Monday, December 06, 2010

Seriously, I AM still blogging....

...I just haven't had the time or energy to do it.  Like I said before, I am not the type of blogger who posts daily about what my day was like.  Nothing against those, I just don't blog like that.  But when you don't blog for a few weeks, you almost DO have to catch up.

Things are going really well with our new boy, Winston.  We absolutely adore him and he is picking up things fairly well.  I actually think he has picked up things even better than he lets on, but he is just stubborn as hell and pretends he doesn't understand.  But he is a cutie!  And Leia is getting along so well with him!

In other good news, I got to play some soccer for the first time in long time, two years actually.  My friends and I played a pick up game on Thanksgiving morning and the the following night, I participated in the 5th(?) annual alumni soccer game at my high school.  The first game was pretty brutal, trying to get my soccer legs under me, but it was a GREAT time and we are even going to play again in two weeks. 

I spent a lot of time bent over sucking wind like the above picture.  But by the alumni game the next night, I somehow WAS able to get my soccer legs under me and played pretty well for an overweight, out of shape, ex-soccer player.  I even got my first goal in an alumni soccer game after 5 or so years of playing.  I was quite happy!  We shall see how soccer goes in  two weeks, but I am excited!

Other than that, there isn't much going on.  Christmas is just around the corner and we have very little shopping done so it is just about time to get started on that.  There is only a few more weeks until the picture a day returns and I am very excited about that!  I have seen a ton of movies since my last Manuel on Movies blog post so I am way behind on that and need to catch up.  That will take a few posts I am sure.  The end of the year, player of the year poker tournament at my house is in two short weeks.  I won the final tournament this past Saturday so hopefully I didn't blow all my luck the game before the final!  With that, hope you are all well and I will visit your blogs in a day or so.  I end with a few pics I took of a nice sunset the other day...



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just Too Much Fun

I have returned to the blog after a long three week break.  Contrary to popular belief, I did not spend the last three weeks playing Rock Band 3; something you may believe after blogging for over three weeks straight about the game.  No, I have just been too busy having fun and after blogging for so many days in a row, I took a little, though not entirely planned, break.

So first off, after blogging about Rock Band 3 for so long, did it live up to the excitement?  Oh hell yes!  The game is amazing.  The songs I anticipated playing are a blast, the keyboard, although I have only played it a little, is fun, and the new version has little new nuances that make the game fresh.  I haven't gotten a chance to play the game as much as I would like, but it is definitely a fun time!  And they just keep releasing great song after great song for download too.  This game just does not get me at least.

So that kind of explains why I didn't blog for a few days after the release of the game, but what happened after that?  Well, that weekend, Jess and I went with our friends, Brandon and Yvette, to Tahoe for the weekend to celebrate Halloween.  As they would be the only two who would recognize our costumes from last year, we opted to do a repeat of our costumes from the previous year, Mario and Princess Peach.  I am so glad we did, too!  We were a hit!  I can't tell you how many people yelled out, "HEY MARIO!" and came over to give me a high five.  It was cool and I took a bunch pictures with various costumed folk.  There were some amazing costumes...people are so creative!

 After that amazingly fun weekend, we added a new member to the family.  As we loved our boy, Orko, so much, we decided after he passed away in April that our next dog would also be a schnauzer just like him.  And a couple of weeks ago, the time finally came.  Say hello to our new boy, Winston!





We absolutely LOVE him.  He is so cute and it feels complete again to have 2 dogs in the house.  Not that Leia liked him at first.  It took about a week and a half for her to warm up to him, but when she finally started playing with him, it absolutely warmed our hearts and has provided us with plenty of laughs!  I think he is going to be a great addition to our little family!

A few days after we got him, we took him over to Jessica's dad's house for a tamale making party!  I love making tamales with my family, not only because they are friggin' delicious, but because we have such a good time. We start right away in the morning and it is full of good times, good food, good family and friends, and good(mostly) tequila.




Some people, not me and not MentiOning any naMes, didn't even make it to the part where we actually eat all the food because they had too much tequila and were throwing up.  Amateurs just can't handle their tequila.  It was a great time though and possibly, the best tamales we have ever made. 

But the fun continues!  Yes, I told you it has been a busy, but fun three weeks since I last posted.  This past Wednesday, Jess I went to the central coast to visit some family of mine.  The whole area really is a favorite of ours and we would probably move there if we could!  But what a great time we had.  We stayed with my cousin Valerie and her husband Jeremy and just visited, talked, ate, visited the ocean, and generally just have a good time.  Jess even mentioned that in the few days we were there, the TV came on not one single time.  It was amazing.  Here are a few pictures and if you want to see the complete set, click here. 







Yeah, a lot going on with us the last three weeks.  I wasn't just being lazy and ignoring my blogging readers and fellow bloggers.  But man, it has been fun.  And with the holidays just around the corner, let the fun continue!  I am not usually one who likes to blog about, "I did this, then did this, and then I finished with this..." but man, there was just so much going on and with pictures to supplement, it always makes it more fun!  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #1 - FREE BIRD!!!

"What song is it you wanna hear?"

In the end, it all comes down to Free Bird.  There really wasn't even a doubt in mind.  In fact, when I started creating the list, I put Free Bird #1 and then worked on the rest of the list.  Free Bird was always going to be #1.  Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1973 masterpiece off of their debut album might possibly be the best song of all time (well, after Thriller, of course).  Truthfully, I shouldn't be as excited for this song as I am considering it was already on Guitar Hero II, but that was simply guitar playing, and vocals and drums are just as fun.  Plus, I just friggin' miss playing this song.  This is one of the few songs in history to have success on the charts for both a studio and live version of the same song, reaching #19 and #38 on the charts respectively.  Guitar World magazine lists the guitar solo as the #3 best of all time.  And much like the end of this list, the band almost always ended their concerts with this song.

The keyboard intro for the song was the first piece of the song conceived.  Lead singer, Ronnie Van Sant, heard keyboardist Billy Powell play the intro at a high school prom and asked him to join the band based on hearing it.  That intro would later become the beginning of the song.  The opening line, "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me," was said by guitarist Allen Collin to his girlfriend and he liked it so much, he wrote it down only to later put it in the song.  The song would go on to become the band's biggest hit.  It is such a popular song, the chant of "Free Bird!" as a request for a song has become a staple of many concerts, no matter what type of music, band, or performer is playing.  I even heard it once at a Blue Man Group concert.  The song, simply is the best....maybe of all time.  Tomorrow, we start playing...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #2 - Bohemian Rhapsody

Epic.  Honestly, that is the best way to describe Queen's 1975 hit, Bohemian Rhapsody.  It's epic in how great the song is, but also in how complex it is.  This is not a normal song by any means.  But that is what makes it so great.  Then again, its uniqueness is also what has made it so damn popular and almost annoying at times as everyone seems to want to scream it at the top of their lungs when it comes on, almost turning the song into a joke.  But I guess, I would rather have this than a total ambivalence toward this masterpiece. 

The song was pretty much all conceived by lead singer, Freddy Mercury.  Although all written down in the studio before recording, the whole song from beginning to end was in Mercury's head prior to actually working on it.  The song took three weeks to record and with all the dubbing and redubbing of vocals, it was at that time, the most expensive single ever produced.  The band has never explicitly come out and said what the lyrics means, although countless interpretations have been made from Mercury's personal life struggles to the song is nonsensical and only made to rhyme as best as it can.  Upon release, the song had very mixed reviews, from critics calling it a masterpiece to the ones who considered it horrible.  Some studio executives thought it was too long of a song to ever become a hit.  But they were wrong, as it reached number #1 in the UK for 9 weeks and reached  #9 on the Billboard charts at the same time.  Sixteen years later, the song reached #2 in the US when it was rereleased to coincide with the opening of the movie Wayne's World.  This was a big boost for the song as it had kind of dropped off the map and wasn't really being played anymore on the radio, even on classic rock stations.  The video is also monumental as it is considered ground-breaking for using more than just clips of the band playing and it has been hailed as the video that launched the idea for MTV and the MTV age. 

Clearly, with me knowing the lyrics, I will attempt to sing and play the keyboard at the same time.  It should be fun.   But I will also have to play the guitar as there are some great guitar solos mid-song and near the end.  On a side note, although not a performance by Queen, here is my favorite live performance of the song, taken from the Freddy Mercury tribute concert shortly after his death.  It's perfect, breath taking, and so emotional. 


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #3 - Beast and the Harlot

The return of this awesome song to my musical gaming repertoire!  When I bought Guitar Hero II  for my Playstation 2 in  October of 2006, I had never heard of the band, Avenged Sevenfold.  Near the end of the song, Jess and I came across this awesome song, The Beast and the Harlot and instantly fell in love.  We loved playing it, but soon after, I got the PS3 and rarely played the PS2 anymore.  We missed the song, and we watched as Rock Band 1 and 2 and countless downloadable songs came out without this song being added to the Rock Band catalog.  Meanwhile, a few other Avenged Sevenfold songs were released for Rock Band and they became a favorite of ours.  Last month, we even got to see them for the first time in concert and they were amazing!!!  Just look how they started off their concert:

Note: This isn't my recording nor the show we were at, but this is how it was at ours as well.  Oh yeah, this isn't the song I am talking about either; just an aside of how awesome this band is!  Sound quality isn't great, but you get the idea.

LOVE this band!  SO, back to the actual song and there really isn't too much history, especially since it was just released in March of 2006.  The song wasn't a huge hit, only reaching #19 on the hard rock charts, but it was enough to earn its way on to the Guitar Hero II setlist, and that opened the band up to a huge new set of fans, myself included.  The song has a TON of biblical references and is about the fall of Babylon, but also compares Hollywood to Babylon and how Hollywood is full of ways to get corrupted.  I love this video!  Oh yeah, you have to click on the link to actually go see it...

So what am I excited about to play?  First and foremost, the drums.  I have already played the guitar in this song from GHII and am looking for something new.  The drums are awesome in this song and I know they are going to be a heck of a challenge.  Should be a ton of fun!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #4 - Imagine

Kind of funny to follow Marilyn Manson with John Lennon's 1971 masterpiece, Imagine.  On one hand, you have this hard rocking, bang your head song, and on the flip side of the coin, we have a soft melody played mostly on the piano.  Interestingly enough, the two artists, while so different in their approach, were also kind of similar.  The song has been interpreted by many critics as being anti-religious, anti-capitalistic, and anti-nationalistic.  Pay attention to the inner meanings in Manson's lyrics and listen to what he has to say and he pretty much has the same philosophy.  Of course, like I said, they go about it completely differently.  While Manson angrily spews his lyrics, Lennon's message in this song is, " With "Imagine" we're asking, "can you imagine a world without countries or religions?"  He says it in a soft, gentle, fashion, hoping that we could rid of all differences and all be completely the same so we can be at peace.  But if you do pay attention, it IS a very "anti" song. 

As you can imagine(no pun intended), the song was hugely popular, but interestingly enough, it only reached #3 on the Billboard charts.  But on the other hand, it also was voted as the third best song OF ALL TIME by Rolling Stone.  That only two songs in the history of music can claim a higher spot on the charts speaks volumes about the legacy of the song.  In a few other polls, such as in Canada and Australia, is does take the top spot as the best song of all time.  Lennon himself said the song was as good as anything he had written while with the Beatles.   The song has been covered countless times and is often used in the media during messages of peace around the world.  Even the Supreme Court, in one of their rulings, quoted parts of the song.  The song is truly a worldwide phenomenon. 

I am torn as what to do when this song comes out.  As much as I like the song, I don't know the lyrics by heart.  Ideally, I would play the keyboard and sing the song at the same time.  That is my goal.  But, as I won't be able to do it right off the bat, which do I go with - keyboard or singing?  I am not quite sure yet. 

You have to click on the link to watch the video, but it is well worth it.  See it here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #5 - The Beautiful People

And we begin the top 5 in a kick ass, rock out way.  The 1996 song off the album that my mom gift-wrapped for me in a brown grocery bag because it was too scary to get real wrapping paper for Christmas.  Yes, it is the one, the only, Marilyn fuckin' Manson!  When non-Manson fans think of Manson, this is easily the first song they think of and can name as one of his songs as it is probably his most popular.  Thing is, it wasn't really THAT big of a hit, reaching number 26 on the rock charts.  But then again, Manson really isn't a big hit overall, and remains kind of a cult following. 

The song title was taken from a 1960s book by the same name that exposed the scandalous lifestyles of the 60s.  It also was a phrase used many times by Vogue magazine to describe the Kennedy family, a frequent song subject in Manson songs and videos.  The song was, overall, fairly well received by critics when it came out and named as something that even people who didn't like it wouldn't be able to get out of their head.  And in truth, since I first heard that song, I have not been able to get Manson out of my head.  Although he never rocked harder than he did on that album, he has remained a favorite of mine since this song.  The song, although not my favorite of his, but probably because of the song's overexposure on the radio, will make a more than worthy addition to the Rock Band catalog.  Yeah, I'll be singing the crap out of it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #6 - Here I Go Again

Ah, yes, the CLASSIC 1987 rock song by Whitesnake off of their self-titled album.  But did you know the song actually came out FIVE years earlier?  Yeah, this was news to me, too.  Apparently, the song first showed up on their 1982 album, Saints and Sinners.  It wasn't a big hit by any means, but when the 1987 album came along, the band decided to rerecord the song, change a few things with the music and lyrics, and rerelease it.  It turned out to be a very wise choice as the song became a huge hit and rocketed them to the #1 spot on the Billboard charts.  One of the biggest changes in the lyrics is the line that we know as, "Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone."  The original version actually said, "Like I HOBO I was born to walk alone."  Lead singer David Coverdale said he changed it because he was afraid people would think he was saying HOMO instead of HOBO and get mad at him.

And when you talk about this song and think back on it, you have to think of the video.  Everyone has to remember it, right?  Everyone remembers Tawny Kitaen dancing on that car hood in that white lingerie!  It was one of those classic 80s video moments and has been parodied numerous times in film and television.  When the video wasn't being parodied, it was at least being played, as it has been in numerous forms of entertainment. 

So what will I be doing on this song?  Well, lord knows everyone wants to sing it.  It's just one of those fun songs to sing out loud at the top of your lungs.  But will that be easy?  Not in the slightest.  Coverdale's screams are legendary and are going to be difficult to duplicate.  Probably going to have to do this on easy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #7 - Du Hast

If there is any song in the top 10 that might make you go, "WHO?" it will probably be this song.  Then again if you know me well or know rock, you have heard of Rammstein, the German metal band.  And this 1997 song by the band is probably their most popular(but not their best).  I can't recall the first time I heard this song, but I do know the first time I heard the band.  Early in 1997, I heard Rammstein for the first time while at the movies to see Lost Highway.  I loved the music (as well as the movie) that I immediately went out and bought the soundtrack.  Rammstein had two songs on the amazing soundtrack and I instantly became a fan.  I know that I hadn't heard Du Hast yet as a)it was still a few months from release and b) I KNOW that the songs on the soundtrack were my first exposure to the band. 

The song, itself, while being their most well-known song in the US, wasn't exactly a huge hit here, only reaching #20 on the rock charts here, but then again, that is the highest ever for a German language song on that particular chart.  The song itself has two versions.  There is a German-only version as well as a version released where the first chorus and verses are in English and it ends with the second chorus in German.  I actually prefer the all-German version as it sounds more raw and angry.  In the US, the song has been featured on numerous soundtracks.  Die-hard Sacramento Kings fans should recognize the intro to the song(minus the lyrics) as it was played for a few years at home games right after the players were introduced and the game was about to start.  It was hilarious to me to go to a game and see the crowd standing and clapping along to the beat to get pumped up for the game to start.  I would laugh and think to myself, "I wonder if that elderly lady knows she is clapping along to some German Death Metal?"  I am sure if the song was allowed to continue playing more than the intro, half the stadium might have fainted over in shock. 

I don't care what I play in this song, honestly.  I am just excited it was included!  Now maybe they can add even more from the band!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #8 - Plush

The 1993 song that introduced me to Stone Temple Pilots.  When the song came out, Guns n Roses were far and away my favorite band, but it had been around two years since the release of the Use Your Illusion albums.  I was anxious for something new and upon hearing Plush, I was absolutely hooked on their sound.  I remember saying, "Guns n Roses better come out with something new soon or I will have a new favorite band!"  Well, we all know how long it took for Guns n Roses to come out with a new album so for a few years in the mid 90s, I might have called STP my favorite band.  Plush was the beginning of all this.  Interestingly enough, Plush was not their first single released as I had originally thought.  The Sex Type Thing single came out first, but it was Plush that introduced me to the band. 

The song itself has a couple of different meanings.  The lyrics were loosely based on an article that lead singer, Scott Weiland, had read about a girl that was found dead in the woods in San Diego as well as being a metaphor for a failed relationship.  For a rock song, it did pretty well on the Billboard charts (#18) and it won the band a Best Hard Rock Grammy award.  I am a little torn on how to go about playing this song.  On one hand, my number one choice is to sing the crap out of this song.  On the other hand, it is one of those songs where I know all the lyrics and could easily play the guitar while I sing it.  However, it might be weird and go against the grain.  Scott Weiland was a singer only.  He didn't play the guitar.  Would it be weird to do both?!!?

On a side note, they released an acoustic version of this song a few years later that I might like even more.  In fact, I get more excited when the radio plays this version, but it also because it happens so rarely.  But this version of the song almost ranks up there with the Nirvana Unplugged songs.  It's really that good...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #9 - Power of Love

This 1985 song by Huey Lewis and the News is a TOTAL win!  Not only is it a great song, but when I hear the song, I automatically think to my childhood and Back to the Future!  Of course, that I think of Back to the Future is no accident.  Not only was it in the movie, but it was actually written for the movie.  Perhaps riding on the success of the film, this was the band's first #1 hit in the US and it also garnered the band an Oscar nomination for best song, losing out to, "Say You, Say Me," by Lionel Richie.  The song has only been covered a few times, and by no bands of significance, but as a #1 hit from a iconic movie, this song definitely made its mark in history.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #10 - Hey Man, Nice Shot

And we are in the top 10!  Not only that, but while researching the song, I found the most interesting piece of history yet!  That will come near the end.  But first off, I have always LOVED this 1995 song by Filter.  The slow lead in followed by the loud, primal scream has always made this a favorite of mine.  It wasn't a HUGE hit(#76 on the Billboard charts), but it was Filter's biggest hit and the song that brought them some popularity.  The song, although sometimes rumored to be a tribute to Kurt Cobain, was about the 1987 public suicide Pennsylvania politician Budd Dwyer, a man who shot and killed himself on live TV after a scandal.  The band confirmed the connection with this statement:

The song 'Hey Man Nice Shot' is a reaction to a well-documented public suicide. It is not a celebration or glorification of taking one's own life. The phrase 'hey man, nice shot' is a reference to the final act itself, an expression of guts and determination of a person standing up for what they believe is right. We are extremely sensitive and respectful to the family and friends of Mr. Dwyer. We have both lost friends to suicide and felt nothing but sympathy and loss for the victims, and those involved in such a tragedy.

Now, despite the morbid subject matter of the song, when I think of this song, I simply laugh.  Why?  Well, the song appeared in one of my all-time favorite movies.  This is how you get to listen to the song today!

Well, that was missing the beginning of the song so here ya go if you need a refresher...

This song is going to be all-around awesome to play, but I think a good guitar playing with the microphone in the microphone stand combo would be awesome.  Both at the same time - I'm going to be a rock star!!!

So what was the interesting item I learned about this song?  Well, this song was on the 2001 Clear Channel Memorandum.  What?  You haven't heard of that?  Yeah, I never had either!  So apparently, after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Clear Channel, which owns over 1000 radio stations in the country submitted a list of songs to their stations that COULD be considered "lyrically objectionable" and  might be smart not to play. confirmed this, but made sure to point out that these were not songs that were banned from airwaves, but simply a suggestion.  Still, the fact that the list was even sent out kind of makes me chuckle.  After the 9/11 attacks, I don't think I would have heard this song and been driven into a depression.  Some of the songs on the list kind of make sense, but songs on the list like "Walk like and Egyptian," "Lucy in the SKy with Diamonds," and "Under the Bridge?"  Yeah, I don't get it.  Want to see the whole list? It is actually quite interesting if you want to see it HERE.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sister in a Race Car

Two final songs before we make it to the top 10!  It's going to be a quick one because I am busy and the day is almost over!

#12 - Sister Christian : Night Ranger - Yeah, I know you are laughing right now.  You're saying, "Night Ranger?  Really?"  Yeah, I know the song is kind of goofy, but I like it.  Truthfully, I didn't think too much of the song until that classic scene in Boogie Nights near the end of the movie.  I hear the song and I think of that great scene.  The scene turned me into a lover of this 1984 song!  The song was Night Ranger's best hit and was written for the drummer's sister, named Christy.  The lead singer thought the words were Sister Christian instead of Sister Christy and after a while singing it like that, the lyrics stuck.  Honestly, I can't wait to sing this song!

#11 - Jerry Was a Race Car Driver : Primus - This 1991 song has the best bass opening of all time.  Seriously.  This was Primus's first single released on a major label and helped propel Primus into the mainstream audience.  The great bass beginning, the funny as hell lyrics, the guitar solo in the middle of the song and the amazing drumming make this not only a great song to listen to, but a song that is going to be a ton of fun to play and honestly, one of my favorite songs!  I can't wait!  The top 10 must be all good songs to kick this song out of the top 10!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Breaking and Stealing

Two more songs today with relatively short histories; one that doesn't surprise me and one that surprises me that it doesn't have more history.  We are nearly at the top ten and less than 2 weeks until the release of the game.  It is getting exciting!

#14 - Break on Through : The Doors - I am sure this 1967 song by The Doors needs no introduction, right?  Everyone knows this song.  But would you guess that this song actually wasn't a hit?  Yup, the song peaked on the charts at #126, something you would hardly call a hit.  But then again, this was the first single and the very first track on their self-titled debut album.  It is quite a signature song of theirs today, but it sure didn't take the country by storm at first.

Interesting fact about the song - you know the middle of the song where Jim Morrison sings, "She Gets," a few times and then lets off a scream?  Do you know that is actually the edited version?  I sure didn't and I guess all I have heard is the edited version.  Apparently, the actual line is, "She gets high," but Electra Records objected to the line about drug use and demanded it be edited.  It wasn't until the 1990s that the original recording started making the rounds in remastered CDs as well as in live CDs. 

Being such a popular song, it has found itself on countless TV shows and movies as well as being covered many times, most popular being the Stone Temple Pilots version.  What do I want to play in this song?  Well, the drums sound pretty fun, but I think singing will be the most fun!  Can't wait!

#13 - Been Caught Stealing : Jane's Addiction - I LOVE this song!  Although I can't say I remember it when it first came out in 1990, I do believe that I liked in around my high school days in the mid 90s.  The general population loved it too as it spent 4 weeks at the top of the rock charts.  Other than that though, there isn't much history.  However, being that the song is about stealing stuff, the song has been used COUNTLESS times in the media, from television to film to sports.  The drums in it sound like a blast and I can't wait to give it a try.  The guitar solo in the middle will also be a challenge I am guessing.  I am very excited for this song and anything that follows on this list must be pretty damn good!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Midlife and a Young Life

#15 on the countdown comes form the awesome rock band, Faith No More!  Although my favorite song from them is "Epic", this has already been in the Rock Band song rotation since the first installment and it was time for a new song from them.  "Midlife Crisis" off of their 1992 album Angel Dust is a worthy addition!  Surprisingly, this was Faith No More's only song to reach #1 on the Modern Rock Charts.  I would have thought Epic would have been a bigger song.  The song, although called "Midlife Crisis" is supposedly not about having a midlife crisis at all.  Instead, lead singer Mike Patton said the song is kind of about Madonna.  HUH?  This is what he says...

"..the song is based on a lot of observation and a lot of speculation. But in sort of a pointed way it's kind of about Madonna ... I think it was a particular time where I was being bombarded with her image on TV and in magazines and her whole shtick kind of speaks to me in that way... like she's going through some sort of problem. It seems she's getting a bit desperate."

Interestingly enough, the song was originally called Madonna and when they played concerts, they still called in by that name on their set lists.  The song has been covered a few times, been in a few video games, and will make a great addition to Rock Band 3.  I love the drums on this and I know my foot will get a workout on the bass pedal!

So if this song is about someone in midlife, what about we talk about a young life.  It has been about a week now, but I haven't had a chance to talk about it.  Last week, I did a photo shoot for some friends with their daughter at a pumpkin patch.  I think it turned out great even though I didn't quite get all the shots I wanted to.  Thing I am learning about shooting children, you can't force them to take the pictures you want and I would rather improvise than kid a crying child.  Here are a few of my favorites and the whole slide show can  be seen here!






Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Polar Opposites

Today's list features two songs who are quite the polar opposites from each other.  But it is good to like a variety of music, right?

#17 - Before I Forget: Slipknot - Now this is the kind of song that I am sure many of you expected more of on my list - loud, obnoxious, heavy metal.  Up until this point though, an Ozzy song is just about the only hard rock song that has made the list.  Slipknot brings some much needed volume to the list!  But would you guess that this is also, as far as I can tell, the first GRAMMY AWARD WINNING song to make the list so far?  Yup, this single, released in June of 2005 (off a 2004 album), won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance of 2007.  Don't ask me how those dates add up.  AOL called it the best metal song of the decade.  Not much else to say about the song, but listen to it, it rocks!  Everything will be fun(Well, maybe not the keyboard), but I am going to have to go with being the most excited about playing the drums. 

#16 - I Need You Tonight: INXS - Not metal by any means, but still rocking is the 1987 INXS song, "Need You Tonight" off of their multi-platinum "Kick" album.  This band from Australia had a worldwide fan base and this particular song  contributed to that as it was the first single released worldwide.  In the US, it was their only single to reach #1 on the Billboard charts.  Andrew Farriss, the keyboardist for the band said that he thought of the famous riff for the song while on the way to catch a cab.  He told the cab driver to hold on, went back to the hotel room to record it, and came back an hour later.  The cab driver was not amused, but based on the popularity of the song, it was an hour well spent.  The song has been covered a handful of times, but not by any band of significance.  Well, until I pick up a microphone and sing it anyways...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Music and Mischief

Two songs on today's countdown and actually, neither of them have many facts about them.  So, today will be a relatively short post.

#19 - Radar Love: Golden Earring - Who?  Yeah, I know the song and you probably will too once you hear the song, but I can honestly say that I have never heard of this band, even though I do like this song.  Golden Earring is another foreign band that has made their way to Rock Band 3, but they are actually Dutch rather than English as most of the other bands have been.  This song, released in 1973, made it all the way up to #13 in the US and it would not be until 1982 when they would have another hit in the US, "Twilight Zone."  Even thought it wasn't a HUGE hit, it has been sampled, covered, or used in film, television, and commercials over 250 times.  I hope they are getting some kind of cut!  As for playing it, I think it is going to be really fun based on the fast tempo it has.  Singing it should also be fun as the voice kind of reminds me of a blues type song which is something I love to sing.

#18 - Foolin' : Def Leppard - Surprisingly, they are including this 1983 song from Def Leppard instead of some of their more popular hits.  Granted, this is a fairly popular song, but there are definitely some better choices; in fact, there are even better choices on the album it came on, Pyromania.  It was still a popular song though, and it reached a respectable, #28, on the charts.  And that, my friends, is all I have for ya.  But in the end, it's Def Leppard so you know these songs will be fun to play.

In totally unrelated news, want to see how we spend our weekends?  This was a hilarious two-part video that I spliced together of us and our friends playing Wii while slightly buzzed.  Well, I was sober, but the rest, not so much.  Good, funny stuff......

And here is Part II

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #20 - Saturday Night's (Alright for Fighting)

So with the addition of the keyboard to this new edition of Rock Band, you knew that they would have to include some Elton John, right? Believe it or not, even though this is one of his most  popular songs today, it actually wasn't too successful when it came out in July of 1973.  It did reach #12 on the Billboard charts, but it was his only single out of 14 songs that did not reach the top ten within a three year period between May of 1972 and October of 1975.  Dare I say, he was on FIRE during that period!

The song was actually written by Bernie Taupin, not Elton John, but they had a long collaborative relationship throughout the years.  Elton actually recorded the song in Jamaica, but when they listened to it, it sounded so horrible due to the poor recording instruments, they ended up having to rerecord it in a studio in France.  Also, the recording itself was quite a departure from his other songs.  In his other songs, he would record the piano part first or with the band, and then add the other instruments later.  In this song, he added his piano parts after the rest of the band had recorded.  The song itself has been covered a bunch of times, but unlike may songs that end up being covered by bands you have never heard of, bands from the Who, to Queen, to Nickelback with Kid Rock have made cover versions. 

This songs is going to be a ton of fun to play.  You may think that I want to automatically play the keyboard, but listen to the song!  The guitar sounds rock and the drums and the tempo and speed they play at make it a tossup as to what I will play on this song!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #21 - Whip It

Yeah, THAT "Whip It."  Seriously, everyone knows this 1980 song by Devo, right?  How much explanation does it even require?!?!  Devo has mainly been considered a one-hit wonder, but man, they knocked it out of the park with this one.  Despite how popular it is, don't you almost consider this song a joke? Can you hear this song without making the whipping motion with your hands or picturing the crazy hats they wore in the video?

Despite how popular you may think this song was/is, it only reached #14 on the Billboard charts at its peak, hardly a number we would consider to be a bonafide hit.  But it is the crazy sounds, funny lyrics, and catchy tune that has definitely made the song so long lasting.  Devo actually premiered the song at a concert in Santa Cruz in 1979 and you can still find bootlegs of that performance today.  Care to guess what the lead instrument is in the song?  It is called a Minimoog synthesizer.  With a name like that, seriously, where do I get one of those?!?!

So what inspired the lyrics for this crazy song and video?  Well, the lyrics are said to be inspired a working class desire to pull oneself up and overcome adversity, not anything violent at all as has sometimes been accused of.  And the weird video?    Well here, watch it first.  The poster of the video doesn't allow embedding of the video so you actually have to click on the link this time to see it.  Click here. 

  Ok, so where did they come up with the idea for this video?  Well, they had read an article in a magazine about a former actor who had fallen on hard times and who had opened up a dude ranch to make ends meet.  People would come and pay to hang at the ranch and ever day at noon, he would do a show where everyone would gather around and he would use a 12 foot whip to whip his wife's clothes off.  His wife constructed her own outfits and made them hold together with velcro so they would fall off easily.  He would brag in the magazine about how he never once hurt his wife in the act.  How is THAT for a funny story?

With such a large fan base for this song for whatever reason it may be, this song has been in countless forms of media from tv shows to movies to commercials to cover songs, including one by Alvin and the Chipmunks in 1982.  This is one crazy, fun song and I can't wait to grab my keyboard and act a little silly playing it.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #22 - Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Here we have another popular song from the UK. There seems to be a lot of them on this list so far, doesn't it?  This 1985 hit by Tears for Fears was another one of those songs that became a breakthrough hit in the US after previously only being popular in the UK.  Prior to this song's release, Tears for Fears had 7 top 40 hits in the UK, but big success in the US had not been achieved yet. The song opened the way for mainstream US listeners and became a Billboard #1 hit.  Funny thing is, the song almost was never released. 

During the making of their "Songs from the Big Chair" album, the band debated whether or not to put it on the album.  They didn't feel it went with the feel of the album as a whole, but the producer convinced them to add it as it could be a way to break into the conscious of the American listeners.  It was the last song added to the album and indeed, became the breakthrough hit the producer envisioned.  I hope that producer got himself a big bonus for that decision!

Like most popular songs, this song has been covered many times on albums and has also been covered by numerous bands at various concerts.  In addition, the song has appeared in a handful of movies and television shows.  Quite simply, it is pretty damn popular.  And it should be fun to play.  I am not sure if the very beginning is a keyboard or a guitar, but the speed on it sounds really challenging.  The guitar solo in the middle of the song also looks like something quite difficult on harder levels while the steady drum beats should be fun as well.  And singing....who WON'T have fun singing it.  This will be fun!


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #23 - Centerfold

This is one of those songs that I believe Rock Band was created for.  Sure, you can have your challenging songs that take forever to master and you can enjoy on your own.  On the other end, this is one of those songs that isn't too difficult, but the more people you have together playing it, the more fun it will probably be.  The J.Geils band have a FUN song here.

Released in October of 1981, this was one of a few hits for the J. Geils band.  Off of the "Freeze Frame" album, this song was so popular, it reached #1 on the Billboard charts in the US and stayed there for an outstanding SIX weeks.  That is pretty damn popular in my books.  In addition, this was really the only song by the band that achieved a lot of popularity in the UK.  Billboard has even called this song the fifty-second best song of all time.  Not too shabby if you ask me.  The song has been covered around ten times including by a German speed metal/thrash band called Tankard.  I can only imagine how THAT must sound!  This song is going to be a blast!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

M&M = Music and Machete!

I am going to be doing two songs today because frankly, I can't find too much history on the two songs.  One of them actually surprises me that there isn't more where the other one is not too much of a shock.

#25 - Cold as Ice : Foreigner - This song, released in 1977 was off of their debut album. Unlike the last couple of bands from the UK, where they took some time to get popular in the UK before they achieved popularity in the US, success on both sides of the pond were almost simultaneous.  In the US, it rose all the way to #6 on the Billboard charts despite only being the B-side to the "Feels like the first time" single.  Not too bad!  Nearly 20 bands have also covered the song too, from Phish to Jay Z.  Talk about a wide range!

Clearly, hearing this song shows that the keyboard is going to be the most fun to play.  Drumming sounds fun, but maybe not that challenging.  Singing, on the other hand, will probably be a beast.  He just has one of those voices that I think will be tough.

#24 In the Meantime : Spacehog - I LOVE this one-hit wonder.  When I heard it for the first time in 1996, I remember instantly loving it, but despite this, I never did go out and buy the CD.  I was happy years later when I would get a best of the 90s CD set and it would appear on it.  Now it sits on my Ipod.  But again, this was a one-hit wonder.  It only reached #32 on the Billboard charts; not great by any means, but good.  But this is the only time they would appear on the US charts.  As they were from England, a few more songs appeared on the charts over there, but still nothing too great. The band released three albums (this song was on their debut album) and then called it quits in the middle of this past decade.  They are said to have reunited in July of 2009, but so far, nothing has come of it. 

As for the song, I think there are a ton of fun things.  The guitar playing and drums sound like they will be a blast, but I think I will go with singing it first.  This should be fun!

So with that out of the way, what about the Machete part of this blog?  Well, the other day, I bought a Machete action figure and I still can't believe I own a figure based on a Danny Trejo figure.  How cool is that?!?!  I still haven't reviewed the movie, but know that it was AWESOME!  So, I took the figure outside for a little photo shoot.  I thought I would only keep a few pictures, but once I started looking at them, I had such a hard time deciding what to keep!  I ended up saving 16 different pictures.  Here are a few of them and then click on the link to check out the rest of the gnarly pics!




Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #26 - Just Like Heaven

"Just Like Heaven", by the Cure, is definitely an odd choice for me and an even odder choice if you know me and my taste for hard, loud music.  Truth is, if this song had come out today, I might even say this was a horrible, emo-like, trash bag of a song.  But, I liked it when it originally came out in 1987 and thus, and am still able to appreciate it nowadays. 

This song was actually The Cure's first hit in the United States, but they were not new by any means as it was their ELEVENTH hit in the UK.  Yes, they were already a big band across the pond when this song dropped, but it was this song that was their breakthrough for a US audience.  In addition, people in Europe were already somewhat familiar with the song before it was even released.  How is that possible?  Well, while the band was still working on the song, French TV show Les Enfants du Rock got a hold of the band and asked them to come with an instrumental theme song for their TV show.  The band gave them the rights to the instrumental version of the song and before the song was even released, people all across Europe were already familiar with the song, minus the lyrics.  Europe loved the song, the US were happily exposed to a new band, and the rest as they say, is history.  The band's popularity skyrocketed. 

And what is the song about?  Well, according to lead singer Robert Smith, "The song is about hyperventilating - kissing and fainting to the floor."  Well, okaaaaay then.  I'll just stick with it being a fun song.  I think it will be fun to sing as I enjoy singing like Smith and making myself laugh because, really, he does have a ridiculous singing voice.  The keyboard solo in the middle of the song should also be pretty fun too!  We can't forget that new instrument in the game!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #27 - Low Rider

"All my friends, know the Low Rider..."

And frankly, I am sure EVERYONE knows the song, "Low Rider" by War.  Seriously, how can you not like this song from 1975?  It was a number one song on the R&B charts upon release and that fact that nearly THIRTY different bands have made cover versions of this song show how iconic it actually is.  Not only has it been covered so many times by singers and bands from Barry White to Korn, it has also been featured in 14 different movies.  Personally, I can't help but think of the great scene from the Gone in 60 seconds remake when I hear the song.  The song just epitomizes cool and you really can't change it when it comes on the radio when you are driving.  Whether you are driving a an actual low rider or a mini-van, you just feel cool when this song comes on. 

The band really knew what they were talking about when they created the song.  As the majority of the band was from Southern California, they were fully immersed in the low rider culture.  The band's drummer even had a job working on cars in Southern California before he joined the band and he credits having the job as what kept him from getting drafted for the Vietnam War.

Truthfully, I am not sure how fun the song will be other than to sing it.  But singing it should be a BLAST!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #29 and #28

Again, since there may be some people behind on what is going on (and I think there are tons as comments are WAY down), here is the direction of the blog for this month...

#29 - We continue the list with a classic of rock 'n' roll.  "Crazy Train" released in 1980 by Ozzy Osbourne, was actually his first single after leaving Black Sabbath and is widely considered to be signature song and possibly best song as a solo artist.  But Ozzy's vocals alone are not what make the song.  The guitar work by Randy Rhoades have helped make this song as popular as it is, and it was voted by the readers of Guitar World Magazine as having the 9th best guitar solo of all time.  Sticking with the #9, it was also named as the 9th best heavy metal song of all time as well as being the 23rd best hard rock song of all time.  Yes, there is a difference.  Like many other popular songs from the past, it has also had countless cover versions of the song as well as many other songs that sample the original song.  Listening to the song, I can't find any part that won't be fun to play.  If you like guitar playing, it obviously has a ton of fun guitar work.  Those who like playing drums have a bunch of fun parts to play.  And, of course, it is always fun to sing some Ozzy.  This is a great addition to the game.

#28 - Proving that there is a little something for everyone in this game, I bring you the next song in the countdown which truly shows how diverse the game can be.  We go from #29 being the hard rocking metal classic of Ozzy to #28 being the groovy beach sounds of the Beach Boys classic, "Good Vibrations."   I mean, everyone has to know THIS song, right?  Released in 1966, and at 44 years old, the fact that so many people know this song and the fact that it was able to find its way on to this game are a testament to the song's staying power.  Rolling Stone magazine even named it as the #6 song OF ALL TIME!

This was actually the third hit song for the Beach Boys, but the first to become popular in the UK.  Originally, the song was released as a stand-alone single and didn't get placed on an actual album until almost a year after its initial release.  In the original version, there are an amazing 19 people who play an instrument or sing or both.  Maybe that is why it took 17 different recording sessions before the actual song was completed!  But all of the hard work paid off as it earned a Grammy nomination and the song itself, is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Besides the Rolling Stone list mentioned above, it is near the top on countless other "best songs of all time" lists.  I think the best way to enjoy the game in Rock Band 3 would be to take advantage of the new "vocal harmonies" where up to 3 people can sing a song together (provided you HAVE enough mics).  A big group of people all singing the song together has to be a blast!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #30 - Werewolves of London

Lost on what I am doing here?  Check out this post...

I am about to hang my head in shame for this one.  I had honestly never heard of this song until a few years ago wen Kid Rock sampled it on his 2008 hit, "All Summer Long."  Yeah, I know that is pretty bad.  But much like there are just some movies you never get around to seeing, I guess there are just some songs you just never hear. 

This song, released in April of 1978, a month before I was born, was Warren Zevon's only actual hit as a solo artist.  Despite being a one-hit wonder, the song has still been covered by other bands several times and has a firm root in popular culture.  Jesse Ventura even played it at his inauguration when he became Governor of Minnesota.  In 2004, a survey of BBC listeners voted the beginning of the song as the best opening line in a song of all time.  What do you think?

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's
Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein
Werewolves of London

If I didn't know better, I would think that was Weird Al or something.  It is just so friggin' random.  But I guess that is the appeal of the song.  It's just fun.  Weird lines, howling mid-song, and a catchy beat should make this fun to sing. Sounds like the piano will be the most difficult part of the song so that should make it something unique.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Rock Band 3 Countdown #31 - Space Oddity

So we will start at #31 and work our way down to #1.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, read the previous post about the blog direction this month.  #31 is the awesome "Space Oddity" by David Bowie.  Admittingly, I know very little David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust/whatever he is calling himself songs besides the obvious well-known ones.  I think that has to be with being a child of the 80s and a lot of his stuff came out before that.  Ok, that is no excuse as that didn't keep me from following The Beatles or Led Zeppelin, but you get my point - he seemed to peak before my time.  In fact, when I think I David Bowie, I think of what every child from the 80s thinks of, Labyrinth.  He was awesome in that movie and that alone has always made me a fan of his in one way or another.  Space Oddity is one of those popular songs I had heard before and always thought was kind of cool.  I believe it has been used in a couple of commercials from my childhood and I will always remember Chandler singing it on an episode of Friends.  It is so big, that Wikipedia mentions that TWENTY-FIVE different cover versions have been made of the song by other bands/singers.  That's crazy! 

The song itself, was apparently, Bowie's first big hit and because of the subject matter and "Major Tom", it was used by the BBC in their coverage of the moon landing in July of 1969, the month the song was released.  Talk about some good exposure!  The song was so good and popular, when the album was rereleased, they changed the album name from David Bowie to Space Oddity.  Not too bad for a song that was originally not well received. 

I actually don't know how HARD the song will be to play, but it should be a blast to sing!  Below is obviously not the original video...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rockin' in the Free World

Although it is technically not October until tomorrow, I need to get started on my little project that will keep me blogging every day in October.  What is this project, especially as it has nothing to do with photography?  What would cause me to want to blog every day for a month?  It is quite simple - the epic release of Rock Band 3.  Now, if you have followed this blog long enough, you know how much Jess and I love playing Rock Band and before that, Guitar Hero.  It has been a couple of years since the release of Rock Band 2, and although they release new songs you can purchase every week, this is a new entry into the Rock Band world.  Even more fun, in addition to the guitar playing, drum bashing, and song singing from the the first two versions, now they are adding a keyboard to the mix.  This opens up a larger collection of songs that can be played as there a ton of songs with great keyboard or piano parts!  It should be great!

So what does this have to do with my blog?  Well, if you like music, it has a LOT to do with my blog.  There are 83 songs on the Rock Band 3 disc, but in honor of October, I will count down the 31 songs I am looking forward to playing the most.  As the game comes out October 26th, I will cram the 31 songs into the first 25 days of October just so I can have this list done by the release date(I'll figure out something else to post on the other days of October so I can blog a full 31 days.)  So what will I blog about each day?  Well, I will talk about the song, why I am excited to play it, why it would make a good song on Rock Band, and if I can find it, maybe even a little history of the song or the band it is from so you can also learn a little.  Isn't that what Wikipedia is for, to help me blog?  I will even throw in a video so you can hear the song if you are not familiar with it.  In all, maybe you will learn a new song, find something you didn't know, or just learn what I like.  I think it will be kind of fun and hopefully you do too.

So what about the remaining songs that won't make the list.  Well, if you are curious what they are and what didn't make the cut, I will list them below.  Some of these I couldn't care less about, some I don't even know, and some may have just missed the cut.  I'll throw in a few notes about some as well...

  1. Amy Winehouse – Rehab   Sorry, not my cup of tea, but I am sure some will have fun with it
  2. Anthrax – Caught In A Mosh  Besides, Bring the Noize, I have never been a HUGE Anthrax fan
  3. At the Drive-In – One Armed Scissor  Who??
  4. B-52′s – Rock Lobster  Why not Love Shack??  This song is....odd....
  5. Big Country – In a Big Country   Who???
  6. Blondie – Heart of Glass  Blondie has better
  7. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Get Up, Stand Up  Truthfully, I am not a big reggae fan
  8. The Bronx – False Alarm  Who???
  9. Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4  Should be a fun song, but just missed the list
  10. Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water  Actually, besides the iconic guitar opening, the song isn't that great
  11. Dio – Rainbow in the Dark  This song makes me laugh
  12. Dire Straits – Walk of Life  They have better
  13. Doobie Brothers – China Grove  Almost made the list
  14. Dover – King George  Who?
  15. Echo and the Bunnymen – Killing Moon  Who?
  16. Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1  Not a fan
  17. HIM – Killing Loneliness  Who?
  18. Hypernova – Viva La Resistance  Who?
  19. Ida Maria – Oh My God  Who?
  20. James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)  Maybe fun to sing and that is it
  21. Jimi Hendrix – Crosstown Traffic  He has a lot better
  22. Joan Jett – I Love Rock and Roll  Probably will be fun, but ehhhh
  23. Juanes – Me Enamora  Who?
  24. ManĂ¡ – Oye Mi Amor  Who?
  25. Metric – Combat Baby  Who?
  26. The Muffs – Outer Space  Who?
  27. Paramore – Misery Business  I don't really like 'em
  28. Phish – Llama  Never been a Phish fan
  29. Phoenix – Lasso  Who?
  30. The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me  I've played enough Police
  31. Poni Hoax – Antibodies  Who?
  32. Pretty Girls Make Graves – Something Bigger, Something Brighter  WTF?
  33. Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows  Not really a fan, but this song is ok
  34. The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated  Ehh...just ok
  35. Raveonettes – Last Dance  Who?
  36. Rilo Kiley – Portions of Foxes  Who?
  37. Riverboat Gamblers – Don’t Bury Me… I’m Still Not Dead  Who??
  38. Roxette – The Look  Ehhh....
  39. Smash Mouth – Walkin’ on the Sun  Naw....
  40. The Smiths – Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before  Ehh, I believe they have better
  41. The Sounds – Living in America  Who?
  42. Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle  I like a lot of his others better.  This one is just ehhh
  43. Swingin’ Utters – This Bastard’s Life  Who??
  44. T.Rex – 20th Century Boy  Who?
  45. Tegan and Sara – The Con  WHo?
  46. Them Crooked Vultures – Dead End Friends  Who?
  47. Tokio Hotel – Humanoid  Who?
  48. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – I Need To Know  I already have a ton of his songs
  49. The Vines – Get Free  Have heard of them, but don't know this song
  50. The White Stripes – The Hardest Button to Button  I know, but I am just not a fan
  51. The Who – I Can See For Miles  Um, I already have a TON of good Who songs to play
  52. Yes – Roundabout  No thanks 
     Ok, so anything on here that I don't care for that YOU would like to sing or play?  Tomorrow, we start the list with #31.  Happy October, everyone!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fun with Friends

My last post was about fun with family, so the appropriate follow up post would be a post about fun with friends.  This past Sunday, we went with the Parkers and the Matteonis to Six Flags.  The number one thing I learned from the trip (other than the fact that the arrival of Fall doesn't mean cool weather), was that I am getting too old for roller coasters.  Seriously, I felt wiped out after each and ever ride we went on.  My head would hurt, I would be slightly nauseous, and I would feel drained of all life.  When exactly did this happen to me?  I used to love roller coasters, and in fact, I still do, but man, they wipe me out.  I did sit out one ride and that allowed me to take some pictures...

Jess and the gang wave on the way up

Wave goodbye

See ya...

Yesterday, a big group of us went to our second Tequila Tasting at Mas Mexican Restaurant.  They do it monthly and it is a steal.  Seriously, it is an awesome deal that nobody should pass up.  This is what you get for $5 a person  - a starter drink (beer or margarita), chips with salsa and beans, a plate of appetizers for your table (or a couple of plates if your party is big), and then samples of various types of tequila, whatever the brand on the month is.  Yes, all that for $5 a person.  It is a HELL of a deal.  Last time, it was just us and the Matteonis who went, but this time, based on our great reviews, we had 10 people go, including my folks.  I imagine that next time will be even bigger.  Although, on the other hand, we are not going to tell TOO many people.  We don't want to let the secret out and have it be TOO big, ya know?!?!

Our group

Gina, the rep from Jose Cuervo and Francisco, the manager of the restaurant.

We got to try this $125 bottle of Cuervo.  It was awesome.  I took two shots of it...


My dad even won a shirt.  Look at that smile!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fun with Family

Sorry that I haven't blogged in two weeks.  I know it is hard to keep my dedicated blog readership when I blog infrequently like that, but life and laziness occasionally get in my way.  I know everyone can relate.  The good news is, I have something fun planned for the blog that is theme related.  Not photography related , but still kind of fun and it will keep me writing, even if just a little.  So, expect a blog post EVERY DAY in October.  Yay!

With that being said, what have I been up to?  Well, a few days after my last blog post, Jess and I went down to San Diego for a few days with her Mom's side of the family.  5 years ago, when her grandma turned 75, she took all of us on a week long cruise.  Fast forward 5 years later, her grandma rented out a beach house in San Diego for a week to celebrate her 80th.  As Jess couldn't afford the time off for the whole week, we just went from Wednesday until Saturday.  A good time was still had, even in just half a week.

We started by flying into San Diego bright and early on Wednesday morning.  We flew in, dropped off our bags at the beach house, and then went to the world famous Sea World.  I thought it was pretty cool, but maybe slightly overrated, especially for the price.  Don't get me wrong, it is pretty cool, but we just went to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and it has basically the same kinds of shows, plus roller coasters and is still cheaper.  Still, it was a good time and I got some pretty good pictures.  Here a just a few...




The next day, we went to the USS Midway.  I had never been on an aircraft carrier, and man, they are mammoth!  They really are like self-contained floating cities!




That night we went to a nice, fancy restaurant on the beach.  I had a few drinks and was feeling pretty good, so I was easily convinced to walk on the freezing beach, even though any water colder than spa water is too cold for me.  I stepped in, but because I was wearing pants, tipsy, and had already been splashed by Jessica's cousin, I stripped the pants off and walked in pretty deep in my boxer shorts.  Somehow, I survived not only the cold water, but the walk back to the beach house in my current state of dress.

Friday, we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park (or some name similar to that).  It was pretty cool, but I actually thought it would be a little different than what I was expecting.  It was more zoo-like than safari-like as I had expected.  Still, looking at exotic animals is always cool.




Friday night, we went out with a couple of my OTD buddies to a place called Hodad's.  One article calls it one of the best five burger joints in the country and Guy Fieri named it the best burger he had ever eaten.  Knowing how much I love burgers, you know I enjoyed the hell out of it, and embarrassingly enough, I couldn't finish my burger.  So sad...

Saturday, our last day, we went to old town San Diego which was awesome.  We went to an old home called the Whaley House which is rated as the number one most haunted place in America!  We didn't see any ghosts, thankfully, but it was still pretty cool. 



We had lunch with giant margaritas....


Saw a cool little show....

...and then we were on our way back to reality!  What a fun trip!

Want to see the whole set in a slideshow?  It is kind of long at 140 something pictures, but it's cool, I swear!