THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUTH:

All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.



Friday, August 30, 2013

‘BATTLE OF THE BANDS’ #3 (Or, ‘THE BEATLES VS. BRIAN AUGER AND TRINITY’)

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Republican Vs. Democrat, Male Vs. Female, War Vs. Peace, Light Vs. Dark, Good Vs. Evil, Man Vs. Machine, Love Vs. Hate, Dog Vs. Cat, Sun Vs. Moon, Brain Vs. Brawn, Oscar Vs. Grammy, Angel Vs. Demon, Laurel Vs. Hardy, Beer Vs. Wine, TV Vs. Radio, Pitcher Vs. Batter, Paper Vs. Plastic, Reality Vs. Fantasy, Yeshua Vs. Beelzebub, Conservative Vs. Liberal, You Vs. Me, House Vs. Senate, Offense Vs. Defense, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Spy Vs. Spy, Fischer Vs. Spassky, W.C. Fields Vs. Sobriety, Harold Gimpy, Jr. Vs. Sheldon J. Pismire, Rock Vs. Paper Vs. Scissors, Islam Vs. Everything, Singer Vs. Singer, Band Vs. Band...
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THE  BATTLE  OF  THE  BANDS!
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Shoop-Shooby –
Shooby-duh-Dooby-Doop-Dooby-Dooby-Doo-Wah –
Buh-Doo-Wah!

Yes, it’s time once again for ‘Battle Of The Bands’ (BOTB). 
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EUGENE MARTONE VS. JACK BUTLER
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Ordinarily, ‘Battle Of The Bands’ blog bits get posted on the 1ST and 15TH of every month. This one is going up a couple days early because I won’t be in town (Phoenix, Airheadzona) this weekend. As Robert Plant sang: “Made up my mind to make a new start; going To California with an aching in my heart. Someone told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.”

Well, that’s more than I could hope for. Actually, I’m just going to get the hell out of Hell for 3 days. However, that does give YOU, the voter, two extra days to make up your mind about the following versions of the same song and cast your vote for the one ya likes best.
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GODZILLA VS. KING KONG
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In 1966, The Beach Boys released their album ‘PET SOUNDS’. David Leaf has written: The release of PET SOUNDS was “Independence Day” for rock ‘n’ roll.

Paul McCartney says that PET SOUNDS is “still one of my favorite albums of all time just ‘cause of the musical invention”. In 1966, McCartney, The Beatles’ bassist and pop idol, said that ‘God Only Knows’ was the best song ever written.

Brian Wilson, the leader and principal visionary of The Beach Boys, was the guiding force behind the concept and musical approach of the group’s most highly acclaimed album ‘PET SOUNDS’.

George Martin, The Beatles’ longtime producer, is on record as having stated: “If there is one person that I have to select as a living genius of pop music, I would choose Brian Wilson”.

What was so great about Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, and what was the “musical invention” that Paul McCartney referred to? Well, one part of it was the fact that Brian Wilson had incorporated so many non-Rock musical instruments into his compositions for the ‘PET SOUNDS’ album. Along with the usual – electric guitars, bass, and drums – Brian was utilizing sounds not normally found on Rock recordings (e.g., French horn, sleigh bells, harpsichord, clarinet, flutes, accordion, strings, dog barks, and train whistles, etc., etc.), and he was structuring and recording the tracks in very different, non-Rock ‘N’ Roll ways!

Paul McCartney has said "[‘Pet Sounds’] was the big thing for me [in 1966]. I just thought: Oh, dear me! This is the album of all time. What are we [The Beatles] gonna do?"

The following year – 1967 - The Beatles’ answer to The Beach Boys’ album ‘Pet Sounds’ was ‘SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND’, with its advanced musical compositions and iconic album cover.
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Listen carefully and you will notice the multiple non-Rock instruments utilized on ‘SGT. PEPPER’S...’ and the many shifts in tempo – all of it a conscious attempt to take what The Beach Boys had done on ‘Pet Sounds’ and one-up them with it.
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‘Sgt. Pepper’s...’ is frequently found at the #1 position of many critics’ lists of all-time greatest Rock albums. In 1978, Joel Whitburn, the mastermind behind the Billboard music charts, named The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s...’ #1 on his own personal list of favorite Rock albums and said that, “SGT. PEPPER’S was then and still is one of the greatest listening experiences for the rock ear.”
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Some of the songs that particularly illustrate The Beatles’ new, complex arrangements - intended to compete with Brian Wilson and his Beach Boys - are the title track, and ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!’, and the album’s closing, grand finale ‘A Day In The Life’.

In the recently published guide to ‘The Beatles’ 100 Greatest songs’, Rolling Stone magazine put ‘A Day In The Life’ at #1 – the all-time greatest Beatles song. In other words, according to Rolling Stone, ‘A Day In The Life’ is the number 1 song on what a good many Rock music critics consider to be The Beatles’ number 1 album. Let’s listen to that song while noting the tempo changes and various “movements” within the song:



If you were paying attention to what I wrote in my ‘BOTB #1’ blog bit, then you know that I have a particular fascination for how drastically a musical arrangement can alter (even make or break) a song. In that spirit, I offer you a cover version of The Beatles’ (best?) song ‘A Day In The Life’.

Brian Auger, another English musician - specializing in Jazz-Rock fusion - was introduced to ‘A Day In The Life’ by a friend at a party in Italy. I’ll let Auger give the details:

I was at a party in Milano, Italy, with some Italian musician friends when my friend Maurizio clamped a pair of headphones on me and said, “Hey, Brian, listen to this.” He put on The Beatles’ ‘Sergeant Pepper’ album which I had not previously heard. I listened until the last piano note of ‘A Day In The Life’ carried my imagination far out into space. I thought the album was brilliant and took rock & roll to a completely new level. I determined to record a version of ‘A Day In The Life’ and got the chance in 1968 while making my … album ‘Definitely What!’
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BRIAN AUGER & TRINITY [WTH? Second From The Right: IS THAT 'BEER BOY BRYAN' WITH LONG HAIR?]
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So, let’s listen to Brian Auger’s [instrumental] cover of the song now, and then you can vote on which version you prefer and tell us why you voted the way you did. Although Auger’s arrangement does not alter the song as drastically as did the two arrangements of Bebel Gilberto’s song ‘AGANJU’ in ‘BOTB #1’ (you will certainly recognize the melody and tempo shifts within Auger’s take on ‘A Day In The Life’), you may be surprised by the tune’s overall difference, due to the choice of instruments being used at various points and HOW those different instruments are being employed. [This is another excellent example of the massive difference an arrangement can make in the same musical composition!]


 
I welcome EVERYONE – whether I know you or not -  to vote for your favorite of these two songs in the comment section below. And feel free to tell us WHY you chose one song over the other. (NOTE: Comment Moderation is activated. All submitted comments that do not transgress "Ye Olde Comment Policy" will be posted as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.)
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After voting here, I suggest - actually I insist - you pop over to FAE’s ‘Far Away Series’ and Arlee Bird’s ‘Tossing It Out’ blogs to see which songs they have chosen and vote there also. (If their BOTB blog bits aren’t posted yet, pour yourself two shots of ‘Grand Marnier’ over ice – do it twice – and then return to ‘Far Away Series’ and ‘Tossing It Out’ to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.)

Voice Your Vote @ ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.
Voice Your Vote @ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
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RIDDLER VS. BATMAN
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Find The True Meaning Of Christmas: Win Money!-Money!-Money! Spectacular, Super-Colossal Neighborhood Christmas Lights And Display Contest!

Find The True Purpose For Voting On ‘Battle Of The Bands’ Installments: Win Compact Discs!-Compact Discs!-Compact Discs! Spectacular, Super-Colossal Blogosphere ‘Battle Of The Bands’ Voting Contest!

Here’s The Deal: By voting on the ‘Battle Of The Bands’ blog bits here and at the ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ and ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ blogs, you can win the compact disc of your choice. Every 4 months, FarAwayEyes, Arlee Bird and I will add up how many times you voted on our blogs, and the person who has participated most often (i.e., submitted the most eligible votes) will get to select one compact disc that contains any one of the songs that were included in any of our ‘Battle Of The Bands’ installments (“Super-Colossal” expensive boxed-sets, imports, and ‘out-of-print’ compact discs not included). In the event of a tie, the names will be put in a Stetson and the name drawn from the cowboy hat will win the CD.

Rules For Voting: FAE, Arlee Bird and I post new ‘Battle Of The Bands’ blog bits on the 1st and 15th of each month. We also post our own personal votes for the respective blog bits on the 7th and 21st of each month (i.e., six days later). For your vote to be counted, it must be submitted in our comment sections BEFORE we post our own votes (BEFORE we make our own votes known on the 7th and the 21st).

Every 4 months there will be a new compact disc winner. In other words, ‘Battle Of The Bands’ #1 was posted on August 1, 2013, so at the end of November, one of you lucky voters is going to win a CD that includes one of the songs we’ve featured in our ‘Battle Of The Bands’ installments (you get to choose, and it doesn’t matter if the song won or lost its battle – if you like it, it’s YOURS!)

Alright, now... VOTE ON and ROCK ON! (while we 
‘Count On...’)

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Links To Previous 'BOTB' Installments:


YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement. 
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

‘PEPPERMILL FIRESIDE LOUNGE: OLD SCHOOL COOL’ (Or, ‘HERE’S TO YOU, ROBIN’)


Lately, ‘Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends’ has been emphasizing Product Reviews (and ‘Woe Is Me’ lamentations) over the usual politics (and spirituality). I promise to get back to form soon, but not so fast...

Just the other day, our friend Robin spoke of her upcoming vacation to "Vegas, Baby!" I had already begun typing a comment in the comment section window about my favorite bar in Las Vegas when I suddenly got the idea to turn it into a full blog bit.

Back in 2010, on my defunct ‘Stuffs’ blog, I posted a multi-installment blog bit about a trip to Vegas titled ZOUNDS!-REALLY!-OOPS! (Or, “MEET ME AT THE FREMONT AT NINE O’CLOCK”). Therein I described my evenings at the PEPPERMILL FIRESIDE LOUNGE. It’s located essentially across the street from where the ‘Stardust’ used to be, if that helps ya. If not, then try these directions: A block or two South of the Riviera, on the same side of the street.
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Below are some paragraphs excerpted from my 2010 ‘Stuffs’ blog bit ‘bout Vegas (Baby!)...

I found myself in the ‘Peppermill Fireside Lounge’ and lovin’ it! I’d heard that this was an Old School Vegas type of bar, and I’d heard right. One of the bartenders told me it is the last casino-free, stand-alone bar on The Strip, that it has been standing in the same place for 39 years and that a couple of scenes from the movie ‘Casino’, involving Sharon Stone, were filmed there. I gotta tell ya, if you’re a watering-hole connoisseur, this is a “must-visit” bar; the low-cut “little black dress” cocktail waitresses are all horny and I was hot! Uhm... ‘scuse me, I meant to say that the cocktail waitresses are all hot and I was... well, you get the idea.
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No lie, I had fun at the Peppermill Lounge. It was great – people were smoking, drinking, talking, and laughing. The Black guy to my left and the blonde bartenderette were talking about deep-sea fishing. No, seriously. (Am I on ‘Candid Camera’?)
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And the platinum blonde to my right was... uhm... she was... hmmm. Well, it may be that I’m insane – certainly this has been suggested before on more than one occasion – but if I were a betting man (which I’m really not, despite my presence in Las Vegas), I would bet that the platinum blonde (PlatBlo) to my right was trying to pick me up. And this despite my recent ultra-short “skeetch” haircut. I mean, I acknowledge that I’ve been out of the hunt for a long time now, but unless I’ve forgotten EVERYTHING ...by gobs, I think she was coming on to me! (Alright, where’s Allen Funt?)

At the lounge, while we watched music videos on the TV screen behind the bar, the Black fisherman (who was going to feel sick as a dog tomorrow, but who was certainly enjoying tonight), the blonde fisherwoman mixologist, PlatBlo and I, found our conversation turning to Donny & Marie Osmond, David and Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett and Rex Smith. Fisherwoman said that when she was young, she had a crush on Donny Osmond and Lou Rawls (sure, I get that; they’re so much alike), and son-of-a-gun if ten minutes later a Lou Rawls music video didn’t play.
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An hour later, when I walked back into Circus-Circus, I would hear Lou Rawls singing “You’re gonna miss my lovin’” through the casino’s sound system. When you have a bunch of coincidences related to Lou Rawls occurring over a short span of time like that, I think it’s called “Synchronsoulcity”. But anyway, I loved the Peppermill Fireside Lounge and knew that I would return before this trip was over.

I recommend the ‘PEPPERMILL FIRESIDE LOUNGE’ to everyone, but these videos are for you, Robin:

32 seconds in paradise - the Peppermill Fireside Lounge



Fireside Lounge @ The Peppermill



Raves & Faves: Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge



There’s a Peppermill in Reno also...
but ‘Real Men’ don’t drink out of straws:
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Pink And Blue Firesidedly Yours...

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

'IT’S BEEN A LONG TWO YEARS' (Or, 'HOW DID I GET HERE?')

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So, here we idiots in Airheadzona are. It’s the “Dog Days Of Summer” in Phoenix – 108 degrees as I type this. I’ve made plenty of bad decisions in my 54 years, but I just want to strangle myself for having made the BIGGEST mistake of my entire life: moving to Phoenix in May of 1995.

But then I look back and realize that my Pa’s death in 1996 meant I would have been moving from Los Angeles to Phoenix anyway, to help take care of my Ma after Pa earned his freedom from “this world”.

So, in a sense, I had no real choice in the matter; I was leaving L.A. for Phoenix sooner or later.

And my awful job situation is a result of getting screwed over two years ago by an Irish jackasshole.

And then, of course, my living circumstances, or “family life”, was completely altered... again due to no decision on my part.

And over the last few years I’ve lost about $84,000 dollars... not due to any decision on my part. All I had to do was just be here in order to lose that much money. Think how much money I could have lost had I actually been doing something, simply making some decisions about my life!

The last year could have been better, but I didn’t quit this job after Day 5 like my gut instinct told me to. (I even took my company-issued work shirts with me on that Friday, intending to turn them in again at the end of the day. But I made the mistake of deciding to “stick this job out”. In hindsight, I realize I should have told them to “take this job and stick it”.)

Had I quit after Day 5, on Day 6, I would have accepted the job offer that was suddenly and unexpectedly offered me by “Mister B”. It was a much better job and I would have been able to save up the money to make, today, my nearly lifelong desired move to Reno, Nevada.

But no, but no, but no! I did the “honorable” thing and stuck with this job, and now here I am after one full year of my life – an UTTERLY WASTED year, in which I am poorer for working a full-time job - trying again to get hired by “Mister B”, who offered me a pretty good job on “Day 6” a year ago.

Well, “Mister B” says he’s going to hire me in mid or late September if I can stick with this current job for another month. It would be a fairly good job (by Phoenix standards, anyway), despite the graveyard shifts.

But driving home from work last Friday, nearly drowning in my own sweat because I have no air-conditioning in my truck (you didn’t need that shit in Californ-i-a!), all I could think about was getting back to the house and to that cold gun can of ‘Big Flats 1901’ beer that was waiting for me in the fridge. (It costs about $3.50 per six-pack at Walgreen’s Pharmacy, and it was all I could afford last week.)
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And then, on my drive home, I was suddenly overcome by this deep foreboding feeling that “...Well, here we go again”. I’m going to get screwed over again. “Mister B” isn’t going to come through on his job offer, for one reason or another. Or else... “Mister B” will hire me, and it will unexpectedly turn out to be a carppy job after all. ...Or, “Mister B” will hire me and I’ll get laid-off three months later. One way or another, this will turn out to be another bad situation/decision for me. I have lost my faith.

I don’t mean that I have lost my faith in God. God IS, and God is GOOD! I’m too smart to think otherwise. But I have lost my faith in my ability to make a good decision and/or lost my faith in the idea that my life in “this world” is ever going to improve. I’m tired. And the thing I’m most tired of is the unceasing disappointments in my life. I look back at the 54 years and all I see is 42 years of disappointments.

This weekend, I played the song ‘Long Year’ by Todd Snider about 665 times. It’s become my new personal theme song. (On a positive note, at one point while I was paying bills and balancing my checkbook on Saturday, the ending of this song actually made me laugh quite healingly.)


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I came in off a dead end street
Walked in slow and took a back row seat
I knew I had nothing new to say
So many people looking so burned out
I couldn't help feeling bad about just having to be there anyway

A friend of a friend from work came in
I never have known what to make of him
He'd always seemed to be so insincere to me
You know I've always been afraid of a 12-Step crowd
They laugh too much and talk too loud
Like they all know where everyone should be

It's been a long, a long, long year
It's been a long, a long, long year
How did I get here?

They were talking in a circle, I was by myself
Everyone was telling everyone how they felt
It felt like so long since I've been young 
As the circle kept moving its way to the back
I was wondering what I was gonna say, in fact
I still didn't know as it rolled off my tongue

It's been a long, a long, long year
It's been a long, a long, long year
How did I get here?

I didn't say a word all the way to my car
But a little later on that night at the bar
I was telling everybody how strange my day had been
They said, “Brother, all you need is another shot”.
So I threw one down and said, “Thanks a lot”.
As I thought to myself: Well, here we go again.

It's been a long, a long, long year
It's been a long, a long, long year
How did I get here? 

“Something” tells me that one year from today, I will be looking back at August 18th, 2013, and realizing that I have wasted yet another year of my life. I sense that one year from today, I will be thinking: “I should have just sold some of my collectibles and made that move to Reno in 2013.”

Faith... it’s a terrible thing to lose.

Incidentally, Barack Obama is a genuine Marxist. (I figured I ought to say something political to justify this blog bit’s presence on my Political/Product Review blog.)

I’m not looking for sympathy nor comments (please "hold them"). I just needed to get this off my chest in public, and this blog bit was a long, a long, draggy-assed way of saying that I’m just “Happy To Be Here”.

How did I get here?

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

‘BATTLE OF THE BANDS’ NUMBER 2 (Or, ‘FLEETWOOD MAC VS. THE ROCKETS’)

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Republican Vs. Democrat, Male Vs. Female, War Vs. Peace, Light Vs. Dark, Good Vs. Evil, Man Vs. Machine, Love Vs. Hate, Dog Vs. Cat, Sun Vs. Moon, Brain Vs. Brawn, Oscar Vs. Grammy, Angel Vs. Demon, Laurel Vs. Hardy, Beer Vs. Wine, TV Vs. Radio, Pitcher Vs. Batter, Paper Vs. Plastic, Reality Vs. Fantasy, Yeshua Vs. Beelzebub, Conservative Vs. Liberal, You Vs. Me, House Vs. Senate, Offense Vs. Defense, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Spy Vs. Spy, Fischer Vs. Spassky, W.C. Fields Vs. Sobriety, Harold Gimpy, Jr. Vs. Sheldon J. Pismire, Rock Vs. Paper Vs. Scissors, Islam Vs. Everything, Singer Vs. Singer, Band Vs. Band...
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THE  BATTLE  OF  THE  BANDS!



Shoop-Shooby –
Shooby-duh-Dooby-Doop-Dooby-Dooby-Doo-Wah –
Buh-Doo-Wah!

Yes, it’s time once again for ‘Battle Of The Bands’ (BOTB). 

EUGENE MARTONE VS. JACK BUTLER

This time we have the original 1969 Fleetwood Mac song 
OH WELL going up against the 1979 cover version of that song by The Rockets.

GODZILLA VS. KING KONG
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Few bands have survived as many line-up changes as Fleetwood Mac, and probably only The Eagles and Elton John (and perhaps Steve Miller) get played as often on ‘Classic Rock’ radio stations today as does Fleetwood Mac.

But ‘The Mac’ was not born as the Pop Music Hit-Making Machine it became. In fact, Fleetwood Mac started out as a late 1960s British Blues-Rock band whose major creative force was Peter Green, a former guitarist of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers band. Along with the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, Peter Green was considered one of Rock music’s original ‘Guitar Gods’. Blues legend B.B. King once said of Peter Green: "He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats."

Many years and musicians later, in 1975/’76, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green was 5-years gone) scored 3 ‘Top 40’ hits. In 1977, they released their ‘Rumours’ album which yielded 4 Billboard ‘Top Ten’ hit songs, and the recording is still the third best-selling album of all time.

[Personal Note: I went to see Fleetwood Mac perform just North of Los Angeles in the Winter of 1976. My best buddy Eric was pretty much in love with Stevie Nicks and he and I attended many Rock concerts together. It was an outdoor “festival-style” seating scenario (meaning: the sooner you arrive, the better seats you’ll get). We got there very early, so Eric could get as close as possible to Stevie Nicks. ...

The newspaper ad said that The Mac would play “rain or shine”. For a couple hours we stood there in line, while the sky periodically rained on us. And then came the announcement: “Due to the weather, Fleetwood Mac will not be performing. Your ticket costs will be refunded to you.” The reason I know for sure that this occurred in ’76, just before The Mac’s massive commercial break-out in 1977, is because while in line, all I could talk about was the new Styx album, ‘Crystal Ball’, which had been released no more than a week earlier, on October 1, 1976.]

Fleetwood Mac @ Wikipedia:


Anyway, in 1969, long before Fleetwood Mac changed personnel and became Pop Music superstars, they released the Blues-based Rock song ‘OH WELL’, written and sung by their ‘Guitar God’ Peter Green. Listen:



In the 1970s, some songs were known as “Album Cuts”, “Deep Cuts”, or “FM Hits”. These were songs that did not make the Billboard ‘Top 40’ charts (i.e., AM Radio Hits) but were well-known to FM Radio listeners (e.g., Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is pretty universally regarded as the “anthem” of my generation and it is known to every single person my age, but ‘Stairway To Heaven’ was an “FM Hit” and never charted on Billboard’s ‘Top 40’).


In 1979, a Detroit, Michigan, band called The Rockets released a cover version of the old Fleetwood Mac song ‘OH WELL’ on their album ‘Turn Up The Radio’. I was under the impression that The Rockets’ version was strictly an “FM Hit”, but in doing a wee bit o’ research for this BOTB blog bit, I discovered that ‘Oh Well’ by The Rockets actually got to #30 on Billboard’s ‘Top 40’ chart, making The Rockets an official “One-Hit Wonder”.

The Rockets @ Wikipedia:

Listen to The Rockets’ cover of the Fleetwood Mac original and decide which version you like best:



I welcome EVERYONE – whether I know you or not -  to vote for your favorite of these two songs in the comment section below. And feel free to tell us WHY you chose one song over the other. (NOTE: Comment Moderation is activated. All submitted comments that do not transgress "Ye Olde Comment Policy" will be posted as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.)
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After voting here, I suggest - actually I insist - you pop over to FAE’s ‘Far Away Series’ blog and see which songs she has chosen and vote there also. (If her BOTB blog bit isn’t posted yet, pour yourself two shots of ‘Grand Marnier’ over ice – do it twice – and then return to ‘Far Away Series’ to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.)

Voice Your Vote @ ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.

RIDDLER VS. BATMAN

Find The True Meaning Of Christmas: Win Money!-Money!-Money! Spectacular, Super-Colossal Neighborhood Christmas Lights And Display Contest!

Find The True Purpose For Voting On ‘Battle Of The Bands’ Installments: Win Compact Discs!-Compact Discs!-Compact Discs! Spectacular, Super-Colossal Blogosphere ‘Battle Of The Bands’ Voting Contest!

Here’s The Deal: By voting on the ‘Battle Of The Bands’ blog bits here and at the ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ blog, you can win the compact disc of your choice. Every 4 months, FarAwayEyes and I will add up how many times you voted on our blogs, and the person who has participated most often (i.e., submitted the most eligible votes) will get to select one compact disc that contains any one of the songs that were included in either of our ‘Battle Of The Bands’ installments (“Super-Colossal” expensive boxed-sets, imports, and ‘out-of-print’ compact discs not included). In the event of a tie, the names will be put in a Stetson and the name drawn from the cowboy hat will win the CD.

Rules For Voting: FAE and I post new ‘Battle Of The Bands’ blog bits on the 1st and 15th of each month. We also post our own personal votes for the respective blog bits on the 7th and 21st of each month (i.e., six days later). For your vote to be counted, it must be submitted in our comment sections BEFORE we post our own votes (BEFORE we make our own votes known on the 7th and the 21st).

Every 4 months there will be a new compact disc winner. In other words, ‘Battle Of The Bands’ #1 was posted on August 1, 2013, so at the end of November, one of you lucky voters is going to win a CD that includes one of the songs we’ve featured in our ‘Battle Of The Bands’ installments (you get to choose, and it doesn’t matter if the song won or lost its battle – if you like it, it’s YOURS!)

Alright, now... VOTE ON and ROCK ON! (while we 
‘Count On...’)


~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Links To Previous 'BOTB' Installments:
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YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

‘AMERICA’S BEST BEERS IN 2013’ (Or, ‘BEST BREW? SAYS WHO?’)



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Five weeks back or so, I stumbled upon the American Homebrewers Association website where I found a listing of their reader’s poll results for ‘Best Beers In America – 2013 Edition’. You can read the entire page for yourself by clicking HERE.
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I was pretty surprised by some of the beers that “made the grade”. Frankly, as I told my Brother Nappy, “It’s a weird list”.

Of course, everyone’s going to have their own preferences when it comes to beer, so I suppose, logically, most beer drinkers would probably think the list was “weird” when it comes to certain inclusions and omissions.

I toyed with the idea of posting the poll results here at F-FFF and then providing some of my own commentary, but I just never got around to it. However, a recent comment section discussion with my friend Bryan Pedus of the ‘A BEER FOR THE SHOWER’ blog has inspired me to finally hop to it.
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Excerpted from the American Homebrewers Association site [with STMcC remarks added]:
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For the past 11 years, we've asked Zymurgy readers to share a list of their 20 favorite beers that are commercially available in the United States. We tallied the votes, and here are the results for the 2013 Best Beers in America survey.

TOP-RANKED BEERS

For 2013, we have a five-peat! Russian River's ‘Pliny the Elder’, a double IPA, claimed the top spot for the fifth straight year. Finishing second for the fourth straight year was Bell's ‘Two Hearted Ale’, an IPA. (T indicates tie)
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1. Russian River ‘Pliny the Elder’

STMcC: This beer is now nearly legendary. Brewed in California and not available here in Phoenix, Brother Nappy and I decided to pick up a six-pack of it when we took a trip back to Los Angeles in May of 2012. Easier said than done! We couldn’t find a single store that had it in stock; at one place on the “North Side” of Santa Monica we were told that shipments of Pliny The Elder are irregular, and it is often sold out within hours of arrival at the store.

You’d think the brewer would want to increase production to keep up with demand, but maybe it’s that same difficulty in getting it that keeps the demand up.

Anyway, Nappy and I found it on tap at the famous Santa Monica bar ‘Father’s Office’.

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What did we think? Well, it’s a ‘Double I.P.A.’ alright, and a vastly overrated one. We each had one glass of it twice, one day apart. It wasn’t bad, but Nappy and I were both complaining 15 to 20 minutes after we’d finished the beer that the taste of it was still in our mouths! That flavor just keeps going and going and going... Pliny The Elder is the damned Energizer Bunny of Beers!
2. Bell's ‘Two Hearted Ale’

STMcC: Some of you may remember my series on this blog titled Blind Beer Taste Tests (Or, Beer Battles: Who Hops To The Top?). Well, the second Blind Beer Taste Test that Brother Nappy and I ever conducted occurred on Sept. 18, 2011, and in that “blindfolded taste test”, Prescott Brewing Company’s ‘Ponderosa I.P.A.’ kicked the hell out of Bell’s ‘Two-Hearted Ale’. ‘Ponderosa IPA’ moved on in the competition (making it into The Final 8), and ‘2-Hearted’ was never invited to 'The Dance' again. So that tells ya what I think of this list’s #2 ale: Overtooted and Overtwoted.
3. Dogfish Head ‘90 Minute IPA’

STMcC: We’ve had it. Nappy and I both like the ‘60 Minute IPA’ better.
4. Bell's ‘Hopslam Ale’
5. Ballast Point ‘Sculpin IPA’
6. Founders Breakfast Stout
7. ‘Arrogant Bastard Ale’

STMcC: It’s not bad; not great either.
8. Sierra Nevada ‘Ruthless Rye IPA’

STMcC: Fantastic, artistic beer bottle label! And the beer’s fairly decent (for Sierra Nevada), but the best Rye beer I’ve had so far (and by a LARGE margin) is Bear Republic Brewing Company’s ‘Hop Rod Rye’.
T9. Lagunitas ‘Sucks’

STMcC: Quite possibly my very favorite beer. I guess it always depends somewhat upon my mood du jour, but this one – with the upfront explosion of grapefruit and citrus, and the aftertaste, when the delayed-reaction hop bomb goes off – just blew my mind after one sip. (I even saved the empty bottle and sneaked it out of the bar with me when I stumbled out the “In” door.)

Link to a Video Review:
T9. Sierra Nevada ‘Celebration Ale’

STMcC: Actually, this one is pretty good. Probably my favorite amongst the Sierra Nevada line of brews.
T9. Stone ‘Ruination IPA’

STMcC: This is one of those “hophead hop bombs” that are just all hops and bitterness with no balance. Had it once; once was enough. Stone’s ‘Ruination’ would love to be Lagunitas’ ‘Sucks’ when it grows up and matures into a great beer.
T12. North Coast ‘Old Rasputin’
T12. Sierra Nevada ‘Torpedo Extra IPA’

STMcC: My Brother Nappy likes this one quite a bit (it’s on his ‘Top Ten Beers’ list) but, to me, there’s something a little “harsh” about it that rubs me the wrong way slightly. It’s drinkable for sure, but there are plenty I like much better.
T12. Stone ‘Enjoy By IPA’
15. Sierra Nevada ‘Pale Ale’

STMcC: You gotta give Sierra Nevada credit for being at the forefront of the Craft Brewing movement in America back in 1980. And for some years, this beer was one of the best games in town. But it’s been well surpassed by so many excellent brews that have been invented and have now nearly flooded the Craft Beer market. The nearly countless examples of fine beers representing so many styles and hybrids that one can now explore leaves Sierra Nevada ‘Pale Ale’ in the dust, like a bypassed but respected dinosaur.

In it’s day, Sierra Nevada ‘Pale Ale’ was a Superstar. And according to this poll result, it seems plenty of beer-drinkers still think it shines.
16. ‘The Alchemist Heady Topper’
T17. Firestone Walker ‘Double Jack’
T17. Founders Kentucky ‘Breakfast Stout’
19. Oskar Blues ‘Dale's Pale Ale’

STMcC: The first time I had this beer, I got it on tap at ‘RIP’s Bar’, a really cool A-Frame watering hole here in Phoenix. The beer was good enough that I tried it again later in 6-pack cans. Then I pretty much dismissed it. The beer? A “B”. The bar? An “A”.

20. Firestone Walker ‘Wookey Jack’
T21. Bear Republic ‘Racer 5 IPA’

STMcC: This one’s pretty decent. As I recall (too damned lazy to check my notes), this one was in our ‘Blind Beer Taste Tests’ competition, or 'The Dance'. I believe it got eliminated after Round One, but it’s not bad.
T21. Three Floyds ‘Zombie Dust’
T23. Firestone Walker ‘Union Jack IPA’

STMcC: I had this one for the first time on tap at ‘The Main Ingredient’ about a month ago, and it immediately leaped onto my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list. (Shoulda been invited to 'The Dance'.)

T23. Lagunitas ‘Little Sumpin' Ale’

STMcC: This one faced off against ‘BIG SKY IPA’ in the Championship Round of our ‘Blind Beer Taste Tests’ competition. [See my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list below.]
25. Goose IslandBourbon County Stout’
26. ‘Surly Furious’
T27. Deschutes ‘Black Butte Porter’
T27. Green Flash ‘West Coast IPA’

STMcC: This one is on Brother Nappy’s ‘Top Ten Beers’ list. It was my slightly less enthusiastic grades that knocked it out of ‘The Dance’.
T27. Troegs ‘Nugget Nectar’
30. Dogfish Head ‘60 Minute IPA’

STMcC: A solid I.P.A. Not close to the best, but pretty darned good if I.P.A.’s are in your wheelhouse.
31. Russian River ‘Consecration’
T32. Boulevard Tank ‘7 Farmhouse Ale’
T32. New Belgium ‘La Folie’
T32. Russian River ‘Supplication’
35. ‘Avery the Maharaja’
36. Lagunitas ‘IPA’

STMcC: This one’s kind of “hit” or “a little miss” with me, depending upon my mood. But overall, Nappy and I both think it’s solid. (I believe I slightly prefer Lagunitas’ ‘New DogTown’ Pale Ale though – which would be an I.P.A. to many less hop-forward breweries.)
37. Stone ‘IPA’

STMcC: It’s not bad, but overrated.
38. Odell ‘IPA’

STMcC: I first had this one on tap at ‘GRANNY’S CLOSET’ in snowy Flagstaff. It was a beautiful citrusy-hoppy thing, and I’ve been a fan ever since. [See my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list below.]

 T39. Great Lakes ‘Edmund Fitzgerald’
T39. Left Hand ‘Milk Stout’
T39. Russian River ‘Pliny the Younger’
T42. Odell ‘Myrcenary’

STMcC: Odell is one of my very favorite breweries (I’ve yet to have an Odell ‘Anything’ that I didn’t like to some degree or another). I’ve seen this brew available many times, and the VERY NEXT time I see it, I’m-a try it!
T42. Russian River ‘Blind Pig I.P.A.’
T42. Stone ‘Sublimely Self-Righteous’
45. Firestone Walker ‘Parabola’
T46. Ommegang ‘Hennepin Saison Ale’
T46. Left Hand ‘Milk Stout Nitro

STMcC: Although I’m not a fan of Dark Beers, I tried this one once, only because a good friend of mine is named Nitro. (I like the Nitro person a lot more than I do the Nitro beer.)
T48. Ommegang ‘Three Philosophers’
T48. Deschutes ‘The Abyss’
T48. Green Flash ‘Palate Wrecker’

STMcC: I think I may have tried this one a few years ago, but if so, it obviously left no positive impression on my mind, so... there ya go.
T48. Lagunitas ‘Brown Shugga'
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Of the 51(?) beers listed above, I have definitely tried 20 of them. Although there are some A-list brews on that list, based on my 20 experiences, I find the list a bit “weird”.

Which brews (as of this date) would make my personal Top Ten Beers list? Well, you’ll find my list below, in no particular order:

Lagunitas Brewing Co. ‘SUCKS’ (Double I.P.A.?)

If I were about to be executed by firing squad, I’d request a final cigarette. When the commander brought me the cigarette, I’d tell him, “No, thanks; I don’t smoke. Can I have a final beer instead?” And then I’d request Lagunitas ‘SUCKS’, which is so flavorful that it actually glows a brilliant orange from some sort of unfathomable internal lighting system:
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Big Sky Brewing Co. ‘BIG SKY I.P.A.’

This one actually came in First Place in the ‘Blind Beer Taste Test’ (‘The Dance’) challenge, due primarily to perfect hops-malt balance. A WAY UNDERRATED beer. Don’t believe it? Try tasting it against any other beer while you are “in the dark” and don’t know one beer from another.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. ‘LITTLE SUMPIN’ ALE’

This one faced off against ‘Big Sky IPA’ in the Championship Round and lost - much to the surprise of Brother Nappy and me. A fantastic wheat beer, especially when served extremely cold. (Not just ‘Top Ten’, but ‘Top Five’ for me.)

Lagunitas Brewing Co. ‘HOP STOOPID’

I’m sure this is a Double or Imperial I.P.A. (or ‘DIPA’). Bold, Bitter, but drinkable and... enjoyable. (I like this one more than Nappy does, but then I like hoppy and bitter better’n he does, so that makes sense.)

Prescott Brewing Co. ‘PONDEROSA I.P.A.’

A Final 8 competitor in ‘The Dance’. I once wrote a VERY SATIRICAL and (I thought) VERY FUNNY review of this beer. You can read that HERE, but don’t take it seriously because... I love ‘Ponderosa I.P.A.’
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Four Peaks Brewing Co. ‘HOP KNOT’

Four Peaks makes a number of locally available brews of different styles. ALL of them are mediocre, EXCEPT for ‘Hop Knot’, which made it to The Final Four in ‘The Dance’. This is not the beer “for every occasion”, but when you want to dive into something deep, ‘Hop Knot’ is the hop pool you’re lookin’ for. (The best thing you’ll find in Airheadzona, other than me.)

Odell Brewing Co. ‘ODELL I.P.A.’

Odell is one of the most reliable breweries, and their IPA is the best thing I’ve found from them (although everything I’ve tried was quite good). Odell is short for “O, Dellicious!”. Ahhh, whatevah.

Bear Republic Brewing Co. ‘RED ROCKET ALE’

‘Red Rocket Ale” – OUTTA SIGHT! The best “Red” since Maureen O’Hara!

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. ‘UNION JACK I.P.A.’

Brother Nappy ordered it recently from the tap at ‘The Main Ingredient’. After two sips from his glass, I knew I would order it next. After one full glass, I knew I would buy a six-pack of it at ‘Total Wine & More’. This one leaped onto my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list just within the last month. Hoppy. Bitter (but not “too”). Great.

Deschutes Brewing Co. ‘MIRROR POND’ PALE ALE

Pretty much the perfect “anytime, any-mood, go-to” beer. There’s a unique “ishness” to it – as in, Deliciousishness. (I TOLD YOU it was “unique”, didn’t I?)

You want something fairly light? ...‘Mirror Pond’. You want something with some “there” there? ...‘Mirror Pond’. You want to drink all night and never get “tired”? ...‘Mirror Pond’. You want something that will turn into a Roast Beef Sandwich at Midnight and into a Beautiful and Willing Blonde at 3:00 AM? ...Let me know if you find it!

No, seriously... If Lagunitas ‘SUCKS’ is my beer of choice when facing the firing squad in the 11th hour of Execution, then Deschutes ‘MIRROR POND’ is my beer of choice when facing a solitary lifetime alone on a lonely Island with no one else there except me all by myself, lonely, and all alone (unless you can find me that Roast Beef Sandwich/Willing Blonde thang).

Where does all this leave Odell Brewing Company’s ‘ODELL RED ALE’ (one of my former favorite brews)? I dunno. Making love to Maureen O’Hara’s leftovers, I suppose. (That would be me... in my dreams. ...Yeah, you know which kind of dreams... ‘RIT’ dreams.)

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~ Stephen T. McBrewski

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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