75 Bands – Can You Find Them?

This is pretty cool.  Thanks to Meghan for passing it along to me.  An advertisement for Virgin Digital features a great painting that supposedly has the names of 75 bands represented in it.  I have found probably half of them… Meghan is holding out on the answer key and I’m not searching for it.  Yet.


I hope that they come out with a frameable print of this, as I think it is a really fun piece of art.

I Scream When I Open My Front Door Only Because I’m Practicing For When I Win

I have a dirty secret to share with everyone.  It is a dark, nasty secret and I can’t believe I am putting it out there for everyone to see… I love entering Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

There, I said it.

I love the crazy ways they come up with you to go looking for the right stamps to put in the right place, and how good they are making documents look official, top secret and really really important.  If I ever got something that looked like that at work and it was for real, I would be scared shitless.  I would pack my office up and leave before I opened it.

Then there is the stuff they sell.  In case you haven’t looked at a PCH (yeah, we’re down like that) entry in a while, they really don’t do magazines very much any more. Instead it is a repository of old pre-recorded VHS tapes of various country singers and spiritually-uplifting TV movies (occasionally they will have some sort of "Better Sex" video series too, which is odd), "as seen on TV" mail order stuff, no-name knock offs and items that they couldn’t even sell at Ocean State Job Lot.  One in a while they will have something marginally useful…  I got a great LED flashlight and a handy little battery storage box from them.  But that’s about it.  It has the same "hope I find a real gem" type of appeal that scouring the bargin bin does at your local thrift store.

It makes me wonder how many people have housefuls of this stuff in hopes of winning. And who those people are.  And how many of them live in fear of their trailer being picked up by a tornado.  And how much of it ends up on Ebay.

Regardless, every time I get an entry I dutifully fill out, peel, lick, and stamp everything I need to so that I too may – MAY – be winner.  Its like gambling with  39 s cent stamp. And it is more fun than hitting the slots.  Until I win, I’ll just be answering my front door with a big "OH MY GAWWWD!" just in case.

Its Hard Out there For A… I’m sorry I can’t do it…

Welcome to what I believe is the first annoyingly overused phrase of 2006… "It’s hard out there for a pimp" which rose to national prominence after Jon Stewart made a joke about the song by the same title during the Oscars. 

In case you missed it, "It’s Hard Out There For a Pimp" by Three 6 Mafia won for best song from a movie, as it was featured in Hustle & Flow.  After they won, host Stewart said "I think it just got a little easier out there for a pimp" and then later made a joke about "For those keeping track… Oscars won by Martin Scorsese – zero.  Oscars won by Three 6 Mafia – one."

Now that it was broadcast on the Oscars and Jon Stewart made jokes about it, the phrase has entered the American lexicon and is apparently fair game by satirists everywhere, as seen here.  It is just a matter of time before Katie Couric attempts to use it in some sad manner (like she did with "That’s just the way I roll" a few months ago) and it is beaten to death by every radio DJ and several Saturday Night Live sketches. 

Just a fair warning people.


Went to see Capote last night at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence, RI.  First of all, let me just say how much I love the Cable Car.  It is a really neat art-house theatre and last night I finally got a chance to experience the pre-movie music.  Last night it was two guys (one of which looked really familiar but couldn’t place him) singing Scottish songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar.  So much better than those stupid "trivia" questions, ads and name scrambles they do at the big theaters (on a "side-rant" – why are some of those so easy: "ujlia obertrs" for Julia Roberts, but then the next trivia question will be something absurd like "How many bullets did Neo fire in the first Matrix movie?"), I love those couches.

As for the movie, it was excellent, as I was expecting, but it was much darker and chilling than I had anticipated. I  knew it followed Truman Capote as he wrote his book In Cold Blood, but didn’t realize it was going to involve showing so much time spent with the killers and discussing the murders themselves.  Yet, that’s what makes it a really good film in my opinion – that it is a straightforward biopic, but rather utilizes a little piece of the character’s history to explain what he was about.  In ways subtle and not-so-subtle, we see how he had rough childhood, liked to drink, and had been made fun of all his life for his mannerisms.  By forcing the audience to infer all of this from the performance, it allows Philip Seymour Hoffman to really shine – he would need to for this picture to even work – and you really understand why he won the Oscar for Best Actor. 

While he got all the attention, I think that others in the film deserve recognition – not an Oscar, but simply some kudos.  Catherine Keener jumps from the 40 Year Old Virgin to Capote easily, and Clifton Collins Jr. did a great job as Perry Smith, one of the killers.

What I haven’t heard about in the wake of this movie is whether or not Truman Capote’s works have increased in popularity, especially In Cold Blood.  I know that I now want to read the book after seeing the movie and would anticipate that at some point in the coming months we’ll see an article stating the Capote has found a new audience and/or will be on Oprah’s reading list – if it isn’t already.

What Happened Here?

If you happen to visit this blog on a regular basis, you just arrived here to a rather dramatic redesign, both graphically AND the title of this blog. 

Call it a rebirth.

I was kinda bored with my old name of "A Mad Man’s Rambling on Marketing and Music" since I talked about far more than marketing and music, including only the rare excursion into a blog post purely about marketing.   Instead, I write about music, movies, books, television, and all sorts of food and drink.  The things critical to modern popular culture.

Not a lot else will change contest-wise – I will still offer reviews of concerts, albums, and movies, as well as observations from my own life.  However, the re-naming of the blog will hopefully provide me with a better focus and give me more inspiration to post more frequently.

Crue… Crue… Crue….

This is a review of last week’s Mötley Crüe concert at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on March 8th.  I keep putting off doing this, for absolutely no good reason, and even though I should be in bed now, I’m going to go ahead and do it now – quickly.

In a nutshell, the show was awesome.  The "Carnival of Sins" theme was carried throughout the stage show, complete with a big red-and-white striped canvas tent over and around the stage, acrobats (a.k.a. highly-flexible girls nearly naked hanging from ropes), flame eaters and spitters, midgets, and scary clowns.   Truly a demented experience, apropos for the Crüe. Photo_030806_014_1

The band sounded great – AND LOUD – even though Vince Neil pretty much just decides to do the best he can, whatever that is.   As he sings the songs you know by heart – that you know EXACTLY by heart, including every note, cadence, and phrasing, and therefore sing along to – you realize that he’s dropping words, and/or not singing it the same way it was on record.  However, it works.  It is Vince Neil, the lead singer of Mötley Crüe.  If you wanna tell him he sucks, you go right ahead.  I think it sounds just fine.

Mick Mars is just a scary looking dude.  The guitarist suffers from a chronic degenerative illness called ankylosing spondylitis and even though he sounded great – and is arguably the best musician on the stage (ok, he’s handily the best musician on the stage), he appeared to be in some pain, as he took the final bow at the end of the show and backed up in a stiff, disconcerting manner.  Of course, as he is dressed in black from head to toe, and spends the whole show lurking about, it is tough to tell if he is in pain or if it is just part of the act.

Vince and Tommy played their parts well – Vince in jeans and leather vest, Tommy in shorts to begin with and then took some clothing off after his drum solo – of course.  Nikki Sixx is an imposing figure on stage, looking like what would happen if Jack Skellington joined the SS Army and sidelined in a punk band. 

Photo_030806_013 Tommy Lee brought back his outrageous drum solos from years past, running through the audience and being tied to a harness which brought him up into the rafters where he drummed on two different platforms suspended from the ceiling.  The drum solo itself really wasn’t that impressive – it is more of an excuse for Tommy to just be Tommy and get the crowd riled up.  At the point of the drum solo, the crowd on the floor turned into sheer anarchy, with any semblance of organization or rows being destroyed as people turned and ran to catch Tommy during the solo.

The first half of the set was filled with their early material – a fantastic treat for long-time and hard-core fans.  They then take a 10-minute intermission, during which some of the most disturbing film footage I’ve ever seen is displayed.

Photo_030806_005 They come back to the sound of roaring motorcycles, indicating the start of "Girls, Girls, Girls," and launch into a second half set that mixes some old with mostly newer tunes, and while it still rocks, felt more like you were hanging out with the band than seeing an arena rock concert.  Tommy and Vince sat on the drum riser while Nikki talked to the audience, and then they pass around the Jagermeister they were drinking (who the hell would drink out of the same bottle Tommy drank out of?  He has hepatitis and lord knows how many groupies he got it from!). 

Highlights musically were the entire first set,  and then hearing "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Wild Side" live.  "Home Sweet Home" is still one of the most lighter-lighting inspiring songs of all time.  "Primal Scream" was perfect live – possibly my favorite "later" Crüe songs of all time, and of course, "Kickstart My Heart" is just a great metal song.

Even though I can appreciate why they do it, and I do like the song, I swear I do, I don’t get why they insist on closing with "Anarchy in the UK."  Though I have to say that this was a great version of it, with a giant evil clown in the background and all the twisted circus performers of the Carnival of Sins coming out all at once.  That made it much more entertaining.

As I said, the show was great and extremely entertaining.  The tickets we had were on the floor, about 25 rows back, giving us a prime view of the show.

Here’s the set list for the evening (I believe this is right. If anyone has any corrections, please leave a comment):

Shout At The Devil
Too Fast For Love
Ten Seconds to Love
Red Hot
On With The Show
Looks That Kill
Louder Than Hell
Live Wire
Girls Girls Girls
Wild Side
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Home Sweet Home
Dr. Feelgood
-Tommy’s Drum Solo-
Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
Primal Scream
-Tommy’s Boob Cam-
Kickstart My Heart
Anarchy In The UK

Calling the Barbecue Faithfull

If you know me or have read this blog or my bio at all, you will know that I am a barbecue aficionado. 

OK, I’m a barbecue nut.  Not only do I barbecue extensively at home (usually year-round) and experience with various sauces, rubs, woods, and charcoal, but I am also Certified as a Barbecue Judge by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.  I have judged the New Hampshire State Championships (twice), the Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut State Championship Barbecue Contests, as well as the New England Championships (twice).  I have eaten barbecue in 14 states. 

What I’m trying to say is that I know my barbecue.  Purists may scoff at the notion of a northern boy knowing good ‘que, or maybe even disagree with my preferences, but I feel secure in saying that I know what good barbecue is. 

I just returned from dinner at LJ’s BBQ’s new location in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and I am happy to say that THAT was good barbecue! 

LJ’s recently relocated from a real "hole-in-the-wall" type of place in a somewhat seedy part of Providence to a nice strip mall on the Providence/Pawtucket line in a an area inhabited by young professionals, college students, college professors and old-money wealth.  The strip mall is shared by a vegetarian restaurant (which is kinda funny, being next to a place that serves nearly nothing BUT meat) and an upscale deli/bakery that is well known for its bagels, if that gives you an idea of the sort of area they are in. 

Even though the location has improved and the menu expanded, the food has stayed as good as ever.  John, Erock and I started off with an order of wings with hot sauce on the side.  The wings are barbecued, but rather perfectly fried, fully cooked with super-crispy skin.  I love to combine the hot sauce and LJ’s signature sauce to create a spicy/sweet flavor burst.

We then followed up with our main courses – a pulled pork and cheese sandwich for John, a chili cheeseburger for Erock and a pork ribs and pulled pork combo plate for myself.  John said his pulled pork sandwich was excellent and Erock said that not only was the burger good and the chili excellent, but it was one of the only chili cheeseburgers that could be eaten with your hands, not needing a knife and fork to a get a sloppy joe-like "sandwich" (in the loosest meaning of the word) shoveled into your mouth. 

My barbecue combination platter, I am happy to report, is one of the best I’ve had.  Seriously.  Again, I know my ‘que and have had championship-quality competition barbecue and plenty of good and bad restaurant barbecue, and this was some damn good stuff.  Pulled pork can be a surprisingly difficult dish to get right in a restaurant, since it can dry out rather quickly.  LJ’s trick of tossing chucks and shreds of pork (it is really more chopped than pulled, purists take note) with his sauce and heating it up in a hot cast iron pan before serving takes that dryness factor out, while adding a nice caramelized glaze to the pork. 

The St. Louis-cut ribs were not only delicious, but perfectly presented, cut 3/4’s of the way through and spread slightly to prevent a messy pulling-apart.  They were moist but not fatty all, plenty of meat, and well-smoked but then nicely char-grilled for the finish.  Together with the pulled pork, it made for some of the best restaurant barbecue I’ve had, and some of the best BBQ I’ve had, period.   I told Bernie (one of the co-owners and the "cook" between the two) that the food was actually even better than it was at the old place, and it was pretty darn tasty there!

Sides of mac and cheese, baked beans, and corn bread were excellent.  Their home-made mac and cheese with bread crumb topping is truly authentic, the baked beans were exceptionally good and the corn bread was so good, even I enjoyed it, and I’m not a big corn bread fan. 

I also thoroughly love LJ’s barbecue sauce – it has a truly unique flavor, owing it spiciness and flavor to some non-traditional spices: on top of the usual savory flavors of garlic and onion lies some hints of allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, which adds depth and flavor.  It also makes you want to put it on everything.  Hell, it makes you want to ask for a shot glass so you can drink the stuff.   It isn’t spicy but is filled with flavor so that everyone can enjoy it.

LJ’s now has a full liquor license and even though they don’t have a draught beer system, their bottled selection makes up for it.  The decor of the new place is gorgeous – a perfect "upscale barbecue" motif, with pictures of the various knick-knacks from their old place sitting in for the actually tchotchkes.  A nice touch and a nice recognition of their roots.  We ended the evening with a Carameltini for John, who said it was excellent, and a a couple of small batch bourbons for me and Erock.  The bill was $92 for the three of us, including four beers, the appetizer, two sandwiches, a full entrees, and the three after-dinner drinks, a reasonable sum for a great meal with large – but not over-whelming – portions.

One caveat was the service: it was quite a bit slow, but we entertained ourselves with conversation, as the noise level was high enough that we could be our usual crude n’ crass selves but not so noisy that we couldn’t laugh at those same jokes.  However, that caveat comes with another one: that this was only their SECOND night open!  We waited about 20 minutes for a table, as the place was absolutely packed, and Linda (the other co-owner) said that it was like that the opening night.  I’m sure that once they work the kinks out (they were out of some sides and BRISKET, a disappointment for Erock, but a good reason to go back) and the service gets up to the speed of the business, things will be just fine.  Even with a long wait for our meals, it was well worth it and encourage all of you within a reasonable driving distance of Providence to check out LJ’s, as I think it is the best barbecue in the area!

Travel On the Mind

A little over two weeks away from the Chicago trip and starting to really get excited about it.  Hopefully this mild almost spring-like weather we’ve been having will hold out and be like that the first weekend of April in Chicago.  Wouldn’t that be nice!

Also, I’m going to get my first passport, since I’m thinking about some other trips next year.  This way, I don’t have to run around to get that taken care of if I do decide to go to Japan to visit my friends who are living in Tokoyo. 

I also am considering taking a weekend trip to Montreal.  It was one of the places that the guys and I were thinking about going to this spring, but Chicago won out.  It is only a six hour drive and I have a free night stay at the Marriot SpringHill Suites by Marriot coming up.   

I’ve never stayed at a SpringHill Suite before, but it looks promising – larger hotel rooms, a good free breakfast, good amenities.  They have a web site at www.tryspringhillsuites.com that offers a 25% discount if you reserve through that web site.  Yes, you’re welcome.