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Archive for August, 2008

More metal

I believe tickets still remain for Sunday’s big metal show at the Shoreline, which sounds like a Metal Hall of Fame induction ceremony: Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell (Dio-era Black Sabbath), Motorhead and the East Bay’s own Testament.

I’m going with four of my friends, at least a couple and perhaps all four of whom I saw Dio-era Sabbath with at 1982’s Mob Rules tour at the Cow Palace. We also saw Priest the same year, also at the Cow Palace, on the Screaming For Vengeance tour. It’s good to see that version of Sabbath get its due; My first concert was the the 1980 Day on the Green, when Sabbath was on the Heaven and Hell tour (also with Cheap Trick, Journey and Molly Hatchett.

The thing I most remember about the Mob Rules tour was that there wasn’t room in my buddy’s Camaro for my friend Joe (with whom I’m going Saturday) and I, so we rode from San Ramon to the Cow Palace in the trunk. My God, 15-year-old boys are stupid.

Posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2008
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Plunging “Airplane?”

So a European passenger jet plunged 26,000 feet over about five minutes Tuesday before making an emergency landing in central France.

I have to ask, because apparently the Euro reporters covering it can’t get us any basic information, like: Was it like the panic scene in “Airplane?” Were Hari Krishnas fighting in the aisles? Were people having last-minute sex? Were there any good last-minute confessions that embarassed everyone once the plane leveled out? Did anyone admit to loving someone of the opposite gender?

Just wondering. This is why I should be covering international affairs.

By the way, if you’re bored and want to have some fun watching real scenes of people panicking on planes, there’s lots of them on YouTube. I’d link to one or two, but I couldn’t decide which one was my favorite. Plus, after watching them, I had to take my medication and go lay down.

Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
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Is he a hero or a zero?

Hero/Zero: I may need some help with this one. In Beaumont, Texas (I’m guessing it’s in Texas – it sounds like something that would happen in Texas), police officer Keith Breiner is fighting a department suspension for having sex with a hooker during a felony prostitution investigation.

Hey, the guy was only doing his job.

At least that what he says, though the department said otherwise. The other cop who was busted for the same thing (I’m now planning my next Beaumont vacation) didn’t bother fighting the suspension. But Breiner says the police chief told him he had to do it in order to … nail the suspect.

Thanks, I’ll be here all week.

My favorite part of the story is where the assistant city attorney asked Breiner, who’s married, if he enjoyed having sex with the women (he did it with women at two spas – this guy is dedicated). At first he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. Then he said “It was a job, sir. I didn’t have pleasure doing this. I was paid to do it.”

Yeah, of course. You were getting paid for having sex. Either that makes you an American hero, or, quite possibly, a whore.

ZERO: Barack Obama. Good God, man, quit screwing with us and pick your vice president already. It’s 6 p.m. on Friday and all week I haven’t been able to turn on the TV or look at a web site without being flattened by the speculation. It’s only the vice president; it’s not like you’re picking someone important.

All right – I’ll take the job. But only because you asked nicely.

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2008
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Early Metallica CD review

Nobody puts Kirk Hammet’s guitar in the corner.

I got to spend the afternoon today (Thursday) at Metallica HQ in Marin, listening to the band’s new record “Death Magnetic,” which comes out Sept. 12 (that’s what my sheet says, even though new CDs usually come out on Tuesdays, not Fridays).

Funny enough, while listening to Kirk Hammett regain his guitar hero status on “Death Magnetic,” I sat almost in the exact same spot Hammett sat in the “Some Kind Of Monster” documentary, which chronicled the chaos of Metallica making their last record “St. Anger.” It was in that spot that Hammett argued with drummer Lars Ulrich and producer Bob Rock that their then-new practice of writing songs without guitar solos was, um, not to Hammett’s liking.

Arguing against the notion that guitar solos were “dated” Hammett ended up being dead-on when he said not having guitar solos dated Metallica’s music to that particular time. “St Anger” sounded like it was following the lead of early 2000s metal bands. Apparently Hammett and the rest of the band are tired of following bands who grew up worshipping them.

They only gave me one listen, with an engineer and record company rep in the room, so a comprehensive review is fairly pointless. Coincidentally, the one CD review I wish I could re-write was my 2003 “St Anger” review. In a rush to get a story in the paper, I only listened to the album a couple times. Apparently I was so happy to hear Metallica revert to its heavy ways that I gave it an A-, neglecting to realize that it wasn’t a very good record.

So no grade now. I will tell you that no one, but NO ONE leashes Kirk Hammett on “Death Magnetic,” and the result is some of the best playing of his career. You can hear lots of echoes of their first four albums (not to mention one echo from the kindler, gentler 90s on “The Unforgiven III”). One leftover from “St. Anger” is that “Death Magnetic” features few songs sounding like they were written around a vocal hook, which was how Metallica got their sneering faces on MTV so much in the 90s. The difference from “St. Anger,” is that the riffs, while still heavy, aren’t crashing about searching for a place to settle within the songs. The songs have better structure and just sound better. Metallica is back to powering fast, central riffs, occasionally breaking ranks and tempo for some Iron Maiden-ish breakouts, then building to … you guessed it, the muscley solo from Hammett.

But don’t get too excited. While better than “St. Anger,:” the songs again seem so intent on proving Metallica still brings the thunder that something is occasionally out of place. There’s barely a vocal hook in sight – something the band could pull off more than capably on the early records, even if it was shouting a few words to pass for a chorus. Somehow it just doesn’t work so well anymore. But Hetfield and Ulrich may have been so pleased at how well the band sounds the first time in the studio with bassist Robert Trujillo, they just blew off the the choruses. The whole band sounds tight and absolutely stacked. Some of the songs sound like they came from jams, including  the instrumental “Suicide & Redemption,” which built slowly into layers of blistering Hammett.

And, I have to say, while it’s nice to hear Metallica get back (mostly … so far … I think … after one listen) to what they do best instead of experimenting, It’s also nice to hear Hetfield no longer struggling with his personal demons lyrically, getting back to yelling about mangled flesh and whatnot.

I promised not to do a detailed review and think I did anyway. To be fair, i’ll get back to you after the record comes out. Better yet, we can talk amongst ourselves. between now and Sept. 12, the band will be streaming 1-2 songs at a time at

Posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2008
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Big (foot) Heroes and Zeros

ZERO: This was a tough one. Should we make the two losers who tried to convince us last week they found a dead Bigfoot with a big press conference in Palo Alto, our daily zero? Or should it be the people who believed that picture of a bad gorilla suit was really a dead Bigfoot?

Let’s go with the two guys who found it. Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer were exposed as hoaxes (!) Monday, after experts and Stanford anthropologist (who was indentified as a participant in the “project”) said it was all so much bat droppings.

Worse for these guys, I spoke with the real Bigfoot, and he’s not happy … mostly because these guys said he lived in Georgia, and Bigfoot just isn’t down with the ATL. They can expect a nighttime visit from a large, foul-smelling hairy creature (and when I’m done with them, Bigfoot has a few things to say … ba-dum-dum pshhh).

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Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
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Painful, but funny

This is what happens when you’re stupid enough to try kite-surfing in a hurricane. That’s right — jerks like me laugh out loud and post video of you hurting yourself on their blog.

Uh, no way you could’ve LET GO when you hit the sand?

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Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
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No, not John Edwards, though I did get a great press release from some PR agency this morning, offering to hook me up with a shrink to tell me why men lie about cheating.

Uh … because they don’t want to get caught?

Thank you — I’ll take that honorary doctorate of psychology now …

No, again I just can’t let go of the obvious cheating (and sucking up) that’s going on at the Olympics in regards to the Chinese. Apparently someone dug up a Chinese news article from less than a year ago, painting a rosy picture of the up and comers in Chinese “women’s” gymnastics.

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Posted on Thursday, August 14th, 2008
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U-S-A, U-S-A …

HERO: The good old U. S. of A. I won’t pretend to like anything about the last eight years of our government. In fact I’m thinking … I’m thinking … nope, nothing. But today may be a first, as Russia gave us an ultimatum to be their BFF, or Georgia’s. And we picked … Georgia! Right on. Without getting into details, it’s about time we stood up for a little guy. Of course, I believe they have a couple giant oil pipelines there …

Now if those sissies at NBC would stop sucking up to China.

ZERO: Why mess with a good theme? Today’s – and this week’s – Zero is again China, which called my house last night when they discovered my 2-month-old daughter is 1/16th Chinese and may have better-than-average flexibility. They want her for the 2016 Olympics.

Seriously, how old are those gymnast/children? Some of them still have their baby teeth.

Posted on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008
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Heroic dad and lip-synching kids

HERO: You’d like to think any dad would’ve done it, but John Pala of Boca Raton still deserves kudos.

He and his 8-year-old son Evan were hanging by a creek Tuesday in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee when a black bear comes out of nowhere to jump the kid.

Dad did what a lot of us like to think we’d do: he jumped on the bear. He got the beast off him once, when the dumb bear jumped on the boy again, forcing dad to again pull him off and drive it off with rocks and sticks.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
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Amazing guys who happen to be dead

I was sad when the very funny Bernie Mac died — mostly because he won’t be around to make people uncomfortable at political fundraisers for Barack Obama anymore. But the real tragedy over the weekend was losing Isaac Hayes.

If someone doesn’t come up to you at work today and bark out “Just talking about Shaft,” so you can answer “And we can dig it,” you need to find a new place to work immediately.

By the way, PLEASE watch this if you want to see Jesse Jackson with a big Afro introducing Hayes at a show in 1973 — and removing Hayes’ hat for him.

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Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2008
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