Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ancient Calabrese Artifact Number 28: One Size Fits All Van Halen Cap.

This hat. A red, floppy Van Halen hat-thing.

I don't know what it is about this hat, but I can't get rid of this.  I have zero use for a Van Halen cap, but that's not the point.  It's about memories, man.  It's about a red, Van Halen hat.

Growing up, there were two rooms in the house that I'd sneak into.  Not counting my parent's room around Christmastime, it was either the older brother's room or the older sister's.  Now, naturally, I'd always make it a priority to snoop around in Jimmy's cave.  I'd rifle through his Batman comics, wear his monster masks and dig, ever so carefully, through his dark and sacred closet.  This was a ballsy move on every account, tense and nerve shattering.  If you were legitimately caught in someone else's bedroom, it's plausible that you could construct a web of lies to save your ass, but it's nearly impossible to talk your way out of being in someone else's closet.  You might as well be pant-less and covered in maraschino cherry juice -- you're plain ol' fucked.

So I'd rummage through his closet, loaded with his secrets and most prized possessions.  Since every older brother ever hides the good stuff either on the top shelf or under a pile of dirty clothes, that is where I hit first.  I only ever found a pack of cigarettes or a cassette tape with questionable art, both of which I might have just made up since I can barely even remember what happened last week, but you get the point.  It was always an awesome display of cool shit.  He had the D&D stuff, he had the cut-off denim jacket with a bad-ass skull on the back, he had the friggin' rubber nun-chucks.   It was a magical portal into teenage taboo and wonder, an introduction into a whole new world of demons and fire and fake ninja stuff!  It was the greatest place in the entire world!


My older sister's room.  It was, geographically, on the complete other side of the house.  And it was, of course, unbelievably forbidden and off limits.  Which was fine, since why would I want to go in there?  It was my sister's room, for God's sake, with Garfield stuff and girly VHS and a dumb girl Pillow People.  It was pink and I hated it.

So, yeah.


If only because it was so strange, different and not evil.  It was the total opposite of Older Brother's Room, which intrigued and fascinated me.  I knew in my heart of hearts that nothing beyond her door would be cool, but...what if?  What if there was something cool?  What if the Holy Grail of Dangerous Shit was hidden in my sister's room the entire time?  Switchblades!  Used bullets!  A dead snake with a cherry bomb in it's mouth!


I knew it wasn't possible, but at least I knew.  Everything was foreign to me, which was kinda cool, but it wasn't cutting the cake.  I did, however, get a good glimpse into the fascinating world of hidden diaries, cutesy slippers and George Michael.  Oh, and I guess a Van Halen thing that you wear on your head.

Lots of stuffed animals, too, as well as a TV that pretty much trumped everything.  Man, a TV in your bedroom?  Fuckin' golden.

I don't recall how I ended up with this hat, or why I still have it.  I can't even be sure my older sister even liked Van Halen.  I can't be too sure of anything, really.  Was this bought at a concert?  At the mall?  Did people actually wear this kinda thing? It might have been passed down from older sister to younger sister to me.  Totally possible, since I'll take anything that isn't shit.  Like, literal shit.  Who'd want shit?

Years later, I'm thinking it's the kind of hat bicyclists wear, like Lance Armstrong rocking out to "Hot For Teacher" while pedaling through France.  For the longest time I thought it was...I dunno, for show?  It's just so ugly and floppy and red.  I like the graphic on the side.  I like the weak and paper-like brim.  I like it all and I don't know why.

She had a lot of stuff I'd eventually pocket, but yeah.  It's hard to go any further with this, so I'm gonna bow out before things get weird.  Are things weird yet?  Yeah, I thought so, too.

See ya next week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Treasure Hunting/Spring Cleaning.

Really, I just needed needed some space.  Really, I needed to throw away old socks and that really big pile of paper under the bed.  It was supposed to be so simple, yet it turned into a call to action, a right to spring clean, a total fucking obsession.

My main goal was to get rid of excess clutter to open up some breathing room -- I kinda went overboard.  I went through my jungle of toys, yes, but I also combed through my clothes, my closets and the dreaded Junk Drawer.  I understand the need for the junk drawer, and de-junking it defeats the purpose of it's existence, but what can I say?  I was on a roll.

First thing I did was buy a couple of plastic bins.  These bins are sturdy, solid and mean.  They serve as chests for my treasure, the stuff that's worthy of a grand showcase, yet unavailable for such treatment due to space issues.  I have two closets -- these will go into Closet A, while Closet B will serve as the closet for real-life stuff, like mops and suitcases and tools I don't know how to use.  I hate that closet.  

Of course, I had to grab an extra bin for all the stuff that I will, sadly, get rid of.  There was the immediate garbage bag for trash, another bag for instant clothing donation and then THE BIN OF SADNESS, for everything else that can either be thrown away, sold or donated.  This bin is vague and in limbo.  And probably won't leave my apartment until next Easter.

Make no mistake, it ain't something I wanna do, but the dawning of a new day is upon us and I'm really hyped up on coffee right now.  Plus, those damn bins were kinda pricey SO I'M USING THEM.

Well, there it is.

I started out by dumping everything that isn't attached to a wall onto the floor.  I then sat down and sorted the good from the bad, the literal garbage from the huge collection of dead pens and old movie ticket stubs.  These, of course, aren't garbage.  These are memories.  There are pens from hotel lobbies we've stayed out, ticket stubs from great films I've seen and incredible shows I attended.  They might be pathetic pieces of scrap paper to you, but to me?  They're life.  They're a recollection of my past.  And I can never get rid of them or kick them to the curb and oh my God I'm never going to finish this shit.

Actually, doing this really sucked, but it was fun to rummage though all the debris I haven't even though about it years.  A lot went into the "discard" pile," bit a whole hell of a lot more went into the "Never Leave My Sight Again" pile.
But I did it.  Heaven above, I did it.

Donate?  Sell?  Melt down into a really cool bonfire?  Donating it would be cool, where I can instantly get a free pass to be a dick for at least two weeks, where as trying to sell this much rubble would be staggering.  I even think it would be rad to send it out to a lucky as a contest prize, but even then, the shipping along would destroy me.  I'm entertaining the idea of throwing everything off a really tall building and calling it even.

Just...everything.  There is no rhyme and reason to my buying habits, it's all madness and bizarre.  Lobsters, chattering teeth, Micro Machines Chewbacca play set or something.  I have no idea what I own and what I like and what I'm getting rid of anymore.  Everything is hazy and I'm seeing double.  The pressure to finally clean shop and the constant flow of dust into my lungs has put me over the edge!  I hate crocodiles!  There is no God!  I want my two dollars!

That's where all the good stuff is.  Securely locked away in the closet in it's own bins, festering and molding and radiating awesomeness.  Even after all this straightening up, I still harbor three and half tubs of action figures and God knows what else.  And this is just the stuff that can't fit anywhere else.  Because there's other stuff.  All over the place.

I can't say I'm not bummed.  Not that I'm getting rid of all this crap, or am slowly starting to hide my precious cargo from prying eyes, but because, after all this, I realize I barely did a damn thing.  It's the effort that counts, right?

There is a point to all this -- amidst the rubble, I've uncovered lost items and artifacts from my childhood.  Seemingly meaningless, banal stuff, but really sentimental to me.  It's hard to explain why, as you'll eventually see, but it's excellent blog fodder for future use, so I'm excited that intentionally wasted a Friday night wading in a mound of old receipts and bent Transformers.

But that'll have to wait until next week.  I've got fourterrn more episodes of "Masters of Horror" to get through tonight, and ain't nothin' gonna stop me.

Priorities, man.

Monday, July 16, 2012


 "Ghostwolves," track four off of our new album, is a perfectly good song that, if I had my way, would never have made it on the album.

Of course, as it always is, it just so happens that it turns out to be EVERYONE'S FAVORITE SONG EVER.  This is a prime example of me over thinking while songwriting, as well as me learning to just chill the fuck out.

When writing, I tend to analyze and pick apart every little thing, the smallest and minute details during the songwriting process, which either helps carve songs into musical gold, or just makes shit take forever to get done.  It's a classic double edged sword scenario, it's good and it's bad, it's whatever.

Point is, I thought the song sucked.  Not a hard suck, but a milder and gentler suck.  It was an undefined suck, a suck I couldn't exactly pin down -- it just didn't feel right when we played it live.  We practiced it and it just didn't gel, ya know?  However, to make a long and aimless story short, once we recorded it...everything sounded great.

I can't remember or understand what I was getting at, though.  Perhaps I'm gonna write more, over think less?  Maybe learn to go with the flow?  And was there something about a sword?

Also, what exactly are "ghostwolves?"  Can there be a singular "ghostwolf?"  What would they even look like?  I either don't know or I'm purposely being vague and secretive.  But here's my current artistic interpretation, via notebook that I doodle/write in:

Is that what they really look like? Yes and no. I can't imagine you'd think we'd compose an entire song about an angry ghost in-between two things that clearly aren't wolves, but below, a puffy cloud with evil eyes makes an appearance.  I think this is the ghostwolf, and you think it, too.  It has to be.  It's was an intense and mindless scribble that ended up making sense.  I really should have crossed out his eyes, though.  Or had the ghost riding on top of Mr. Ghostwolf, perhaps in a saddle, perhaps not.  Perhaps I had this all planned out from the very beginning, and if you were to listen to the lyrics of the song, this post and that art would be understood completely.  It really is about saddles and clouds and fluffy looking animals.

Or perhaps not.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garbage Pail Kids/Wacky Packages.

People do nice things for me.  People hold the door when my hands are full, others will let me go ahead of them in the supermarket checkout line when I have less items than they do.  In the most extreme cases, people will give me gifts, trinkets and souvenirs.  And in that event, I simply cannot tuck such a thing into my back pocket and be on my way.  The least I can do is to quickly photograph the treasure, unemotionally trample through three or four paragraphs and call it a day.  Then, and only then, can I close another chapter in my Book of Life.  Or something.

Our good friend, Shasta, who knows quite well our love for all things gross and pun-filled, gave up what I consider to be an incredible duo of stickers.  It takes a lot of heart to pass up on "Wacky Packages," especially if you like Dunkin' Donuts as much as me.  I would never give these away.  Not even to myself.

I really do love Dunkin' Donuts to death.  Say what you will about the coffee, go off about the service and lack of anything remotely decent for your body, whatever.  It's all rubbish compared to...I dunno.  The feel of the place.  The memories.  I love the odd pink/orange color pattern, I love how the logo is still fierce and untouched after all these years and I love how Dunkin' Donuts has prevented me from ever spelling "doughnut" correctly.

So, ya know how they work.  Stickers, decals, whatever of a popular consumer brand so viciously trashed by goofy spoofing.  It's kind of the stupidest/greatest thing ever.

Can you spot the Misfits doughnut?  And the Joey Ramone apple fritter?  He may or may not be an apple fritter, I just didn't want to write the correct spelling of "doughnut" twice.  Or was it three?  It's hurting my head.

Ahh, yes.  "Dumpin' Donuts." "America Gets the Runs From Dumpin."


So, we're done with this?  We're done with this.

Now, for the past week or so I've been digging up and cleaning out the complete mess of toys, comics and eight-thousand GI Joe weapons I've been hoarding in the corner of my room.  Hell, the corner in every room.  As an adult, there comes a time in one's life where you don't wanna live in what looks and feels like a trash heap.  It's not THAT bad, I know, but out come the plastic bins and in go the memories.  It's a half-hearted attempt to free up a lot of space and hopefully get rid of the clutter.  Don't panic, I ain't getting rid of the good stuff:

What will I do with the rest?  I dunno.  What exactly is all the rest?  I'm gonna have to save it for it's own post, sorry, but picture a Kay Bee Toys store directly after a fire, then cleared out and swept up into multiple stacks.  Then shoved under my bed and onto computer desks.  Essentially, it's nonsense.  Broken stuff, unopened stuff, stuff I was barely able to part with, all collected into a pretty hefty case.  WITH SPILLAGE, no less. Now, what to do with it? I can't imagine spending the time on eBay selling plastic lobsters and broken robots, while donating it would be an instant, one-way ticket into the arms of Jesus.  So many options, so many ideas!  I'll save it for next week, so stay tuned.  I can't tell you everything just yet.

Buuuut what I can tell you is that rummaging through my past has dug up a lot of stuff I haven't seen in years.  Some good, some bad, some semi-related to the post at hand.  That being said: 
Garbage Pail Kids memorabilia.

I got this a few years ago, during the welcome boom of retro 80's shit.  We all have the cards, we've all seen the movie, I'm running out of steam here.

Appropriately, I have "Art A Part/Busted Bob." Busted Bob is a little dude who, really, just disintegrates into a mess of baby body parts.  It's a great gag with not a whole lot of setup, a great gift for those looking for a quick...I dunno, thrill?  Are you thrilled over this?  YOU'RE SICK.

I kinda wish I had "Electric Bill/Fryin' Brian."  Nothing wins first place for best conversation piece like a toddler being electrocuted.  Oh, they're key chains?  Why, take the party with you wherever you go!

He works.  He dangles like a pro, nonchalantly lives a life of pain and torment like a champ.

In other news: is that image above, like, really weird looking or what?  It wasn't intended or planned out, and only did I notice it while uploading these photos.  He's alone, desperate and...cheerful.  Altogether a very sinister moment.  It's like I'm looking at a still from a French art film.  Starring Justin Guarini.

Did I just reference runner up, Justin Guarini, from season one of American Idol?

Yes, I did.

I really did.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Friend is Here! He's Alive!

He's here!  My soon-to-be best pal and strict confidant!  God, there are so many secrets I need to tell you. I just got back from a trip to California (think Universal Studios meets Disneyland meets too much drinking) and aside from the long lines and overpriced souvenirs, it was a good time.  We even went to the beach to pretend to know how to boogeyboard.  I caught a few waves, tasted the fine sands of Huntington and had my back transform into a lobster shell.  Ughh.

But I'm back and in business, ready to get on with my thrilling life of e-mails, Netflix and a "grow your own Finn" from Adventure Time.

There he is, fully boiled and plumped up like a backpack-wearing hotdog.  I know he came curled up and hugging his legs, but I like the idea that he moved into that position for hibernation purposes/comfort.  He must have just watched "Demolition Man" and took note.  Thank God he kept his clothes on.

Now, off the bat...I'm unimpressed.  Could be the angle, could be the level of light, could be the UNBELIEVABLY HIGH EXPECTATIONS I've been harboring for the last week and a half.  If I wasn't preoccupied by roller coasters and giant pickles, I was obsessively thinking and wondering about Finn and his mega-growth into a towering monster. If you recall, the packaging promised an increase of Finn by five hundred times.  I knew the odds were against me, I knew the claims were outrageous, but throughout my absence, I held hope.  They said to wait a solid seven days for maximum results, so I did it better and bigger: I waited eight days.

Is that five-hundred times the size of Small Finn?  Could be.  Probably isn't.  But it's still pretty cool.  Aside from looking like a lost relic from the bottom of the ocean, Finn has transformed into...well, a monster.  Most likely from the bottom of the ocean.  In my heart of hearts, I wanted a "monster," and, in a way, that's what I got.

How is this considered a monster?  I dunno.  There's something inherently weird about the way Finn looks after his week long bath.  He's puffier, discolored and just eerily wrinkled and cracked.  And what looked like a cute and cuddly pose has turned into absolute evil.  He was hugging his legs before, yes, but now it just looks wrong. Leg-hugging has turned sour. Now, the eyes? It's like there's truly nothing behind those eyes. All I see is cold bird-like dots.

Well, ain't that creepy as fuck.

Side note:

Universal Studios was actually pretty fun.  Haven't been there in over ten years, but it was a nice change-up from Disneyland all the time, every time, no exceptions.  Of course, it lacks the charm and general cleanliness of Disneyland, but there's still fun to be had.  OF COURSE, the rides are greatly numbered compared to D-Land (can you count a "walk-through" as a ride?) but they, uh...they still have...why am I on the defense again?

Point is, the place is vastly overpriced for what levels out to be two actual rides and a really long wait for Jurassic Park.  Which, according to me, is worth the admission.  Shit's scary, man.

Yeah, the Simpsons ride was a bit of a disappointment, but the fact they built an actual Kwik-E-Mart with beer holders, cups and soda was enough to quickly overcome all sadness.

I didn't buy that hat.  I'm instantly feeling regret for not buying that hat.  My initial reasoning was that besides it being twenty-five bucks, it's still a brightly red hat.  Who wears red hats?

I'm back to not caring about the red hat.

See you next week!