Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick and Crappy Coffee House Reviews: Dutch Bros Coffee.

Dutch Bros Coffee.

Sign me up.

I go to Dutch Bros Coffee when I remember that they exist.  In between the hustle and bustle of everyday life, one might overlook this tiny booth that serves up hot drinks and cool smoothies.  They sit in parking lots, in between tall buildings and right in the middle of wherever a coffee-shed can fit.  The outside really does remind me of a greasy food truck, or an independent lemonade stand that OMG SERVED COFFE E INSTEAD OF LEMONAIDE!!11

I really should have taken a photo.


It's more expensive than Starbucks.  I don't mind paying an extra twenty cents, though -- the adorable "windmill" motif is well worth the price of admission.

The few that I've seen are standalone buildings, cute little huts that serve coffee and sugary stuff, with a walk up window and a high emphasis on a quick drive-thru.  My only qualm with saying you have a "fast drive-thru" is that, whether you really are super breakneck with pouring cappuccinos and lattes, shit still takes forever if you've got eighteen cars in front of you.  Just sayin'.

I don't think I've ever walked up to the window, I've only ever driven, so that's what I did today in my air conditioned vehicle (it's 800 degrees outside, yay Arizona!)  It's a small place, and it only seems that only two people are ever working inside the little shack of a shop.  Not much to say about that observation, though.  Just stating the facts.

Notice the speed of which I snapped a photo of the drive up menu, narrowly escaping the sights of the cashier/barista.  She almost caught me, for real.  I shudder to think of what THE FUCK I could have said to explain why it looked like I was taking a photo of her ass.

Side note, the people who work here are, without a doubt, the most chipper and animated people running a coffee business.  Unless Dutch Bros strictly hires the most upbeat and positive human to grave this fair land, I assume they're given a few lessons in customer appreciation.  Because, boy howdy, they appreciate the hell out of you.

A lot of places do this.  It's totally cool and a great sales tool, but it's to the point where the happiness is absurd, and the last thing you want are bright smiles and sprightly conversation.  They corner you with their words.  They'll ask, they'll pry, they'll seem genuinely interested in your life, your job and what you've got planned for the weekend.

It's all fake and over the top, but I can totally get why people would love this.  Having a friend serve you a cup of Joe is kinda nice, rather than a raving asshole who hates your face.  I get it's a sales tactic and all is well and people laugh and we all walk away happy, can kinda get weird, ya know?

Side-side-note, rain or shine, it always seems to be run by two unabashedly perky and cute girls.  Good on you, Dutch Bros.  Good on you.

Their coffee is good.  It's ALL good.  Everywhere I go, I can only assume that anything besides a "small with cream" is good, too, because that's all I seem to get.  Aside from plain black coffee, I think it's the perfect prop to test flavor, taste and consistency.  But I ain't doing that shit.

Not sure exactly how the Dutch do it, but they do it well.  I see a lot of pressing and steaming and laboring behind the counter, so I know the coffee isn't just coming from a giant vat of brew that's been sitting on the shelf for six hours.

Pros: "Sippy cup" type lid keeps spillage to a minimum, while maximizing content-to-mouth-ratio.  Which is, essentially, me saying the exact same thing...but twice.

Cons: It looks like you're drinking out of a sippy cup.

I'm buzzed and my fingers are loose.  Time to write about the good stuff.  Time to write about caped crusaders, magical robots and shirtless He-Men.

Time to write about the Phoenix Comicon.

See you soon!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm trying to save money.


By eliminating all the junk in my life that I don't need.  Or at least for the time being.

What I'm trying to do is save up for a new guitar, a vintage guitar, a guitar to rule all other guitars.  If being in Flying Blanket Studios has taught me anything, it's that a vintage sounds from a vintage instrument is exactly what I've been missing, and acquiring a Gibson Les Paul from the 80's or earlier is, like...super important right fucking now.

Sucks they cost, like, super right fucking a lot.

So far, I've done everything I could to quickly raise money, which borders on the absurd and far-fetched.  I'm trying to sell some of my other guitars I don't use, but will not bother to post on Craigslist for fear of the Craigslist Killer stabbing me in a deserted parking lot.  I've made attempts to sell everything at a guitar shop willing to buy gear, but was quickly squashed when I figured out I had to talk to someone.  In person.

Now, I've organized all of my dusty and useless toys in a shot to stuff a box, neatly wrap up and sell to anyone willing to buy a lump of broken GI Joe's and porcelain Buddha statuettes.  I figure I'll go straight to the source, pawning off my treasures to Howard, our local buddy who dabbles in the distribution of used toys, comics and  ANYTHING, or maybe hock my wares online to the first five people daring to purchase a mystery bin of God-knows-what.  I'd sell a generous sized package for twenty bucks, sight unseen, filled with...whatever.

Sounds cool, right?

Turns out, I can't bear parting with my stuff, even if you did think my idea was somehow enticing.  It's a dump of dumb and archaic stuff ruining my ability to walk a straight line in my apartment, but it's my stuff. 

I've cut out my daily, useless spending, which ranges from impulse buys on Amazon to the eighteen cups of coffee at Starbucks.  I sometime even disgust myself.

This is all well and fine, and I but I'm starting to lose steam to generate quick cash.  You know when you get so hyped on something, and it seems like it's the only thing you can think about?  Haunting your thoughts, driving you into madness?  And then,out of no where, you just stop giving a shit?  Because I'm there.  I really don't give a shit anymore.

Determination is waning, excitement is dwindling.  I really, really wanna buy all the little things I like in place of the one, big thing I want.  I'm bad at saving, I know, but I'm worse at waiting.  How do normal people do this?

My only hope is to acknowledge that there is no hope.

...or is there?


To curve my cravings, I bought The Essential X-Men volume 1, a giant slab of twenty, black and white issues, all for the low price of twenty bucks.  In fact, it was used, and was only twelve.  By reading an issue a night, I won't be tempted to buy anything other than a guitar for at least two weeks.  It'll keep me grounded, focused and firmly placed into the 1970's X-Men Universe, where Wolverine smokes and Cyclops wears pirate boots.

What's the point of all this?  Do I really expect anyone to care?  Not in the slightest.  My only goal is to highlight the most offensively awful artwork ever committed to paper:

It's just so..."ughh."  I hate this style.  Colossus looks like a pile of rocks and Cyclops needs to be slapped.  Whipped up real quick, meticulously crafted art, who knows?  In my infinite absurdity, I even considered hiding it under my bed, never to be seen again just because the cover bothered me.  Never mind the eight-million pages in between, if I can't get past the front page, it's a no-go with moi.  I'll have to live with it, though.  I'LL HAVE TO GET OVER IT.

Which I did.  Unfortunately, my fussy, thought-out plan to save money went right into the toilet, because last weekend was the Phoenix Comicon.  Hundreds of vendors, hundreds of things to buy, hundreds of things I now own.

Why do I even bother?

See ya next week!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Oh, and pre-order DAYGLO NECROS right-this-very-instant to snag yourself four, limited edition postcards of...who else? Calabrese!  They'll be signed, kissed, chewed on, whatever you so desire.  Think of it as a batch of oversized baseball cards you won't be embarrassed by when someone figures out you don't like baseball.  Think of it as the perfect sized snapshot you can shove in the frame of your mirror to fool people into thinking one of us is your boyfriend away at war.

I will admit, that would be creepy.  But so what?

Also, if you're wondering what I think you're wondering, then yes, we are posing in front of a giant glacier.

CALABRESE - Believe in Rock and Roll!

CALABRESE - Believe in Rock and Roll!

CALABRESE - Believe in Rock and Roll!

CALABRESE - Believe in Rock and Roll!

CALABRESE - Believe in Rock and Roll!

Hit up to get your pre-order on today!

Monday, May 14, 2012

"The Dead Don't Rise."

Well, yeah.

Part 1 of our "Preview the New Songs Before the Album is Out and Ultimately Uploaded to Pirate Bay," this is a song off of DAYGLO NECROS.  It's called, "The Dead Don't Rise."

We wrote it...hell, I'm not sure when we wrote it.  Or how we wrote it.  I vaguely remember coming up with the chorus riff while laying in bed, while using some of my favorite chords for the verses.  Why are those seemingly random and unremarkable guitar chords my favorite?  Have you listened to the song yet?  BECAUSE THAT'S WHY.

Stay tuned for next month -- we'll be posting another song to blow your mindballs!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quick and Crappy Coffee House Reviews: Lo-Fi Cafe.

I went to the Lo-Fi Coffee last week.  I went there the week before that, too.  I've been there three times.  I think I like this place.

I first heard about Lo-Fi Coffee during our time recording our new album.  Between bouts of singing and strumming and frantically writing last minute lyrics, I needed to fuel up.  Cold sandwiches and water can only go so far to energize, so as soon as we entered Studio Thunderdome, I was on the lookout for a good cup of black blood. 

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel guilty about going to Lo-Fi Coffee.  You see, Bob Hoag, the recording engineer and producer on our record, "Dayglo Necros" (what a plug!) insisted we go to another coffee shop located right down the road.  "Don't go anywhere else," he warned.  "You order up a brew from anywhere but there, you are dead to me!" he screamed.  Turns out, you tell me to not press the red button, I will make absolute sure I will press that red button.  

Actually, it's because of their store hours.  Nameless Coffee Shop (which I won't mention the name, 'cause I'm sure I'll review it later -- don't wanna jump the gun, ya know?) was either open for a tiny bit, inside a window of whatever-hours-they-felt-like-making-up-that-day, or just plain closed.  Granted, the few times I was there, it was most delicious and positively quaint, featuring an outdoor patio and a wood paneled, Hobbit-like den where you could sit back and pretend that you didn't actually just spend five bucks on a latte. 

It is what it is.  When you can't supply the demand, you have to make your way to the next establishment.  Which, conveniently, was right down the street.

Located near the studio near the other coffee place, we have ourselves Lo-Fi Coffee.  It sits aside the Nile Theater, a venue where local and national acts play themselves into a stupor.  Crowds go wild.  People dance and party.  So on and so forth.

Calabrese has only played there once, but in previous, highschool-era bands, I played here a lot.  At any rate, I'm sure anyone could play here.  If you aren't rockin' the upstairs "main stage," you can absolutely play down in the dark, musty basement.  Which I have.  A lot.  

It's not bad, though.  A great spot to hone your chops and to achieve that "intimate" feel.  Believe me, nothing says "warm and cozy" like sweat dripping from the ceiling and into your mouth.  

So yeah, we now have a coffee joint to accompany our live shows.  And if that wasn't enough, the Lo-Fi doubles as a venue in itself.  Set up in the corner, pluck that acoustic and get wired.  Get a cappuccino.  I think I'll get a cappuccino.  

Of course, they have every liquid you'd expect in place that sells coffee -- you know how it goes.  Now, food wise?  I only ever saw food once, ranging from a small plate of vegan-friendly muffins and pre-packaged biscotti.  I felt so alternative and hip. 

Their Secret Weapon, though, is a bizarre science-lab looking device that brews a single cup of coffee in a mere couple of hours.  Priced at ten bucks a pop, you're given a chance to experience...I don't know.  I cup of coffee that took forever to drip.  It's so absurd and unnecessary.  I'm in love.

Honestly, really delicious.  I don't expect much with cappuccinos, since they're either too salty or lacking the right "froth to espresso" ratio, but the Lo-Fi exceeded and prevailed.  I received an abundant amount of creamy foam atop my drink.  I'm addicted to this milky  swirl.  I would die for this globule of lather.

The only thing that sucks is that if you're paying with card, you sign on a converted iPad, with a big, bold TIP OPTION at the end of the transaction.  Tip a buck, tip two bucks, hell, type in 39723 dollars and tip your heart out!  Now, I could be paranoid, but I swear, the three times I was here, I could just feel the cashier's eyes as I ever so gently ignored this route.  I even tried to look quick and hasty, as to give off the impression that I was in such a hurry that, whoops, I didn't even notice that I could tip!  

I understand tipping.  I really do.  It's a topic of conversation I hate to go on about (someone in the serving business, past or present, will always make a stink) so it's best if I keep my mouth shut.  I'm all for it, I get the concern, but at the same time....I REALLY like playing Devil's Advocate on this one.  "What's the big deal with tipping?  Why do I have to?  If it's such a harsh world in the food industry, why don't the employers pay more?  Why don't the employees just quit and get a higher paying job then?"

That stink people make?  I love it.

That red button I was told not to push?  GODDAMN I AM PUSHING IT.

I've tipped in this situation, purely out of an attempt to not look like a douche, but I can't always.  After paying four bucks for a medium cup of hot liquid, I can't live with paying MORE on top of that, every single time I order.  Some win, some lose.  Sorry, barista who lost.  

I'll get ya next time.

...and I think I'll end on that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Las Vegas Blues.

I don't hate Las Vegas, let that be clear. The sights, the sounds, the erratic debauchery and drunkenness, it's all so magical and unique.

Although, too much of a good thing, as they say, is a bad thing.

When I was younger, our parents took us to Las Vegas for vacation.  Being younger, everything was intense and raw and so adult.  Granted, when you're thirteen, you can't do shit, and the only entertainment lies in grand buffets and the possibility of seeing a pile of smut on the sidewalk.   Through the years, we've played Vegas many times, but it's always show up, play the gig and leave the next morning.  Hell, sometimes we leave that night, with  the constant tease of mild-crime and gambling at our fingertips.  It's ultimately for the best, but damnit, I want my time in Sin City.  I want to experience the scuz and slime and deceit.

Turns out, after my trip, I do not want it ever again.

I spent four days in Las Vegas over the weekend, and midway through the adventure...I simply had enough.  I was beaten.  I was over it.  I was over the scamming, the late nights and the constant yelling and shouting from everyone and everything.

There's no denying it, I went apeshit the first night I arrived in town.  I wasn't yet aware of how much of a gauntlet I'd be running through for the next few afternoons.

I freshened up in a hotel modeled after a castle, grabbed my wallet and hit the streets.  The first thing we did was plain and obvious -- drink until our eyes bled.

Sure, it's an immature way to get your kicks, but where else in this great country of ours can you legally booze it up everywhere and anywhere?  There's no better feeling than to stop in at a Walgreen's for a beer, buy that beer and then proceed to drink that beer in that very Walgreen's.

To further the thrill, we drank in strip malls, alleyways, in front of cops and out of annoyingly large, Eiffel Tower shaped jug.  There was no where we didn't dare disrupt with an open container.  It was as if the city dared us to find a spot where we weren't allowed to have a picnic with a bottle of wine.  We did this with vigor.  We did it with valor.  We did it until four in the morning.

When I woke up, it was game-fucking-over.  No explanation needed, I'm sure.  And I suppose that's where the trouble started.  After such a fun, riotous night in the gutter, the last thing I wanted to do was do it again for three more remaining days.

Las Vegas's patrons are an unruly bunch.  Tourists roam the hotels, gangs of middle-aged XXX dance apologetically to Puerto Rican rap.  Once you've finished wandering through the main drag, there's literally nothing else to do besides being berated by hustlers or over paying to see people pretend they're Elvis and Madonna.  Neither option seemed fun, leaving the table open to watching a Jodie Foster film in the hotel room or chucking twenty dollar bills into slot machines.  At that point, I was already down by a lot, and I don't necessarily need to level up on my Jodie Foster trivia.  I saw the original "Freaky Friday."  I'm good.

But you gotta get up and get out.  You gotta do what's best in Vegas, what's required by law of the land, whether you like it or not.

So I drank until my eyes bled.  Again.

I saw more of the required Things You Must See, laughed at all the Criss Angel's billboards, ate at a buffet that specialized in "stale."  Hey, I hate it, too, but you gotta accept the rules of the game.  Which, apparently, there aren't any, and it's up to you to zig-zag through the maze of wobbling drunk chicks and vomit.  There's a definite charm wafting through the sweaty air, but even that glittering, twinkling charm can wear a bit thin.  See: I wanted to go home and watch the rest of "Game of Thrones."

For whatever reason, I only managed to snap one photograph during the entire trip.  Of a hamburger with an egg on it.

In New York New York, one of the better hotel casinos, lies a stretch of small restaurants for those looking for food that won't force you to miss next month's rent.  I know everything is expensive in Vegas, but wow, don't bother visiting if you're uncomfortable with the idea that a cold, plain bagel will cost you five bucks.  It's true.  Saw it with me own eyes.  Paid for it with me own money.

Looking back, it was fun.  For all much whining and complaining I do, I'll definitely make a return, but with a greater sense of what lies ahead.  I will ignore the passerby, I will never take anything for free from anyone, unless I want to talk about what I just took and how I should, in a roundabout way, pay for it.  Hell, I'll bring my own damn bag of bagels.  SMOTHERED WITH CREAM CHEESE.  TAKE THAT, VEGAS.

So, one night in Vegas is all you need.  Two if you can beat the hangover.  Three if you just stopped giving a fuck.  The Las Vegas Blues ain't gonna kill ya, but it sure is gonna make you feel like shit.