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A couple of interviews…

I was lucky this past week to interview some really cool people from Germany who are involved with the Victoria TX Independent Film Fest.

First was Stohead, a German based street artist who has exhibitions all over the world and is in Texas for the first time. His interview is here…

Interview with Stohead

The second is Boris Castro and Karla Lemus who made the film Breakin LA. They are also art advocates in their Country, their interview is here…

Interview with Boris and Karla

 

What a treat it is to talk with these people. It has certainly energized me to do more. That’s the rub of it too. There are times when creative people need to meet up with other creative people, talk about things, and see that everyone runs across the same roadblocks and problems. I have been lucky to keep meeting up with them all week since they have come into town.

Mass Effect 3 fans demand a Happier Ending. Nerd Culture is Funny

If you are plugged in to the gaming world, you have probably heard by now about the uproar some fans have about Mass Effect 3’s ending. Spoilers aside, (and don’t watch the video if you don’t want to know how the game ends)

So I get it, fans of the games invest hours upon hours of gameplay, they sacrifice things like a social life and having their mate pissed off at them while they go for hours building relationships and solving galactic problems that they would never have the guts to go and do in real life. You go through all this to have all that you have done mean just about nothing because your choices were so limited that you basically at the end there just have to sit back and deal with the cards you get dealt in the final round. (Making this game a real lesson in life) I get it. I mean, I play RPG’s too. So while I make fun of all this, don’t get me wrong man, I’m in there with you.

The other side of the coin to this is that I am a writer of fiction, a writer of songs, and I also understand the need for things to end the way a creator needs them to end. I need to tie things up in my own way, and honestly a lot of epics are supposed to end in a way that is sometimes bitter sweet.

A big side of the debate is that… well this is a video game. So you have to ask yourself how big of a piece of art this is. Did the writers put this out there to make a point? Did they have a grand scheme all along, and does BioWare really have to make alternate endings to appease fans who want a happier way to end the trilogy?

This leads me into a fan vs creator train of thought. I actually use movies as my vehicle of example.

For Instance:

Movies are made to appease the mass majority. This is why test audiences exist. If the movie tests well with the crowd, it’s a go. If it doesn’t the crowd is polled on what they did or did not like. So if the crowd didn’t like the way a certain character was portrayed, or the actor, the part might be recast, or if say in this case, the ending was not favorable, the studio would send it back to be reshot and edited with an ending that people liked. This is also the reason that many adaptations which were excellent books to begin with, become utter pieces of shit later… Because Joe American is simply “too busy” to read, he would rather wait for a “movie to come out” but then gets upset because the typical American goes to the movies for an escape, and doesn’t want to be hit with weighty subjects, lessons on how the world works, or a social commentary on what’s going on in the world.

Take a moment to think about what I just said and if you can’t wrap your head around it, consider these examples:

ARMY OF DARKNESS- Sam Raimi and crew were given complete freedom to shoot the movie anyway they liked (since the first two Evil Dead movies were great cult classics) However when Universal Pictures took over post production, they did not like the original ending, in which Ash oversleeps and wakes up in a post apocalyptic future, citing they felt it was negative. So they had to film a more upbeat cheesy ending for theaters. The original ending has since been added to DVD editions.

CLERKS- In the original ending, Dante informs a late coming customer that the store is closed. The incoming customer shoots Dante, killing him, and the person steals money from the register, Dante’s dead face looks past the camera and the credits roll. While some fans have gone to speculate that the ending in a homage to The Empire Strikes Back ending on a down note, Smith actually changed the ending do to a mentor telling him it’s too depressing. The original ending has since been included in DVD special editions.

DAWN OF THE DEAD- In Romero’s classic movie, fans refer to a “suicide” ending in which Peter kills himself and Fran gets decapitated by helicopter blades, the camera shows that there was not sufficient fuel to escape… The film’s ending actually shows Peter deciding not to kill himself and flying away with Fran.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS – The first ending shot by Frank Oz was loyal to the play it was taken after, Seymour feeds his love to the man eating plant, and tries to commit suicide. He then decides to fight the plant, but he gets eaten too, then spawns of the plant take over the world. This is the version both Frank Oz and lead actor Rick Moranis actually prefer… but it didn’t test well and a happier ending was made where Seymour and Audrey kill the plant, get married and live happily ever after. The ending was actually added to a DVD release, but was done badly, there is an upcoming DVD release called the “intended version” which is slated to appear.

I think you see where I’m going here. I know that customers get the final say. But I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the creators who go out of their way to put a vision the way they want to. They work at putting social commentary or a spin on something to be different, but because the typical person is unhappy with life not going for them in real life, they want a happy ending in their entertainment life. That’s why the whiny consumer will almost always win. But, if we were to say, tell that person how to raise their kid, or what they should eat for dinner, we would be infringing on their rights as a free willed person.

You know when I was a kid, there was no such thing as “nerd culture”. This shit fascinates me. When I was a kid I just liked cool stuff. There was no status quo for being an outcast, you just did. My brother and I were constantly looking to the stars because we wanted something fantastic in our lives. Something different than what was being offered here on this crappy planet. We are both still waiting for something fantastic even if we have to go create it ourselves.

I find it interesting that “nerd culture” nowadays is all about the hip cool stuff. For instance, in any of these examples I have mentioned, most people in comic or gaming conventions would have hour long conversations in line about these movies, talking about how cool the original ending is. But yet these same people want to complain how a video game ends. This leads me to the conclusion that all BioWare had to do to begin with is have a typical boring happy ending, then later release a DLC that features the way it was “supposed to end” to have everyone buying that shit up. Seems that would have been a win for everyone.

But what do I know? In my day that Pac-Man machine was a quarter.

If This Doesn’t Make You Mad, It Should

It’s been a long weekend, but this made headlines, and I can’t wait to vent… It’s OK, watch it… I’ll be right here…

I don’t even know where I want to start with this.

First, I showed this to you for a reason. I have an ulterior motive. The things I’m going to spew aren’t exactly new, but it seems to fall on deaf ears over and over again by the people who have told you this before. I showed you this video because I am sure it’s pissed you off. A lottery winner… Just sit and think about that for a second. When the video was playing the first thought in my head was “Damn, I need to play the lottery a million bucks sounds kind of nice.” I am sure, that your first thought was pretty similar. Even when she defends herself and says ” Well I WON a million but after I took the lump sum it was only like 700,000 then after taxes it was just a little bit over half” and you know… what kind of a paltry sum is half a million anyway? It would take a person who makes 30,000 a year 16 years plus change to rack up half a million bucks. This chick could have taken the million in payments like a normal person and lived very comfortably for 20 years, and if she was a little bit smart (and that’s a stretch to say) she could have saved, invested or even sent herself back to school to get a job or education she always wanted and lived off that money… for a lifetime.

Second, I love the way she looks to the side and smirks when she is asked if she thinks she deserves to stay on welfare and keep using her bridge card. She just got busted, on local television, doing a shitty and immoral thing. She knows she’s in the wrong, but she continues her shitty explanation with a shy smile because she puts the blame back on the system saying she just figured they would cut her off. I also absolutely love the fact that she thinks she “kinda” deserves it… I mean she has no income, two houses a new car… she’s really struggling.

Third, I put this on here because I knew seeing someone who is basically what I consider RICH now, was still collecting aid, (Since she made headlines the powers that be have now suspended her… but only because it made news) and people only seem to get mad at things when they see someone who has gotten it better than them. Remember last year when that 20 and 23 year brother and sister team sued their mom for being a bad parent because she didn’t put money in a birthday card, and made her daughter come home early from a school dance? Those kids lived in a million dollar home… yet.. the mother’s birthday card which had no money or check in it was apparently highly inappropriate.

… I hope you’re with me so far, because here comes the rant.

I am tired of the “Entitlement Generation”. I am tired of people who think that the world owes them something because they are born, can’t get rich with minimal effort and are “struggling”. I am tired of people who have found ways to “exist” without working for their money so they decide to stay on the system as long as they can. We are living in a country that is slowly turning into a society that will soon believe the system has to take care of them from a “cradle to grave” existence.

When America originally started turning over responsibilities that used to be our burden to the government, it was for a more reasonable cause. We were dealing with a large number of uneducated, rural farm people and communities who needed a way to educate children who had no means to do so. Of course, 160 years odd ago, the mentality was different.

You’ve heard the stories and the things your grandparents and maybe even parents used to say. You know the great American dream. But America isn’t really the same anymore (Excuse me this is going to be as little political as possible) The “Great American Resolve” is no longer around. People don’t believe in earning what they get anymore. We want to go to war with a terrorist entity but we want it over in 30 days and no casualties. We want to be famous like the Kardashians, but we don’t want to actually do anything to get famous, so the result is we get more slutty girls on TV and shows like “New Jersey Shore” to show teens that you don’t have to be good at anything to be famous, just have no shame.

Even after reading this, 99% of people are going to forget about it in five minutes and go on to other things. Why? It’s the way we are now wired. We are not wired anymore to believe what our forefathers told us. We believe the new lie and the YMCA “Everybody is a winner” philosophy. We know in our hearts it isn’t true, but we still want to be shocked when shit doesn’t work out for us.

Everyday, I get an email that some of my posts are “too negative” or that I need to “lighten up”. Maybe… some people say I make some valid points, but maybe I need to give people the benefit of the doubt. I say “no”. I lose friends sometimes, but I stand by what I say. Some people agree with me until I touch on a subject that hits close to home, then all of a sudden, I’m a jerk for “going there”.

The truth is, if this was a hundred years ago, the welfare system would be a lot different. Because the attitude of people would be a lot different. There are people who for instance, in WWII, pulled together, invested in war bonds, got us out of the Great Depression and went to fight for a greater good. Now, we can’t understand why other societies hate us, we have no follow through in anything that we say we are going to do, and we don’t want to be censored or taxed, but we expect the government and schools to fix roads, fix education, educate our kids about sex, and a ton of other things. We censor and cut money from the arts (which helped build society and inspired man throughout the ages) and we demand that the people in office fix things for us, when we don’t keep an eye on what they do after we voted the best looking person in office because all our facebook friends do. We don’t want troops in military combat but we sure as hell want someone to go to Uganda and find Kony.

So I may be accused of making a generalization, but it needs to be said. I don’t see government aid as a bad thing if you really need it. I do find it sad that some do nothing to better their situation. Every generation, the parents decide they want to make a better life for their kids. Somewhere along the lines a “better” life turned into a “lazy and easy” life, and we have coddled our kids and allowed them to think they are special and important without even doing anything. When I was a kid and got in trouble at school for being more punk rock in 3rd grade than I should… I dreaded seeing my dad come home from a parent/teacher conference. Today’s parents actually side with their kid when educators call their kid out, thinking that “no teacher is going to tell MY kid how to act” not realizing that if you aren’t teaching your kid right from wrong.. who is? This girl’s own mother even told the press that she isn’t breaking the law so people need to leave her alone and mind their own business. Really? I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is probably the best time to be poor. You can blame the economy, everyone is doing it, everyone is up in arms demanding people handle their debt, and complain because big business CEO’s make money while we struggle in a bad economy built on bad credit we made ourselves. I am an artist, and a capitalist. It allows me to rise and fall at my own risk. I can sink, but if I dare to be great, nothing can stop me. IF lightning should strike and my music makes a million dollars, I know I have done that through recording, touring and hard work, but if I don’t that’s alright because I am following my dream and my heart with all the resolve I can, and when they put me in the ground the day my tired meat shell can’t handle it anymore, the eulogy they give will be the story about a guy who did not take no for an answer and marched to his own drum. I think all artists should think the same.

… So I look at this video and I look at this girl. People get outraged because they wish they could win the lottery like her, and are also mad because she was still drawing money from her bridge card knowing full well she shouldn’t have it anymore, but she smiles and says she will keep using it, I am sure not expecting she would be internet famous for a negative reason. I am ticked at it too, but also more ticked off at ourselves as a society who doesn’t see that we have nurtured this belief in ourselves.

When I was your age, a comic was a book

Hey Hey… The new trailer for the Avengers movie hit the web yesterday, if you are the least bit connected you probably saw something about it. The movie hits theaters in the US May 4th… which is known by nerds as STAR WARS DAY, so I’m pretty sure that’s illegal and gives me the right to punch someone in the neck. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet… you must have had a really crappy day yesterday. But hey, never say we don’t give ya what you want. Here it is…

First, I got to hand it to Marvel Studios. They got Joss Whedon to direct this. Besides doing great TV series and his own original stuff, Joss knows comic books, and that’s cool. Also the stuff he does really focuses on characters and dysfunctional groups. I think they got just the right person. When I first saw the 5 seconds of footage at the end of Captain America, I thought… meh, they’ll find a way to screw it up. (they always do). But I have to admit… So far this trailer is pretty good. It’s not perfect, it can’t be perfect because they don’t ask my opinion, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. Here’s what I like:
– Joss Whedon is the director
– The Hulk catching a falling Iron Man (duuuuddde)
– The awesome kill shot at the end with some sort of huge aromored luck dragon with rabies chasing Iron Man

– Smoking Hot Black Widow telling Bruce Banner “I’ll persuade you”
– The iconic shot with all of them in a circle back to back with The Hulk roaring
– The Hulk (duh)

This does not mean the trailer hasn’t shown us it’s faults either…
– Captain America’s costume is L-A-M-E
– Quit recasting The Hulk this guy ain’t Norton, He’ll do, but geez stop already
– Tell Hawkeye to bulk up or wear sleeves…
– Since Transformers, every bad guy invader has that stupid wanna be dubstep Skrillex bullshit noise. Seriously, can’t you guys go out and find or create a cooler ominous noise to impress the audience. That crap was so overused in the Inception trailer I’m pretty sure we’re over it.

The one thing that makes me laugh is that you will hear fanboys joining regular comment threads by saying crap like “Yeah we need a villain like Ultron or Thanos, when they don’t realize this movie wasn’t made for us. It was made to make a shitload of money. That’s why the luckiest thing we will get are some easter eggs, and name drops of cool stuff, but they would never give us something really cool. They have to stick with mainstream heroes or villains or it won’t sale. We’re lucky they gave us the cosmic cube.

So there you have it kids, you’re next comic book movie. Hmph when I was your age, we actually read comic books. It was the damndest thing I tell you.

The Grammys Need To Get Off My Lawn

I noticed on news feeds this morning that The Grammys were last night. I shrugged and went on with my morning coffee. Somewhere along my 3rd cup of liquid goodness, I sat on the balcony scrolling through posts and news of the event and thought to myself why it really wasn’t registering with me as this being a big deal.

I figured it out pretty quick. We’ve never been fans of popular music, and to this day I have come to the conclusion that pop music, for the most part equals crap. I mean, if we trusted other people to make our choices as to what “good” is, we would be running a very different podcast. The problem with art is that it is really not as quantifiable as something like say… a business plan or the most fuel efficient car out there. I mean if we gave out awards for the best mileage on a SUV, it would be clearly printed on black and white, but dealing with music, film, writing, any of these things, we leave it up to popular vote, and lets face it… your friends at the water cooler wouldn’t know good music if it bit them on the ass. It’s not they’re fault really, I mean they only have the options that are laid out for them. They spend their time online reading other people’s facebook pages and comparing their lives to their neighbor and co workers, they don’t bother to try anything new or find something interesting they can call their own.

You got to figure yourself pretty lucky in that respect, I mean, you don’t listen for just our drunken banter. I hope that we have done what we have set out what to do. We originally brought you this podcast because we thought that a lot of bands (our friends in particular) deserved to be heard. There are shows going on in your town regularly, and sometimes a band will come around that may never be in town again… They will never make it famous, and you may never get the chance to be wowed by them or meet them. There is also a chance that it may not be your cup of tea, but honestly I think I would rather spend my free time checking out a show meeting people and having an open mind than sitting on Facebook wondering what every one else is doing.

As for me, I stopped believing in award shows the year Titanic beat both Starship Troopers and Contact for best special effects. I mean seriously… you built a model boat and sank it. Ugh.

In other news:

-We caught a hell of a show at the Texan Saturday night. Poor Favor, Toxic Fuse, Cherrybombers and Bertha ripped it up pretty good. You can catch 3 out of 4 of these bands’ interviews in our interview section.

– Worlds Scariest Police Chases is coming out with their new album in April. It will be 80’s style hardcore songs themed about the po-po. Should be good you can check out their earlier demo on their bandcamp page.

OMBG

Brea and I went to Houston this weekend to record a special podcast for the awesome upcoming Punxmas show that is happening next month. While talking with Issac from Fuska, Jeremy from Molotov Compromise,and Jessica who is organizing the event… we told them it will be a year in January that we have officially been around.
The thought didn’t really hit us until we were driving back home that evening. A year. That’s a lot of weekends invested. There has been nights where we have to record TWO podcasts because of our bands playing on certain weekends, there have been major scheduling conflicts, roadtrips, comic conventions, interviews done on the fly…
But in the end, the podcast is personally one of the coolest things I have ever been involved with. It allows me to be a part of every music scene when I cover it, not just a spectator. It has given me the opportunity to interview some of my heroes, It is an excuse to get drunk and talk shit about anything I want (you may not notice I have a bit of an ego).
The podcast has come a really long way from Brea and I drunk and hungover eating breakfast/lunch in a mexican restaurant in Katy TX with our friend Mike coining the term “old man and bitter girl”… It has grown into a good little crew of people who put in the time, work, the hours, and the whiskey into a product that isn’t professional, but alcohol fueled mega fun. I like to think it’s going to keep staying that way.
What does the future hold? I’m sure I don’t know. We keep pluggin along. Maybe one day people may actually want to sponsor us and we can actually take more elaborate trips or get video equipment. Maybe we’ll get picked up for XM radio or something, who can tell. We just keep doing what we do, make fun of the obvious, and play good music all we ever really needed was a good recording device and some music to spin…. things just fell into place.

Post Move

The move happened. It went.

I like the neighborhood of the apartment complex.  The kids roam the grounds worry free until dusk. That says a lot about your area. Most of the neighbors are really nice. There is an Asian family next to us who doesn’t speak English well so they keep to themselves but that’s cool. They smile and wave when we see them at the balcony, the rest of the place is like a  big jamboree… Neighbors get together in the courtyard area, drink some beers, smoke cigarettes or whatever, and basically chat and visit until dark. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of community in any place I have ever lived. I’m not too punk rock to say I find it kind of cool especially the older I get.

The move was hell. As a bibliophile I have tons of books. Brea also is a fellow book lover (that’s one of the ways we’ve clicked since day one) so I think it’s safe to say we spent half a day moving books and audio media alone to an upstairs place. I’m sure the people helping us move hate us. Of course it rained when I tried to move… why break tradition? How ironic huh? 3 months not a damn drop of rain, then I get a 3 day window to move and it rains all 3 days. The city needs to pay my first month rent as a thank you.

I’m in love with my study space, and now that I’m not in the band house, there is actually quiet time to sit down and write. I must confess that after doing a daily routine of writing assorted practice routines, I feel ready to delve back into writing a serious project again. I think I will start with some short stories and build up to either one of the scripts John and I should be working on or  taking another novel challenge. First things first is to get on target though.

All in all… I am really happy about the place. I’ll be even happier when we have a small get together house warming party next week.

The Last Night In The Band House

Tonight is the last night for me in the band house. I moved in about a year ago… in August 2010 right before school was starting. I was living in a big apartment by myself and was wanting to save money for the band’s upcoming tours. The rent in the band house was about a third of what I was paying in my old apartment so I decided to go for it.

It was a big deal for me, I was 34 and not 18 anymore… but I figured that the last three years had been a transition for me and maybe living the rock and roll life for awhile would be good. Balancing school and work was rough living in the house. You need to be pretty rock and roll to handle it. People come in and out at any given time. There is no central heat and air, the floor has holes in it… some spots you can see straight through to the earth. There is no back door… things get shut off now and again, I have come home to random people practicing with their bands at midnight…

I don’t mean to say it’s entirely bad. The house has an energy. It’s very creative. I have seen and felt people be inspired here. I have written countless songs here, stories, had great conversations with my roommates (who of course are my band)

Tonight I am spending it exactly as I did my first night here. Surrounded by boxes, listening to the creaks and moans of the old frame as I wait for sleep to grab me. The new place is an apartment. I am going back to living like a normal person. But I also know the new place isn’t quite as photogenic as this house. That is a shame.

So it goes…

I am still struggling to write. I don’t know why it’s such a problem for me. It has gotten to the point where I started looking up articles on the internet to deal with it.

This has always been a new concept to me… Looking for help, usually I have just dealt with it myself. The internet offers nothing new, it’s all the same ways. I  have tried going out and talking with people, meeting strangers, drinking more (and more), playing music, going out with the band, I don’t really know what it’s going to take to smack me on the head.

I am not expecting this to be a great story or piece of writing, but something relevant to what I am trying to do would be nice.  I’m not trying to write a Steinbeck novel or anything, but I would at least like it to be interesting enough for me to want to finish.

I was talking about it with Brea the other day, she suggested I use a person I already know to be in a story and just mess with them.  This would work, it’s a good idea, but damn if I don’t return to an empty page. It’s not all lost, I have been forcing myself to come up with a few pages a day and I have been writing these band excerpts on this journal. But sadly I look at the band entries and know that surely I can write better stuff about the bands that have inspired me and made me think about things.

No Luck

I have this intense desire to write now, but damn if I can’t think of something to say. I guess it’s my mind worrying about the move in a few weeks and school. School is really hard, why a 35 year old man would go back to college to study music (the hardest thing besides law and medicine) is beyond me. I’m sure I can do it, I’ve been holding my own, but damn it’s really hard, and every semester watching another person wash out… it fucks with your head.

But I’m staying positive. It’s really not an excuse not to write. I should be practicing my craft like an athlete. But I feel like my brain is damaged, even if I have some spare time, a blank page is my enemy. I think I’m just stuck because I wonder if I have ever found my voice. If I have, my voice isn’t very original. hmph.