Sunday, May 31, 2009

Obsessive-compulsive behaviour

It's neither funny nor fun, even though that's how it's portrayed in the popular media. Friends who've witnessed my obsessive-compulsive quirks think they're a hoot, and delight in telling me I remind them of that annoying twit Monk, or, even worse, that buffoonish and grotesque Jack Nicholson character in "As Good As It Gets." Well, if OCD is so bloody wonderful and mainstream, why isn't there more help for those of us who are at its mercy? I don't mean better living through chemistry, although Zoloft seems to help, albeit with egregious and oftentimes hilarious side-effects (I once drove halfway to work before I noticed I'd forgotten to wear pants). By help, I mean having products tailored to OCD geeks. For example, those little containers of anti-bacterial gel are fantastic; no matter where I am or what the circumstances, my hands are guaranteed to be germ-free. We need more products like that!!! It seems like it was scant weeks ago that I prepared a new set of socks, although it was almost two years ago. Why aren't there pre-labeled socks out there? Every time I go through the prep routine, I worry that I'm not applying equal marker coverage to each sock, that the numbers are bigger on some pairs than others, that the positioning of the numbers is uneven from pair to pair, etc. NOT GOOD!!!

I'm convinced that there's an enormous amount of money to be made by tailoring to me and my fellow crazies. Some things, like the compulsion to step over every "threshold" (cracks, doorways, first & last stair steps, etc.) with my right foot, or insisting on multiples of 13 for any meaningful transaction involving numbers, just can't be helped by OCD-friendly products. But pre-labeled socks, numbered boxers, colour-separated candies (you wouldn't believe how much more pleasant the candy-eating experience is for me once I've separated my M&Ms, Skittles, Nerds, Jelly Bellies, etc. by colour)... having these would be rapture! And since we have organic stores, why not OCD-friendly stores where the aisles, products, and brands are arranged in alphabetical order? And those are just the tip of the iceberg. But no... instead of putting things in the correct, well-organized order, the happy-go-lucky, slovenly, know-nothing idiot masses not only refuse to share this burden, but actually exacerbate it with their sloppy, uncaring ways. Filthy bastards.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Static-X at Revolution Live

Last month, I caught the second date of the Sno-Core extravaganza at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale. I'm not overly fond of seeing rock concerts in tiny, overcrowded venues -- too many tiny club concert experiences from my teenage years, including one where I got so claustrophobic and nauseated from the stench of weed and/or cloves, that I almost passed out and ended up missing the show -- but I couldn't forgo the chance to see Static-X doing their "Disco from Hell" routine.

The opening band was a local one by the name of Venejer, and they were OK. The most memorable thing about them
was the lead singer's Bulletboys-like habit of bugging out his eyes while hitting his high notes. Venejer wasn't supposed to be in the line-up, but had to step in because the singer from Saliva had some sort of emergency surgery (an appendectomy, if memory serves). So, we got Bug-Eyes McGee instead of "Click, click, boom." Sounds like a pretty good trade-off, as I'm not a Saliva fan. I can't say the same for the red-headed cougar who hit on my friend Greg (aka Jamaican Jesus) while expressing her disappointment that Saliva wouldn't be performing that day, because, according to her, she had brought her daughter (!!!) to the show specifically so they could see Saliva. Yikes.

The second band, called The Flood, was an unexpected bonus, in that they were an unapologetic Tool clone. The
singer sported what Greg described as "the world's first artificially receded hairline" and wanted to be Maynard James Keenan so badly that I ended up rechristening the band A Perfect Tool. A Perfect Tool might not have won any points for originality, but Tool-worship aside, they were very, very good. I hope they'll find success.

The third band, Burn Halo, tried really hard, but didn't make it for me. If The Flood wanted to be Tool, Burn Halo wanted to be Guns'n'Roses. They brought tons of zeal and energy, but little in the way of musicality. Lots of fancy guitar work and screaming, but a bit boring for my taste.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of sound-checks, falling props, and false starts, Static-X took the stage.

They put on a hell of a show, and their set list was a really well-balanced representation of their body of work. I realize they've been around for 15+ years, but I find it hard to believe... singer Wayne Static does so much screaming, it's a miracle his voice hasn't given out yet. It's also worth noting that Wayne married a former porno movie "star," and she brought the band drinks a few times during the performance, wearing nothing but panties and pasties. I don't know whether it was a combination of the alcohol, the excitement of kicking off a tour in support of their new album, or a very happy mixture of both, but Static-X genuinely seemed to be having as good a time as the appreciative audience, evidenced by the constant goofy banter between Wayne Static and bassist Tony Campos:

Wayne: We're gonna play you a song from our new album!

Tony: Should they guess which song?

Wayne: Sure, why not? Guess which song from our new album we're gonna play?

Drunken audience [knowing perfectly well that it's their new single]: Stingwray!!!!!!!!

Wayne: Wow! These guys know their stuff!

Tony [pointing to some random dude in the audience]: I think this guy was at the show last night and gave everyone the answer!

Wayne: Hah hah hah hah!!!

Tony: Hah hah hah hah!!!

[End goofy banter]

But the funniest moment of the night had to be Wayne's rambling ending address, in which he updated everyone on Saliva's return, thanked The Flood and Burn Halo, and mentioned "the first band" and how he could hear them from backstage and they were really good but he couldn't remember their name. A stagehand kept yelling "Venejer" in Tony's ear, and he'd relay a discombobulated version of it to an increasingly tickled Wayne:

Stagehand: Venejer!

Tony: What? Venison?

Wayne: What's that?

Stagehand: Venejer!

Tony: Vegemite?

Wayne: Huh?

Stagehand: Venejer!

Tony: Vajener?

Wayne: What? Vaginal? Are you fucking kidding?

Tony: Vajener!

Wayne: Well, thanks to Vagina, or whatever the fuck, for stepping in for Saliva!!!

Tony and Wayne: Hah hah hah hah!!!

Venejer [backstage]: We're gonna have to change our fucking name!

Okay, I'm only guessing about Venejer deciding to change their name, but after that hilarious debacle, it wouldn't be a bad idea.

Here's a videoclip of Static-X tearing it up with "Dirthouse" -- 'twas a great show!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Gang That Couldn't Pitch Straight

There are many reasons why the Indians find themselves in last place more than one month into the season.

The offense is sporadic and bumbling -- they either strike out or hit homers. The team leader in RBIs (DeRosa) is batting in the low .200s, the leadoff hitter (Sizemore) leads the team in homeruns, our most powerful hitter (Hafner) is on the DL after it looked like he was FINALLY getting back into hitting shape, our second most powerful hitter (Peralta) is in a woeful season-long slump, and the team's overall fundamental approach to hitting is laughable; I can practically guarantee that no other team can match the Tribe's propensity to strand guys who get on second with none out or third with one out or less.

The defense is astoundingly poor, due in no small part to management's insistence on slapping together an alignment eerily reminiscent of a patchwork quilt put together by a blind guy. At any given time, the Tribe will field a catcher at first base, a shortstop at second, a third baseman at short, a DH at third, and a utility infielder in left. It's a miracle they don't throw out the one-armed man from The Fugitive (let's not forget that whole saga was inspired by a real-life murder that took place in Cleveland) in right field.

The starting pitching is similar to the hitting, as epitomized by Lee, Pavano, and even Laffey's outings: they either produce what I call high-quality outings, where they go 7+ innings while giving up two or less runs, or they get shelled early. Carmona's sinker isn't sinking, and Reyes has been a huge disappointment.

The situational managing has also been atrocious. I can't remember the last time the team manufactured a run, executed a successful hit-and-run (and some of the guys on the team can both hit AND run -- wake up, Wedge!), or even called for a timely pitch-out. What about pitching substutions? I'm so glad you asked, since this leads us to...

The Bullpen From Hell. This unit is, by far, the biggest reason for the Tribe's sorry showing thus far. How bad is the current crop of "relievers"? I'm looking back on the days of Ernie Camacho, Dave Otto, and Scott Scudder with something approaching nostalgia. It's hard to believe that the bullpen actually got worse once the team finally got rid of the human grease fire known as Joe Borowski... but they did. After yesterday afternoon's collapse, where The Gang That Couldn't Pitch Straight gave up a hard-fought lead for what seemps like the fiftieth time this year (and this estimate might not be too far off, as they give up leads multiple times a game), the bullpen's collective ERA is a ghastly 6.50, and they lead the league in blown saves by a wide margin. Even with the mediocre starting pitching, the Tribe's hit-or-miss offense has managed to keep them in games and/or give them the lead numerous times, only to have The Bullpen From Hell give it back without recording nary an out. Up until recently, the only decent relievers on the roster were two dudes named "Sipp" and "Chulk," and they both managed to catch the pitching equivalent of the Swine Flu yesterday, combining to produce a seven-run Toronto inning that negated some clutch-hitting heroics that had resulted in the Tribe taking the lead the previous half-inning. Relievers are supposed to put out fires, not set them and then exacerbate them. I don't know whether there are any viable options in our minor league system... but at this point, anyone not named Rafael Perez, Rafael Betancourt, Jensen Lewis, Kerry Wood, "Sipp," or "Chulk" is a viable option.

A bullpen this incendiary deserves a moniker. Here are some options:
  • Pyroclastic Flow
  • Arson, Incorporated
  • Ball Four
  • The Napalm Gang
  • The Opposing Hitters' Stimulus Plan
  • Chemical Accelerant
  • Hanging Slider
  • The Molotov Cocktail
  • Meatball Buffet
  • Ulcer Catalyst
  • The Kerosene Klan