Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Descendents and Thin Lizzy

This past month, my band ( learned a set of Descendents songs, to play at a two-day event in Minneapolis called The Pop Punk Emporium, which happened on July 9th and 10th. Here's the setlist:


Now, I know what you're thinking. You're wondering why your favorite Descendents song - "Pep Talk," perhaps, or maybe "Suburban Home," or even "Iceman" - wasn't included in this set. There were three criteria used to draw up the set: 1.) General popularity of the song; 2.) Specific popularity of the song within the band; 3.) Difficulty of learning and playing the song.

For example, consider "Good Good Things." It's a really cool song! But, is it as cool as "Pervert," or the song "I Don't Want To Grow Up," or "Silly Girl," or "My World," or the song "Descendents," all of which are from the same album (I Don't Want To Grow Up)? Well, Mike Cranberry (our drummer) really loves "Good Good Things," and it was a very easy song to learn - unlike, say, "Pervert" or "I Don't Want To Grow Up," both of which have funny chord changes and timing issues (as is typical of songs Tony Lombardo had something to do with the writing of). And although my favorite Descendents song of all time is "My World," it's a personal favorite more than a fan favorite, and thus it was left off the setlist (by which I mean, not learned).

Anyway, we played the set on July 9th, and then about 2/3rds of it again on July 26th (at a bowling alley called Memory Lanes, appropriate enough a location for a tribute act). We worked very hard to get the songs tight and right, and it was a ton of fun to actually pull it off. I think it was a success. I saw a lot of smiling, familiar faces as we played, that's for sure. Some crazy dancing as well.

Now, we near the end of July, and my band has our sights set on another task: a Thin Lizzy cover set, to be played at the Triple Rock Social Club on August 20th. I doubt we'll learn ten songs - more like six or seven. And we're not going to learn any "hits," as those will be left to the headlining band of punks (their name? Jailbreak, naturally). I'm not sure what songs we're going to learn. Any suggestions?

The only thing I know is this: learning Thin Lizzy songs is WAYYY easier than learning Descendents songs!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Liveblogging" Bob Uecker's Return

Why not? Over the course of the Milwaukee Brewers broadcast today, July 23rd 2010 A.D., I will attempt my first-ever "liveblog," because Bob Uecker is back! He's back, he's healthy (enough), and he's calling the play-by-play for the Brew Crew (with Corey Provus) once more. Glad to have ya back, Bob.

(I put "liveblog" in quotes, because I'm not truly liveblogging, just keeping the minutes of his broadcast, which I will then post at the end of the game or whenever it is I have to quit typing and go to the Screeching Weasel reunion show at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis, like around 8:30pm or so).

7:10pm - "Allright Corey, thank you very much, and this broadcast once again is..." blah blah blah express written consent, whatever, HOLY SHIT, BOB UECKER IS BACK!!! This is awesome.
7:11pm - Bob Uecker congratulates Corey and Davey Nelson for their work in his absence. This makes sense. Corey did his quasi-Jim Powell best - good enough. And Davey Nelson did nothing whatsoever to convince Brewers nation that Bob Uecker could be replaced. Good job, Davey!
7:12pm - Bob sounds good, calling Nyjer Morgan's strikeout. He has not forgotten how baseball works. Gold star!
7:13pm - Here, Bob alludes to the recent flooding of Milwaukee, although no mention of the giant sinkhole at the corner of Oakland and North which literally swallowed a Cadillac Escalade... we'll see if he gets to that later. Seems like a Ueck-ish thing.
7:15pm - "Here is Ricky Weeks to lead things off..." And we are back to Ueck play-by-play on offense for the Brewers, which, let's face it, most Brewer fans are looking forward to much more than his play-by-play calling of Brewers pitching or the very unreasonable facsimile thereof.
7:18pm - "Great to be back. Miss this stuff when you're not around it!... I did read the disclaimer every day whether I was at the park or not. The doctors told me it was the first thing I did after I came out of anaethesia. This surgery brought to you by the Milwaukee Brewers... speaking of the surgery, it was a coin flip to find out who was gonna do it..." Then he thanks the doctors by name.
7:19pm - Corey Hart triples to the opposite field, and an excited Bob Uecker calls it without requiring more heart surgery!
7:23pm - "Braun, with his 60th RBI of the year..." gives the Brewers the lead on a sac fly to deep center, driving in Corey from third. According to Bob, Ryan Braun "hit that one right on the screws." One to nothing, Brewers lead the Nationals here in the first inning.
7:25pm - "Fielder lines a bullet to Adamn Dunn and the inning is over." Works for me! Bob Uecker is back, and everything is awesome. Hey, the Brewers are even winning (by one run)! Time for a bathroom break.
7:35pm - Upon my return to this "liveblog," I hear Bob complaining about how someone named Morse hit a home run. Uh oh. Three to one, Nationals. At least there's a bright side - Chris Narveson has really improved as a starting pitcher. In the past, he's had trouble getting out of the first inning without giving up multiple runs, after which point he usually settled down. Tonight? Well, he's managed to hold off on his Inning of Crappiness until the second. Good for him!
7:38pm - Uecker, in promoting a Menards special: "I've been in Menards a whole lot the last couple of months! Anything to pick up a couple bucks. Paint department." Corey: "Any new hobbies?" Bob: "Wellll, I fell off a ladder! Coupla shinburgers on that baby." Later, after mentioning that he fell into one of his flower beds... "I don't know why I did it. It made everybody mad. At least if I'd have expired I'd have been in the flowers, anyway."
7:40pm - Corey says the most popular text messages regarding Bob Uecker were ones inquiring as to the health of his garden. Bob claims that most of it is currently somewhere in the Menomonee River.
7:41pm - Ueck: "It's not tough to get that stuff in the ground. It's tough to train the chipmunks to dig the little holes for ya."
7:45pm - "We are ready for the third, and stepping in to call it for you, here's Corey Provus." Ok, no offense to Corey (who is very good at his job), but I'm gonna listen to the Twins game for a little while. This is, after all, Dan Gladden's first night back in the broadcast booth after having surgery to remove his siamese Jack Morris.
8:10pm - Despite a tension-filled 2-out moment in Baltimore, I'm checking back on the Brewer game. Let's see what Bob has to say...
8:11pm - It's still Corey Provus, and that damn Morse fellow hit yet another home run off Chris Narveson. Five to one, Nats. That's enough for me. I'm off to Screeching Weasel! But hey, Bob Uecker's back, and it's awesome. See y'all next time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The 2010 All-Star Game: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Hey! The 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game just happened! And some pretty interesting things happened during it. I'm sitting in a beautiful log cabin just upmountain from Estes, Colorado, with the door wide open and I'm feeling that refreshing breeze typical of young mountains, pine forests, and sparkling ice-cold crystal-clear lakes and streams. Also, I talk to trout.

Anyway, consider that old Clint Eastwood movie The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. That three-part title has always meant to me the following: some things in life are just and right and awesome - The Good. And some things in life are nasty and brutish and stupid and evil - The Bad. And then there are some things that aren't pretty, aren't nice, but are effective and get the job done no matter how high the body count may climb - The Ugly. Here's my The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly take on yesterday's baseball match.

The Good:
1. The National League won! It was about time. I kinda knew they were going to win this year, because they in general had a more solid pitching staff. It'll be nice for the NL team to have home field advantage again... for the first time since cave man days.
2. Marlon Byrd. Credit where credit's due to a hated Cubbie - he worked a great at-bat against Matt Thorton with two outs to draw a walk, just before Brian McCann hit a bases-clearing double to score all three NL runs. Byrd, being a speedy fellow, scored from first, where a slower dude - Scott Rolen (who scored from third) comes to mind - wouldn't have. Although the NL only needed two of their three runs to win, that cushion is invaluable. Not to mention his heads-up defense in the ninth inning; Marlon Byrd played a shallow blooper on a hop and threw a laser strike to second base to nick David Ortiz for the second out of the inning, and kill a rally. That's classic veteran poise and performance - and considering his great day in Anaheim, Byrd must've been "Eight Miles High" after the game, heh.
3. Brian McCann. Hit a bases-clearing double to score the only runs the NL would need to win. Plus, he caught just about every single pitch he was thrown by the vast assortment of talented NL pitchers he handled - and Matt Capps, too (more on Capps later).
4. Derek Jeter using Bob Sheppard's recorded intro was cool. Even if you're sick of the Yankees, that's classy all down the line.
5. Ryan Braun's diving catch to rob Josh Hamilton of extra bases. Watching him twist and bend his wrist over and backward and come up with the ball unharmed, you had to give it up for a guy willing to risk injury in what is essentially an exhibition game. I guess he really thinks the Brewers can come back and make it to the World Series and get home-field advantage. Good for him!

The Bad:
1. The Managers. Ay, yi, yi. Let's start with Joe Girardi. Why on EARTH would you let Alex Rodriguez sit on the bench throughout an entire game, where at several crucial late inning moments, his pinch-hitting or baserunning could've made a difference or even tied the game? I am baffled, and I have to assume that A-Rod didn't a.) pinch run for David Ortiz in the ninth inning (dollars to donuts Byrd can't throw A-Rod out on that play), or b.) pinch hit for Ian Kinsler with two down in the bottom of the ninth, who while a fine hitter in his own right, isn't - oh, I don't know, what's a good descriptor here - THE BEST HITTER IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE??? I have to assume that A-Rod didn't enter the game for one of two reasons: because Joe Girardi didn't want to risk injury or whatnot to his star, or because A-Rod is a total dick and didn't want to play. The easy joke here is "both answers are correct," but I honestly see a different A-Rod this year, and I can't believe that New A-Rod isn't a little pissed that he didn't get a chance to play hero when the chips were down in Southern Cali.

Also, he didn't use Joakim Soria once, despite the fact that The Mexicutioner is the hottest closer in baseball right now.

I can't complain about putting Andy Pettite in to pitch the third inning, but if he had stumbled, you'd better believe I would be complaining right now!

Then you've got Charlie Manuel, manager of the National League - the victors. Besides picking Omar Infante for the All-Star game, a horrible move in the first place (Infante must have pictures of Charlie shaking hands with Jerry Manuel or Santa Claus or something else that would get him fired in Philly), there's the yanking of Roy Halladay for Matt Capps to face David Ortiz, after the Doc had recorded only two outs and thrown 17 pitches - and recall now that Halladay has BY FAR the most complete games of any pitcher in baseball today, so fatigue ain't the issue. That made no sense, but less sense that it was Matt Capps he brought in. You see, if he were channelling Mr. Burns and "playing the percentages," he might have gone to a lefty in his bullpen for that critical out with runners on first and second and two down. He had a few to choose from - and southpaw Arthur Rhodes immediately jumps to mind, and what a great story it would be if that 40-something old man made a freakin' All-Star appearance, eh?

Charlie Manuel brought in Matt Capps. Matt Capps is a righty. David Ortiz devours righties. Why did this happen??? Luckily for the NL, Ortiz struck out and no damage was done. But it was the wrong move, and I can't for life of me understand why Manuel made it. Hey, I guess that's why he's the manager and I'm the bloggerist.

2. Matt Capps gets the win. Ok. Let's say you have a pitcher - Pitcher A. He pitches for two innings, pretty much lights out, and then is relieved for innings numbers three and four by Pitcher B, who is also pretty much lights out. No other pitcher on your team throws for more than an inning. A couple pitchers only throw a handful of pitches, used situationally to get one out. When all is said and done, who should get the win? Pitcher A or Pitcher B, right?

Nah. Let's give it to one of the dudes who recorded one out (admittedly one of four or five more crucial outs, but really! Come on!). Let's give it to one of the guys who threw five pitches. The Win is one of the most stupid stats in baseball, right up there with The Loss and The Hold.

3. Joe Mauer's attempt to throw out David Wright stealing second was abysmally off target, and exceedingly atypical considering the man's past history of great defense behind home plate. But that throw wasn't as off target as Hong Chi-Kuo's attempt to throw out Joe Mauer at first - fueled by nerves and adrenaline, Kuo picked up Mauer's choppy swing-bunt and threw the ball practically to San Diego. Yikes! And thus was the road paved for Robinson Cano's sacrifice fly, scoring what would be the AL's only run.

The Ugly

1. The one run scored by the AL came about via a walk, a throwing error advancing a runner to third, and a sacrifice fly. Ugly. But effective. Maybe the AL should've tried using that strategy more, instead of trying hit the ball well (and locking their best hitter to the bench with titanium manacles).

2. The anointed closer for the 2010 National League All-Stars Jonathan Broxton was able to lock down the bottom of the ninth with a major assist from two sources: boneheaded managing by Joe Girardi - no pinch runner for Ortiz; no at-bat for A-Rod - and exceptional defense from Marlon Byrd and Brandon Phillips to retire the American League and secure the first win for the NL since, say it with me now, cave man days. Sure, he might've gotten the job done had there been one out and runners on first and second and A-Rod at the plate... you know how this game works. Broxton was ugly, but the job was done.

3. The shadows and sun spots sliding and sinking across the ballpark during the first half of the game were causing trouble for the batters on both teams. Is it coincidence that neither offense really mustered anything until the shadows completely settled on the field? Not to take anything away from Ubaldo, Josh, David, and others, but one has to wonder.

That's all for this entry. Now I'm gonna go wrestle a grizzly bear, and drink a good microbrew. Later.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Comments On The Internet

(Important note: this entry is neither entirely about rock and roll or baseball. Not even close. If you therefore feel compelled to skip it, so be it. However,

It's Thursday, July 8th, 2010, and tonight a very famous and very good professional basketball player named LeBron James is going to hold a press conference to announce which NBA team he is going to play for this year.

Who will it be? Chicago? New York? Cleveland? Miami? Oklahoma City, for some reason? Maybe he just wants to shake things up? Anyway, LeBron James is an incredibly talented basketballer, and free agency and quest for the best possible contract, and search for the most talented team to win hypothetical championship after championship is as newsworthy as anything else in entertainment and/or sports news.

Here are, as of 7:30pm, the two comments left by people on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website article covering the James news today (

1. Gary909 - Jul 08, 2010 7:20 PM

"Who gives a crap about some multi million dollar basket ball player. Maybe with a new contract he can get another ten tatoos."

2. jonah - Jul 08, 2010 7:28 PM


there are more important things to worry about then where Lebron James
will play basketball next season. Sad sad sad !"

Gary909, Jonah... allow me to handle this. First off, you clicked on the article. You knew what the article was going to be about. If no sports news is news, that's fine. I look forward to your comments on every single sports-related article/blog post/etc. on the Journal-Sentinel website decrying the waste of journalistic resources. Go, you watchdogs, go! Arf arf!

Also, Gary909, I don't know you, but apparently you are paying way too much for your tattoos. One reason I suspect that this is so is because you don't know how to spell "tattoo." Another reason is because it seems like you think LeBron James might spend a salary bump somewhere in the millions of dollars on ten tattoos. My simple calculations indicates that you believe the average cost of a tattoo is approximately $750,000. Gary909, you are getting ripped off! That portrait of Sarah Palin on your upper bicep would be about a $300 job where I get my work done, and the butterfly on the small of your back should've cost $75 plus tip at most. If you email me, I will give you the phone numbers for several good tattoo shops in the Milwaukee area who charge less than $750,000 per tattoo.

And Jonah, perhaps there are more important things to worry about than where LeBron James will play, such as the use of "then" vs. "than." It still doesn't explain why you clicked on this article, read it, and then commented on it - aren't there more important things to be done? But whatever. I agree. World peace, ending poverty, stopping that oil spill, and Brett Favre news from 2007 through 2009 are all much more important things to worry about. Thank god we solved that last problem by shipping him to Siberia or wherever.

Seriously, everyone: if you think that where LeBron James signs isn't news, watch this video.

This shit matters. And that'll do it for now.