Hard Rock + Proto-Metal FEBRUARY: GRAND FUNK RAILROAD

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grand funk railroadGrand Funk, nee Railroad’s biggest claim to fame–We’re An American Band–includes a shout-out to my part of the proverbial woods: Omaha. Come to think of it, Omaha is mentioned more often than you would think in a lot of rock songs past and present. Pops up in the oddest of places. Anyway, Grand Funk Railroad needs to be in just about every hard rock fan’s collection, simply from the blue collar guitar-driven rock that is about as Americana as you can get without slipping into cheesy “roots rock”. Probably one of the few bands that started as kind of a “hippie rock” group that I can get into, really.

“Got This Thing On The Move”

“Footstompin’ Music”

“We’re An American Band”

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Book Review: DOCTOR WHO: Sting of the Zygons

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doctor who sting of the zygonsStephen Cole
BBC Books
2007

Martha had encountered several alien creatures in her time, and was no stranger to their evil agendas. Yet the Zygons were the first monsters she’d met who forced their prisoners into playing cards.

The TARDIS lands the Doctor and Martha in the Lake District in 1909, where a small village has been terrorized by a giant, scaly monster. The search is on for the elusive ‘Beast of Westmorland’, and explorers, naturalists and hunters from across the country are descending on the fells. King Edward VII himself is on his way to join the search, with a knighthood for whoever finds the Beast. But there is a more sinister presence at work in the Lakes than a mere monster on the rampage, and the Doctor is soon embroiled in the plans of an old and terrifying enemy. As the hunters become the hunted, a desperate battle of wits begins–with the future of the entire world at stake…

Ah, the Zygons. Only featured in the one four-part serial in 1975 (“Terror of the Zygons”), and as I pointed out at a Doctor Who fan club meeting, looked like a cross between a recorder and a pickle. But, they were reportedly also David Tennant’s favorite Doctor Who monster, and thus were once again brought back as one of the side antagonists in The Day of the Doctor event. But, before even that was ever dreamed of, the Tenth Doctor was featured in this nifty little yarn featuring him, companion Martha Smith, and the afore mentioned musical pickles. “Musical Pickles” being a great band name.

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Martha to 1909, where a giant dinosaur-like creature that seems to resemble a famous loch-dwelling creature up north a bit is terrorizing a small village. They run into a gentleman hunter who, while traveling to the small village, explains to them about the massive gathering of hunters coming together to find and bag this overgrown critter, by order of King Edward himself. When they get to the area, the Doctor deduces that this creature is, in fact, a Skarasen, which can only mean there are Zygons nearby. So, while everyone else is searching around for the Skarasen, the Doctor and Martha go looking about to see what the Zygons are up to…which happens to be the old “World Domination by way of Impersonating World Leaders” gambit.

The Sting of the Zygons is, more or less, a sequel to the original “Terror of the Zygons” serial, Which, one could argue, could be considered a prequel, as it technically takes place several decades before the events in “Terror of the Zygons”. But, this particular Doctor had already lived through the first story in his Fourth incarnation, so if you look at things in a non-linear, timey-whimey standpoint…

…and my NERD ALERT just started flashing and beeping. Sorry about that. Let’s carry on with the review, shall we?

Once again, we have Stephen Cole cranking out another Doctor Who yarn, managing to pull off a nice period piece while playing with an alien species that, up to this time, had been only featured on that afore-mentioned serial from the 1970s, a comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine in 1981, and another novel and an audio play featuring the Eighth Doctor. Okay, there was also the novelization of the serial titled Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster by Terrance Dicks that expounded a bit more on the whole “stinger” ability the Zygons have, and the Eighth Doctor novel itself did go a bit deeper in the…

…huh, that’s an interesting shade of red that NERD ALERT is now flashing. And smoke seems to be issuing from it. I may have to reel this in, here.

Sting of the Zygons is a good Doctor story that manages to keep my attention throughout, written in a very cinematic way with some good dialogue, and managing to make an admittedly absurd-looking alien creation seem menacing, regardless of looking like they would sound like a calliope whenever they sneezed.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO: The Feast of the Drowned

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doctor who feast of the drownedStephen Cole
BBC Books
2006

When a naval cruiser sinks in mysterious circumstances in the North Sea, all aboard are lost. Rose is saddened to learn that the brother of her friend, Keisha, was among the dead. And yet he appears to them as a ghostly apparition, begging to be saved from the coming feast…the feast of the drowned. As the dead crew haunt loved ones all over London, the Doctor and Rose are drawn into a chilling myster. What sank the ship, and why? When the cruiser’s wreckage was towed up the Thames, what sinister force came with it? The river’s dark waters are hiding an even darker secret, as preparations for the feast near their conclusion…

The second novel to feature the Tenth Doctor, The Feast of the Drowned takes place, according to the Doctor Who wiki’s out there, between the episodes “New Earth” and “School Reunion”, and has a reference to the episode “Tooth and Claw”, to give you an idea of the time frame of this story. No pun intended, of course.

Here, we find the Doctor and Rose back in London, where Rose is consoling a friend of hers, whose brother was lost at sea recently. Then they both see a translucent vision of said brother appear before them, while a bunch of people in the immediate vicinity spontaniously become dehydrated and pass out. Also, everyone who have seen these visions of their lost loved ones like this have been overcome with a sudden urge to throw themselves into the Thames river. Odd behaviour, indeed. Which leads the Doctor to a facility studying the wreck of the ship by a rather uptight and odd acting military leader that may or may not be a dead captain of a ship that went down in the 1700s. Turns out here be monsters…er, aliens that can control water to their bidding, and they need humans to act as incubators for their little hatchlings. And it’s now up to the Doctor and Rose–along with Micky, Jackie, and a couple of other hapless individuals–to try and stop things before all of London goes and throws themselves into the river.

The Feast of the Damned was a rather interesting tale that was decently paced, with some snappy dialog, written in a way that captures the mannerisms of not only the Doctor, but of his then-companion Rose and her mother Jackie as well. Micky…um, he’s adorable, if not a bit on the sad whiny side. Never really could warm up to the lad in the first couple of seasons of the show, and here in the book he’s still a bit of a ponce about his relationship with Rose. That’s the part of the book I really had to force myself through, the soap opera-y parts involving the past relationships and scandalous revelations. Otherwise, the sci-fi action itself had me, and as with any tale involving large bodies of water, I really had a strong urge to towel off despite not being wet whatsoever. Stephen Cole being a long-time writer for Doctor Who once again provided us with a good fix in between waiting for the new episodes to be foisted upon us.

Hard Rock + Proto-Metal FEBRUARY: BOSTON

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boston logoThe first time I heard Boston was, unfortunately, by way of Top 40 rock radio back when they released their third album, Third Stage, and their lead song “Amanda” was played every fifteen minutes or so it seemed. It was played at ever 7th Grade dance I went to that year, and I was so very not impressed with them because of that bit of power ballad schlock. Which almost made me miss out on hearing the proper hard rocking that these guys were better known for in the 1970s, when I heard “More Than A Feeling” on a 70s Rock compilation tape I got from a truck stop in the summer of 1990. The first two albums are hard rock classics, and unlike anything then or since.

“More Than A Feeling”

“Smokin'”

“Don’t Look Back”

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Hard Rock + Proto-Metal FEBRUARY: TED NUGENT

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ted nugent logoAnother hard rocker from Detroit, Ted Nugent is called the Motor City Madman for a reason. Taking a manic approach to guitar playing, his music has this uncanny ability to make hair grow on your chest (regardless of gender) and your testicles drop (probably more gender-specific, but I’m not completely certain of that one) just listening to it. My first taste of Uncle Ted’s music was by way of the live album Double Live Gonzo, given to me by my uncle after discovering me listening to the likes of Wham!. Nugent has been a staple of my listening habits since.

“Stranglehold”

“Free-For-All”

“Cat Scratch Fever”

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Sunday A’La Carte – February 22, 2015

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hell froze over

Sunday night, time for a bit of the ol’ A’La Carte that I can’t seem to stop doing on a weekly basis. You’d think I would have given up by now, but no. Here I am, listening to some doom metal by way of Place Of Skulls, and typing out my randumb brain droppings to sum up the week. Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of doom metal lately. Mostly the afore-mentioned Place Of Skulls, some David Benson, and Randy Rose, with some Paramaecium thrown in for the brutality fix. For those wondering what this “doom metal” is about, the easiest way to explain is metal made by those who probably haven’t owned any other album besides the Ozzy-era Black Sabbath collection. Gothic music for Metal-Heads. And I am in that dark mood, as per usual, but I needed something heavier than The Cure or Sisters Of Mercy at the moment. Besides, Place Of Skulls’ cover of Third Day’s “Consuming Fire” makes the song tolerable.

Some may remember my old internet show, the glorified mix tape that was NECRO SHOCK RADIO. Ever since giving it up all of those months ago, I’ve noted a curious increase in “likes” on the Facebook Page, which I haven’t pulled because there really wasn’t much reason to do so. I enjoyed doing it for the period that I was driven, I’ve had many people tell me they enjoyed listening to it, and probably have inspired a person or two to start doing their own Christian Metal show and find some success in doing so. Mind you, I’m not planning on resurrecting the show again. But, I am tossing around an idea for another completely different kind of METAL show, where I just focus on one album at a time and talk about it. Memories of when I bought it, how it may have impacted me, that kind of thing, then play a handful of songs from the album, four at the most. Something like that. This isn’t a done deal, it’s just the rampant speculation of someone who has a ludicrously large music collection and a pesky, undying need to play dee-jay in his spare time.

DSC_8963-photo-by-Joshua-Nowicki

It’s almost March. Which means Spring is just around the corner. Bummer. I can, however, enjoy the scant handful of Wintery weeks while I can. Which lead me to muse this morning while I was driving into Blair, why do people complain about the cold during Winter? They may not enjoy the cold, I can understand that, but it’s still February. This kind of weather shouldn’t be surprising. Especially here in the Midwest. As a matter of fact, if you’ve never lived for an extended period in the Midwest, you probably don’t understand just how brutal the seasons can get. Not just Winter. I work with people from Baghdad who have complained about the heat in Summer here in Nebraska. It takes a special person indeed to make the Midwest their home. I’m not saying we’re better than those who dwell in milder climates, I’m just saying we’re insane for choosing to stay and get our collective butts handed to us by the weather on a year-long basis. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I just discovered that there exists Christian Mingle: The Movie. It stars Lacy Chabert—that angsty wunderkind on Party Of Five, but I remember her better from the Lost In Space movie—and the plot itself looks like your typical rom-com with a light Christian glaze. I watched the official trailer, and my brain immediately screamed “I NEED TO WATCH THIS!” It does that sometimes, independent of what I would term “common sense”. It’s part of my masochistic need to torture myself with bad movies. Also, I really, really need to get onto figuring out how to make that Christian Movie Review video show. Also, needing to get to watching all of those movies I have on backlog. I have a lot to get to, it seems.

dt150220

STUFF I WROTE: The Hard Rock+Proto-Metal FEBRUARY of the YEAR OF METAL continued with postings about Black Sabbath, the Alice Cooper Band, and Aerosmith. Then, I posted a bunch of music reviews for CCM Rock stalwarts White Heart, Jesus Hippie Rock duo Malcolm & Alwyn, Detroit crossover thrash band One Bad Apple, the orchestral Gothic artist Mark Thomas Hanna, 80s hair metal band Mass, and ortho-industrial band Mental Destruction.

That’s it for now. I’ve got a bit of tweaking on the notes I’m using for the youth group lesson I’m giving tomorrow night. Given my perfectionist nature, it might be a while. I leave you all with the official trailer for the afore-mentioned Christian Mingle: The Movie. Cheers, all.

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Hard Rock + Proto-Metal FEBRUARY: AEROSMITH

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big-aerosmith-logo-Mjc0Mg==

Of course Aerosmith would be on this month’s list. Good old fashioned bluesy American hard rock straight out of Boston, Aerosmith had the swagger, the attitude, and the dedication to really become more than just another bar band out of Bean Town. Sure, they’re a rock band, and they may have had more misses than hits in the hard rock category in the later years of their existence, but popping on some of their classic tunes still gets the head bopping along with some of the smokiest riffs ever offered up in the 1970s, and even in the 1980s during their resurgence. But it’s their classic catalog that really holds up after all this time, really.

“Mama Kin”

“Train Kept A-Rollin'”

“Toys In The Attic”

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Hard Rock + Proto-Metal FEBRUARY: ALICE COOPER (Band)

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Alice-Cooper-Billion-Dollar-Ba-128358

KISS may be credited for pioneering theatrics in the metal genre, but it was the Alice Cooper Band that really brought the spectacle to rock and roll. Like a Hammer Horror all done up in vaudeville, Alice Cooper the band pretty much embodied shock rock and ran with it, inspiring metal bands since with how to really put on a show.

“I’m Eighteen”

“School’s Out”

“Billion Dollar Babies”

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Hard Rock + Proto-Metal FEBRUARY: BLACK SABBATH

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black sabbath logo

So…again with the six song picks, instead of the usual three. As with AC/DC, it would be a shame to just limit three picks to just one era or so, or even pick just one from the Ozzy/Dio/miscellaneous vocalist versions of Black Sabbath. And instead of picking three from each different versions of the band, making the count nine, I just stuck with three from the Ozzy era and the Dio era. Because I’m rather unfamiliar with the Misc. Singer albums, and neither do I really want to be. Maybe I’m missing out on something fantastic by doing so, but something tells me I’m not. Besides…OZZY AND DIO!

Anyway, if you claim to be a METALHEAD and don’t know who Black Sabbath is, you deserve all the poser taunts and kidney punches you’re going to endure. Everything that METAL is, Black Sabbath created, or at least pioneered beyond the limitations from before. Some of which were by sheer accident. That deep, dark sludgy guitar sound, full of power chord riffs that everybody’s copied since? Machine press accident. The self-titled album should be issued, along with the follow-up Paranoid, as part as a Welcome Kit whenever someone decides to become a METALHEAD, as all the basic foundations of METAL are found in those two classics. Even as they ventured into more proper metal territory when Ronnie James Dio took over vocal duties, they remained innovators rather than imitators.

Ozzy Era:
“Black Sabbath”

“Paranoid”

“Children Of The Grave”

Dio Era:
“Heaven And Hell”

“The Sign Of The Southern Cross”

“After All (The Dead)”

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Sunday A’La Carte’: February 15, 2015

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radio shack adios

Greetings and salutations, everyone. It is once again Sunday, which means it’s time to dispense with the week’s brain droppings and various other inane babbling that bubble forth from my head. Meanderings, maybe? I don’t know anymore.

I had to work yesterday. I usually don’t work on Saturdays, but yesterday was a bit different as I had to get something done during the week that I couldn’t do on the weekend, nor was I able to do so after I got off work during the weekdays. So, I traded the one day off that I had during the weekend that my place of employment was open—Saturday—with Wednesday to take care of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. I also chose Wednesday to do the deed, as that was also Youth Group night, and I figured I would just hang out at my sister and brother-in-law’s place before heading out to the group, then going back to the Victorian in Omaha. Make a day out of it and all. Which meant I worked on Saturday. Which gave me a reminder of why I usually don’t work Saturdays. The call volume was relatively low; it’s just that there was an unusually high number of people who made my brain hurt talking to them per capita. I’m content with my usual Monday through Friday, thank you very much.

That also meant that I had to miss my youngest nephew’s birthday party. The kid turned 5, a monumental year, as that means he has to now go out and find a job, earn his keep and all that. Or, you know, get set to go to Big Boy School soon. One or the other. I brought him his birthday gift on the afore-mentioned Wednesday: a bunch of Hot Wheels cars and a semi trailer set. His favorite part of the gift was the card that had a pop-out monkey inside. I think he played with that more than the Hot Wheels themselves. The 10-year-old nephew came back home from school, we all hung out watching a space documentary series from the History Channel, where I amused them with fun comments with the CGI dinosaurs and referring to solar flairs as “Sun Farts”. The five-year-old spontaneously made up a song about these “sun farts.” My work there was done.

Speaking of space, it looks like the Hubble telescope has finally found God’s emoticon

Radio Shack is finally going belly-up after 94-some-odd years of being in business. I used to work at the Radio Shack in Fremont, Nebraska. It was in the “Mall” there since I could remember, and was the source of my family’s very first computer purchase back in 1985. It was a Tandy 1000, and didn’t even have a hard drive–it booted up with a series of floppy discs. It predated Windows, and came with a complementary copy of the very first King’s Quest. Anyway, Radio Shack was already showing signs of stress fractures when I was hired on back in 2005, starting to emulate the Apple stores rather than be the niche place for gadget tinkerers and other tech geeks of the like. There was talk of eliminating the entire parts and pieces stock and focusing more on cell phones, media players and televisions, before my tenure there ended. Frankly, I’m surprised they lasted this long after that. They will be missed, but because of the parts and encouragement to mess around with electronics. But, we have New Egg and Think Geek for that now, I guess.

In kind of related news, though: the Family Christian book store chain recently filed for bankruptcy as well; however, it looks like none of the 250 stores will be closing. Don’t really know how that works. I am relieved, though, as where else am I going to go to replenish my stock of Testa-Mints?

STUFF I’VE WRITTEN: The Hard Rock + Proto-Metal month of February in this YEAR OF METAL continued with posts for the Scorpions, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. Also, I picked up a bit on my reading, and thus cranked out reviews of the recent Stephen King novel, and a handful of Doctor Who novels here, here, here and here.

That’s all I’m willing to give for this week, folks. I’m going to do some more writing on other things, do a bit of reading, then it’s off to bed for my beauty rest. Gotta look good for the office, and all that. I leave you now with a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon. Because, why not? Cheers, all…


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