Music Mondays: My Weezer Fandom

For whatever reason, Weezer had nothing to do with my formative music-liking years in 7th or 8th grade when it was taking my future high school friends by storm. I’m sure I’d heard “Buddy Holly,” but the name Weezer meant nothing to me. Being kind of an asshole in high school I would constantly make fun of my new friends for liking Weezer even though I was basing that on absolutely nothing. It’s a wonder we’re still friends, though I think part of that’s because, at some point either sophomore or junior year, I asked my buddy Chad if I could borrow their records. At the time Weezer–consisting of lead singer and guitar player Rivers Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, guitar player Brian Bell and bass player Matt Sharp–only had their 1994 self-titled debut (dubbed “The Blue Album”) and 1996’s follow up Pinkerton out. Unfortunately, Pinkerton didn’t do so well, Cuomo went crazy and the band went on hiatus for a few years. I listened to the two records and did a complete 180, becoming a huge fan of the band, even checking Weezer.com on a regular basis, though never getting involved in the message boards (I hate those things). Luckily for me, I got into the band towards the end of their hiatus which meant that 2001’s self-titled album (this one dubbed “The Green Album” for obvious reasons) wasn’t too far off. During their off-time, Sharp left the band to be replaced by Mikey Welsh on bass and Rivers started writing poppier, less personal songs because he was devastated by Pinkerton‘s failure (an album that featured lots of personal feelings from the singer). I remember going to my beloved local record store Boogie Records with my friend Matt during our free period senior year and buying the record the day it came out. The album wasn’t great–not as good as the previous two at least–but it was new Weezer, which meant new tours would be on the horizon. At the time, the band pretty much played the exact same set list every show, but my friends and I hoped to see them soon.

Also around this time, Rivers started doing a lot of interviews that lead to lots of angriness from fans, especially the ones where he practically disowned Pinkerton (an album everyone I know loved and, from what I read in an article in Guitar World about the then-new emo scene, influenced that entire scene thanks to this new thing called the internet) and said that his fans were assholes. I can’t tell you exactly where this happened, but it did. I was pissed. That’s when I realized that Weezer was one of the hardest bands to be a fan of, but I was hooked. Soon, I would go off to college and purchase the poster version of the Green Album cover which hung proudly in my room. On September 22, 2001, my freshman year of college, my parents came down to Delaware, Ohio, my friends Matt and Charlie who were going to Ohio State at the time came up and then my parents took us back to Toledo, which got us closer to Detroit where the show was. A band called The Start opened up and–this is the best part–I got to shake hands with new bass player Scott Shriner who also happened to be from Toledo! In fact, I worked with his cousin at the bagel shop. For whatever reason, Scott was running up the aisle near us and one of my friends notice and shot his hand out into the aisle. Scott very nicely stopped and shook all our hands before moving on to his destination. I don’t remember many specifics of the show, but I do remember singing like crazy along with all the songs. Good times. As I mentioned in a previous post, I actually drove up from Delaware, Ohio to Toledo to hit up the midnight release of Weezer’s next record Maladroit. Someone snapped a picture of Scott Shriner’s dad buying it at Boogie Records and it made its way onto Weezer’s website. That’s me in the gray sweatshirt and the missus in blue (she was nice enough to let me use her car for the voyage). I really didn’t like Maladroit when I first listened to it. I wanted to hear more Pinkerton-like music, but it was poppy like “Green.” But it eventually grew on me and I wound up digging the record. That was in 2002. I was a sophomore in college at the time. That summer my friends from Toledo and I went to see Weezer again in concert, this time they were doing shows with two stages, had five bands playing along with them (including Sparta and Dashboard Confessional who I realized I hate) and a side stage with smaller bands. Another good time was had by all. Then Make Believe came out and broke my heart. I know it sounds dumb to say something like that about a band filled with people you’ve never met (hand shake aside), but with that album’s string of poppy pap crap, I was done with the band…for a while at least. How many times did I need to get kicked in the ribs before I walked away? The record came out in 2005, I was still in college and I don’t think I’ve listened to it since then, though I do still own it (I’ve never even ripped it into iTunes). Soon, I’d graduate college and go on to work for Wizard in New York with a bunch of dudes who were also, at this point, former Weezer fans. Many of them felt the same way I did and some were even angrier about it. I kind of mellowed out after a while, but I still didn’t buy or even listen to their next two records “the Red Album” from 2008 and 2009’s Raditude. So, it’s been a good five years since my heart broke. By now it’s mended back together and was ticking better than ever (thanks to realizing a band isn’t really worth getting too upset about). Plus, recently I’d been seeing a few things that made me curious about their latest record Hurley: Rivers’ appearance on that B.o.B song “Magic” and their first single off the record called “Memories” which I really really dug. There’s finally an official video for “Magic” now, by the way. Watching Rivers doing his MC thing on stage is always funny.

So, last week, I found myself in Best Buy doing something I hadn’t done in half a decade: buying a Weezer CD. I went with the deluxe edition because it was the same price as the regular. My friends and I used to joke that you can expect one thing from any Weezer CD: ten songs. Well, that rule had been broken in the past, but it made me chuckle that the regular version of the disc had that magical number of tracks. And, you know what? I really like this record. I don’t know if it’s just me being sentimental (like seeing a girl you used to like and thinking you’ve got a thing for her again, but really it’s just a fond memory) or if it’s legit. I’ve only listened to it once all the way through, but I wasn’t depressed after the first listen, so that’s much better than my first Make Believe listen.

You might be thinking to yourself “Oh, TJ, don’t go back to that band, they don’t know how to treat you right and will only wind up hurting you again.” But to that I would respond “Yo, I got this.” Now that I’m less emotional about the whole thing, I’ll probably even go back and listen to Make Believe again and keep my eyes peeled for “Red” and Raditude at flea markets, garage sales and used places.

Book Vs. Radio Play Vs. Movie Vs. Comic Vs. Movie: War Of The Worlds

This post has been a long time coming. After reading and not particularly enjoying H.G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds, I decided to go on and listen to the radio play again, watch both the 1953 and 2005 movie versions and read Alan Moore’s interpretation of the adventure using his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the second volume of that book. I listened to the play again online, watched the first movie and read the trade within a pretty short amount of time, but then got hung up on watching the latest movie for timing reasons.

To sum up my previous post, I thought WOTW (first published in 1898) was an interesting book that based an alien invasion story around the technology and military practices of the time. Overall, the way the story was told (almost completely in first person recollection–like a journal–with almost no dialog) sapped a lot of the tension right out of the proceedings. Hell, you know he survives because he’s writing the book you’re supposedly reading. The basic idea of the book is that our white collar main character sees something fall from the sky that turns out to be a Martian. These head-like aliens with giant eyes and tentacles shot here in cylinders, built huge tripods, walked around in them destroying things with heat rays and green death fog only to be SPOILER brought down by Earth germs. Without spoiling too much, I enjoyed every other version of this story more than the original text.As I mentioned in the post about the book, I was fascinated by the 1938 radio play version of the story orchestrated by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater (you can listen to it here if you’re interested). It was done on Halloween that year and–this is the part that blows me away–some people thought it was real! This might seem ridiculous, especially considering the opening, intermission and very end make it very clear you’re listening to fiction, but just imagine how many times you’ve tuned into a TV show a few minutes after the start. The way the story was presented to people back then was basically the same as a mockumentary now. A live concert was interrupted, first by reports of strange streaks in the sky and later by a full-on report from New Jersey where one of the pods landed. There’s even a great moment early on when they interview a guy who was just driving around listening to the radio program that we are listening to. He says he was getting bored and dozing because it was boring!

Even though this thing was done almost 75 years ago, it still felt thrilling and spot on from a news standpoint. Even though I’d heard it before a bunch of times, I was excited to hear what was going on. It’s kind of like watching Jaws or Halloween again. I know what’s happening but I love the ride. I’m also really impressed that it still feels like a modern up-to-the-minute news story. It reminded me of seeing the events of 9/11 unrolling when I was in college. You have no idea what’s going on except for a few things you’re hearing/seeing and you’re trying to put the pieces together. And, man, it just feels hopeless at times. How are these people going to defeat these giant monsters they can’t seem to even touch?

Compared to the book, the radio play is far more exciting. They use the same basic story structure, but the inclusion of New Jersey and New York City as locations and more common language make it easier to follow. By this time, the language of sci-fi was more established, so it’s easier to explain what’s going on. We also see some straight-up sections taken from the book mostly after the intermission with the narrator explaining what’s going on. The character of the infantryman showing up and giving his spiel about sneaking around and building up a resistance to fight the aliens. And, of course, the story ends with our hero realizing the aliens have died from Earth germs. The 1953 version of War Of The Worlds is considered a sci-fi classic. I had no idea, but I can see why after watching the movie. It’s a very 50s flick with nearly everything shot on backlots (I know this might look corny to some people, but I love the look of studio lot movies like Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry). This time around, our hero meets up with a girl and winds up getting stuck in a house with her (like the hero in the book was, but he was with an annoying guy). I thought this change in dynamic was interesting and offered some different elements that I enjoyed. There’s also a really intense scene where one of the Martians sticks an eyed tentacle into the house and the couple have to avoid it for fear of being killed.

Another new element that you can see on the above poster is that, instead of riding around in tripods, these aliens use flying ships (which were actually mentioned as potential transport for the Martians in the book). The effects look amazing–especially when you see an actual Martian’s hand–and there’s an excellent behind-the-scenes documentary on the DVD that I got from Netflix that goes through and shows how they did a lot of the practical effects for the movie (fun fact: Ray Harryhausen shot test footage because he wanted to do the movie, but it went to someone else).

Again, compared to the book, this is a much more engaging journey right off the bat. Four minutes in and I was jazzed about the story and wanted to see what was going to happen. One interesting thing is that, in the very beginning, they actually show Mars and then the other planets, explaining why they wouldn’t work for the Martians (which is interesting because at the end of the book, we’re told another planet would work, I think it was Venus, but scientifically speaking that’s nonsense). Anyway, they use more science than Wells had access to, but it’s funny to see a drawing of Earth from space instead of a picture, because, well, we hadn’t been to space yet.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you should do yourself a favor and rent or just buy this bad boy. The movie is awesome, but it’s also jam packed with extras. You’ve got the FX thing I already mentioned, plus interviews with the surviving cast members, especially the female lead who knew a LOT about what was going on with the making of the film. The most interesting aspect though, was a featurette which compared Wells with the other godfather of sci-fi Jules Verne. Apparently Verne didn’t like Wells because Verne took the time to do the science and Wells just made stuff up that doesn’t make a lot of sense (like the seemingly nonsense Martian biology his narrator describes). Oh, they also have the full radio show on the DVD too, if you don’t want to listen to it on your computer. Aside from the radio play, the second volume of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was the other version of War of the Worlds I’d experienced before. There’s a lot more going on in these issues that originally came out between 2002 and 2003 from Wildstorm imprint America’s Best Comics, including a visit to Dr. Moreau (as in The Island Of) and a pair of confrontations between members, one romantical, the other super duper gross and bloody. But, the overall thrust of the story involves Allan Quartermain, Mina Murray, Mr. Hyde, Captain Nemo and the Invisible Man doing what they can to stop the Martian invasion (Moore went with the traditional tripod designs for the Martian walkers as you might expect from the master of detail).

LOEG is not only one of my favorite concepts (Expendables is basically the LOEG of action stars!) but also one of my all-time favorite comics. I even did a big paper comparing the characters in the comic to the characters in the original books back when I was in college, though it was confined to just the first volume because otherwise, I would have gone insane. Anyway, what I like most about Moore’s take on the story is that humanity actually gets to do something more than fumble around until germs kill the Martians. If you haven’t read this trade yet (what are you waiting for?) this is SPOILER territory. Not only does Hyde fight one with his bare hands, but the trip to Moreau is to get a bioweapon mixing anthrax and streptococcus that they fire at the aliens to take them out. YEAH! Humanity FINALLY got to do something instead of knocking a few tripods down with rockets or whatever. The final entry in the post comes down to 2005’s War of the Worlds flick directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins and even cameos by Gene Barry and Ann Robinson who were the leads in the 1953 flick! This time around Cruise stars as a divorcee who doesn’t have the best relationship with his son and daughter (Fanning). He’s got them for the weekend when the aliens start their invasion and goes on a tour of the east coast trying to keep them safe. Spielberg incorporates elements from all the previous official renditions mentioned above including paraphrases or direct quotes from the radio play, book and 1953 movie along with a few scenes from the previous movie. This time, instead of arriving in cylinders, the war machines were supposedly buried on Earth years ago (before roads were built) and a lightning bolt somehow brought the aliens down from Mars into the robots while also taking out communications and machines with an electromagnetic pulse. I understand why they changed this: modern humans wouldn’t wait around for an alien to build a craft in a hole. But, it just feels kind of strange and goes back to one of the problems with Wells’ original: some of the science doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, the aliens once again ride tripods, feed off of humans and destroy lots and lots of things and people with their heat rays. Cruise–the luckiest man in the world as everyone around him gets zapped to death and he almost never gets grabbed by the aliens unless he wants to–gets home, gets his kids and they make a break for it. Once again, even though I knew how the story would end, I was still really drawn into the story thanks to the obstacles Spielberg put between Cruise’s family and safety.

Back when this movie first came out I wasn’t very interested because of Cruise’s real-life craziness, but I actually liked him in the movie, partly because his character is kind of a crazy asshole. It’s like watching Nic Cage’s enjoyable movies like National Treasure instead of the ones where he’s trying to be serious (Bangkok Dangerous SUCKED). I had a lot of fun with the movie, but once again, it ends with people discovering Earth germs kill Martians, though there are a couple scenes where humanity takes a few of them down, which is nice. Again, even knowing the ending, I was just waiting to see how things would end (aside from the germs).

After reading the book I thought “Well, I don’t like this version, but the story has a lot of potential.” Clearly that’s correct, though I’m not sure how much more it might have. Frankly, the fact that humans don’t get to actually do anything, makes for a less-than-stellar story. I know that the meat of the remakes have been about the perseverance of the human spirit in the most daunting and adverse situations, but with the same ending every time (minus LOEG Vol. 2) it gets kind of neutered. In the end, I think I’m all set on War of the Worlds remakes and reinterpretations, unless they can recreate the real life panic started by the radio show. THAT would be interesting.

News Of The Day: Oprah Chooses Franzen Again For Book Club

What a difference a sticker can make. Back in 2001, Oprah’s Book Club was rolling along at full steam turning regular books into global super stars over night. So, when she chose Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, it seemed like the writer would be rolling in it. He even went on and did an initial interview with Oprah, but the Chicago native eventually started to worry about that Book Club sticker emblazoned on the cover. He thought that it would turn men off of his work and said so in an interview that Oprah heard and basically dropped Franzen from the show and moved on to the next book (history via Wiki and my fuzzy memory, my mom taped Oprah every day around this time and I was still home before going to college).

I didn’t know any of that when I read The Corrections while at college though. I think the professor mentioned it, but painted Franzen as more of a rebellious hero than seems to have actually been the case. Regardless, the book blew me away. I even wrote a 17 page paper about the various sexual relationships in the book that I don’t think sucked too bad. I haven’t gone back and read either the book or the paper since my college days, but plan on adding it and some other more recent favorites to the end of my ambitious reading list.

So, with all that floating around in my brain somewhere, I was pretty surprised to find out via two emails from Barnes & Noble and Borders within about two minutes of each other today telling me that Oprah’s most recent Book Club entry will be Franzen’s highly anticipated new novel Freedom (his first since Corrections). Now, I didn’t see the Oprah episode itself, but I’m curious to see what Franzen’s involvement will be and if there was any mention to the troubles between the writer and host almost a decade ago. Anyone know?

Personally, I’m excited to check the book out and might even have to break my usual policy of waiting until books are on super sale at B&N before buying.

UPDATE: Thanks to my mom for mentioning it on Facebook, I actually caught the Oprah episode today at 4:00PM. She said that Franzen sent her a galley of the book over the summer, she references their past, says he agreed to let it be the Book Club choice and then she calls it a masterpiece. Interesting. Oprah then says it was one of the best novels she ever read. There you have it.

The Hot Toys Barney Ross Figure Is Awesome!

I love Sylvester Stallone AND The Expendables, so it’s no shocker that I’m knocked back by how awesome this Hot Toys figure based on Stallone’s Expendables character Barney Ross is. I spend a good chunk of my professional life writing about toys and have even talked about Hot Toys quite a bit. My go-to comment is how insanely good looking their figures are when compared to their original subjects. I’ve called it magic and super-science (shrinking tech), but DAMN, this figure looks good. Just look at the detail on those tattoos and Stallone’s freakish, yet impressive old man arms! I’m also impressed that a shirtless figure looks so good, they do a great job of offering articulation without making the torso and joints look too action figure-y. My only complaint about these figures is that with a price point between $150-200, there’s no way I can rationalize a purchase like that. Sorry Sly, but I’d rather put that much scratch towards a new guitar. But, if someone wanted to send me one for free, I wouldn’t kick it out of bed…that’s a metaphor. I swear.

Jersey Shore Season 2 Episode 8

Ah, so MTV’s replaying the episode they showed before the MTV Video Awards. Didn’t see the VMAs and missed this episode, so that’s good. I was worried I’d have to do two of these things tonight. Last we saw, Angelina and Vinny were hooking up. Hit the jump for the belated live blog. Continue reading Jersey Shore Season 2 Episode 8

Supergroup Showcase: Cream

CREAM
THE PLAYERS: Eric Clapton on guitar (The Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers), Jack Bruce on bass and vocals (Blues Incorporated, Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Manfred Mann) and Ginger Baker on drums (Graham Bond Organisation).
THE STORY: The three guys all knew each other and got together, forming the preeminent blues trio in England. Baker and Bruce had played together in a band and hated each other, so it was tough going. The band was together for just a few years and recorded four albums between 1966 and 1968. (via Wiki)

I was actually pretty surprised when I discovered that Cream was a supergroup. I always just thought of them as an awesome blues-based classic rock band. Sure, I knew that Clapton was a big deal even back then, but it took some reading up on Bruce and Baker to really understand why they’re considered one of the first supergroups of rock. Though they weren’t quite famous in the States at the time, these guys were a huge deal in the UK.

I have to admit, I’m not completely immersed in Cream. I have one of those 20th Century Masters greatest hits records that I’ve had for ever and haven’t really listened to a lot in recent years, but I used to borrow my dad’s copy of their second and most critically acclaimed record Disraeli Gears (pictured above). Even without having a lot of experience with the band’s catalog, though, I know a good thing when I hear it. These guys really were the best of the best when it came to blues rock at the time. Their songs are tight and pack quite a punch, though I hear their live shows tended to go on and on with jams. I haven’t heard any of their live shows, but I’d definitely be interested in tracking some live shows or bootlegs down. They apparently jammed with Jimi Hendrix in London. Does anyone know if recordings of that event exist? I’d love to get my hands on that. The mix of psychedelia and blues had a huge influence on what was going on in the rock scene of the late 60s and early 70s. The guys just couldn’t stay together and Clapton had already established himself as a kind of wandering minstrel losing interest in groups and moving on to others. Pretty much everything that dude joined after that is considered a supergroup. I’ve been listening to some of his 70s records lately like 461 Ocean Boulevard and Slowhand and am not only impressed with the guy’s skill, but also with how easily he creates awesome rock songs. I just picked Disraeli Gears up today but haven’t had a chance to listen to it again, but I’m really looking forward to doing so soon.

Weird Comic Thing: Big Barda Tape

I’m a big fan of the Superman: Man of Steel trades which aim to collect all of the post-Crisis Superman stories in somewhat chronological order. The books have been pretty interesting, especially considering that they were trying to lessen Superman’s powers, bring him more down to Earth and really make him the only Kryptonian in the universe. We also start off from square one between Clark Kent and Lois Lane as well as all the other background and supporting characters. As I mentioned in my post about Superman: The World of Krypton, I like this part of Superman’s history because it’s the time I got into and overall it feels more creative. It’s fun reading these adventures and seeing him interact for “the first time” with characters like The Joker, Mr. Mxy, Mr. Miracle and Big Barda. I liked the trade, but this post is about a really weird and gross couple of segments from the collection written and drawn by John Byrne which were originally published in Action Comics #592 and 593 from 1987.

Basically, Big Barda is knocked unconscious by fellow New God (a former denizen of Apokolips appropriately named Sleez), dressed like a trollop, filmed doing presumably naughty sexual things and almost filming a pornographic movie with Superman. After a pretty funny scene where Barda encounters a pimp and prostitute in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum, someone swipes her purse and runs into the sewers where Sleez lives. Sleez takes the thief out, finds Barda’s Mega Rod in her purse and with the assistance of some pink monster things, knocks Barda unconscious. Next time we see of them, Sleez–who controls minds–has dressed Barda up in a strange orange fringe…thing and has her dancing around his sewer hideout barefoot and seemingly topless. Yes, this is surely strange, but it gets worse. Superman eventually shows up to help and Barda gets free. While trying to attack Sleez with her Mega Rod, Barda says “Now, Sleez, it is time for you to pay! Pay for the indignities which you heaped upon me in the past two days!” At this point we’re not sure if she’s just referring to the barefoot dancing or something else. It’s something else. Sleez winds up knocking both Barda and Superman out. End of part one. The next issues starts with Mr. Miracle coming back home only to find Darkseid hanging out drinking wine on the purple easy chair in his living room. This page doesn’t really do much to explain the story, it’s just one of my favorite splash pages of all time. It’s very “Oh hello, I didn’t see you come in.”Like any good guest, Darkseid shows up with a VHS tape of the host’s wife doing…things. His explanation of how he got it is kind of funny, but I can’t help but feel grossed out by how cavalier this whole thing is handled. Meet Mr. Grossman, the man distributing the Barda tape for Sleez. Sleez shows up with a mind-controlled Superman and implies that they can make a tape of him and Barda together after Grossman wonders what kind of woman could stand up to Superman’s…embrace. So Grossman gets a set and tries to get something going between the mind-controlled Barda and Superman, but they’re resisting Sleez’s control. Then Mr. Miracle finally shows up and the two heroes break free of Sleez’s control. Grossman gets caught, but Sleez makes a break for it. The end.

I find it mind-boggling that an editor signed off on this story. Sure Byrne doesn’t come right out and say that Sleez had sex with Barda on camera (in fact, we have no idea what the content of the video is, but Barda feels violated, so the context is there). Maybe they thought the kids wouldn’t catch on and this kind of thing would titillate the adults? Ugh, it’s gross. And the main question is “Why would you involve one of the most recognizable characters in the world in a weird sex story that implies, at worst, rape and at best, filming a naked woman not under her own control?”

So, yeah, this happened. And it got reprinted. I’m torn on that one because, as regular readers know, I’m 100% for all-inclusive collections, but I’m not so sure if these two gross issues needed reprinting.

Real World Watcher New Orleans Season Finale “Au Revoir Nawlins”

Here you go, the very last episode of one of the most tumultuous seasons of Real World in a long time (or at least the most personally frustrating ones). I’m impressed with the non-Ryan roommates for not only volunteering their time and trying to make a difference, but also for making some personal, emotional improvements. With all that, hit the jump for the live blog! Continue reading Real World Watcher New Orleans Season Finale “Au Revoir Nawlins”

Adventures In Freelancing: Recent Links

After announcing the new recurring feature Adventures In Freelancing, I figured it would be a good idea to throw up some links to my work with a few comments about my process and that kind of thing.

My weekly TV column for Maxim.com continues to roll on. You can check out this week’s here and then check out the Writing Links tab up there in the right hand corner for past entries. I write We Like To Watch the week before it goes up by going through TVGuide.com’s schedule and writing notes about what new shows might be interesting to watch. With something like this, it’s key to keep your audience in mind, so I’m not going to write about how much I actually like Real Housewives of New Jersey or something like that, but I can poke fun at it. I try to match the voice of the magazine and other pieces I’ve read on the website. Adapting like that is key when writing for many different outlets.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been continuing to do lots of work for UGO.com’s The Goods section. I write a WTF Star Wars?! every single day, it’s usually the first thing I do in the morning. When my editor first pitched me on the idea, I thought it would last maybe a month, but I’ve got a whole folder filled with future entries and see a few things every day to add. So much Star Wars! I’m also continuing to work on a weekly DVD/Blu-ray column for them called Blu-sday which I picked up from my buddy Adam Tracey. This week’s entry can be found here and you should check out last week’s which isn’t based on new movies, but existing football flicks. For this one, I go through Amazon’s listings, open a bunch of tabs and narrow it down to five entries and then have fun with it.

My gig with UGO also includes list elements every week or so, which we try to tie-in with something happening that week in pop culture or something coming up. I did a Fall Toy Preview list of upcoming products that look rad, a list of great American spies based on George Clooney’s The American, the greatest Star Wars toys of all time and a list of geeky movie and TV locales you should check out when you’re in NYC for NYCC. I generally don’t read the comments for these things because they make me sad, but I got a chuckle out of the guy who asked why I forgot to put James Bond on the list of great American spies. Sigh. With the lists, I find it’s best to use elements you’re familiar with maybe a few you don’t know about thrown in to mix it up. You’re always going to have people hollering why their pick isn’t on the list. That’s the internet, everyone has an opinion, but some people get paid for theirs while others give them away.

Speaking of lists, a few of the ones I’ve written for Topless Robot have gone up like 10 NES Games Based on R-Rated Movies and the 10 Most Screwed-Over Children of Superheroes in Comics. The first I came up with after seeing a ton of surprising games based on R-Rated flicks. I’ve got a whole second list that could be used for a follow up if there’s enough interest which is why some obvious ones were missing (another comment section I read a few entries from). The second list was spawned from all the internet clamor over the death of Roy Harper’s daughter Lian in Justice League: Cry For Justice. TR is great because you get to really exercise your snakry muscles. With these I pitch the editor with ideas and he either assigns them or doesn’t, then I work on them when I can, turn them in and keep an eye on the site for when they go live. More topical ones get posted sooner, so staying current is key. I just pitched a few Halloween/horror lists that I’m excited to work on soon.

I’ve also been writing for ToyFare lately, but that issue is being closed right now, so you won’t see those efforts for about a month. I do believe that #159 is out right now, which means you can check out my feature where I got to interview my former boss Zach Oat and sculptors Tim Bruckner and Ruben Procopio about their upcoming book Pop Sculpture and all the Incoming writing. #160 has a feature I was really excited to write and I think turned out well, but you’ll have to wait and see what that’s all about. I love all the web work I do but there’s something really cool about going to a grocery or book store and being able to pick something up with your name in it.

Finally, I’ve done a lot of work for Marvel’s website. These pieces are either recurring monthlies like Five Favorite Avengers (with Bill Rosemann and Tim Seeley) and Earth’s Mightiest Costumes (Quicksilver) or specific assignments on upcoming projects like Ant-Man & The Wasp, Chaos War: Dead Avengers and the Iron Man 2: Public Identity trade. I really like doing pieces for Marvel because it keeps me in touch with the world of comics, which is what I cut my teeth on as a writer. It’s also a lot of fun talking with creators about their process and seeing what’s coming up.

So there you have it, this is what I do all day, every day. If you have any questions leave a comment or drop me an email at tjdietsch AT SYMBOL gmail DOT com.

UPDATE: I just spent way too much time re-doing the Writing Links section, giving each website or magazine their own page. Check it out and let me know if any of the internal links don’t work. Thanks!

The Moog Guitar Looks & Sounds Pretty Sick

I’ve been jonesing for a new guitar lately. I’ve played for years now and still am not very good, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to add to my collection of guitars and basses (between electrics and acoustics, I’ve got eight, though most are back home in Toledo because we’ve got very little space). I’ve been looking at the Epiphone Wilshire and Wildcat and especially the newly released Fender Blacktop Jazzmaster and Jaguar. Since I’m not very good I tend to gravitate towards interesting shapes as opposed to solid craftsmanship. But, then today, thanks to an article on Wired, I’ve heard about another guitar I’m really curious about (though could never afford thanks to the $3,500 price tag).

The guitar’s called the Moog Guitar Model E1 and even though I don’t pretend to completely understand the science behind it, the idea is that the guitar allows notes to basically sustain for as long as you hold onto the string, whereas a normal guitar will eventually die out. It sounds amazing and then I looked at the Moog site where they’ve got a bunch of videos of skilled musicians playing the guitar and enjoying the hell out of it. Above you can check out a video of Garage Mahal’s Fareed Haque explaining how rad the guitar is and below is Kaki King getting her first taste and getting blown away.

But this is my favorite video where a dude combines the axe with an Etherware Plus theremin which is also produced by Moog for $519.

How has rock and roll gone on this long without implementing the punch as a way of rocking out?! Now I’ve got a few more things on the dream list of gear to buy.