood between some of the heavier songs (take note Jason Lytle - they knew how to mix up the tone for the audience). The crowd was also very respectful to the band which enhanced my enjoyment of the night. Bottom line - if you want to see a female singer who can actually sing her ass off and write excellent songs (and knows how to assemble a damn fine band) - go see Neko Case.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 37

Howdy true be-loggers! Welcome to Sunday Leftovers. As I recover from the previously mentioned Tour De Philly, I will delight you with an easy recipe and an easy but dangerous DIY. Let's just see what's leftover....

[Tour De Philly]


Been there, Done That, and I even bought the t-shirt

[Minor Blog Redesign]

I created a new blog this week for the Tour De Philly, The Lomparty Blog. I set it up so I can give out the live update info to a few friends and I don't flood the main site. I am unsure if I am going to provide content for the blog weekly, but when I see something related to the Tour De Philly, or another group party, I will make sure it is active for live blogging.

When I created this new blog, I mistakenly changed this blog's template and blogger doesn't provide it anymore, so I tweaked another one to get it close.

I kinda like the new colors, how about you?

[Recipe of the Week: Frozen Yogurt Pops]

This could technically be considered a DIY, but since you are eating it, I am going with recipe...

INGREDIENTS
Pre-made store bought Yogurt (varies depending on how many you want to make)
Small Wax Coated Dixie Cups
Popsicle sticks (you can buy a ton here)

DIRECTIONS
NOTE: You probably don't want to use the yogurt with the real fruit in it and it would help if there is gelatin in the mix (normally is in most yogurt).
1. Put the yogurt in the dixie cup
2. Cover with aluminum foil and crimp the sides
3. Pierce the foil with the wooden stick
4. Let it sit for 3 hours
BAM - that's it

I don't suggest leaving it in the freezer for more than a week so use it or lose it.

[DIY of the Week: Ping Pong Pistol]

Ok this is a little dangerous for the really little ones, but its pretty cool. I got this from Dangerously Fun

MATERIALS:
Paper towel tube
Utility lighter
Hair spray (aerosol)
Duct tape
Ping-pong ball

You will need a knife too

DIRECTIONS:
1. Use a short piece of duct tape to seal one end of an empty paper towel tube.
2. Cut a hole in the duct tape just large enough for the tip of the utility lighter to fit through.
3. Release a quick spurt of hair spray into the open end of the tube. You will have to experiment to find the best amount — there must be enough oxygen in the tube for combustion. Only aerosol hair sprays will work (the type in a metal canister).
4. Insert the ping-pong ball 1/3 of the way into the tube and then insert the tip of the lighter through the duct tape.
5. Spark the lighter. The piezo igniter will ignite the propellants and the resulting pressure will quickly accelerate the ball out of the tube.

I suggest checking out the site as there is more information and comments from those that did it.

[Random Video of the Week: Juggalos?]

Is this for real or an inside joke that leaked on the internet?
Watch only if you have 14 minutes to kill.



BONUS VIDEO
Assuming you don't want to waste 14 minutes about the ICP, my wife found this video and enjoyed it


[Conclusion]


I have chicken marinating in the fridge that has to get grilled up. Come back next week as we will have a review of Wednesday's Neko Case concert, I will start to share some of our Chicago agenda and I am more than willing to accept suggestions from my Windy City readers. If you need to contact me, you can email me at "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
- Joey

Reflections on Tour De Philly 2009

Hype and disappointment share different sides on a very fickle coin. In the flash of a milli-second you can go from bummed out to pumped up. That has been theme going into the TDP 2009. Many of the long term tourers couldn't make it this year (which got us all down), and we saw the return of a TDP legend (brought us back up), then we had two heart breaking last minute cancels (down again), but when the dust settled last night... we had several surprise guests that raised our spirits and our glasses.

Like last year's TDP, I organized the tour around the center city bars. We are too old for the college bars and the Old City hot spots are too crowded too bring in groups of 15 (although the center city bars proved to be crowded themselves last night). Personally speaking, I started my day drinking water and resting for the long night. I needed to head into the city a little early to drop off paperwork to Casey @ Jose's for another event I am planning. Every interaction I have with the guy proves to me he is a class act. After an appetizer for the girls and a few new brews, we headed off to Fergies for the first official bar of the tour.

Getting to Fergies was a little daunting as I picked the wrong direction going out of Joses and walked 5 blocks before I realized it (Pistolas packs some strong beers). Once the correction was set, we quickly arrived to see a group of smiling faces. Four of our mighty group had arrived including TDP Founder Tom McCabe. Fergies had a live Irish Band jam session which was cool, but the band took up a good portion of the limited seating in the bar. We decided quickly to move on to the next bar because people wanted to eat dinner at McGillins (which was a late add to the tour agenda).

We quickly headed over to McGillins and it was packed. The group was split up for a round until a family left and we managed to steal a large table. The drinks were cheap and the food is popular among my friends so we spent more time in there than I had planned. I have to mention we had a very plucky waitress and I couldn't decide if she was being funny or a bitch. She found a forgotten purse that one of the girls left at another table which earned her a good tip immediately, but she was kinda mouthy - which I thought was funny, but I don't know if she intended it to be that way. The Mongolian was running late so I figured it would be best to stay in one place so he could link up. The A-Team brought a surprise guest star - Liz from our Zane Patrick's Day adventure. This is the second time this woman has met me and both have been at drinking events, I am sure she has a very high opinion. We ended up staying at McGillins for 90 minutes putting the tour behind schedule. But it was good to have the A-Team and another TDP legend, Tee into the fold. We left McGillins with bellies full of drink and food and went over to Nodding Head

The Head was packed and once again our group was split into two. It took a while for our waitress to find us, which led to one of the A-Team to break off and find his own beverage. Eventually she came and took our orders. I decided to go with a beer I used to drink in college and I will just say it was a mistake for older Joey (it had ginger in it - yuk!). The other table had warm beer... this isn't England and our American beer palettes require beverages to be chilled, especially on hot summer nights. We left very quickly. As we were walking out, Tom had a conversation with a gentleman in the street, in Tom's own words:


[Potential Homeless Person]:"What do you call a horse with it's left side chopped off?"
[Tom]: I don't know
[Potential Homeless Person]:"Alllll right. Can I have a dollar?"
[Tom]: "Ok..... that joke really was worth a dollar"

Guess you had to be there.


Our next stop was the Raven Lounge. I had never been to this bar, but I was trying to be economically focused for my friends and I read they had decent specials on Saturday night and it was on the path for the tour. $2.00 PBR Pounders pleased the men while the women delighted in the board games the bar provided for patrons. I had expected a one and done situation at Raven, but we stayed a while playing Jenga and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Tour founder Tom McCabe had to leave to check in with work and we all decided it would be a good time to move along.

At this point, I was hearing people talk about trains and times and decided it might be a good idea to nix the Misconduct Tavern and head back to Jose's to end the night. We already had people waiting for us there: One TDPer's long lost cousin and my buddy Pete (with his hilarious brother Paul and his girlfriend). I rushed over to Pistolas because there were lines for the restrooms at Raven and I needed to go badly (and I wasn't going to pull a Republicaster and just piss on the sidewalk). Pete and his crew already beat me there and I politely (I think) rushed past them. Once I got back down, we managed to take over the whole back portion of the bar. Several of my friends were new to Jose's and I pimped their fantastic nachos which earned much deserved praise. I partook in a few shots with the new tourists and had wonderfully incoherent conversations. At midnight approached our friends left to catch trains, the Mongolian disappeared with Pete, Paul took off when I turned my head (I saw him leaving out the window), and my wife told me there was a 12:05 train we could catch so we closed up the tab and said goodnight.

TDP 2009 offered genuine surprise moments and guests, a family reunion (I think - I was too "distracted" to notice what the hell was going on), and a night of good times. There is talk of expanding the brand next year and opening it up to people we don't know. I think the TDP has all the makings of a legendary public bar crawl, but I hope it doesn't lose anything in the transition. Either way, I want to thank all those who took the tour this year and hope they come back because you know you will regret it if you don't.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Uggg!

I made the mistake of changing my template for the blog and came to realize that Blogger doesn't have my template anymore. I don't try to get too fancy with the layout, but I like everything on the left - there are only two that have it that way and one was orange and the other was pure hell.

I chose several other options (if you were visiting today, you must have been very confused) which wiped out all my tracking code (joy of joys). But then I tweaked the orange layout to make it look like my old one and I think I have analytics running again.

Blogger needs more clean templates and get rid off all things orange and pink!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 36

Howdy true be-loggers! Welcome to issue 36 of Sunday Leftovers. This week we will talk about Philadelphia, protecting yourself from the elements, since you are protected outside - I have a nice recipe for the grill, and Indians vs Robert Plant? Most of my attention was dedicated to work this week (as you will see in the passage below), so this week's article isn't overflowing with rants and the general strangeness that I like to pump into your minds. Let's see what's leftover.

[How I Spent My Week]

As you know, I try to avoid talking about my real job as much as possible in this blog, it is a murky line that I don't really want to mess with. That being said, co-workers were in town this week and that meant I spent a lot of time in the city after work getting together with different teams and departments socializing and acting like human beings after work.

On Monday night we went to Roy's for dinner which is a Hawaiian-Pacific based fare. I heard my cousins talking about it a few times and figured it had to be good if they went there. I ended up getting pork tenderloins which were cooked perfectly, but I would say a little lacking in flavor. I sampled their calamari appetizer which was outstanding. When out with work people, I try to avoid drinking or keep it to one or two and usually stick to beer, but Roy's specialty Hawaiian martinis sounded interesting (vanilla vodka, Pineapple infused vodka, and something else?). Very smooth and very girly - I had just one and got shit for it from a kid I work with the next day.

On Tuesday night, my wife joined us for dinner and everyone wanted to eat outside. One of my co-workers suggested Mexican Post on Cherry Street. The outdoor seating was exactly what we wanted and the temperature was perfect. The food was about the same you could get at Chilis, in their defense, fajitas are fajitas.

Wednesday night came after a very long work day, it was decided we were going to Nodding Head, I was going to suggest going to Jose Pistolas but I had taken this crew there a few times before, so I figured a little variety would be good AND Nodding Head is on the official Tour De Philly bar crawl list. It has been at least a year since I have been in there, so a scouting mission was required. Wednesday night's group was very fun. The subject quickly turned to music and I found out many of the local guys I work with play instruments. That pretty much dominated the conversation for the night and I couldn't have been happier about it. I sense a work rock-out happening in the near future....

A note about Wednesday nights in center city: The Center City Sips program is great. As I was walking back to the train, I saw scores of people out having a good time, pumping money into the city. I saw families, professionals, and the usual drinking crowd out intermingling. It was a very nice visual to leave the city.

Thursday night presented a conflict as I had scheduled a music lesson as my co-workers were supposed to go home that afternoon, but ended up staying because of something we were all working on. I went with my lesson because I hadn't had one in a while and trying to get back into that groove with my teacher. I felt bad about cutting out, but I figured the others could use a break from my loudness anyway. The lesson was great as Teacher Tom comes up with things I would never think to do with a guitar.

Friday was spent all day in meetings and then I pretty much curled into a ball and went vegetative. I spent yesterday catching up on paperwork, TV shows, cleaning, shopping, and then the Mongolian came over and we killed zombies for a few hours.

Overall, I consider this a week well spent.

[Recipe of the Week: London Broil on the Grill]

INGREDIENTS
3 lb London Broil
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 Teaspoon of black pepper
1 Teaspoon of Herb Garden Mix (Thyme, Parsley, Basil combined)
2 bulbs of garlic

DIRECTIONS
1. Mix everything (except the broil) in a mixing bowl and whisk.
2. Get a fork and puncture the London Broil several times all over the surface of the meat (on both sides)
3. Get a large food bag and put in the meat and pour in the mix OR you can just put the meat in the bowl, but you will have to turn it over every few hours.
4. Place the marinated meat into the refrigerator for 8 hours. About Red Meat marinades: Any less than 8 hours and the meat will not get the flavor, any more and the citric elements of marinades will start to chemically cook the meat. So keep tabs on that.
5. Once your 8 hours are up, turn on the grill and let it heat up. While it's getting hot, grab an onion, cut it in half and dip it in cooking oil. Stick it on the end of a fork and rub it over the grill, this will clean your grill and make the surface less sticky.
6. Cook the London Broil about 9 minutes on each side (total of 18) for a medium-well finish
7. Let it cool for 8 minutes and then slice and serve

Simple, easy, and delicious

[DIY of the Week]


Sun & bug lotion: one simple solution - More DIY How To Projects

ITEMS YOU WILL NEED

Water mix:
1/3 cup witch hazel (or 5 tbsp if you do not use coffee)
2 tsp fresh coffee grounds (optional)

Oil mix:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/4 tsp ewax
1/2 tsp Neem oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cocoa powder (optional)

Powder mix:
1 tbsp zinc oxide (quantity can be doubled for extra protection)
1 small pinch xanthan gum (do NOT omit)
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)

Additives:
1/4 tsp vitamin E
1/4 tsp essential oils (combination of citronella, eucalyptus and lavender, but pennyroyal and peppermint can be used too)

Note on ingredients:
Coconut oil, sesame oil, vitamin E, zinc and turmeric are all "sun" ingredients. Turmeric (a yellow spice you'll find in any supermarket) was used as a cure all in Ayurvedic medicine, but since those guys also believed diseases were caused by demons and that you can wish yourself not to age, I included it here for other reasons: #1 color. I prefer to look sickly yellow rather than zombie white (the coffee and cocoa are also here to improve the color). #2 according to wikipedia turmeric is used in sunscreens and to protect foods from sunlight. If it keeps a pickle nice and firm, hey, maybe it'll keep me from getting flabby! Now I'll just close my eyes and wish for eternal youth...

Neem oil, witch hazel and the essential oils are the bug ingredients. Neem is a dark oil with a smell somewhere between garlic and peanuts. Unpleasant at first, but it grows on you. It's kind of comforting, like the smell of farts under bed covers.

Xanthan gum is necessary for three reasons: it thickens the lotion so it will not run all over when you try to apply it. It stabilizes the emulsion (keeps the water from separating), and it keeps the zinc oxide suspended in the lotion. Don't be fooled by the small quantity required: you need it.

Ewax is another crucial ingredient. The E stands for emulsifying, and it's purpose is to blend the oil and water into a smooth, stable cream (you might find it under the name "emulsifying wax NF" in online stores. It comes in white, waxy flakes which are easy to measure and melt. It is not considered "all natural" because it is composed of a blend of cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60.

Soap Goods supplies all the above ingredients and it might be easiest just to order everything from them, but I found my xanthan gum in the vitamin section of my local Fairway for less (however considering the time spent searching, and the cost of transportation, the savings, if any, are negligible). I would definitely buy the witch hazel from a local pharmacy, and the coconut and sesame oils from a grocery store because they are widely available and heavy to ship.


Check out the embedded document for the rest of the directions.

[Random Video of the Week]

You have to love terrible foreign television shows overdubbed with Led Zep!



What's up with all the arrow tips touching?

[Conclusion]

I feel that I had an interesting week so I certainly hope you echo that sentiment (about me of course). There are lots of exciting things coming up in the weeks ahead: Tour De Philly next week (if you are coming, don't forget the Official TDP T-Shirt - I am not making a dime on these, but they are fun), a few concerts, a certain blogger's 30th birthday and the stuff that does with it, a documentary (assuming my subjects cooperate), and a trip to the Windy City. If you need to contact me, you can reach me at "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 35

Howdy true be-loggers! Welcome to week 35 of Sunday Leftovers. If issue 35 was a person, it would be sitting on the couch watching baseball and complaining that it's back hurts, remembering fondly issues 21 and 22. I agree, that was a weak opening... what can you do? Let's open the fridge and see what might be left over this week.

[WILCO - Something positive for once]

I had a great time going to see Wilco this week. You can check out the review here. I read a great "what if" story regarding one man's dream to get a summer job with Wilco. You can read that here

[House Guests]

We had quite a few house guests over this weekend. Allison's college friend came over on Thursday and will be staying with us for a little while as she interviews for jobs in the Philadelphia area. My friends Nate and Roland came over last night to get a head start on tailgating for today's Phillies game. We started drinking around 4 PM and didn't stop til midnight. My other friend (and father of two) Rob came over and started eating and drinking like there was no tomorrow. At one point in the night there was a gymnastics competition in the back yard with Nate taking the gold - it was a sight to be seen.

The night was complete when Rob broke my office chair. Damn you Rob. Damn You.

[Recipe of the Week: Chicken Kabob]

I made this yesterday and it was simple and fun.

INGREDIENTS:

30 Kabob Sticks
1 Can of Beer
2 Spanish Onions
1 Pineapple
6 Red Peppers
4 lbs of chicken (cubed)
(For the chicken marinade)
4 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Put the diced chicken in the bowl (cover with plastic wrap) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (4 is better).
2. When the chicken is done, soak the kabob sticks in beer
3. Cut the onions and the pineapple into cubes.
4. De-seed the peppers and cut into square pieces
5. Start putting the chicken, pineapple, onion, and peppers on the kabob sticks (you should be able to get 2 sets on each stick)
6. Grill on low heat for 10-15 minutes (rotate once around the 8 minute mark).

Enjoy!

[DIY of the Week: Mint Catapult]

I saw this last week and immediately thought of my cousin Ryan. We have to give the child some form of defense against baby godzilla!


Pocket Sized Minty Catapult - More DIY How To Projects

[Random Video of the Week]



[Closing Thoughts]


I am keeping this one short, Lost Boys is on and I need get my 80's vampire groove happening. I hope to share some interesting art designs for a project I am working on over the next few weeks (assuming the printers call me back). If you need to get in contact, you can reach me at "blog at joeylombardi.com". Remember, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Concert Review: Wilco with The Mystic Valley Band @ Wilmington, Delaware

I am going to start this review by letting you know that I had a fantastic time last night. There will be no pissed off rants about venues, crowds, sound systems, or a band's attitude. This was the complete opposite experience to my last concert, so if you are looking for angry I suggest you move on, you won't find it here today my friends. Simply put, The Wilco and Mystic Valley Band concert last night at the Bluerock's stadium in Wilmington Delaware was an absolute joy to go to. I hit no traffic during rush hour, the parking was free, the stadium was clean and full of families and respectful concert goers, the sound was outstanding, and the bands were both in top form. Let's get down to it.

[Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band]

I reviewed the MVB's latest album last week in my Sunday Leftovers column and I mentioned that I didn't really enjoy Oberst's work under the Bright Eyes name and had overlooked his other work. Let me repent now: this guy is an excellent musician, song writer, and entertainer. On top of that, the bastard knows how to surround himself with good musicians. The Mystic Valley Band players are all top-notch; excellent tone, harmonies, and timing. I honestly thought that they sounded better than Wilco last night (and Wilco sounded great).

The band did a solid 50 minutes and kept to the more upbeat and fast moving tunes from Oberst's last two albums "Conor Oberst" and "Outer South" which I respected. This was an outdoor show in a minor league baseball stadium - keep it rocking! He snuck in a few slower songs like "Cape Canaveral" and gave the revelers time to catch their breath. I have been getting on the Mystic Valley Band bandwagon pretty hardcore the last month and this performance sealed the deal. I hope Oberst doesn't ditch the band and manages to keep this sound and concept going because it's really good.

Behold the power of terrible phone video...


[WILCO]

When we walked into the stadium, we were give an official Wilco touring program free of charge. This book was put together very nicely and features art by the band, profiles of the road crew, and an interview of Jeff Tweedy by his two sons (which was great). I mention this because as I looked around I saw kids everywhere... and they were all well behaved, chilling, and listen to the music. Wilco has become a family friendly band (or have they always been one?) and it suites them and it suites me. I enjoyed the vibe they created and I felt like they really appreciated people coming out to listen. The whole experience makes me feel like when I have kids I can take them to shows like this and we can all have a good time.

Back to Wilco. They had a very good night. Nils Cline is my new guitar hero: we have been watching Wilco DVDs the last few weeks (which prompted us to look for tickets and finding they were playing Delaware two nights before the concert) and this guy is a fucking stud. Tweedy is a damn genius for recruiting this guy into the band a few years ago - I hope he never leaves! Wilco began with "Wilco (the song)" which is also the opening tune on the new CD. Solid opener that was upbeat and they kept the tempo going for the 95+ minutes (we heard that it was hard to get out of the venue so we opted to cut out a little early). I was very satisfied with the tunes and the variations they introduced. Personal standouts were Hummingbird, Impossible Germany (which some lady kept screaming for until she was appeased), You are my face, and my favorite Handshake Drugs (thanks to Cline's ass-kicking guitar solos).

Tweedy engaged the crowd and looked like he was having a good time playing for the people. The Bluerocks have a celery stick for a mascot (both he and I questioned the meaning - something to do with Buffalo wings - I don't get it), Mr. Celery was the butt of many jokes throughout the night. At one point he mentioned that seeing the celery stick made him hungry and the crowd, not missing a beat, tossed up some food which he and Nils gladly consumed.

I don't know if eating your vegetables and rocking out with eight year olds captures the true heart of rock and roll, but it sure does sound good. If you get the chance, go see these bands, it will make the world great for a few hours.

Here is another terrible phone camera clip:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Night We Got Beat Up


NOTE: The names, dates, and places have all been changed to protect the parties involved.


Weddings are supposed to be days of happiness and unity, sometimes it doesn't work out that way. A few years ago my buddy "Clowncar" took the plunge and exchanged vows. The ceremony and reception were great. Clowncar invited our group to attend (sans my future wife as we had only been dating a few months, so invitations and seating were already locked - this is an important because...). Since I was going stag and three of the other guys were single at the time, we agreed to go together. Let's call the three guys Grapeape, Shame, and Shirts. Like any wedding with an open bar, we got drunk. Then we went to a bar at the hotel and drank some more. During the wedding, Shame was on the prowl looking for some wedding sex which he achieved in a classic story that is not mine to tell publicly. I will share my friend's wife kept saying "he's not going to have sex with that girl is he? She's so nasty!" My reply was "what do you think her family is saying about him." Because of that sexual conquest, Shame recommended we leave so he could avoid awkward cuddling or conversation post coitus. Off we went. I should note that I had stopped drinking during the wedding because I had to drive.

We ended up going to a semi-popular bar/restaurant in South Jersey that happened to be open late for some god awful reason. This is one of those places that is really a restaurant but decides to call itself into a club after 11:00 PM for the asshole patrons that think they are doing something with their night. We walk in as a fight is being broken up. Bad Omen. Shame's intent was to get laid again and was in full capture mode. When Shame reaches such levels of self-interest I tend to take a few paces back, way too much for me to handle drunk let alone sober. As I watched my friends get progressively drunker another fight is broken up and the participants are ejected from the building... that makes two. I strike up a conversation with the bouncers, and say something to the effect of "for such a tame bar, there seems to be a lot of fights tonight." The bouncer agrees saying he doesn't know what is going on. Unfortunately, it would soon be our turn.

What happens next will first be told from my perspective sitting on the bench in front of the bar next to the bouncer and then I will tell the story from other accounts of what happened:

From my view:


I noticed Shame, Grapeape, and Shirts at the main bar talking to two girls, one attractive and one that wasn't (of course she was throwing herself at Shame - like a lamb to the slaughter). I continue my conversation with the bouncer when I hear "Fuck you " I look up and notice Shirts start to get up and look very angry. Shirts is of a non-Caucasian ethnicity (I won't say what) and this was a very inappropriate thing to say (it was not the N-word). Shirts goes off on this guy, telling him he is going to do terrible things...bla bla bla. The bouncers rush over and the guy and Shirts are getting tossed out. I grab Shirts and try to calm things down, he agrees to go outside to cool off. Grapeape and Shame stay in the bar with the girls.

Second Hand Account:

Shame, Grapeape, and Shirts were talking to the two girls (Shame was trying to lock down both) when a few guys came over and tried to talk to the girls. Shame immediately got pissed at this act and told the two guys to fuck off. Things escalated from there until they called Shirts the racial slur. I should have guessed Shame was at the center of it...

Once I got outside, Shirts was calming down when we noticed several guys were coming to my car from other parts of the parking lot. I quickly (and correctly) guessed that all of fights were connected and all of these assholes were together. There were initially ten guys trying to start something with Shirts outside. You know that part in Thriller when MJ and the girl are surrounded by the zombies and the camera goes around in the circle, and then comes back on MJ and he is a zombie? That's what happened to us except Shirts didn't turn into a zombie (or in this case a greasy European looking guy) and nobody was breaking out into spontaneous street dancing. Being the only sober one in the general area, I start talking common sense: everybody is drunk, it's not going to end well, their group is going to get into way more trouble since we were basically being jumped; they started to back off. Then Grapeape comes out.

[HULKING UP]


He burst out of the bar doors like Hulk Hogan and in my retro-memory he is waving his finger and "Hulking Up". He immediately gets in this giant greasy kid's face as more of their friends follow out of the bar. There is now close to twenty guys surrounding the three of us. Angry words are being exchanged and I look over at the bar for the bouncers and I see Shame talking with them. Shame comes over. One of the smaller guys manages to dart behind Grapeape and the big greasy kid pushed him down. The thugs swarms around Grapeape. He never even had a chance. It seems to me that Shame was their original target and he was quickly taken down once Grapeape was neutralized. Shame's survival instinct is strong as he rolled into a ball and protected his pretty face. Eventually they grew tired of him and moved to join the gangbang on Grapeape.


(Example of what the offenders looked like)

Shirts and I were still on our feet. There were three guys on Shirts and he somehow made them move away from Grapeape and Shame and took them on himself in another portion of the parking lot. There was one guy left and he was gunning for me. I am completely sober and have the benefit of adrenaline clarity. This guy is staggering before he even throws one punch. I keep telling him he doesn't want to throw that punch but I am thinking I don't want to throw a punch. Being sober in a fight as one huge disadvantage: logic. I am thinking if I hit this guy and he gets hurt, am I going to get sued? Jail? As I am deep in thought, he punches me. This kid has no heat and his fist literally bounces off my head. I say fuck it, self-defense time. One open palm to the face and he is down and bleeding. I look back at Grapeape and the swarm around him is huge and kicking. I scream at the bouncers to call the cops and probably an ambulance. I then jump on Grapeape and try to absorb some of the kicks to his head. I noticed Shame pretending to be passed out by a car.

The cops arrived quickly leading me to believe someone else called earlier. The twenty assholes actually ran away. RAN AWAY. The cops quickly caught up with them. As the ambulance arrived, their attention was first focused on Shame. Shame was fine and kept asking/proclaiming that "It's got to be illegal to punch someone in the face, it has to be illegal." The EMT kept telling him he was right, it was assault, but Shame kept saying it until the EMT told Shame to shut the fuck up. Eventually they focused on Grapeape - he was in bad shape. They cleaned him up, patched up the cuts, and made sure he didn't have a concussion. As they checked my friend, I looked at the other part of the parking lot where the cops managed to wrangle up most of the thugs. They were allowed to leave on their own accord.

They left. The ambulance left. The cops left. We left.

I dropped off Shirts and Shame. Then I went to Grapeape's place. I stayed with him to make sure he wasn't exhibiting any signs of a concussion - he wasn't. He kept telling me to leave and after an hour or so, I agreed to go (which I regretted then and to this day). I found out he went to the hospital the next day to get stitches and to be treated for a minor concussion - something good came out of that trip, but that's not my business to say, but I think it worked out for him.

Shame and I went to the police station the following week as Shame was exploring any and all options to capitalize on his beating. Nothing came of it. No surprise.

I wish I could come up with some profound way to end this story. To my knowledge, none of us have been involved in a fight since. Grapeape deplores going out and being around people and likes to stay home with his girl, Shirts and I are married and living our lives, and Shame is... still Shame.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 34

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers. It being a holiday weekend and all, I figured we can take it easy, listen to some tunes, make an easy meal, and just relax. Since it's the 4th of July, there are all kinds of stuff in the fridge ready to be put on the BBQ, let's get cooking.

[The Shore]

Can I just say that I don't get the compulsive need for the residents of the east coast to drive to the shore? Traffic, dirty water, sand, green-head flies, masses of morons packed into a small area (that is shrinking by the year). What is the appeal? Childhood memories turned into an unthinking pattern of "tradition"? Is there something more to it that I have managed to overlook in my almost 30 years?

I see my cousins breaking the trend and taking their families to other locations, more exotic, cleaner, and generally more satisfying (and not paying much more than you would in Wildwood for a room that hasn't been changed since 1978) and I just sit in my house and remain thankful that the city has emptied out and there is more room at the bars, restaurants, and attractions that I enjoy.

Seriously readers... tell me what I am missing.

[Recipe of the Week: Indian Chicken Curry]

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 finely chopped onion
a finely chopped, thumb-sized knob of ginger
2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
4 chopped fresh tomatoes
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut
1.5 lbs diced chicken
chopped fresh coriander

Cook the chopped onion in the heated oil in a frying pan until translucent. Place the chicken into the pan and cook until browned.

Place the ginger, garlic and chili into the frying pan with the onion and cook for around 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, tamarind paste, turmeric and honey and stir until combined. Cook the curry slowly for 10 minutes, then stir through the coconut. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the cooked curry with chopped coriander, and serve with rice.

[DIY of the Week: Make your Own Fireworks]

Don't blow off your hands kids... seriously get an adult. Some adults need adults too - Hi Nate.


How to Make Fireworks - More DIY How To Projects

[Reviews]

MUSIC
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Vally Band: Outer South

I have known about Conor Oberst for a few years and have tried to get into his Bright Eyes projects with little success. When I heard he abandoned the name, relocated to a small Mexican town and picked up a full time band, I wanted to see what those changes did to the music; the changes made it awesome. Oberst's music evokes the best periods of Dylan, Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers. One of my favorite aspects of the album is that Conor moves back and allows the other players to shine (by writing and singing). Bottom line: This is an excellent effort by someone who I had written off years ago.



(BONUS!)



Wilco: The Album


Wilco's new album was released to this week which means it was a good week for me. The new effort reminds me more of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot than their last album (Sky Blue Sky); more atmospheric, pulsing, experimental but not abandoning the country elements that have been a fantastic element of their live shows the last few years. I have given the album a few spins and I am still processing it as a whole, so far, I think it is a welcome addition to Wilco's library and I think its great. Tweedy's duet with Feist is a highpoint that will get indie fans all a flutter.



MOVIES
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Let me make this easy on you. This movie was terrible on every level. I thought the special effects would save it. They didn't. The effects were frantic and so fast paced you can't tell what is happening. This movie was a steaming pile of shit that defies not only my logic, but manages to break it's own rules of logic. Stay home and don't even bother renting it.

Dig!

While Netflix's live streaming service on the Xbox is wonderful technology, their selection leaves something to be desired; but that doesn't mean I can't find stuff. I managed to uncover a documentary called "Dig!" which chronicles the feud/friendship between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. It is a typical "self destructing genius" plot with the Masscare's frontman Anton Newcombe. Personally I didn't see much talent, I just saw asshole. The narration of Warhol's singer Courtney Taylor didn't do much to evoke sympathy for their band either. The feud is amusing and watching the self-serving Newcombe get his comeuppance was certainly worth the time spent watching this rockumentary.

Sam's Lake

I picked this up from Netflix as well. Sam's Lake is an indie horror film that got good reviews and I don't understand why. The movie has one unique twist that I can respect, but you can't build a whole movie around it. Standard stupid pretty people running through the woods and dying. Snore.

[Random Video of the Week]




[Conclusion]


Thanks for reading this week, I hope you didn't waste too much time picking sand out of your unmentionables. Don't let the upcoming FULL WORK WEEK get you down - you only have 65 more days until your next government-subsidized day off. If you need to get in contact, you can reach me at blog at joeylombardi.com. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell you later,
~ Joey

Thursday, July 02, 2009

DNS Issues

If you were trying to get to the site earlier today, my domain registration company had some issues. Looks like we had a 5 hour outage. But as you can see everything is all better.

Thanks for reading!
- Joey

Dreamscapes: My Dad & R.E.M.



After indulging in too much beer and Vietnamese food last night, I went to sleep. At some point in the night, dream sequences began to take over and while I forgot most of them, this one particular dream managed to stay with me...

The setting was formal, like it was a wedding or a charity event. People were walking around in tuxes and fancy dresses with wine glasses in hand (with those fancy little plate clips so they can snack too). My attention is focused on a group of four men: my father of course being one, Michael Stipe and Peter Buck from R.E.M and I think my dad's friend Lee.

They are sitting in four red chairs, two on each side with a round table between them. My father and his friend are eating. Peter Buck seems very interested in talking to my father and is going on about a local Athens, Georgia act that he is currently producing (if my mind came up with a name, I don't remember it). My father, as in real life, has no fucking clue who these people are and no idea what they are saying... but, he is being polite. As he shoves veal medallions into his mouth and nodding in his head in some semblance of agreement, I can see my father trying to figure out how to get the hell away from Michael Stipe and Peter Buck. His friend Lee just gets up and bolts as Peter is talking about the acoustics of an old church (something I would have loved to talk about). As my father is about to make his break...

... my wife wakes me up.

This dream is odd to me because I wouldn't consider myself a crazed R.E.M. fan and haven't listened to any of their stuff in months. I didn't hear any R.E.M. songs yesterday, and I sure as shit wasn't thinking about Peter Buck. The mind is a strange and beautiful thing.

Here is a little R.E.M. for those who, like my father, don't know who the hell they are (be ashamed if you don't)