Third Time’s the Charm?

I’ve been rewatching the Battlestar Galactica reboot from 2004 recently.  The first time I watched it, I enjoyed it solely because it added cool elements they didn’t have the time, money, or inclination to add into the original series.   Example:  the Egyptian and Greek mythologies of the planet names, character names, and the symbolism used throughout.  The second time, I watched it with my wife, who hadn’t seen it before.  Now, I’m watching it and trying to figure out the symbolism and philosophy behind the storytelling.

Example:  eternal recurrence.  Often during the show, characters, especially the Cylons, state ‘this has happened before, and this will happen again.’  This becomes apparent when the refugee fleet finds the planet Kobol, supposed ‘birthplace’ of the 12 Colonies (and the mythical 13th Colony, Earth).  Spoilers, if you’ve not seen the show:  after finding the map to Earth on Kobol, the Colonists AND the Cylons come upon Earth.  Except, it’s not our Earth.  It’s another Earth, one that was destroyed centuries ago in a nuclear catastrophe.  It’s very strongly implied that on this world, Cylons and Humans lived together (at least I believe that to be the case, my memory is fuzzy).  Regardless, ‘Earth’ turns out to be a dead end, a dead world that isn’t habitable by the human-type Cylons, or the regular Humans.  Eventually, the races discover ‘our’ Earth, and set up a new home there.  They become the original race of mankind, with hybrid Human-Cylon babies becoming part of ‘our’ early history.

Let’s think about this.  If, at some point, ‘Kobol’ was the birthplace of ancient man, and ‘first Earth’ was the original birthplace of human-model Cylons, and they either in unison or as enemies, destroyed that world – while at the same time, ‘man’ was thriving throughout the original 12 Colonies, where they would eventually create ‘original’, or fully robotic, Cylons, who would then create hybrid Human-Cylon models, what’s to say that Human-Cylon hybrids weren’t actually part of the early race of primitive man that left Kobol?  We have evidence of Human-Cylons existing when the 12 Colonies are destroyed – Sharon Valeri, Chief Tyrol, Saul Tigh, and others.

Is everything predestined?  Maybe.  I’ll talk more about eternal recurrence in my next post, and how a Galactica reboot could work as a prequel – and not in a ‘Caprica’ sense.

Working Man Blues

Well, it had to happen sometime.  I went back to work on Monday, after having been laid off in February of 2017, and then finishing up my degree for the remainder of the year.  Looking for a job is stressful – money only lasts for so long, especially when you have bills to pay.  I’ve had some job interviews since my original layoff date, some from companies I would have enjoyed working for, others that I did only because I needed work.  My new company, everything came together – the vibe from my managers, the culture fit, the type of work, the work-life balance.  The only complaint I have is in regards to my commute – it’s rough, but – I get to work earlier, which means I miss most of the traffic, allowing me time to cook dinner, or go to the gym, or be a bum after work.

Anyway, this isn’t a gripe – I have a great job with a good salary, and that’s not something everyone can say.  So, no pontificating about music tonight…just a brief update for all two of you that read this from time to time.

Where You Get Your Drinks

We just came back from a birthday celebration.  It was held at a brewpub called Hellbent Brewery.  Now, I’m not sure I ‘love’ brewpubs.  They’re utilitarian, there’s no hard alcohol, and there’s no food on site (although most offer a food truck).  The problem is, food trucks are incredibly hit or miss, and generally focus on one thing – not at all like a full service kitchen.  Plus, I don’t really like beer.  I know, I know.  Everyone loves beer, especially in the microbrew capital of Seattle.  Well, not me.  I’ll drink cider if I have to, in fact I quite enjoy a nice cider.  But beer?  Never really been for me.  And that was a problem for a great many years.  Despite Seattle being a ‘progressive’ liberal city, our liquor laws were still stuck in just-after Prohibition era regulatory leanings (most of the state is highly conservative).  Hard liquor licenses were expensive, and despite the profits you could achieve by having real booze behind the bar, a lot of bartenders were happy not to have to mix some fruity drinks with ten different ingredients, when it was much easier to pull a tap handle.  In addition, if a bar were to obtain a liquor license, they would need to serve food – not from a food truck (and Seattle has only had food trucks for less than a decade now) – but from an actual, on-site kitchen.  So yeah, renovations to a building site might be required, all for the pleasure of mixing some sorority girl her cosmo on a Friday night.

Back to the brewpub.  What I like about a lot of brewpubs is that they’re dog friendly.  There’s just something nice about having a ton of dogs around you when you’re drinking.  For someone who likes animals more than people, this is a benefit.  Also, not having an on-site kitchen makes it easier to allow four-legged friends, as you get to skirt tons of health code regulations.  The downside to a lot of brewpubs are their family-friendly atmosphere.  Beer or booze, I don’t think kids should be running around where adults are drinking.  Back to the deterrents, anything more than one beer and I start to feel weighted down – add in my growing hunger and you’ve got a bad combination for that ‘too full’ feeling – which is definitely a detriment to sticking around and consuming more of the stuff these establishments make their money selling.

Hellbent strikes a nice balance.  Two levels, with pool and video games upstairs, 5 ciders on offer, food trucks and GrubHub food delivery options, plus dog-friendly but not kid-friendly.  It’s not the place I would have chosen to have my birthday, but they were extremely accommodating, friendly, and the dogs were (and always are) a hoot.  I give them high marks and if anyone’s in the Lake City area of Seattle for any reason, I recommend you check them out.  Plus the owner’s dog, Steven, a yellow lab, is great.  He just wanders around the brewery, welcoming everyone in that way that only awesome dogs can.

On Reboots and Change


I haven’t seen the Black Panther movie yet.  I will, but probably not in the theatre.  I haven’t been to a movie theatre in years, it’s really not my thing.  I do want to see it, but…ugh, theatres.  I’m glad the Black Panther movie is killing it at the box office though, because, as an old-school comics fan, these are the caliber of comics films that I wish had been available to me when I was a kid, or even a young adult.  And we need more movies like Black Panther right now.  Because…superhero fatigue is starting to set in.  We’ve had 10 years of the MCU at this point, and before that DC had some very good entries with Batman (and really only Batman…).  The problem is, the last decade of comic book movies has been a lot like the recent life cycle of the comic books they’re derived from…endless reboots and retreads with very little originality.  How many Spider-Man reboots have we had at this point?

The comic book movies that have really shaken the firmament aren’t all that different from the ‘mainstream’ DC or MCU films, but it’s a testament to the sheer saturation of the market that we’re finally getting films like Deadpool, Wonder Woman, and Black Panther.  Are any of them original in any way?  Honestly…no.  They’re all ‘origin’ stories, and we’ve seen those before ad nauseum.  What we are finally seeing are superheroes with a different context – female empowerment, naughty language, and black pride.  It’s refreshing, and honestly, probably the only way to keep the larger franchises going at this point.  You can only have so much of the same-old same-old before fatigue sets in.  We all know what happened to the original Batman series that started in 1989…it got campy and day-glo, and lost a lot of the charm of the first two darker themed entries in the franchise (this of course isn’t a defense of DC’s overly dark Man of Steel and BvS, those were a mess partly because they tried to be as different from the MCU’s mix of humor and drama that they copyrighted fairly well).

Black Panther’s a character I’ve always loved.  He’s a genius, a warrior, a king, and his original costume (as shown above) was an understated masterpiece of design.  Basically a black leotard, check out the piping on the gloves and boots…that’s a nice added touch that elevates what could be a fairly pedestrian costume into something menacing and badass.  This isn’t to take pot-shots at Chadwick Boseman’s movie Black Panther costume, that thing looks awesome.  As do all the MCU costumes…they really raised their game on costume design from their earlier movies of the 90’s that looked too-faithful to the comics.  Those old costumes don’t necessarily translate well to the big screen, and that’s why the movie costumes have a much more technologically-flavored feel to them.  They reflect the science needed to bring an armored tactical suit to life.  I’m not going to say go see Black Panther when I’ve not seen it myself, but I have it on good word from friends that it does indeed rock (the press would back that up), so if you’re a theatre person, go check it out.  If you’re not into going to the movies, check out Chadwick Boseman in the James Brown biopic Get On Up.  He’s great as the King of Soul, although way too attractive (James Brown was incredibly funky, but he wasn’t a real looker).  I try to keep these posts short for readability, so that’s it for now.  Support Black Panther, we need more diversity in films – especially those marketed to a mainstream audience.

I Can Take It Or Leave It Each Time

I talk a lot about bands that are either:  defunct, inactive, or on their second, third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) go-round.  This poses the question:  is being in a band a calling, a job, or a hobby?  Let’s frame this in a ‘real world’ perspective.  You go to school, you make some friends.  You don’t carry all of those friends around with you for the rest of your life.  Interests change, situations change, yada yada.  Likewise with jobs.  I worked delivering papers in the town I lived in while I was attending high school.  This was many years ago.  I’ve had a variety of jobs since then, all of which I’ve left of my own volition (layoffs not included).  Now then, at no point have I ever turned around and said “hey, you know, maybe I should go back to that other job.  The one I had (X) years ago.  That’s because a job has to satisfy certain needs at certain times:  money, culture, satisfaction..there are lots of others as well.  Usually people move on to new jobs for better opportunities.

Bands seem to be different.  How many bands do you know of that break up, go inactive for a period of time, and then ultimately ‘reunite’, with said reunions rarely achieving the same artistic or commercial goals as happened the first time around.  The only real exception to this rule would be Aerosmith, who achieved much more commercial acclaim, and had a longer run, the second time around.  The fact that they suck is inconsequential to this argument.  No, most bands that reunite do it for one simple reason:  the money.  If you’re reuniting for money, was that the end goal to starting and/or joining band (X) in the first place?  You’re not reuniting for ‘artistic’ purposes, whatever you might say or whatever high-minded goals you had when you first started/joined band (X).  If you’re reuniting for cash, doesn’t that make a band…a job?  What would it take for me to go back to an old job, even if the culture wasn’t a good fit for me?  It would have to be…boatloads of cash.  Because certainly, if I moved on, the job satisfaction wasn’t there, despite what comrades I might have made during my working tenure.

The only real parallel to reunited bands are the actors that come together for movie sequels or reboots; but again, those are contractual obligations not necessarily mandated by the whims of pop appeal, although pop appeal certainly helps an actor renegotiate a salary fee in contract talks.  Most bands rarely start out with the expectation of becoming millionaires.  There was a brief period, mid-70’s to mid-90’s, when record companies had vast control over their artists, that this was more possible than it is today.  With streaming, pirating, and sales of all mediums (save vinyl) being down across the board, most bands aren’t going to get rich…although most bands didn’t get rich within the system I just described, either.  Many bands survive now through Kickstarters, Pledge Music, in-home live appearances, and merchandise sales.

A good example of this is Electric Six.  They’re one of my favorite bands, with a real new wave-punk-dance aesthetic that is as varied as it is catchy.  They put out albums almost every year, like clockwork – something most bands don’t do anymore (the album-tour-album cycle was most common in the 70’s, which is why all your favorite 70’s bands have a huge back catalog).  However, most E6 albums don’t bother the charts.  They have a core fanbase of 20K or so loyal buyers.  So why do it?  Well, they tour almost all year round.  I’m guessing between album sales and touring, each member might clear 35-70K a year.  They’re not gonna become stinking rich, but they’re making enough to survive – which is all most of us can ask for.  E6 may have found the right balance between artistic calling and job.  Obviously this needs to be a bigger discussion, but for now, how many ‘reunited’ bands can say they’re doing it for the love of music, and not because they’ve been unable to find work outside of music?

Can’t Help But Wish That I Was Virgo


Well, given the image shown above, you’d be correct in assuming I will be speaking about Ned’s Atomic Dustbin today.  Ned’s (or the NADs if you’re feeling cheeky) were a short-lived ‘alternative’ band from the UK.  The UK has an obscenely ridiculous amount of musical genres or scenes, much more so than the US could hope for.  This is, in large part, because, as a much smaller country, scenes centered around certain clubs and towns spring up with great regularity, with many of the bands associated with said scenes sharing stage space.  At least, that’s how it used to be.  This was 25+ years ago, who knows how it operates now.  Anyway, Ned’s, while part of the burgeoning ‘alternative’ scene in the US, were part of the ‘grebo’ scene, which featured bands who played a mix of traditional (guitars, bass, drums) and ‘new’ instruments (samplers, turntables).  Other notable Grebo groups include Pop Will Eat Itself, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, EMF, and Jesus Jones.  The Grebo’s had pretentious names, if nothing else.  Even amongst those bands, the sounds were as varied as the bands were.

Amongst the Grebo, Ned’s were about as close to normal as their much more well-known peers, Jesus Jones.  Jesus Jones talked about, and utilized, technological advancements to help create their music.  Ned’s gimmick was having two bass players in their band.  I always felt that was a concept that could work, with one bass playing the traditional band role and holding down the bottom end, with the second bass acting as counterpoint and playing low-end melodies, a la Peter Hook of New Order.  Bands have had two guitarists, two keyboard players, two drummers, why not two bassists?  I remember reading an interview somewhere with John Taylor of Duran Duran, and his initial idea for the band was two basses and no guitar, as he felt the future of rock music was the bass guitar (given the dancier elements of DD’s music, maybe in his case he was right.)

For whatever reason though, the two-bass attack of Ned’s rarely delivered on that promise.  Maybe it was a record company choice, maybe it was the creativity of Rat (that was his name), the guitarist – his melodies were extremely catchy, maybe it was the times – loud guitar sounds ruled the ‘alternative nation.’  Maybe it was the limitations of the format; and in this regard I speak of compact disc.  There were no US vinyl copies of any Ned’s albums released here, and even the UK issues are fairly expensive.  Maybe the warmer format of vinyl would take out some of the overly-compressed sound of their albums, especially their debut, God Fodder, which really suffers from CD compression.

But a band lives or dies on their tunes, right?  Right.  And Ned’s had some great songs, especially all the material of God Fodder and the accompanying b-sides.  What sets Ned’s apart from a lot of other ‘alternative’ bands is their delivery.  Lots of time-changes, almost like a prog-version of alternative rock.  Think King Crimson with less musicianship, and dated lyrics about young-adult angst.  Seriously catchy tunes like “Kill Your Television”, “Grey Cell Green”, and “Happy” define their first lp.  Their follow-up, Are You Normal? was just as good, if a bit less wildly creative than God Fodder.  It was on the back of Are You Normal? tour that I got a chance to see them play live, headlining at the Moore Theatre.  Great show, and the two-bass concept definitely delivered better in a live setting.  The band took a 3 year break and came back with Brainbloodvolume, which, aside from a couple good tunes, was a terrible attempt to ride the burgeoning industrial-tinged scene.  This last album featured more traditional two-guitar song structures, and synthesizers.  I love synthesizers, but they didn’t sound right within the context of Ned’s tunes.  I’m sure a lot of the change in sound was down to record company dictates – record companies of course being the biggest detriment to a musician’s creativity.

After this the band effectively ended, with the obligatory reunions (missing one bassist and the guitarist), and an odd new single here and there.  Nothing to match the wild, creative early first two lp’s, where Ned’s was trying to sound an alternative to the traditional ‘alternative’ sound (lyrics notwithstanding).  So, go and spin God Fodder, and enjoy a trip back to the very early 90’s.

Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)


After nearly 2 months, the My Bloody Valentine vinyl reissues have arrived!  These were mastered by the man Kevin Shields himself and are all-analog channel remasters.  Naturally, with any tweaking (especially by someone like Kevin Shields, who is the musical equivalent, in regards to his past product, of George Lucas), some things have changed.  The drums on the Loveless album seem to have been pushed a bit further back, but the changes aren’t excessively radical.  What’s nice is that these are finally available as officially sanctioned releases.  There have been tons of MBV bootlegs floating around on vinyl for years – especially since their original label, Creation Records, was known to have small print runs and has been a defunct institution for over a decade now.  During that time, there have been releases on Plain Records (who Shields felt did a poor job of preparing the mix for vinyl cutting) and lots of Japanese semi-official bootlegs.

My Bloody Valentine is one of those bands that audiophiles obsess over – and with good reason.  The original Creation Records vinyl sounded amazing – there were sounds in the mix that were subtle, but placed there for a reason.  The official Creation CDs sounded overly compressed and not ‘true’ to the creators intent.  Most of the vinyl copies post-Creation were cut using the digital CD source – so again, nobody who paid exorbitant prices for any of the bootleg vinyl was hearing the intended mix.  These new mixes most closely hew to what Shields originally envisioned – in this, they are as close to the original vinyl as possible, with the added benefit of thicker, sturdier wax.

These all-analog, cut from the original 1/4 and 1/2 inch master tapes took Shields a few years to get right – so much so that he shopped different pressing plants, and found that different studios mastered the vinyl mix differently.  Those of us who ordered both albums together (which started in October of 2017), received in addition to new vinyl copies of Isn’t Anything and Loveless, a rejected test pressing of Isn’t Anything that was cut at Abbey Road studios, and which Shields felt was too subdued.  I listened to it, and I thought it kicked much butt, if not a little muddy in places – much like the original.  However, the ‘approved’ version of Isn’t Anything is miles ahead of the test pressing – which again, beats any of the bootlegs floating around hands down.  So now we have two different versions of Isn’t Anything to enjoy.

These releases will not be available commercially, only from the band’s website, at least for the foreseeable future.  So, if you want copies, head over to get your copies.  Honestly, for 2 records, 45 bucks is cheap – but the postage costs nearly as much, as these are coming from the UK.  They aren’t likely to run out of these soon, as MBV were one of those ‘cult’ bands that people either went all-in for or ignored outright.  And, like anything, expect the resellers to jack prices up beyond cost of goods plus postage.