Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Post-Christmas Blues.

Merry Christmas!

Really, it's two days after Christmas, but I figured no one would mind.  I usually try to keep the spirit alive until Valentine's Day, and even then, I like to pretend that it's Santa Claus's older cousin who's handing out cutesy cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.

Unfortunately, Christmas this year didn't/doesn't sit right with me.  I feel like I've dropped the ball somehow, with no continual posting about the greatest and most favoritest holiday.  My place should have been covered in tinsel, my nights should have been spent drinking cup after cup of hot chocolate, watching "Christmas Vacation" on repeat while wrapping fancy cheese balls and scented candles.

Well, they were, but it wasn't enough.  It just didn't feel like ENOUGH.  I've shamed myself.

Post-Christmas Blues?  Post-Christmas Blues.

And because of it, I'm depressed and really don't give a shit about X-mas right now.  It would be like eating too much gingerbread cookies and coffee drenched biscotti, then finding out you would never do that again for another eleven months.  I know there's an analogy in there somewhere, but I'm hoping you get what I mean without the endless explanation of why I currently hate everything red and green and Jesus-in-a-manger-y.  In a way, I feel like I want to start revolting.  Hell, I think I'm rebelling right now, man.  I don't care about you, St. Nick.  You can sit on it.  You can take your big bag of toys and shove it.  After sitting on it.  Or is it the other way around?

SO SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT UNTIL NEXT WEEK.  Time will have passed, wounds will have been mended, the hurtful things we've said will be forgiven, etc.  Plus, I ain't passing on a Christmas Haul Recap.  The holidays and the gifts received are meant to be rubbed in the face of everyone else.  You're supposed to flaunt that brand new, top of the line iPad like you're the nephew of Steve Jobs. 


In high school, my friends and I were really into comic books.  Even more so, we were into making our own.  Anything to keep our minds off of homework and the daily bullshit of class was heralded and applauded.  We'd literally just sit in class and doodle.  I seriously can't remember anything from high school -- I have no idea how I graduated.

One of the better ideas was start a comic strip of your own, then give it to a friend to complete.  Say, Friend A would start their mini-adventure in first period, pass it off to Friend B, which they would finish with their own special brand of high school lunacy.  Pass back to Friend A to enjoy, which would then be given to Friend C and Friend D to enjoy on a "my friend's are a bunch of idiots" level.  This is what we did.  This is all we did.

Recently, I dug up a bunch of these comics.  It was in the process of pulling out the snowflake window clingers and plush Santa dolls (used as holiday movie viewing pillows) that I stumbled upon these raggedy, torn up pieces of paper like a dirty treasure map leading to fortune and glory.  Sadly, they lead to my professional and artistic demise.  They're that weird.

Even more sadly, none of them are of my own, but they're still fun to look at.  I figure the other guys have my work, and I have theirs, which I've decided to post for all the world to see.  Not only have I beat them to it, but can take no blame for anything you're about to see.  Just be sure to take none of these to heart.  There was no rhyme or reason to anything we drew and wrote, because always remember -- we were morons.  I can't stress that enough.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Comes Early at the Calabrese Manor!

Well, hey, check this out!

Nestled ever so sweetly behind the counter of the post office lied a package for the Calabrese Bros, which was quickly brought back to the manor and savagely torn open.  Full of goodies and fun and exotic smelling soaps, Christmas had come seven days early! 

I spy with my little eye a Pokémon dish towel, oversized comic books and personalized mini-coffins for eraser tops and GI Joe weaponry storage (that's the plan, anyway)  If there's one thing Bobby Calabrese loves, it's a total immersion in gift-giving randominity. 

Sent from our pal, Carissa from Minneapolis, we knew we struck gold when the box actually smelled something fierce.  Sight was fancied, the sense of smell was tickled, what other senses would be stimulated?  Let's find out:

Soaps.  Homemade soaps.  Spider-sense tingling.  What did this mean?  Immediately I questioned my hygiene, wondered if I started a chain of events stemming from playing a sweaty show and hugging an unsuspecting fan.  They'd begin a descent into madness, forging together the finest cleaning products into chunks of soap-rock, sprinkled with blood and poison (one of the soaps actually says "poison!") maniacally sending it off our way in hopes of us using it and having our skin melt off and...oh, I just read the letter.  It's because she's nice and it's Christmas and not to worry, although we do smell like shit, these soaps are actually really good and good for you.  Well, cool! 

Pizza smell would have been fun, but I figure the process would have been too greasy.  Instead, we have patchouli. 

My, oh my.  Patchouli.

I often joke about how much I hate patchouli, patchouli users, patchouli cultuer, etc., and in any roundabout, bad juju scenario that ever existed on Earth....we get a big ol', stinkin' pile o' patchouli.  I think something got lost in translation, because Carissa mentioned that I was a fan.  Yeah not totally.

I can't complain, because this is a gift from the heart, and I'd be an asshole to not be gracious.  And all the soaps are vegan friendly and good for your skin and all that jazz, so thank you, Carissa from Minneapolis.  We love you. 

Buuuut if my grandma gave me socks on Christmas morning, I'd smile, give her a hug and stealthily dump the pack into another sibling's present pile.  Looks like Jimmy will be walking away with not one, but three bars of soap!  Merry Christmas!

Also included is a Pokémon towel (for Davey) and GIGANTIC "Star Wars" and Batman comic books.  I've already called dibs, so even if they weren't meant for just me, they're all totally mine now.  I'm blatantly disregarding the obvious (there are three of them) which can easily be distributed among us, but this is Christmastime, pal.  There are no rules and social graces during Christmas.  Oh, didn't know the holiday rule of "no rules?"  Because it's a rule.  Or is it?  I thought I said there are no rules?  JUST DO WHAT I SAY AND QUIT TRYING TO CONFUSE ME.

"Bobby," "Davey" and "Immy."  She didn't forget the "J," I just forgot to photograph it.  "Immy" sounds more fun, anyway.

These will be used for guitar picks.  Maybe even as a carrying case for interesting articles and pictures I find in any of the thousands of magazines and catalogs I somehow get sent to my mailbox.  The scenarios run deep with a coffin the size of a cell phone.  WAIT.  Hold the phone.  Stick with me here, but...what about a cell phone casket for when your phone dies?  You can bury it in the backyard and say a few words in internet slang, too.

u will be missed u were a gr8 phone, c u on the other side ttyl:(

Oh, sweet baby Jesus on Christmas morn, this idea is gonna make me a millionaire.

Thanks again, Carissa!  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Quick and Crappy Coffee House Reviews: Cartel Coffee.

There's a spot in Tempe, Arizona where I like to go.  A strip of road that holds the three best establishments that currently drain my pockets and suck my wallet dry.

The far end of the street is occupied by Casey Moore's, a bar/restaurant that has hosted many drunk nights, and the beginning holds Ash Avenue Comics, which has, like, a lot of comics.  I like that.  And snuggled in between the two is Cartel Coffee Lab.  Small, quaint and always bringing to mind more than just coffee.  Walking by, I've always asked the questions, "What makes it a lab?" and "is there some sort of science going on in there?"  Some kind of coffee craziness only reserved for those in the know?  These are the questions at hand, and today we answer them.

First off, the place is wild.  Well, as wild as a coffee shop can get.

A while back, on certain nights of the week, they'd play episodes of Twin Peaks while you worked your way through a cup of coffee and a slice of pie.  The place has a gnarly atmosphere with great service and a lot of charm, and holy shit, anything even remotely involving "Twin Peaks" is so very awesome by me.

I've only been here once, and right off the bat, I've noticed that there's a certain presence to the place.  Very hip.  Very indie.  It's almost overwhelming, and almost of a turn off.  You almost feel like you don't belong, and if there were rules implanted that one had to be hip and or indie to order drinks, I would certainly be out of place.  Unless "indie" was an Indiana Jones reference, then I might be able to apply.  I have a souvenir bullwhip and I've seen the movie, like, a million times.

Great place, though.  I remember they had it modeled to look like a metal shop or something, with metal-y fixtures and chairs or something.  This could very well constitute as laboratory fare, completing the mystery of the shop's name.  It looked classy and cool and fun.

But what do I mean by "remembered?"

Well, this is where it gets kind of...tricky.  As mentioned, I've only been here once.  And it was at least over a year ago.  At this point, I still wanna write about it, but don't want to go back for specific details and solid information.  I think it's a fine place with great Joe (I think) but I'm already halfway through this post and when I attempted to make a re-visit, I vaguely remembered that it was cash only.  I didn't have any cash on me and didn't wanna stop at an ATM.  I still don't even know if this is true or not, but I didn't want to take the gamble.  I'd have to walk up, order, find out it's cash only, look sheepish then quickly make my way to the exit, excusing myself and apologizing profusely.  Even the possibility of such a minor blip on the Socially Awkward Moments Scale is terrifying to me.

So this TRULY is one of the crappiest reviews I've done.  But here's a tasteful image of coffee clip-art, if it helps at all:

Here's what I remember about the night in question:

I ordered.  And this is where we do the science!  Or at least where we get to choose some stuff and feel all cool and sophisticated, because you get to pick what kind of beans you want to be ground up and used for your beverage.  I was intrigued, but the last time I was here, I ordered a cappuccino.  Apparently, you can only get a cappuccino if you're planning on staying (maybe they don't have the right take-out cappuccino cups?) so I doubled back and stuck with a small coffee.  Don't remember what kind of beans I got, but I'm thinking they were really tiny and brown.  Just the kind I like!

And it was delicious.  I ain't no snob, so my opinion means nothing.  I could have been served dishwater with a scoop of instant coffee and I would have sung it's praises.  Not to take away from Cartel Coffee's services, though, because the place really is rad with great coffee.  And because I'm scared they might read this, find out who I am and make it even more embarrassing the next time I actually do go in (read the last entry for the full, sad and creepy details of what I'm talking about).

So a 10 out of 10.  As high and mighty as one can get.  Bravo!

And that has nothing at all to do with tipping the Socially Awkward Moments Scale.

I swear.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Guitars.

Someone recently asked me about what kind of guitar I play.  I get this a lot, and I never really delved deep into the dynamics of this question.  I've never bothered with guitars on any level other than making sure it sounds loud and doesn't look too douche-y.  So why do I play what I play?  And what the hell do I play, anyway?

I'm the kind of guy who doesn't care about the technical stuff.  I seriously have zero interest in what's shoved inside an amp or what those weird wires and metal-y things are wrapped up in a guitar.  I'd rather play the damn thing than study it, ya know?  It's a mixture of laziness and a controlled ignorance.  If I even bothered with any of that shit for a second, I'd save so much dough on hefty repair bills and overpriced tune ups.  Oh well.

Now, recently, the two guitars I've been playing for ten long years were stolen.  It was always a black, Gibson Studio and a Les Paul Jr.  So yeah, I would have answered this question way differently if it was two months ago.  But since then, I've had the task of replacing them, which has brought me to this here subject.  I immediately wanted to get the same gear, but thought to myself...should I?

Neither guitars were THAT expensive, but it would make sense to avoid the same route and to start fresh.  Because now I'm a new man.  Now that I'm in the position to start from scratch, I've decided to keep it cheap.  SUPER cheap.  I've taken years of inexperience and incompetence, thrown it out the window and have decided to construct together decent guitars for minimal amounts of cash.  I think it's better this way.  I think it's better for rock and roll.

I know I know nothing about anything, but my only requirement is that the guitar has to be black.  Or white.  I'll even settle for that aged-looking "cream" color.  Maybe a "tobacco burst," too.  Chicks dig that.

I ended up with this:

I bought it off a buddy looking for extra dough, and here we are.  Thank God for that, because we immediately had shows after the Great New York Guitar Heist, and I would have been totally screwed.  It's a Mexican made Telecaster with the pickups switched out with I-have-no-idea-what-these-pickups-are.  But it sounds like a monster, and although I've been rocking a Gibson for a full decade, Teles really do have a great feel to 'em.  At least to me, anyhow.  And a solid pair of pickups really do make a difference.  I've been playing around with a few variations for a while now, mixing and matching and testing and cranking, coming up on some gnarly tones I wouldn't have imagined coming from a used Mexican Tele (but what do I know?  Nothing!)  Yeah, I actually went in to my guitar and did some science/welding/crazy shit.  I feel like a champion!

So, yeah.  The answer to the question, "What kind of guitar do you play?"

Anything cheap, loud and bitchin'.

And not, like, colored green or something lame.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bacon Waffle.

The bacon waffle.  The bacon WAFFLE.  The BACON waffle.  The bacon waffle.

However you annunciate it, a hefty waffle with chopped up pieces of bacon and smothered in maple syrup is the best.  The best in ANTHING.  It's a total "last meal" kinda deal, too, where the only appropriate thing to follow up after eating one of these is to die.  And if not actually dying, you'll definitely feel like death.  "Portion control" is not a term I adhere to.

This was at a diner called Harlow's Cafe in Tempe, AZ.  I mentioned this place a while ago, and although it's no big deal to mention it again, I now understand the power of which I hold.  It's a weird kind of power.  Kind of an awkward power, really.  Let me explain:

A few months ago we played Rapture Con, a horror convention in Mesa that prided itself on zombie walks, zombie defense soldiers and Jake Busey.  It was pretty fun.  But like any other day, I craved some coffee.  So we headed off to Lo-Fi Coffee down the street.  Now, I mentioned this place before on my blog.  That's a vital piece of information in this story.

I got a cup of coffee.  The owner knew who I was.  How did he know who I was?  Not that I was in a band that sung about skeletons and stabbing people in the face, but he recognized me for having a blog.  A blog that mentioned my really-boring-adventure into his very own establishment, Lo-Fi Coffee, and the semi-review I gave the whole experience.  Half the time, I have no idea what I'm writing, how I write it or altogether what the hell I just wrote.  I quickly scanned my brain for information.  Did I write something shitty about Lo-Fi Coffee?  Did I say something dumb and immature, as per usual?  Did I say one of the girls working there was super cute, and would now be slapped with some kind of lawsuit?

Thankfully, none of the above.  In fact, the dude loved what I wrote and even took some advice from it.  I kinda went off on the "tipping system," which gave you an option to tip on their iPad after using any kind of card.  I complained that they held the thing in front of you, glaring, watching, waiting.  It's quite a mess for a neurotic guy like me.  Never in my life have I feigned an optic disease more than at that point.  Whoops, forgot my glasses!  Didn't see the tip option!  Sorry, bro!

Anyway, he said they did away with that.  Or at least respectfully turned their backs to wash some mugs or something.  I dunno.  It's awesome that I could influence any one's business, and that businesses are even reading this damn thing, but still.  Totally wild.

"With great power comes great responsibility."

But back to Harlow's Cafe (hello, Harlow's!  Are you reading this?) and their massive bacon waffle.  It's beyond good.  I hate when people merge food for the sake of being extreme or inventive in a culinary way, but this joint union is something I can get behind.  It's just a waffle.  And a side of bacon.  But now in an easy to eat package.  If they could throw some hash browns and eggs in the mix we'd all be better off as a human race.

I know I should have quit halfway in, but ya know when some thing's really good, and it's almost impossible to quit?  Near the end, you're eating for taste alone.  Your stomach hurts, you start breaking out in a cold sweat and you can actually feel the food sitting in your esophagus.  You know that feeling, right?  Isn't it great? 

So I spent the next four hours on the floor in front of the TV watching movies, trying to keep my body from falling apart or just melting into the floor altogether.  The evolution of man, man. 

Saturdays rule.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Calabrese Cartoon.

Ever since we started the band, we dreamed of being immortalized in animated form.  Consumed in comic books, action figures and a hell of a lot of Saturday morning cartoons, it's become a natural and obvious goal to pursue.  I figure most bands try to be the next Led Zeppelin.  We're trying to be the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

So we've been pushing the cause for about ten years now, give or take those three formative years in the beginning where Davey was learning how to play drums and I was learning how to not sing like Cher.  But once we conquered them hurdles, it was on to the Dream Stage.  And, boy, we dream big.

Unfortunately, money plays a huge factor in it.  Hell, in everything you wanna do.  If we really cared, I mean, if we really, really wanted an animated music video done...we could totally get it done.  It would just cost, like, ten thousand dollars.

Yeah no.

First and foremost, being animated would be awesome.  You can't argue that.  Secondly, aside from the occasional suggestion and casual; nitpickery, we literally don't have to do anything.  In an animated video, there is no set pieces to construct, no assembling the appropriate wardrobe, no worrying about getting a huge zit on your forehead the night before.  Everything we could ever dream of is now possible.  We want to ride hover boards.  We want to battle a massive beast that has nine arms and spits blood.  We want to surf down a wave of human bones and carcasses.  IT'S POSSIBL AND IT SHALL BE DONE.

Well, we came close.

Found a dude willing to do it.  He was our knight in shining armor.  Sadly, the black knight must have killed him in a Medieval Times jousting match and was promptly dragged off into the backstage area, never to be seen again. 

It was a weird situation, really.  See: it all just fell a part.  Sucks, yeah, but now we know the game for next time.  We know what to expect.  Or something.

But hey, at least we have a bunch of cool sketches and character designs to show off.

We went through a lot of phases with this thing.  It was going to be a "Dusk 'Til Dawn" kinda deal, which slowly went into a more Universal Monsters-esque idea, then morphed into a bad-ass "Evil Dead 2" rip-off.  Man, an "Evil Dead 2" rip-off would have been SICK. 

Anyway, here are those sketches and such.  One day we'll exact our revenge on the video world.  One day. people!  ONE DAY!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Last time I brought up food I was living high on a diet of chicken salad sandwiches.  They remain delicious, but like with anything, the  new must replace the old.  Since then, I dabbled in pasta.  Plain pasta, pasta covered in a green-ish sauce, pasta paired with sausage or peppers or both.  It became my "thing."  Easy to make, simple to store, a definite choice to fill you up. 

But it's been three weeks now.  I'm a little burnt out on it.  What once brought me joy has now brought me contempt and heartburn.  So I've moved on.  Enter, The Chronicles of Baconia:

Bacon, lettuce and tomato, folks.  I like to add on some avocado, too, for the extra kick to the face. 

Now, to be blunt, I hate the "bacon" fad going on these days.  It's like the zombie craze, but for weird, ironic hipsters.  Sure, it was cute when your buddy got a bar of soap that smelled like burnt pig, or the YouTube video of a guy eating his weight in it, but we're good now.  We're done.  It's great, it's fine, we get it.

Because really...why bacon?  Admittedly, it's good.  Damn good.  But why not something better?  If I had my choice in food obsession, I'd most likely pick ice cream.  Say, with those mint chocolate chunks thrown in.  Or even a big bucket of Spumoni.  Have you ever tried Spumoni?  Now that's the kind of food that needs it's own line of shower curtains.

Yeah, I say all that about bacon right after I post a picture of a paper-towel-sack crammed full of the stuff.  Unfortunately, it really is the most delicious meat product ever.  What can you do?

So that's all I've been eating these days.  I'm like a horse.  Just fill up my trough with the same shit, day in, day out, and I'll eat it.  You'll get no complainst from me.  Especially if that trough is full of BLTs.

Oh, to dream.