Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Beer Bottle Cap Project

Something New!!

I started a third blog today.  I had this idea for a new project, to keep me busy over the winter. Since I was a kid, I've been collecting bottle caps, for, at the time, no specific end.  I just thought the designs and logos and typefaces were cool.  However, by the time I reached college, I began collecting them as a badge of accomplishment.  One cap from each type of beer I've drank.  And so... the collection grows.  Everything from Bud Light and Coors, to Belgian abbey ales and small defunct micro brews.  

Since this seemed far too involved and specific, I created a separate blog.  This blog will showcase them all, one cap at a time.  and I'll still write other nonsense here at the same time, cluttered by Batman, music, and other stuff, but uncluttered by bottle cap pictures.  Huzzah!  

click me to read about caps!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Blind Baptist Live

The Reverend Gary Davis
At Newport
1968: Vanguard
prooduced by Sam Charters?

I will not tell a lie.  The Grateful Dead sent me here.  The Reverend Blind Gary Davis was an old school blues/gospel singer and song writer who made most of his music between 1920 and 1950.  However, a folk and blues revival in the '60s rediscovered Rev. Davis, and plenty of new up and coming acts became influenced by his blues and songs.  

Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and Hot Tuna all famously covered his work, which included the songs Candyman, Samson and Delilah (If I had my Way), Hesitation Blues, and Death Don't Have No Mercy.  So, of course, having heard not just one of my favorite bands (the Grateful Dead), but also Hot Tuna (best blues band ever?), I decided I had to find out who this was and what he was all about.  Funny how music can lead you on a journey, isn't it?  On top of influencing this "new" generation of musicians who would become the cornerstone of modern classic rock, Rev Davis had previously influenced a whole generation of bluesmen, including David Bromberg, Ernie Hawkins, Larry Johnson, and Tom Winslow.  

This particular album is a live recording.  It is actually so crisp and clean that it sounds like a studio record.  Apparently recorded in Newport around 1968, the record jacket doesn't help at all, and there is no internet page anywhere with specifics.  I'm guessing Samuel Charters may be the producer of the record, as he worked for Vanguard at the time, and worked on the Newport recordings for the Everyman series.  But, that is just a guess.  

There is a pretty lengthy note on the back of the jacket detailing the last time the writer drove Rev Davis back to his home in Long Island.  It is a pretty cool anecdote, but the author's by- line is missing.  The mystery writer's jacket note reads like a biography, nothing truly profound or quote worthy, but still interesting to read.  According to the writer, Rev Gary Davis ought to be heralded as one of the great blues men, if not the most influential.  Of course, I agree.   

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Star Wars: The Council of Disneyland

Awhile ago, Disney made a statement that, due to their new ownership of the franchise, and their interest and plans to continue the story, there is a group that will be deciding what stays part of the Star Wars cannon, and what will be thrown out.

This is great news!  I realized in the mid '90s that The Star Wars expanded universe had started to get out of hand.  I stopped reading the books at that point.  15 years later, it must be completely out of control and exponentially ridiculous.  This article on ars technica basically sums up how I feel about the giant dumpster that is the expanded universe.

Now, as a cynic, I won't get my hopes up.  This is Disney, after all.  They want to make as much money off Star Wars as possible.  However, there are going to be people not named George Lucas making decisions about story lines, characters, and other stuff not in the original movies.  Worst case scenario, the canon is streamlined and limited to the films and a few books and games from the expanded universe.  Keeping things simple, Disney would make some room to write and create after Return of the Jedi, without being held up by an already haphazardly established canon.

However, best case scenario, they scrap everything before and after the first three original movies (episodes IV, V, VI) and throw out everything else to start completely from scratch!  I wrote a post all about how to remake the prequels, relying heavily on Mr. Plinket's reviews from Red Letter Media to make my case.  This is the chance!

Disney could throw out the notion of midichlorians.  They could rewrite the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, tossing out the "slave boy rescued from Tatooine" nonsense.  They could create a better, more plausible conflict that would be known as the Clone Wars.  Finally, Jar Jar Binks could be just a memory of a bad concept that fans rejected, instead of a recurring character that fans have to vehemently loathe.

io9 published a story the other day about this, as an open forum for fans to put in their two cents regarding what Disney ought to keep, and what they should toss out.  The link is below.  The comments are mostly worth reading.

click me

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Best Driving Music?

Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Concert
1980, Fantasy Records
produced by Russ Gary

John Fogerty - guitars, vocals, harp (harmonica)
Tom Fogerty - guitars, vocals
Stu Cook - bass, vocals
Doug Clifford - drums

Creedence received much radio play on classic rock stations around the time I started buying music for myself. I went to the record store to purchase something that had Fortunate Son on it, and since I had an aversion to "best of" albums at the time (something to do with wanting to seem like a "genuine fan", whatever that meant) I passed on the Chronicles album, which has some of my favorite Creedence songs like Looking Out My Backdoor, and Long as I can See the Light, and instead bought this one.  

Performed and recorded at the Oakland Coliseum in 1970, this show is actually one complete show, unlike some other "live" albums of the late '60s and early '70s that were a mash up of several dates (see Live Dead by the Grateful Dead, Roxy and Elsewhere by Frank Zappa, and Bless Its Pointed Little Head by the Jefferson Airplane, among others).  

I like the sound of this album. Being a live performance, the recording is not so crisp and clean as studio tracks, which is excellent for experiencing the southern roots rock blues sound of one of the pioneers of country and blues inspired rock and roll. Although some of my favorites are not on this set list, all of the tracks are great songs.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

We all Wear Masks

There has been far more interest and emphasis put on Batman villains as gang leaders and organized criminals than as petty criminals and thieves with silly motives.  A need to make the villains believable and grounded in realistic crime grows from the Christopher Nolan films, and also the comic arcs written by Jeph Loeb, Grant Morrison, and of course Frank Miller.  Two Face and the Penguin have been reimagined as mob bosses, and The Black Mask has become a better, more compelling villain because of this refocus.  

The Black Mask was a villain recently resurrected from obscurity and pushed to the top tier of Batman adversaries.  Filling the need for interesting gang leader/mafioso type characters, Black Mask bridges the gap between ordinary organized crime characters like the Falcones, and the more colorful deranged crazies like the Joker and Scarecrow.

Roman Sionis first appeared in Batman #386 in 1985.  Created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake, Roman Sionis appears to be similar to a few other Bruce Wayne foils.  Sionis is another wealthy kid inheriting his family's fortune after their premature death, very similar to Tommy Elliot and Prometheus.  He inherited his family's company, Janus Cosmetics.  However, Sionis mismanages the estate, and after a catastrophic mistake with a new cosmetic line (much like the Joker's plot in Tim Burton's film), plunges the company into bankruptcy.  Janus is then bought out by Wayne Enterprises.  Sionis goes mad afterward, forms an alternate persona, the Black Mask, and creates a new criminal organization, the False Face Society.  However, he and his organization were defeated by Batman and Robin (Jason Todd).  The Black Mask would then be a regular in Arkham Asylum.

The Black Mask was resurrected for the War Games arc in 2004.  During an organized crime power vacuum, Roman Sionis is able to take control of Gotham's underworld and is portrayed as a ruthless, cunning, and murderous psychopath.  But instead of being randomly murderous for the fun of it, like the Joker, Black Mask's agenda is to be the supreme head of crime in all of Gotham.  He could possibly be the first crazy Batman villain with business sense.

This would lead to the character making a comeback in television and video games as more of a hard nosed mafia-type kingpin, most recognizable from The Batman cartoon show, and the Arkham Asylum video game franchise.  In Arkham City and Arkham Origins, the Roman Sionis identity is tweaked to add a steel company to his legacy and resume, as well as recreating Janus Cosmetics as a chemical/pharmaceutical company.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Did it Eat the Basketball? Charlotte Part two

The Charlotte NBA basketball team recently petitioned to rename their team the Hornets, after a team that played there in the '90s but had since moved to New Orleans.  The New Orleans club abandoned the Hornets name and colors before this season.  Since the Hornet mascot is unused, and far more suited for a team in the famous Hornets Nest of the American Revolution, the club was granted the requested rebranding.

Next of course came debates about what the new rebrand would look like.  The club chose to use colors from the past (teal and purple), but there had been no consensus as to the logo.  I wrote about concepts in an earlier post, which took research of the highest caliber.  I came out of that surprised to discover how many people were fond of (truly loved) the old "Hugo" logo.  In my opinion it may actually be the worst logo in modern sports (the last 30 years).  It is a minor league mascot at best, a cartoon worthy of the Kid's Corner fan club, and yet it was the primary logo of two major sports clubs.  So, I am happy to see it (finally) retired, and relegated to throwback nights and nostalgic fans.

The other day, the Charlotte Bobcat/Hornets released their new primary logo, which is below.  While it is definitely an improvement over Hugo, it is still pretty frustrating.  I'm sure seeing it for yourself will tell you why.  Also, the title of this post is a pretty good clue.  According to press releases that accompanied the release of the logos, the club seemed pretty committed to not only including a basketball into the logo, but making said basketball part of the insect.


secondary logo

mascot logo