Thursday, November 20, 2014

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 10: Jesse Wagner: Live and Uncut Acoustic

This is the tenth edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare bootleg-albums I'm releasing through this blog. Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

The Aggrolites (2012)
On April 14th, 2007 I attended a small venue in Downtown-Fullerton called The Alley where I saw a band that blew my mind. After a few amazing songs they started into one of their hits, but stopped it 10 seconds in. Then they started into another of their well-known songs, and stopped again 10 seconds in. They repeated this six more times, teasing the audience with one of their favorite songs, then ripping it away and laughing. It was the most amazing musicianship I've ever seen on a stage, the ability to stop and start on a dime like that before blazing into a song is something I’m never likely to see again. That band? The Aggrolites.

It is for this reason why I always insist that The Aggrolites are the best live band in Los Angeles. The band’s self-described style is “dirty reggae” but is akin to the Ska and Rocksteady sounds of Jamaica in the 60’s. (Not familiar with pre-Specials ska? Well I wasn't either but the band happens to be super nice guys as well. I once reached out to their now-former guitar player Brian Dixon about their influences and he offered me a plethora of Trojan Reggae Comps to check out.) There's not enough bands around anymore that transcend the musical scene of their day. The Aggrolites are truly one of those rare bands like The Pogues that can make old songs sound new and new songs sound old.

Bar One Flyer
Flash forward to February 2014, I read that Jesse Wagner (lead singer of The Aggrolites) was going to do a solo acoustic show with none other than Vic Ruggerio (lead singer of The Slackers) at Bar One, right down the street from my house. It was two guys, with two guitars at the top of their game playing in one over-sold little bar, and my wife and I were directly in front to watch. So of course, with booze in hand, we marveled over how fucking cool it would be if we could get them to play our wedding in July. We spoke to Jesse about it, and unfortunately Vic was not going to be in LA at the time, but I added Jesse on Facebook and he told me to contact him closer to the date to see if he would be in town. We did, and he agreed to play our wedding reception.

Now, the benefit of being “in the industry” is always having hands on deck to film important things at the drop of a hat. Enter my buddies Andrew Heaberlin and Matt Rowbottom. On the day of I had Andrew shoot a two camera setup of Jesse’s set and had Matt record the line-out from the mixing board, the result of which I edited into an amazing live acoustic concert that I posted on YouTube. However, the completest collector in me wasn't satisfied simply having video documentation of the show, I also wanted to have an album copy of it, hence this edition of AntiCurrent.com Archives.

Front Cover
Jesse arrived at the show with a list of potential songs that he prepared and had rehearsed to play acoustic. Of course by this point I was hammered and was unable to read without an amount of concentration I was NOT prepared to expend, so I told him to play whatever he felt comfortable with…. and then during the course of the show drunkenly yelled out the songs I wanted to hear. This of course means that he hadn't had a chance to practice some of the acoustic versions of the songs here, but it speaks volumes as to his kindness and his musicianship that he not only attempted every song we requested, he knocked them out of the fucking park.

BAck Cover
Back Cover


A few gems on here for me are “Faster Bullet” (my wife and I’s shared favorite song as it reminds me of her, and quite arrogantly, her of herself ;-) and “White Man In Hammersmith Palais”.  Honestly, in all the bands that have ever covered the Punk Rock Warlords that were The Clash, this is my favorite cover of one of their songs I've ever heard. Be sure to watch the song on the video and see my drunken friends attempting to “dance” to it.

If you ever have a chance, please, please go and see The Aggrolites. They are honestly one of the few bands that can cross all race, creed, and age gaps. As always, this is a free download, but it is not meant to contend with any actual, purchasable album out there so if you dig this, go out and buy something from the band or the man himself. Trust me, you will not regret it as they have yet to put out a less than stellar record.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
01: Faster Bullet
02: Tear That Falls
03: True Love
04: Dream Came True
05: Willow Tree
06: White Man in Hammersmith Palais
07: Don't Let ME Down
08: Free Time
09: Mr Misery
10: Red Wine
11: 54-46 Was My Number 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rodney Redbottom: Cast and Crew Screening

Cast/Crew Screening Poster
Hey folks! My new flick Rodney Redbottom is "in the can" as they say and we are having our cast/crew screening on December 6th 2014 at the Two Roads Theater in Studio City! It's been a huge undertaking and I'd like to thank every single person who supported the flick.

We'll have a trailer up in the coming weeks, but until then, I thought I'd take a second and offer you a chance to come and see the flick early! If you'd like to attend the only public screening that'll take place until our (hopeful) run in the festival market, we're going to give away 2 pairs of tickets to this invite only screening.

Not only that, but we're going to screen some MST3K shorts and two of my favorite movies of all time, Evil Dead 2 and Every Which Way But Loose!!! (subject to change).

How to you get them? Simply be among the first to email us at RodneyRedbottom@Gmail.com and ask! That damn simple!!!! Hell, we'll even give you a limited 11X17 poster of the film!

Be sure to watch here in the coming weeks as I'll be doing a series of articles on the behind the scenes decisions that went into making our little flick.

Stay sick Knif's!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Re-cutting The Evil Dead Franchise Into One Movie

It is a gross misunderstanding that Evil Dead 2 is a remake of The Evil Dead. It is in fact, a sequel. Now, yes, it does somewhat rewrite the events of the first movie. In the initial six minutes the viewer is given a Reader’s Digest summary of what had happened in the previous film. For the sake of time-length, the other characters from the first movie have been removed during this section, which is the source of this never ending confusion. However, if you were to remove that section of ED2, the two movies would line up quite nicely. And that got me thinking... what if you were to combine all three movies into one epic-movie.

AoD: Theatrical
First, a bit of background. One of my first memories is walking into the VHS rental shop in town with my mother and seeing the gigantic cardboard display for Army Of Darkness. A ripped Bruce Campbell with a woman at his leg, chainsaw as a hand with the tagline “Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas.” I mean, what a fucking fantastic piece of imagery (one that now hangs on my living room wall). Unfortunately though I did not watch this movie as a kid, as my mother was a bit self-serving with her precious VHS rentals. As she didn't have any interest in the film, she would tell me that it was far too adult for me, and instead would rent whatever even more horror/suspense film she wished.



AoD: Boomstick
Edition
Eventually I did watch the movies at a friend’s house in high-school and have been hooked ever since. So much so that I immediately went out and bought the entire collection on DVD. Unfortunately for me, I decided to look at DVD reviews of the series and come to find out, there were more than a handful of releases and each of them had differing bonus content. Well, some of them were too expensive so I gave up looking for them in stores (The Boomstick Edition for one), but I did discover that my neighboring Blockbuster had the best version of the original movie... one that was selling for $50 on Ebay. So, to save it from some cretin scratching a precious artifact, I did what any teenage fanboy would: I rented it and swapped the disc out with my own. Even though I have bought the movies at least a half-dozen times since then (thanks you quadruple-dipping assfaces at Anchor Bay ;-) that is still a version that I own and hold sacred, Blockbuster sticker on the DVD and all.

It is with this great passion that I have always wanted to see the franchise not just back to back (which I have too many times), but fully, without break in one continuing movie. How long would it run? Would the intentional comedy/horror aspects of Evil Dead 2 line up with the unintentional comedy of the original? And can you go from the tone of The Evil Dead to Army Of Darkness within one full sitting? Well it was these questions that I set out to find answers to.

Sources:

I took 1080p Bluray rips of each of the movies to work with (and yes, I used the dreaded 16X9 "black-box" version of the first movie to make the experience feel more solidified). That’s "The Evil Dead", "Evil Dead 2", "Army of Darkness", and "Army of Darkness: Directors Cut". After I scanned these movies a few times, it became apparent to me that simply starting off with Evil Dead was going to be too big of a jump to eventually end up within Army of Darkness… the tones are just too dissimilar. It was for this reason that I also dug up cut-scenes from the Evil Dead games: "Hail To The King", "Fistful of Boomstick", and "Regeneration".


Hail to the King, Fistful of Boomstick,
& Regeneration.
Side note: Hail To The King has horrible gameplay, but the story is worth checking out as Ash revisits the cabin years after AoD’s end. Fistful of Boomstick is a genius game that is a direct sequel to HTTK and the gameplay is great. Regeneration is a reimaging of the franchise where Ash didn’t get sucked into the vortex at the end of ED2. All three games feature brilliant performances by Bruce Campbell and are well-worth checking out.

Ingesting:

I then took all of the sources and brought them into Premiere. Although I am trying to use Avid exclusively these days, Premiere is the most convenient thing in the world and will transcode the footage in the background allowing you to get started right away. When doing a project of mixed formats of source footage, it is the only way to go. I knew when I started that I wanted this to be Ash’s tale, and the video games had some excellent voice-over that would allow me to do exactly that, but if you were to watch cut-scenes from a video game, it would take you directly out of the movie experience.

Editing:

That’s why I had to adopt the ending of the theatrical cut of Army of Darkness. This allowed me to use the footage of him in the S-Mart talking to Ted Raimi, use some videogame audio, and spin that as if we joined him as we had just began to regale the story to him. Unfortunately this also committed me to ending the movie back at the S-Mart, which although is a far inferior ending when compared to AoD-Directors cut, it was necessary.

Major Edit 1: Intro

video

I took the opening lines from the game HTTK, and then cut in a few more lines from FoB, from there I EQ‘d the two readings to make them feel a bit more similar. We open up to the S-Mart, establish the conversation, and get into the two main plot-points that drive the entire franchise: A girl and the book.

Both ED2 and AoD have a short synopsis of what the Necronomicon is, but I chose to use AoD’s as the budget was higher and it’s more visually interesting. As he speaks of his love, I chose to show Linda from ED2 because we will soon see a different actress playing her in ED, and I wanted the audience to be able to associate her as the same character. I leave her on screen for a romantic moment, but I don’t allow her to speak or really act. This keeps her in the audiences mind as an archetype, but not a character.

We then cut into establishing footage of the car driving toward the cabin in ED2. No characters are seen in this, but the production value of the car overhead is much better than anything in the original. As we see it, we then cut into dialogue from The Evil Dead. Now we’re into the meat of the first movie.
Here is a link to a downloadable Mp4 version of the edit

Major Edit 2: Listening to the tapes

video
To branch the first two films, I wanted to use a bit of footage from the second movie cut into the first. So as they sit down to listen to the tapes, I chose to take scenes from ED2. These not only look much better, but allow the viewer to leave the cabin and see the actual discovery of the Necronomicon. This additionally sets up the characters of Annie and Ed from the sequel, thus softening the blow of watching two separate movies as one.

However, I didn’t just want to remove an entire chunk from ED and substitute in the sequel, you still needed to feel as if you were in the moment with the original characters. To accomplish this, I cut in character reactions from the group, but I also cut in the section where they turn off the tape after the girls get freaked out as it builds tension. After the tapes played, we of course needed to be back into the original movie, which requires the tree coming through the glass. Now we’re off and running again until the end of the first movie.
Here is a link to a downloadable Mp4 version of the edit

Major Edit 3: Joining Evil Dead & Evil Dead 2

video
This is where we join Evil Dead to Evil Dead 2. Now there are a few points where this is possible, but in one way or another they always seem to screw up continuity (and not just because Ash ages years between movies). That’s why I chose the lesser of the Evils (pun intended) and placed the cut after he throws the last bit of dirt on the camera lens in the original, then we open up to the sequel as he puts the cross in the ground.

This however leaves Linda with a head, and when she emerges from her grave later she is decapitated. While this is unfortunate, it is better than having Linda switch actresses, and then switch back again, which was my other option. Also, when she pops back out of her grave later, it has bit more of a comedic element with the dancing that distracts the viewer from even noticing. Bam! Back into the rest of the movie we go.
Here is a link to a downloadable Mp4 version of the edit

Major Edit 4: Joining Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness

video
This one is a no brainer. At the end of ED2 we get to see him spat out into the mid-evil ages, but it doesn’t line up with AoD so out it goes. Both movies however display white flashes while he is about to exit the the portal, so that was my edit point. Now we've landed in the Directors cut of Army of Darkness.
Here is a link to a downloadable Mp4 version of the edit

Major Edit 5: Joining Army of Darkness: Directors Cut and Army of Darkness

video
At this point, I unfortunately have to have Ash wind up back at the S-Mart, which as I said earlier, is the lesser of the two endings. But, for our purposes, it does tie the entire trilogy up into one nice bow. Now the Theatrical cut ends with him riding off into the sunset and then it cuts directly back into the S-Mart. However, you get a little bit more with the Directors Cut as it shows him being sealed off in a cave, getting comfortable, then taking the sleeping-liquid (yes, I kept him ingesting one extra drop). I even let my cut run up until the emergence of him from that cave, and THEN we cut back into the S-Mart for the traditional ending.

As for the credits, at this point I could have joined all of the previous credits together and subbed in new music, but as that was not part of the experience I cared about, I simply left in the traditional Theatrical AoD credits.
Here is a link to a downloadable Mp4 version of the edit

Conclusion:

So is this a stronger movie now that we have eliminated the differing backstories? Yes and no. Yes, if you were to sit down and watch them back to back this version would make WAY more sense to you. But at the time they were made there were many years in between each of them. At that point you get a bit more artistic license to retell the previous story a bit differently. Honestly, maybe it’s just me explaining away several versions of stories that quite don’t line up, but THAT is how I’ve always viewed these movies: I feel these are Ash's stories, and since he is such a bad person, this is just a tale he keeps exaggerating and each time he tells again, he embellishes more of the story.

This sort of takes that away, and in my opinion, tells more of a story about a man who has had horrible things done to him. As a result, you watch him slowly disconnect with reality. He starts out honorable at first, then slowly twists to where he finds the Deadite interaction funny in ED2, then ultimately get’s so full of himself that he considers himself the savior of the world at the end.

In the end, I personally prefer the theatrical version of the movies, but it must be said, this is a new and different way to experience them and it runs 3 hours and 55 minutes.

This video is NOT meant to compete with purchasable version, so I encoded it a a very low bitrate for download from my website. If you'd like the full-res 720p version, contact me and we can arrange a trade.
Note: This is a h265 encode, so make sure you're using the latest version of VLC to watch this.
http://anticurrent.com/EvilDead/EvilDead-UltimateCut-h265.mkv

UPDATE:
Complete Evil Dead
Epic Edit Cover
Several people have emailed me and asked to purchase a copy of the movie. Let me stress that it is NOT for sale, but I'd love to get it to you. However in doing so, I cannot condone the filmmakers of these not getting paid.

So here's what I'll do. Anyone that wants the full 720p copy simply do the following:
1: Email me (address can be found easily on my website) a photo of you holding all three movies (any version).
2: I'll send you my physical address, you send me a USB (the file size is 13.3GB) with a self-addressed stamped envelope to send it back.
3: Within 24 hours of receipt I will send the USB back to you.

UPDATE: 5/19/15:
After numerous complaints, the downloadable version of this has been fixed. In order to make an easily downloadable file out of the four hour movie and have it watchable, I utilized the new h265 encoding format and it comes in around 500mb. In order to play it, make sure you have the latest version of VLC. The link can be found above.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My New Writing Gig!

I was lucky enough to come into my mid-teenage years with the dawning of the internet. Before this, I spent the ages of 13-15 living in a small-town in Ohio tracking down any punk album I could get my hands on by any means necessary. I borrowed old VHS bootlegs from my friends older brothers, I dubbed my friends’ fathers pressing of Never Mind The Bullocks and recorded it onto a cassette tape, I even recorded a local channel which broadcast old Much music episodes for the rare moment when a Bad Religion or Rollins Band video would be shown. Then, when I was 16 my aunt and uncle bought me a computer and a year’s subscription to dial-up internet and my life forever changed.

Still have my VHS/Cassettes 
Suddenly bands I had only heard of in legend like UK Subs, Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag were just mouse-clicks away. Yahoo offered me countless images of punk clothing and I began to recreate the styles that I found there. Shortly I was on Kazaa and SoulSeek searching out bands that I had heard OF for years, but never actually heard. In short, the entire world that I had fought so incredibly hard to obtain knowledge of suddenly opened up to me.

So was Punk Rock more special when I had to seek it out at length, or did the internet finally give me the availability of the knowledge I always desired?  Did the scene benefit more from only including the people that had to aggressively seek it out, or is it better in this day and age that Punk Rock websites exist and offer an instant and nearly unlimited library of Punk Rock knowledge and culture? I tend to side with the latter, but regardless of anyone’s opinion, one thing cannot be denied: It ultimately doesn't matter, because either way, here we stand.

This is why I for one choose to embrace technology rather than just be yet another aging asshole bitching about the glory days and that is why I've chosen to write a series of articles for the Punk Rock news-site DyingScene.com

DyingScene.com Profile
I’ll be starting off with a series of How-To/DIY projects, the first of which is how to make your own Punk Rock vest that should be published very soon. After that I’m planning on tackling how to make your own stencils, leather-jacket, band-promotion, and so-on. Occasionally, to ensure monotony doesn't set in, I’ll break these up with a series of interviews/reviews and just plain news from the scene that I've been a part of all these many, many years (goddamn I’m getting old).

But don’t worry dear reader, I’ll still be publishing regularly here (or as regularly as I ever have). So if you’re one of the Pour-Souls reading this you can still expect my bitching and moaning to published here on a regular basis. Seeing as how Rodney Redbottom is now complete, I’ll be writing a bi-weekly post here about the making of it to offer my insight on how to make a short movie for nearly no budget. Hint: have talented, loyal friends.

So until then, keep a watch on my profile at DyingScene.com, watch out for Rodney Redbottom hitting film festivals this Spring, stay tuned here for more drunken gibberish from me, and oh yeah…. I’m writing a book, but that won’t be out ANYTIME soon.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 9: Hunter S Thompson- Lecture at Boulder University, 1977

This is the ninth edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

WTBR One Sheet
Hunter S Thompson man, that crazy creature of a beautiful human being was in my opinion, the last great literary hero that this country has seen. Last week I was watching the bastardization "Where The Buffalo Roam" in which Bill Murray does his best to save a horribly scripted HST film. During it, my friend walked in and asked me "Why did people care about Hunter S Thompson?"

Well, I was so dumbstruck by the question (and quite possibly drunk) that my answer came out in short, disconnected doses. Afterall, the meat of this man's career took place over several decades in which he managed to cover everything from riding with the Hell's Angel's to traveling as press in the '72 election. He blew apart the up-its-ass notion of Timothy Leary's teachings of ingesting drugs and siting on a Persian rug by vividly describing the reality that some really horrible shit occasionally happens on drugs. But the man wasn't just some drug addled guru-product belonging to the 60's/70's, this was a man who was an instrumental part in getting Jimmy Carter elected President. Even at the end of his career he managed to write a piece that absolutely nailed the 9-11 situation in regards to what had, and what was going to happen... as the information was unfolding no less.

The Good Dr.
But I suppose what I admire most about the man is that he helped reinvent the written news format by being one of the originators of the "New Journalism" movement. "New Journalism" is where you actually write about your active part in the story. He wrote the trilogy of classics "Hells Angels", "Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas", and Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail" NOT about the subjects solely themselves, but about his interaction with them. Covering a subject with the notion of so-called "Objective Journalism" is an impossible task to attempt as the author will always put their bias all over the wording and portrayal of the information. Thompson knew this and made it a point to never attempt to sway his readers with such an archaic, bullshit delivery system. When you read his words, you knew that you were getting his direct interpretation of the facts as he saw them, making him more honest and real than any of his peers.

Speaking on stage
Regardless, you are not here to be lectured on the merits of Hunter S Thompson. Or perhaps you don't know much about the man other than he was legendarily wild and occasionally bordering on insane. If that is the case, go watch Alex Gibney's "Gonzo", Wayne Ewing's "Breakfast With Hunter Pt.1 & 2" and even Tom Thurman's "Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride". Those will do a much better job describing who he was and what his accomplishments were.

art
Front Cover
For much of his career, Thompson would tour around college campuses during his freetime to give "lectures" to schools. Now, those that know will tell you he was quick to accept their invitation and money, but horrible for showing up on time. This got worse in his later years as it got progressively harder for him to travel on plane with the drugs that were so necessary for his day to day functionality (or lack thereof). This was occasionally remedied by the borrowing of his friends private planes, but if you were at one of these shows, you were among he few graced with luck and timing . During these "lectures" Thompson would show up and field questions ranging from the brilliant to the insane. The genius of these discussions is that whether it was an on topic question about politics or some lunatic talking about alien-abduction, you were liable to get a similarly hilarious and genius answer.

There are not many recordings of these shows, but this bootleg, if not the best known example, is at
minimum the best sounding example known to exist. After years of hunting, I came across a lossless capture of the reel to reel tape from the soundboard that had been ripped to FLAC (See more about the audio codec in my other blog here) and I in turn compressed it down into the highest quality MP3 for ease of download. If anyone would like the original FLAC files, be sure to hit me up via my website.

art
Back Cover
The year was 1977 and Colorado University booked Hunter to come and give a lecture. He of course, showed up late, but that did little more than stir the crowd into a frenzy. Thankfully, some amazing human had the forethought to not only document the night from the soundboard, but to put it out into circulation for the rest of us. The night was a spectrum of everything from hot-button political conversation, to comparing the disco movement to venereal disease. Anything and everything was game.

This bootleg is a great insight into the public persona of one of the greatest modern writers of our time. If you enjoy this, I encourage you as always to not stop here. Go buy his books, go watch the movies, and go see the documentaries about him. Hell, if you can't get enough of the good Dr's vocalizations, there was an amazing 4CD boxset released a few years ago titled "The Gonzo Tapes". In it you can actually listen to his recorded notes that he used to tape for his later research when writing.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The Tracklist:
01 Intro, American Dream, Tex Coalson 06:56
02 Nixon and Football, Vietnam Books 04:33
03 Tom Wolfe 03:19
04 Trudeau, Running For Office 05:48
05 Rockefeller, Tri-Lateral Commission 05:58
06 Rush, Eldridge Cleever 04:21
07 VD, Disco & Rolling Stone 05:50
08 World Series, MK - Ultra 03:57
09 Kesey, Canada 04:10
10 Evil As Nixon?, Uganda, Degeneracy 05:32
11 Steadman, Gonzo 04:20
12 More Kesey, Avoiding Jail 02:36
13 Silver Platter, The Slide 03:55
14 Carter Argument 02:34
15 Drug Question, Drunk And Loud 04:42
16 Three Wishes, Fascist 05:21
17 Grateful Dead 00:42

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The World Has Suffered a Great Loss

Excuse me if this is a bit disjointed, I'm writing this through tear filled eyes in an attempt to distract myself.

Personally I can never tell what my first thoughts were. Were they what I believe them to be, or perhaps just as likely a description of me at that age given by family that has been repeated so many times it has formed a memory. Regardless of which may be the case, my first memory is of me grabbing up my diaper bag and running down the street from my house to my babysitters to go and spend the day with her. Her name was Kate and she was the single greatest human being that has ever lived, and not a goddamn soul on this planet will ever convince me otherwise.

Young Kathleen Prifogle
Kate Prifogle was a retiree from the Bell Phone company who lived down the street from my parents. She had been through a divorce and had already raised her own child who was now on his own. As such, she had free time and was looking for someway to make money beyond her fixed income. At the same time, it just so happened that a freshly married couple living two doors down had just had their first child and the mother couldn't afford much time off work and didn't know who to entrust their child to. With no other options, the two parties agreed that for a trial basis she would watch the progeny and see if it worked out.

Well it did. Kate watched me five days a week for the next 8 years of my life. She taught me to read and do basic math at the age of 4 and is solely responsible for the core of who I am today. She gave me a leg up on both intelligence and morals that few other people were graced with and I'll eternally owe her a debt of gratitude. I do not remember life without her in it, thus she was never a simple "babysitter" to me, she was my Grandmother, more so than even most of my blood relatives.

Taking Katie Shopping
She was one of a kind. She earned a very meager amount of money for watching me each week, but she never spent the money on herself. Instead, the kindhearted soul chose to spend the money mostly on me. This is the woman that bought me my first comic book DETAILED HERE. This woman bought me my first guitar. So many of the things that stuck with me for the rest of my life can all be directed back to one human that graced the planet with her existence: Katie.

When the area we lived in began to become ran-down my parents opted to move to the country where they had better schools and more area to breath. Unfortunately this meant that I had to be separated from Katie, a fact of which neither one of us liked and we both cried over for weeks. We moved into the Hetzler Rd house and my father quickly made friends with the neighbor who babysitted kids and it was thought to be a match made in heaven. Long story short, the white-trash piece of shit that was put in charge of my life cared much more for her soap opera "The Young and the Restless" than she did about me. This culminated in my getting deathly-sick after she kicked me outside to puke in the snow without bothering to check on me. Well, when Katie got wind of this she had to be talked down from driving over to her house and pulling a gun on the woman, a fact of which I'm told she nearly did.

In short, we were always there for each other for the rest of our lives. When my parents got a divorce her house was the only stable rock in my life that I could always visit. When I got kicked out of my parents' house, her's was always the one I could visit rather than sleeping another night in my car. As the neighborhood gradually got worse she refused to budge as that was the house her parents had owned through the depression and she had grown up in. In classic Katie style, her solution to the problem was not to run, but rather to start carrying around a hand-gun in her purse and a baton in her hand which she referred to as her "Layover to catch meddlers".

Katie Eatin' Cake
Even after I moved out to California we still remained in close contact. As she grew older, I was not a fan of how little people in her life valued her. So everytime I came to visit I attempted to do something nice for her since others in her life seemed unwilling or unable. When her giant oak cabinet of a TV was on the fritz, I got ahold of my Mom and we got her a new one (granted she REFUSED to throw the old one out as it was "furniture" and an "investment", so I was forced to place the new TV atop the old one.) And when her hearing and eyes were going I sent her a series of new phones that had bigger numbers and screamed like a banshee when she got a call. That's what we did, we took care of each other.

When it came to writing a paper based on one of your Grandparents lives, I instead chose to do hers, and that is what I will leave you with at the bottom of this post. On April 21st 2008 I interviewed Katie about her and her families past. In it she covers everything from her own parents to her families genealogy and ties to Ireland (she was part of the Black Irish). In case you don't listen to the whole thing, her best story was when she was young and drove to Vegas with her friend. During her time there she dropped a quarter on the ground and they searched for it for 10 minutes before looking up and realizing that everyone around them were losing hundreds of dollars like it was nobodies business. This caused them to laugh so hard that she drunkenly pissed herself on the game floor of the Flamingo.

In the last few years I'm ashamed to say I've been completely self-centered with work and I haven't seen her since December last year when my Grandfather passed. I'm also deeply saddened in myself that I have only spoke on the phone with her twice since then. When I saw her last she was still in as great of spirits as ever and showed me the tomatoes that she had grown that year. That's how she was, she had lost about 6 inch's, grown a hunch on her back, but god be damned if she was going to let that or a little bronchitis stand in the way of her canning her tomatoes that year.

My Cup
When I walked her back up to her house that final time, and sat down on her chair I looked over to the table by her window and there still sat about 7 pictures of me ranging from the time I was born, to the latest one I had sent her. She knew she wasn't doing well and broke my heart when she asked me if there was anything I would like her to leave me. I told her to just make sure I got my Kings Island cup I had drank out of since I could remember and she laughed. She disappeared into the kitchen and brought it out to me telling me there was no need to wait for that. As we said goodbye we hugged each other and went through our typical dialogue poking fun at each other. She got on me about having bright red hair "You know you're gonna ruin that beautiful hair of your's Puddin'." And I told her to "Quit gardening before she broke a damn hip."


Only Photo Of Us I Could Find :-(
Unfortunately Katie died Thursday and with her goes the kindest soul this earth has ever seen. She used to sit me down on her knee and say "Now Puddin' you be good to people and they'll be good to you. But if they're not, they'll answer to me." She instilled that in me. You take care of your own, you protect your own, because that's all you really have at the end of the day. Family isn't blood, family is what you make it.

Thanks Katie,
Puddin'


Or Download the MP3 Here

Anyone interested can send flowers HERE

Monday, May 19, 2014

No Aaron McGruder? No Boondocks.

McGruder in S1 Bonus Features
Aaron McGruder must be a very smart man because he is laying incredibly low on the subject of the 4th season of The Boondocks going forward without his involvement. Yeah, he made some half-assed consumer-friendly Facebook post about not holding grudges, but I really don't count that as a statement as much as him distancing himself from the new season. He's right though, you don't want to piss off the powers that be in this industry, it's a sure-fire way to make sure that you're black-balled lickety split. Am I disappointed that the always outspoken McGruder is not coming out against this bastardized, pirated version of his baby? Fuck yes I am, but I understand it. So, please allow me to voice what he is choosing not to:

"This is some ol' bullshit."

I must say, I sort of saw this coming. As of the second series of The Boondocks hitting DVD, McGruder
McGruder Absent in Bonus Content
had a very strong presence in the content of the DVD's. He was involved in the bonus features, and even provided commentary for the episodes. However, as of the bonus features of the release of Season 3, McGruder had completely disappeared from them. Instead Cedric Yarbrough and Gary Anthony Williams seemed to helm the intro's to the episodes and commentary that McGruder had previously provided. Also, during the first two seasons, the show was nearly completely written by McGruder and a man named Rodney Barnes who was the Executive Producer of the series. By the third season, only two episodes were written by both of them and the rest was written solely by McGruder. Is this proof of a strained relationship or just a coincidence? I have no idea, but it bares mention.

Uncle Ruckus (no relation)
It also should be mentioned that even despite the fact that McGruder didn't want to do another season, he was far from done with the characters of the show. McGruder attempted to Kickstarter a film that would feature the actor who plays Uncle Ruckus (Gary Anthony Williams) as a live version of the character himself. Unfortunately the film didn't receive enough money and it seems that the project has gone away forever. It seemed damn interesting (I even donated to it), but the Kickstarter lacked having a personable element to it. Perhaps if McGruder would have taken a more active role in the campaign instead of just throwing Uncle Ruckus' character at it, it could have succeeded. Regardless, all of these facts combined with McGruders insistence that the third was indeed the final season of the show, I suppose the writing was in fact on the wall.

McGruder accepting Peabody
I make no qualms about the reason I enjoy media. I watch television and movies to experience the voice of an author coming out through characters and showcasing their viewpoint on this weird, twisted world. Few people have been able to do this as well as McGruder. Through the voices of Huey and Riley he represents the duality of both himself and the culture of his people. Huey was McGruder looking in on black culture from someone who knows how great his people are, but get's tired at watching them be kept down and the popular stereotypes that have grown as a result. Riley is the opposite side of that and represents living inside a culture that celebrates violence, gangster rappers, stereotyped television, and movies.

That's why The Boondocks was so goddamn genius, although you could tell that the show swayed toward Huey's outlook on life, it rarely made a staunch argument that either was correct. It didn't preach to the audience, it merely highlighted sections of black and white culture and explored them... quite hilariously. Each episode dealt with some slice of life and tackled it with satiric ferocity. Sometimes the subject was attacked scathingly, sometimes the subject was tackled lovingly, but always there was a lesson to be had, and much like society, at the end of the day, the characters never learned it and started from scratch the next episode. Well, as I feared, with the debut of season 4, this aspect has almost completely disappeared from the show.

The show has now devolved into one giant over-arching storyline about the Freeman's losing their money. The result of this is characters acting against their previously shown moral standards, re-hashed storylines from previous episodes, and an overall lack consistency when compared to the past 3 seasons. Want examples? Fine.



Characters acting against type: 
Robert Freeman, War Pilot
In episode 4.5 Grandpa is shown as a coward who doesn't want to contribute to the black cause. Although shown as a moron occasionally, Grandpa was never a coward (in this regard) and did fight for the cause. He was shown fighting in the war admirably during "Wingmen" and was shown being an overlooked, but equal contributor sitting next to Rosa Parks in "Return of the King". Although he occasionally acted stupid in these episodes he NEVER was a coward who didn't fight or care (although he was smart enough to get his rain-coat once.) ;-)

Rehashed Storylines:
In episode 2.2, "Tom, Sarah, and Usher" dealt with a famous personality coming in-between Tom and his
Chris or Usher, same storyline.
wife's relationship. It dealt with the man that Tom was VS the type of man that turned on his wife. Tom's famous competition was always suave, sexy, and had an amazing voice, all of which brought him fame. Episode 4.1 was literally a rehash of this concept told in almost identical fashion but subbing out Chris Brown for Usher.



Inconsistency to past seasons:
As previously mentioned, although there were lessons to be learned from each episode, the characters in the show never acknowledged or absorbed them. This seems to be the opposite with this season. Grandpa would go nuts and spend tons of money on women, discover they were only out for his money, and then do it again several episodes later. Riley would hang out with Remmy, discover it was a horrible choice, and go back to his house the next episode. My point is, by inserting a narrative that takes place across many episodes (or the entire season as the case may seem) is entirely disjointed from the past 3, celebrated seasons. Change is not ALWAYS bad, but when entering what even the showrunners insist is the 4th and final season, why insert a different design of storytelling?

Who wrote episodes 2 &3?
I tried to watch Season 4. I gave it 6 episodes and a fair shake. Angela Nissel (who wrote episode 1 and 4 of the new season) seems to be a good writer, she just doesn't seem to be the right writer. However I do wish that Rodney Barnes (who wrote episode 5 "Freedom Ride Or Die") would have done a better job. I'm honestly very taken aback that he would portray Grandpa as a coward. With that said, it does feel more like the rest of the series than any of the others thus far and it is an interesting concept (though spoken of before in the series) to explore the fact that direct, non-violent resistance is in essence, counter-intuitive. Also, if you're keeping track, that accounts for who wrote episodes 1, 4, and 5 of the new series. Who wrote episodes 2 and 3? No one knows because the names haven't been released. Strange huh?

There is nothing controversial about this season. The show didn't require controversy to be good, don't get me wrong, but it did thrive and have the most to say when it was exploring controversial subject matter. Now the show is little more than the family living through the latest of Grandpa's "Get Rich Quick" schemes as they fight to keep their house. As Huey often said about things he didn't understand and or agree with: "It's a damn shame." And it truly is. Some shows can survive the loss of A creative voice, but no show based entirely around one writer can suffer the loss of THE creative voice.

The Boondocks is dead. Long live The Boondocks.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Rodney Redbottom is in production!!!!

Josh Roush Short Movie

Lately I've only been updating my blog about once a month due to being in pre-production on my upcoming short flick Rodney Redbottom. RR is a short, dark-comedy about a young kid and his estranged relationship with his Grandpa. It's a cautionary tale about the danger of making assumptions without asking questions. In it, young Charlie discovers that his grandparents were into bondage. Told through the eyes of Charlie as an old man, we explore regret and the strangeness that accompanies the thought that all grandparents have sex... some kinkier than others. Think Jim Jarmusch meets John Waters.

It's an incredibly ambitious (if I do say so myself) movie that I have pooled nearly the entirety of my friends talent to construct. Without name dropping every single person that is involved in it (I don't want to leave people out and hurt feelings) I will say that the project would be entirely impossible if it weren't for the help of William S. Abramson (financier), J.C. Reifenberg (DP and all around badass), and Olivia Banks (Producer and Partner-In-Crime).

Expect a teaser-trailer for the flick in the upcoming month, the full trailer following in June, and a mid-Fall premiere. Until then, enjoy the free-downloadable full-res one-sheet for the project right here!!!!!

Also, a big thanks to the one and only John Roecker for the help with the tagline!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

16Bit VS 24Bit Audio Comparison, & Our Bigger Issues To Worry About

16Bit Vs 24Bit Music:

The Pono, a handheld 24Bit Music Player
A lot of noise is being made about high-quality, high-def audio recordings and whether or not the huge file sizes associated with them are worth the headache or not (for a detailed breakdown of Analog VS Digitally encoded music and the filetypes associated with them, click on this past blog from me). Recently, Neil Young has finally unveiled his consumer friendly 24Bit media playback device named the "Pono" and has reignited the debate about quality VS efficiency in music distribution, but can the consumer actually hear the difference? Well, I'm here to let you find out yourself and afterwards I'll show you why the entire debate is pointless when compared to an even bigger problem in the music industry.

Young promoting the Pono on Letterman

The primary question at play in this debate is can the human ear actually differentiate between CD quality 16Bit audio and "High Def" 24Bit? Well, the answer according to a double blind study is no. However artists such as Neil Young, Bobby Weir, and Flea wholeheartedly disagree. Audiophiles prefer the analog medium of vinyl, but for reasons I'll get into in a moment, even a lot of them don't care about the 16vs24 debate.

So, science says one thing, artists say another and although both have valid opinions and reasoning, what it will come down to is one thing:

"Can YOU hear a difference?"

The Test:

I'll save my opinions until after the test, but before we get there it is important for you to understand the limitations of the system you are listening on. If for instance you are operating a computer/device that plays back in 16Bits, then listening to the 24Bit stream is meaningless as your computer/device is downsampling them to 16. Also, make sure that you have the FLAC codec installed in your system or you cannot listen to it, I recommend downloading VLC.

For this test I sampled 30 seconds of multiple versions of Metallica's "No Leaf Clover" from a vinyl recording of their live album "S&M". I chose this track and section for several reasons. First, sonically it displays both strings and orchestral music via the San Francisco Symphony alongside heavy guitars, drums, and singing. This gives the listener an all around "view" of what both loud and soft music sounds like. Secondly, I chose Metallica because I believe they won't ask me to take the music down (I mean, its 30 seconds of a song). Plus, I'm pretty sure Metallica has had enough of giving their fans shit about their music digitized ;-)

 
24Bit HD Version:

16Bit HD Version

16Bit CD Rated Khz Version:


Hear the difference? Personally I cannot. I have listened to it on Sony 7506 Headphones (industry standard), my DIY HiFi Tube Preamp surround system, and through standard shitty speakers. Although my systems sounded totally different, the quality between the versions did not. So even if there is a difference there, it is minimal at best.

So why would I call this a Red Herring????

The Real Problem: The Loudness Wars

These all sound amazing because they were ripped from the vinyl copy, NOT from a CD. Yes, technically CD's do have a higher potential dynamic-range (Dynamic-Range is the range of acceptable or possible volumes of sound occurring in the course of a piece of music) than vinyl, but the record-industry is embattled in what is known as the "Loudness Wars".

Dynamic Range Comparison of CD VS Vinyl
Every record label wants their music to be louder than the competitors, therefore CD plants compress their music, resulting in making the recording sound louder. Unfortunately, the downside result of this is less dynamic range meaning that there is less of a difference between quiet and loud sounds. Whispers are no longer as quiet and yells are no longer as aggressive... better yet, think of it this way:

Imagine that a song is a roller-coaster that is designed to have climbs to increase tension, and then descents to electrify you. Compressing a song effectively limits the entire emotional breadth of the experience by turning the peaks and valleys into a much flatter surface while maintaining speed. Thus, the differences between loud and quiet sounds are greatly eliminated.

Due to the physical constraints on vinyl, compression is not possible. This results in the consumer hearing the proper version of the song, not what the record labels want to drown you out with. Amungst many other things, this adds depth and clarity to the entire song.

To give you an example, let's compare the CD ripped at CD quality FLAC, to the Vinyl ripped at the same Bitrate, but with the higher Khz allowed by FLAC compression.

Notice no level peaks
Notice the peaking levels

16Bit CD Version:

16Bit Vinyl Version






Now to me personally I can hear a night and day difference between those two. If you can too, then perhaps ripping your own music is for you...

You Can Fight This (If You Really Care To):

Most people don't care to take good sound this far, if you don't, skip this section. If you do, read on.

Unfortunately this loss of quality due to the unscrupulousness of the record industry effects anything you download or purchase that is not a physical copy. To be repeated, this not only effects your CD collection, but almost every MP3 that you have ever downloaded from a store. But do not take this as my bashing MP3's. MP3's can be good quality when ripped at 320Kbps from your own source material. So how do you do this?
$500 Pro-ject Debut Carbon With USB

Well, it's not easy and requires money to do it from scratch. It requires purchasing a damn decent turntable/needle combination with a USB output or a 24Bit soundcapture device (M-Box) for your computer, recording the source signal and then outputting it to your preferred filetype and size. Or you can download an already ripped version of the album via torrent...

I AM NOT A LAWYER, but if you own an album, you ARE allowed to rip your own version of it. Therefore you ARE allowed to own a digital rip of a vinyl if you own the vinyl, and seeing as there is an ever growing online community of people doing exactly that, it is easy to find high quality ripped downloads of music that people have already made. Downloading music you own IS a legal grey-area, but one that I am comfortable living in if someone has already done the leg work for me. Simply import your audio file into a program such as Audacity and choose yourself whether you are comfortable with 16Bit, 24Bit, or even MP3 quality.

To reiterate: I AM NOT CONDONING THE DOWNLOAD OF MUSIC YOU DO NOT OWN. But I PERSONALLY am OK downloading albums I already own, regardless of whether it is legal or not.

And for you to choose your own option wisely, on top of the already provided examples of audio, here are some examples to compare and contrast of No Leaf Clover ripped from both CD and Vinyl to a MP3 format.

If you enjoy vinyl, buy this damn set. It's genius.








In Conclusion:

Does 16Bit or 24Bit matter? Well, you now have a way to decide for yourself. Personally to me, it doesn't make a huge difference, but the one thing that I CANNOT and WILL NOT tolerate is over compression of music due to the greed of a corporation. If you're lucky or privileged enough to even concern yourself with this subject, then you should be worried about over-compression first, and which high bitrate works for you second.

Between the two bitrates, I choose 24. Why? Because with how cheap hard drive space is becoming, I have the room to deal with it. Can I tell the difference? Not really, but one day I may own a $20,000 system where I can and for now, it doesn't put me out to collect in the highest possible quality. But in this choice, I am fully OK with admitting that it is complete overkill for the amount of difference gained.

So to hell with the scientists, to hell with the artists, listen here and "choose wisely".



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Can I Still Allow Myself to Watch Woody Allen Films?

Prelude:
Lately I've been at an impasse. I really, really love alot of Woody Allen films, but at the same time the dude might be guilty of some really fucked up charges. I have really struggled with this fact since Dylan Farrow's public letter was published, so much so that I have abstained on watching any of his films since. This blog-post is not written to sway you in any way, shape or form. It was written solely by me in an effort to work out whether or not I should allow myself to watch and or enjoy his work.

Every film buff has a Woody Allen phase. Admit it. Whether you like him or not, at some point you have made it a point to catch several of his films in quick succession due to either your adoration of his work, or attempting to figure out what all the fuss is about.Which ever side of the fence you fall on, you cannot deny the fucker is one hard-working son-of-a-bitch. "Midnight In Paris" is not only my favorite film of 2011, but is the only film I have ever seen on the small screen (caught it early while working at Sony) that I then went to the theater to watch again that night.

Before analyzing the situation, there are a number of barebones facts that are undeniable about the situation, here are the pertinent ones as I understand them.

Mia Farrow is a fucking crazy ass bitch
Immediately after publicly accusing Allen of this horrible crime, Farrow was still aggressively pursuing
her role on his next project "Manhattan Murder Mystery". To continue a relationship in any way, shape or form with a man who you believe has actually sexually-assaulted your daughter means you are either batshit crazy, a fucking liar, or the most self-centered bitch on the planet. Hell, she even testified on behalf of Roman Polanski (who was also charged with having sex with a minor) during his trial. Does this mean the incident didn't happen? Fuck no, it just means that regardless, Mia Farrow is a fucking crazy ass bitch. The insanity doesn't end there either, Farrow continued to let her children around Allen after even after she found out he had sex with Soon-Yi, her stepdaughter, which brings me to the next point.

Woody Allen is a fucked up dude
Directly before the accusation of the molestation of Dylan, Woody Allen already had sex and a relationship with one of her daughters while in a relationship with Farrow. Yes, both people in this were probably of legal age (due to her not having a birth certificate it was assumed she was between 18-20 years old) at the time, but it was still his girlfriends daughter. Further, he publicly stated that “I didn’t feel that just because she was Mia’s daughter, there was any great moral dilemma. It was a fact, but not one with any great import. It wasn’t like she was my daughter.”. Does that prove that he molested Dylan? Nope, but it does prove that he is one weird motherfucker who doesn't have issues with fucking someone who looks up to him as a father figure.

Was Allen indeed being treated for obsession over Dylan?
Taken from the custody transcript
In researching this case I discovered again and again reports that Allen had been in treatment with a "Dr. Coates" regarding treatment for his "inappropriate behavior with Dylan". Well I decided not to re-read what a bunch of fucking bloggers wrote and rewrote (scum of the Earth if you ask me ;-) and read the statement myself. According to the papers, he was not being "treated" for it, but the subject did arise while in therapy. According to Dr. Coates, the subject of Allen's preferential treatment of Dylan did indeed come up, but that he "did not see it as sexual". Basically the doctor discussed with Allen that he should not dote solely on Dylan and that doing so was creeping people out. What I find strange here is that the doctor recognized that he preferred the child, but did not believe that the attention was sexual in nature, something I would suspect someone of his profession is trained to do.

Dylan's claims
It is beyond a shadow of a doubt to me that Dylan believes she was molested by Allen at seven years old. How do you approach this claim as being potentially untruthful and not be a piece of shit? You could attempt to explain away that Mia could have brainwashed her into believing this, but jesus fucking christ, now you're questioning someone who has been through an insane ordeal. I feel dirty just writing these few lines on the subject, but then again, this is an exploratory piece. I myself have written briefly about being young and told that I watched a gun be held to my mothers head resulting in confusion of not being able to tell in retrospect what I have seen VS what I was told I had seen. To this day it is debated what actually happened. Is it a possibility that she is mistaken? Yes, I think I can speak with some very limited understanding to the effect of having people tell you what you saw and how that can cloud a young mind. Does that make it the case that it didn't happen? Shit no it doesn't.

The older brother insists it didn't happen
Moses Farrow is 8 years older than Dylan and denies that there was ever any inappropriate anything that happened during their years with Allen. Think about that for a second, that makes the kid around 15 years old when all of this was going down. I remember damn near everything from 15 years old. That either means that Moses is lying for Dad for his inheritance, being honest and nothing happened, or that he's technically retarded and never noticed anything. The first two seem like logical possibilities, but the dude seems well spoken enough to eliminate the third.

Conclusion:
That's a Readers Digest version of the nuts and bolts of it. Allen has a history of doing some weird freaky
The Whole Fucking Mess
shit and has not had problems with who he does it with, even if she's a daughter-like figure. Dylan was only 7 and impressionable, both from a nut-bag mother and a fucking weirdo father. I put a certain amount of stock in what Moses claims as he doesn't seem to be doing more than protecting his fathers name and he would have been a correct age to notice things of that sort from Allen. The custody paper's far from speak kindly about Allen, they even go as far as to say that he was detrimental to the children whether he committed the crime or not. Regardless, that cunt Mia Farrow put her children into harms way so I'd say she shoulders quite a bit of responsibility.

Did he do it? Fuck me, those are some murky waters. Dylan's insistence on the subject seems damning, but there isn't much more past that. Hell, there's even quite a bit of evidence to the contrary... so the dude very well might be guilty of an unimaginable crime. But this is America, and we are supposed to believe in innocence until proven guilty, and even the judge in the fucking custody case couldn't handle making a ruling on whether he did it or not. I have no idea if he did it, I wish to fuck I did.

To be completely honest, I thought that after researching this subject I would completely be against watching Woody Allen films ever again. But what it comes down to for me personally is that it's just not right to judge someone on one persons claims when there isn't a body of damning body of evidence to support it. After all, the weird bastard never has been accused of this before (as is usually the case with pedophiles). Perhaps I'm writing this and looking for an excuse to still watch Woody Allen's films, but I don't believe in my heart of hearts that I am. With all of the weird history, accusations, and drama in mind I choose to continue to watch his films, but I have the nagging suspicion that everytime I do, I will fell just a little bit dirty.