Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mom's Blazing Sandwiches of Death

The flyer for the over-priced lunch café I go to in the city has an entry for "old-fashioned tuna sandwich." It's served on "cracked whole wheat wrap" and has slivers of organic carrots in it.

Uh, WHAT???!!? Old-fashioned??? Yeah, because back in the day, mom ALWAYS used "cracked wheat" when she made our fat-globule-enriched tuna on bleached-white slabs-o-death. Forget cracked wheat, I think the people who made this menu were on actual crack.

We didn't have any of this pansy "wrap" stuff back then! Krist, before 1988 or so "rap" was just a type of music made by those nice boys in Aerosmith. No, if you wanted tuna the "old fashioned" way, it was served up HARDCORE SYTLE with tons of artery-busting mayo and sugar-spiking Wonder Bread, baby!

Type 2? HA HA HA! We laughed in the FACE of Type 2! We didn't know what the f*ck it was, but we sure as hell laughed in its face! We were kids, dammit, and we took it like men.

Oh sure, mom gave us carrots from time to time, but she was never so sadistic as to put 'em in our freakin' TUNA, for crying out loud. We'd have probably kicked her ass, or something. And none of that "pieces of celery" stuff either, although I know some poor bastards whose moms DID try to smuggle that crunchy crap into their otherwise blissful mercury-enhanced fish parts.

And in ye olden days, did we have to pay mom 10 dollars and 25 cents per sandwich? Or 11 dollars and 20 cents if you wanted the "sandwich and small bottle of water" combo deal? Hmmmm. Strangely, that magical part of my youth seems to have receded into the mists of yesteryear. Maybe that's because we didn't have (pseudo-healthy) spring water either! Nope, we drank it straight up: right from the tap. (That's why they call it "tap" water by the way; drink enough of it, and they'll be playing "taps" for you.)

I think the lesson here is quite simple: The good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems, YAAY-YAAAAAAAAAY-YAAAAAAAAY!!!!!! You learn stick ball as a formal education! Doo-deee-dooo-dee-doooo-dee-dooooo…

Woops! Sorry, I was channeling my inner Piano Man for a second there. Well, it doesn't matter because that's not really the lesson to be learned here at all. I suppose, more accurately, the lesson to be learned is this: Yesterday sucked; today sucks; and you can't escape the satanic corporations which will eventually grind us all into a fine-white powder and make calcium-fortified bread with our bones.

But mom did make one hell of a kick-ass sandwich, didn't she? Love ya mom!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Real Cut-Up: Practical Jokes for Halloween, #1

Well, it's almost that time of year again: the time when creepy creatures of every kind crawl out of the woodwork and threaten to eat your brain and DEVOUR YOUR SOUL!!!! Yes, that's right; I'm talking about Thanksgiving dinner with your in-laws.
HA HA! No, everyone knows I'm talking about Halloween, of course. And this year, I've got an extra-special treat for you paganistic cats; here's an asphyxiatingly hilarious prank you can play the next time you're being chased through the woods by a chainsaw-wielding maniac on Halloween night. This one's a real knee-slapper, folks.

First, of course, you need to wait for a homicidal maniac with a chainsaw to come after you, which is trickier than it sounds, believe it or not. Hence, you might want to go camping near a graveyard or an abandoned asylum just to help accelerate the process. For good measure, maybe bang some pots and pans and yell stuff like "HEY YEAH, I THINK I JUST ACCIDENTALLY DUG UP SOMEONE'S MURDERED FAMILY, BUT I'M NOT SURE." More often than not, I've found this usually does the trick.

Once you've attracted said maniac's full attention, start running away screaming at the top of your lungs like you're really scared he's going to get you. Let this go on for about 30 minutes or so, so he can work up a good sweat lugging that big ol' power tool around.

Now here's the tricky part: When the killer's about 10 feet behind you (give or take), turn and run right towards the chainsaw. Then, when you're about a foot or two away, lunge directly onto the churning chainsaw's teeth at top speed. You want this part to be extra effective, so make sure you get right in there and get your guts cut up pretty good. (Note: This is also a good time to flail your arms, whip your tongue around wildly, and make lots of "killed by a chainsaw" noises like "BLEHBUDDDEY-BLAH-DEEEEH-BLLEEEEEHH-DEEHHBLLLUB!!!!" If it helps, practice beforehand by making silly noises for a small infant.)

The great thing about this gag is that now you've successfully turned the tables and your would-be vicious mutilator will never see it coming! HA HA HA! Of course, you'll be completely eviscerated within 4-6 seconds of doing this, but trust me, the look of complete surprise on the serial killer's face right before you see the glowing tunnel of light is PRICELESS.

Okay, well, have fun with this prank and be sure to write in and let me know how it goes. (For safety reasons, always wear bright, reflective clothes so you're clearly visible to passing motorists.) I'll be back in a few weeks with some fun holiday pranks, like telling your 5 year old daughter that Santa committed suicide because she only got a B+ in Kindergarten. Good times!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Review: Andy J. Gallagher, Helicopter Dolphin Submarine (Waga Waga Records)

A lot of people incorrectly think that rock and punk rock are about mindless bluster or aggressive noise. However, the best rock, like the best music in general, often has an emotional subtext simmering crucible-like just beneath the surface. This tension between the artist's passions and the music that can barely contain them serves to bring an added depth and urgency to the apparent chaos.

If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, check out Andy J. Gallagher's latest, "Helicopter Dolphin Submarine." On this, his full-length solo debut, Gallagher (formerly of The Shopkeeper Appeared) harnesses volatile emotions like anger, regret and longing to fuel and add moments of sublime beauty to 12 seriously cracking rock/mod-punk tunes. More specifically, Gallagher seems to be ruminating over a recent breakup, and this palpable sense of loss informs the vast majority of the album, taking his songs to an even higher level.

Roman Jugg (formerly of the Damned) is seated in the producer's chair for HDS, and while the tunes are all Gallagher's, I assume Jugg is at least partially responsible for the feeling of "windswept anarchy" that propels much of the album forward. That feeling is so pronounced, in fact, that it often threatens to consume the listener whole. Of course, many of Jugg's rollicking proclivities were hinted at during his tenure with the Damned, but 80's production values presumably held him in check. Here, he's finally let "off the chain" and it's quite the revelation.

Gallagher and Jugg work well together: Nifty tracks like "Something Else", "Faster and Faster", and "Another Craze" gallop along at a breakneck pace with reverb-drenched guitars and riffs that oscillate like a demented ambulance siren. The arrangements are tight and punchy, and most of the songs are super-short, leaving the listener feeling like he just got out of the rumble seat: breathless and ready for more.

Gallagher's singing has that boozy, loose quality that’s somewhere between pugnacious swagger and wounded heartbreak. To put it another way, listening to this disc feels like the aural equivalent of a bloke having a row with his girlfriend, then blowing off steam by throwing on his leather jacket, riding down to the pub at 100 mph, and getting into a friendly punchup with his mates. Later, he buys them all a round while he gets misty and tells them a thing or two about life.

If the pub metaphor isn't cutting it for you, here's a partial list of the influences that crop up on HDS: The Buzzcocks, David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, The Kinks, The Ramones, The Beatles, Bauhaus, The Clash and The Damned. Gallagher draws upon these artists (and many more) to create a unique sound that feels like the best parts of classic rock, 70's glam rock, britpop and punk distilled down to their rawest, most potent elements.

That said, the finest moments on HDS are probably the more subdued ones. Don't get me wrong, the faster songs are absolutely smashing, but things REALLY kick into high-gear (ironically) when Gallagher slows things down for tracks like "The Brightest Star" and "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine." On the prayer-like "Star", Gallagher, over music reminiscent of Rod Stewart's early-70's/acoustic phase, looks to the night sky and dreams of an ex-lover. It's definitely one of the album's highlights, and the solemnity of the track is made even more poignant by its stark contrast with the off-the-rails rock that comes before it.

Even better than "Star", though, is the title track, which mines similar lyrical territory. "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine" starts off with a languid intro that channels the Manic Street Preachers at their most dreamy, then moves into an aching verse melody with some lovely falsetto notes. Finally, the chorus hits and electric guitars flood the scene as Gallagher sings accusingly, "You don't need me, and you probably never did."

Cleverly, the percussion evokes memories of the Beach Boys, which matches the "west coast" imagery perfectly. Overall, the song has a rather spacious, cinematic feel; you can almost see the sun setting on the Pacific coast along with the protagonist's love affair.

Above all else, I need to point out that this album is extremely hooky; Gallagher is an excellent songwriter with a keen sense of melody. As a result, you'll probably be crooning these tunes for days on end. Of course, this does have potential drawbacks; it's bad enough to be walking around singing "Weirdo, weirdo," at the top of your lungs ("Another Craze"), but you're really taking your life into your own hands if you get "Something Else" stuck in your noggin. That's because the catchiest lyric from this ditty is, "Go f*ck yourself," which I, unfortunately, have been singing on the crowded streets of New York for five days straight. It's amazing I haven't been killed yet.

However, listening to an album as good as "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine" makes me think it might be worth the risk.

**** (four out of five stars)

Notable Tracks: "Helicopter, Dolphin, Submarine"; "Brightest Star"; "Something Else"; "Another Craze"; "The Rocks"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Worst Strip Club Names of All Time