48 Reasons Why Somerville is GREAT (Finished for Now)

[Note April 2015: I apologize for the egregious grammar mistakes present throughout this post; I think I was in a bad mood.  I also apologize for the outdateness….let’s just say, things done changed in 8 years. The only thing that’s been changed is Number 39].

To anyone who cares…….I just made it to 67 on this list and called it quits……and my computer froze like it never froze before.  I was literally on my last sentence, and wanted to make a word italics….and my attempt to make a word italics in my last sentence killed the computer.  I ended up taking out the battery.  When I came back, all my progress was gone.  This wasn’t supposed to happen because WordPress saves it like every minute and a half, and its not saved on a hardrive, its served on that thing called the Internet….so I don’t know why its gone.  But its gone.  Why am I telling you this?  Because I am now sick with rage, and will probably never finish this.  If I tried to re-write what I just wrote, I’d just get angry, since I spent about an hour and half writing it.  Just to let you know:  I wrote about Redbones; a bunch of bars and restaurants; a funny story about McDonalds.  But because computers in general just ruined my night, I will probably not finish this out of spite.  Sorry.  Maybe someday.  -Greg

“Kid, I’m from Somerville.”

-kid from Somerville
Note: Hey everyone who started this article earlier: I’m not tired anymore, so I’m here to add more. Not gonna make it to 100 right now, that’s for sure, but I’m gonna try to squeeze like ten things in here. I want to give a big shout of thanks to the folks over at the Somerville Blog, located at Townline: they mentioned this article in a post on Friday (see here), and its brought a lot of readers. Thanks guys. They also encouraged people to leave comments on their blog to help me out: honestly, its not that I was out of ideas, I was just exhausted. Someone left an additional 46 reasons why Somerville is great in there. Hey, its a little food for thought.

A couple more notes: a couple people mentioned that I shouldn’t use the term ‘Spanish’ when referring to Hispanic or Latino people. Good point…..the thing is, I went to school with a lot of Hispanic kids, and I was always white, and they were always Spanish, and that’s the way it was. In my attempt to not offend anyone, I’ve changed the wording. Also, several people mentioned Somerville being the birthplace of Fluff. Umm, last I checked, Fluff was invented in Lynn. But hey, no matter, I’ll look into it.

Anyway, if you’ve already started this, just drop down to 45 and start reading.

-Greg

What’s up,

In case you didn’t know, I’m from Somerville, Mass. (02143, 02144, 02145), a city of about 77,000 right outside of Boston. I haven’t been writing much lately, so I’ve decided to put my projects shitty ideas for articles on hold for the moment and write about something with which I am infinitely familiar: my hometown.

The thing is: Somerville kind of gets a bad rap these days. Its known for crime and drugs by many; for others, its known as a place where nerdy young professionals who don’t want to live in Cambridge. Honestly, having grown up there, both of these stereotypical views of the city are filled with truths (as are most stereotypes….hey, stereotypes aren’t born out of the air).

But I’m not here to talk about drugs, crime, or yuppies: I’m here to talk about 100 reasons my the city I grew up in, Somerville, kicks freaking ass. Here goes nothing.

  1. There’s a decent softball league, complete with nine teams, that plays throughout the summer. Say what you want: not all softball leagues are competent. And I’m not saying that the league I’m playing in is the best: half the time the umps are on their cellphones, and a good section of left field (right by the fouline) is under construction. But its pretty cool that we play under the lights every night: not every town has that option.
  2. There’s also a decent outdoor basketball league, located at the same place: Trum Field. Even if you’re not playing, its cool to watch a good quality b-ball game under the nights in the summer: trust me, I remember from high school. And there’s enough competiveness that its kept interesting (I haven’t watched one of these games since high school, but still).
  3. Speaking of Trum Field: did you know that Paul Revere rode right by here on his famous ride (I don’t think he ever actually left Medford’s city limits, which is right across the street from Trum, but he still rode within spitting distance.
  4. Speaking of history: If you walk down Willow Ave. where its one way, towards Elm St. (and eventually Mass. Ave and Cambridge), you’ll pass a bike shop on the corner (WheelWorks). And as you come around this corner onto Elm St., you’ll see a gravestone, which is awkwardly facing the street (where cars are parked). So as you walk by on the sidewalk and glance at it, it is a blank slab or granite. But if you stop, and walk around so that you are actually standing in the street or on the curb, you will see its front. And there it proclaims: “A sharp firefight took place at this spot, April 19, 1775. Five British soldiers lay here.” (The wording may not be perfect: I’ll have to walk down there and check.) This is literally a five minute walk from where I grew up. It sort of makes me shudder to think that from my parent’s backyard, in 1775, these gunshots would have been heard very clearly. The thing is that I walked past this grave stone numerous times during my childhood, and never actually looked at it. It wasn’t until I was in 7th grade, and walking home from school one day, that I actually stopped and looked at it. Being a history buff I loved this, but still….you’ve gotta admit its kinda cool (there’s a very similar one on Mass Ave. in Arlington, MA).
  5. Speaking of WheelWorks: Its one of the best bike repair places in the Boston area (but very expensive!)
  6. Speaking of bikes: One of the best custom bike places in the country is located in Somerville (Independent Fabrication). Seriously…..I never knew about it till my friend who is really into bikes told me about it.
  7. Going back to sports: The travelling baseball team, sponsored by Tony Alibrandi’s barbershop, is always among the top one or two teams in the league. They’re pretty damn good.
  8. Just to be a dweeb: Doug Flutie plays in a senior baseball league, and has played at Trum twice: last year, about 3 days after retiring from the NFL, he was playing second base. This year, he was pitching.
  9. And to keep talking about professional athletes: former Major League Baseball player Paul Sorrento (played from 1989 to 1999) is from Somerville.
  10. More famous people: You know that song, “The Moster Mash”? You that guy who wrote it….Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett. You know where he’s from. Yah, that’s right….Somerville.
  11. Speaking of music: One of my favorite classical composers, Alan Hovhaness, is from Somerville. Interesting stuff about Hovhaness; he’s actually half Armenian, just like myself (my last name’s Hovanesian). His full name is Alan Vaness Chakmakjian. He was born in Somerville, moved with his family to Arlington, and finally settled in Watertown, which as anyone from Boston area knows, is where virtually all Armenian people live. Honestly….I’m pretty pumped Hovhaness is from Somerville.
  12. Speaking of people I never knew lived in Somerville: Barack Obama. When he was attending Harvard Law School, he lived in the ‘Ville for a little bit. Warrants mentioning….the guy is running for President.
  13. And speaking of politicians: Former Somerville Mayor Michael Capuano is now a Congressman in Washington. Suddenly Somerville has a little pull, huh?
  14. Oh, by the way: One of the first American flags, ever, was flown in Somerville, from Prospect Hill, January 1, 1776. Yah, that’s right baby….all of the sudden you wish you were from Somerville.
  15. And because it might be true: if one of the first American flags was flown here, it only seems reasonable that Betsy Ross used to chill in Somerville. And well, I’m just assuming that she was mad cool.
  16. Speaking of mad cool: Retired professional boxer Johnny ‘The Quiet Man’ Ruiz isn’t from Somerville (he’s from Chelsea), but he trained in Somerville. In all honesty, Ruiz was kind of an embarrassment: his shining moment was when he fought Evander Holyfield, got his ass kicked, and bitched about getting hit in the balls (like he did at every fight). But I still got to meet him in the eight grade when he visited the John F. Kennedy Elementary School. So there. And speaking of Johnny…
  17. Johnny had the absolute craziest, out of his mind trainer ever: Norman Stone, known affectionately as ‘Stoney.’ Good old Stoney is from Somerville, and being a native myself, its easy to tell, seeing as every other word out of his mouth is ‘f**k.’ Seriously….when Johnny was on the rise, the Boston Globe did a story on Stoney and his life, and in his quotes, just about every other word was blanked out. Absolutely classic. Stoney was kind of like a cross between Mickey from the Rocky movies and a lunatic who just spent twelve years in the slammer for armed robbery. At first he was sort of subdued, but when Johnny started losing, Stoney started losing it. During fights they’d go to the corner and the viewer would hear a barrage of F-bombs and Stoney blaming the refs. Towards the end of his career, Ruiz lost a fight, promting Stoney to run out into the ring and grab the belt. Which lead to a brawl, and Stoney getting knocked out. As the announcers watched, one commented, “Well, atleast one thing will come out of Johnny Ruiz retiring: we won’t have to listen to Norman Stone anymore.” Ahh, Stoney…..straigth outa Somerville. Here’s a nice little article about him.
  18. Speaking of boxing: The Somerville Boxing Club, located on Highland Ave., has a pretty good rep.
  19. Speaking of reps: Sound Bites, the breakfast place located on Broadway in Ball Square, is supposed to one of the best places to get breakfast. The only problem: I’ve never been there, and don’t really have any interest in going there. From what I’ve heard, the food is alright, but the line is always about 40 minutes long, and you’re literally kicked out of your seats as you’re eating. But, hey, going by reps…..I’ve heard Sound Bites is good.
  20. While you’re in Ball Square: sure, if you want to wait forty minutes for a breakfast you can’t even enjoy, go to Sound Bites. But if you want to eat one of the best lunches ever, head right next door to Victor’s, some seriously good, old school food. If you want my personal fave, shell out the bucks for the Stuffed Green Pepper. Although…..
  21. You can’t go wrong with the Chicken Noodle Soup, made fresh every day. But then again….
  22. The Chicken A La Rosa is always da bomb. Hey, whatever…..just go to Victor’s.
  23. And if you were hanging out in Ball Square about 2 months ago: You could have gone to El Gaupo’s for a fun night of kareoke with a bunch of Tufts kids. But wait a second, El Gaupo’s isn’t there anymore. Why? Ohh that’s right, Sound Bites bought it out so they could expand. The more I think about it, the more I realize I hate Sound Bites, and regret putting them in here.
  24. If you want a really, really great breakfast experience. Breakfast in bed while waited on by servants. But more realistically……The Neighborhood Restaurant down by Union Square. Only open in Spring/Summer (I think), its literally located in a driveway, underneath a bunch of grapevines. Its pretty damn equisite…..take my word.
  25. If you want a greasy spoon breakfast in a historic diner: head over to Kelly’s Diner, located on Broadway right up the street from Sound Bites. Not great…..but a pretty cool diner.
  26. If you want a greasy spoon breakfast in historic diner that used to be one of the roughest joints in town: head down to the Rosebud in Davis Square. Back before Davis Square wasn’t considered one of the coolest places to hang in Boston, it was pretty damn rough. And the Rosebud was the center of it all. Drugs, bar fights, prostitutes…..you name it, you got it. And only a three minute walk from my house. Hey, good times!! My mom used to make me walk a different way so I wouldn’t pass it. Then it became a mediocre restaurant called the Cuckoo’s Nest. And then, finally, the original owners re-bought it, and it became a decent place again. It wasn’t until it was re-opened that I found all the history behind it: supposedly, whenever the Yankees were in town, Mickey Mantle made it point to come to the Rosebud (at night: he wasn’t there for breakfast). Its reputed that he never missed a trip to the Bud when he was in town. Don’t know if this was good for him or bad (probably bad), but its still cool. As for the breakfast…..its greasy spoon.
  27. Speaking of bars: Its important to note: Somerville has bars; Medford doesn’t. Being next to each other: Somerville always has that upper hand over Medford, and if someone from Medford ever talks smack, you can always bring that into the equation. And thats not even counting Arlington…
  28. Which is ‘dry’. That’s right, ‘dry’. Besides Jimmy’s Steakhouse, which is probably run by the Mafia or something, you can’t get any booze in Arlington. So from that standpoint: Somerville totally kicks ass.
  29. Speaking of booze: No joke. The best beer selection in all of Boston can be found in Somerville, at Downtown Liquors and Spirits, located in Davis Square. I didn’t really realize the Gold Mine that it is until my friend who went to B.C. clued me in: you buy beer from literally all over the world in there. Sure, if you’re buying regular old beer its a little expensive, but that’s not why you should be there: you should be there to buy exotic beer. And a little tip: they have stuff in the basement that they don’t even put on the shelves. So if you don’t see what you’re looking for, let someone know…you may just be in luck.
  30. While we’re drinking: there were rumors for awhile that a lot of random alcohols were made in Somerville, because the bottles said, ‘Somerville, MA.’ Hate to put the rumor to rest…..but these drinks weren’t processed in Somerville, they were bottled here. But hey, whatever, thats still cool.
  31. And that doesn’t mean that the Somerville Special, a vodka made in Somerville, doesn’t exist. It does. And quite frankly…..its gross.
  32. Speaking of bad taste: Good Time Emporium, affectionately known as ‘Good Times’, is located in Somerville. If you want to spend your Saturday night playing video games, hanging out with tramps, and worrying about getting stabbed, this is your place! I shouldn’t be so mean…..but its true. An absolutely legendary Good Times ad aired on cable for about 5 years. It showed a bunch of people talking up Good Times: one was a guy with a mustache and wimpy voice, who goes “The Buffalo Wings heeyah aww da besssst.” This was followed by a clip of four of skankiest ladies ever, sitting on stools. All at once they yell, “Satahday Night!!” (Like, no “Hey, its great on Saturday nigh!” Just “Saturday Night!” I guess our imaginations were supposed to put the rest together.) By the way, one of the ladies hair was about 6 feet in lenghts, and reached to the goddamned floor. But the best part was the final guy: Some fat guy with a beard, obviously a little drunk, stammers into the camera, “This is the best place……probably in the United States…..to watch N…F…L Football.” Just such an absurd, ridicoulous statement that it leaves you speechless. The sad part is that I couldn’t find this ad on Youtube, ect…..I really tried. I definitely don’t do it justice….not even close. But the point…Good Times is an infamous part of Somerville….and good to have around. Here’s their website.
  33. Speaking of Good Times: in the same parking lot, which is located in Assembly Square, is an indoor paint ball place. Hey…..anytime there’s an indoor paint ball place in your city……thats good.
  34. While you’re in Assembly Square: head down behind the parking lots, past the soccer fields where the Spanish guys hang out, to the Amelia Earhart Dam. Located on the Mystic River, its some of the best Striped Bass fishing in and around Boston. Just don’t do any night fishing….it can be a rough area down there (all those rowdies getting out of Good Times).
  35. Speaking of Assembly Square: it got its name because cars used to be assembled there. And before that, cows were slaughtered down there. My seventh grade history teacher told us that guys used to slice open the juggulars of the cows and drink the blood, which has twice the calcium as milk. My seventh grade history teacher…..was interesting. If you’re driving north out of Boston on I-93, and you see signs for Somerville, turn your head to the right (without taking your eyes off the road) and you’ll see a Home Depot. That, my friends…..is Assembly Square.
  36. Speaking of Squares: There are a lot of so-called Squares in Somerville (most of which aren’t Square), but one of the lesser known squares is Gilman Square. Probably because it doesn’t have much going for it: located right behind the High School, it’s literally an intersection that consists of a cheap gas station and The Paddock. The Paddock is a restaurant that is quite literally a city institution. Unfortunately, I’ve never been there, which definitely takes away from my Somerville cred.
  37. Another Somerville institution I’ve never been to: The Mt. Vernon Restaurant, located on Lower Broadway in East Somerville. Home of the Twin Lobster Special!
  38. And right up the road until it was shut down a few years ago: a brothel. Supposedly the Head Madam had video footage of politicians getting it on after a nice dinner at the Mt. Vernon; as of yet, I haven’t heard about any names named.
  39. Speaking of Lower Broadway: Taco Loco es loco delicioso!
  40. If you want some slush with your taco: Louie’s Slush is a short walk up Broadway, located on the corner of Broadway and McGrath O’Brien Highway, right across the street from Foss Park. It reputedly has the best slush in the city.
  41. If you’d rather have ice cream: there’s a J.P. Licks in Davis Square. A chain that started Jamaica Plain, its good ice cream and frozen yogurt, at ridicolous prices.
  42. If you’d rather have ice cream ten years ago: located on the opposite end of Davis Square from where J.P. Licks now stands once stood the original Steve’s Ice Cream. For those of you who don’t remember or know, Steve’s used to be a great ice cream chain around Boston, famous for the numerous toppings you could get (I used to get lemon sorbet with Oreo cookie crumbs…..don’t ask. I was weird). There used to be a picture on the wall of a line of people waiting for ice cream in the late 1970s……in 20 degree weather. I guess Steve’s was a phenomena back then. For those of you bummed that Steve’s is no more…..have no fear, Steve has resurrected himself with Herrell’s, one which can be found in Allston and the other in Newton. Steve’s last name….Herrell. That clever guy. A note: Herrell’s has great breakfast sandwiches.
  43. Speaking of originals which are now no more: the original Bertucci’s once stood next to Steve’s. This hurts me much more than Steves’s…..Bertucci’s held a place near my heart. It was nothing like the chain restaurants (although they are good). It was a classic Italian restaurant with great pizza….the best part was the downstairs area. While there were tables upstairs, there were more downstairs, complete with a Bocci area. Yes, that’s correct……you played Bocci while you waited for your meal. In all honesty……I would have never learned how to play had it not been for Bertucci’s. Now….its a freaking Subway. You heard right. That Bocci area is now probably some storage area for boxes. It makes me angry to think about. I can’t help but hate Subway now, even if Jared is a decent guy……they ripped my freaking heart out. Bastards.
  44. Speaking of long lost memories: While we’re going down this road known as depressing memories, I have to cover one of my high school haunts: Dolly’s. It’s often said, rightfully so, that there is no where to eat late in Boston. Sure, there’s a diner in the South End that gets a lot of buzz, and there’s random Chinese plays, but there’s really not much. Boston’s old standby, Buzzy’s Roast Beef, was ripped down in 2000 to make room for a hotel. To describe it in one word: pathetic. But during my high school years, I became delusioned. Why?? Because literally a two minute walk from my house, stood Dolly’s. Dolly’s was a late night diner that opened every night at 11:30 and closed at 5:30am. They served breakfast. In high school, it was a regular haunt of me and my friends: we go down and watch all the drunks sing and act wild after a night at the bars, all while eating scrambled eggs and hash browns. Well, my senior year in high school, it left. Why? The rent was too steep. I never really understood this: the business must have been off the hook. But whatever the case, Dolly’s was gone forever. In my opinion, Davis Square lost a large part of its soul when Dolly’s left: the sad part is that anyone who’s only been here from 2001 or so would never know it.
  45. While we’re talking about memories: the Lowell Street bridge, located between Highland Ave. and Medford St., has been under construction for about 8 years and is finally finished. But before it went under construction, it was the wildest bridge around. If you we’re driving, and hit the bridge at say, 25 mph, you would get a little airborne. Being around 14 at the time, we’d get our moms to hit the bridge fast so that we’d get airborne. Any city that has a bridge that shoots your car into the air, even if it does decide to rebuild it, is cool.
  46. (Note: the following reason Somerville rocks is now under new ownership; the following paragraph should disregarded). MMMMMM…..Donuts: Do you love good quality donuts? Do you hate waiting in lines at Dunkins? Do you feel like your missing out on the Donut scene somehow? Well, chances are, you are. Atleast, if you haven’t heard of Russ’s Donuts, you are. Russ’s is a wholesale donut place: they sell them to bakeries, ect….But if you stop by during the day, the side door is open. Stepping in, you’ll smell the strong smell of bakery and see a lot of conveyor belts shipping stuff around. And right in front of you is a table laid out with some donuts…just like a bake sale. One of the guys will come by (note: every guy I’ve ever seen working at Russ’s is jacked), ask what you want, and grab it for you. And then you’ll pay: an entire quarter. That’s right…in less inflation has kicked it up in the last two years or so, you’ll pay one quarter for one of the best damn donuts you’ll ever find. Now, I’m not gonna tell you where to find Russ’s: in my attempt to keep it low key and talk about it on the internet, that’s my plan. But I’m not really worried about a ton of people showing up: its only open during the day, and its in a random spot, so it should probably be the same old Russ’s for awhile.
  47. More breakfast: I know I’ve talked about some breakfast places already, but I have to mention which may be my favorite in the city: Supreme Kitchen. It’s a little place on Highland Ave., right across from Somerville Hospital. There are a couple of tables and benches inside: its more of a sub shop than a breakfast joint. But the breakfast sandwhiches are terrific. Also, just about every possible Mafia movie poster hangs on the wall: the largest breakfast special is known as The Paulie Walnuts.
  48. Speaking of Somerville Hospital: Okay, Somerville Hospital isn’t a reason Somerville is great. But, it sure is funny to talk about. Don’t get me wrong: its good to have a hospital nearby if something happens in a pinch. But you don’t want any operations done up there: from what I’ve heard, its butcher central. The best story about the hospital regards my dad: back in the late seventies, he broke his ankle somehow. My parents lived on Central Street at the time: the hospital was about a two minute walk from their apartment. So, he hobbled up there (note: he probably drove), walked into the emergency room, and exlpained his situation. When he saw a doc, he was told he had only twisted. When asked if he should walk on it, they were like, “Ohh yah, go for it.” So for two weeks, my dad walked around on a broken ankle. Finally, he somewhere else and the doc was like, “Umm, you’ve been walking on a broken ankle for two weeks.” So again…..not exactly great, but funny.

VACANT SPACE:  LOOKING FOR WORDS.
Until Next Time,

Greg

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Tenting 101, Part 2

“And Isreal journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.”

-The Bible, Old Testament, Book Not Known

Hey, how’s it going?

A little while ago, I decided to write about one of my old occupations: being a tenter. I wrote a pretty cut and dry piece about the basics of tenting: equipment, jobs, ect….Well, now I’m here to write part 2, which will hopefully be a little less cut and dry: more stories and less technicalities. If you haven’t read Part 1, you might want to brush up before reading this here post. Here’ the link.

Before I get into some tenting stories, however, we need to discuss the two major types of tents being set-up these days: frame tents and centuries/mods.

Frame Tents:

Frame tents are exactly what the name implies: a tent built around a frame. In essence, a frame tent is sort of like a house: its built foundation first, and then the roof is thrown on it.

Frame Tent

Frame tents are built from hollow aluminum pipes: these make up the frame. They are divided up by length: each different lenght are spray painted with a certain color at the tops. If my memory is correct, it goes as follows:

Longest: Reds: reds could either be single barrelled or double barrelled: the double barrelled ones were kind of like two pipes welded together. Because they were so long, they sometimes needed a little extra strength. Reds were almost always used in the top section.

Long whites: long whites are slightly shorter then reds, and used for the same purpose: the top of the frame.

Blues: I may be wrong, but I think blues came next. They were often used as a cross support beam for the roof. The following picture displays what I mean when I say the top part of the tent:

Frame Tent

Our set up was a little different, but the above image shows where these pipes were used. (Note: these legs are entirely different from the legs we used to set up…..don’t pay any attention to those white, wooden things).

Next in line were the short whites. Short whites make up the perimeter: they would be located directly above the two dudes with no shirts on. If my memory is right, they were eight feet long.

Next in line were blacks: blacks were six feet tall and were used as legs.

Greens and yellows were both very short, and used specifically for smaller tents.

With frame tents, the tent is built first, as I’ve first mentioned. The first part of the tent to be built is the perimeter: the perimeter pieces are connected by metal connectors: I’m wracking my brain here, but I believe they were called three pieces and four pieces depending on how many pipe connectors were attached: the corner pieces always had three pieces.

This probably doesn’t make much sense to you if you’ve never tented, but to simplify it: like much like an erector set, the pipes and connectors build a tent frame.

As you may imagine, the taller the frame gets, the trickier it can get to connect certain pieces. At the top of the larger, more complex frames there were often eight-connector pieces known as crowns: eight different pipes had to be inserted, and this could often be tedious work, as by this point, the crown would be about eight feet above everyone’s head. Well, whatever: enough techinal tenting jargon.

Well, after the frame was built (think the picture of the two shirtless dudes under the tent, just no vinyl, no legs, and no shirtless dudes), the vinyl would be applied. First, drops (cloth to protect the vinyl; see part 1 for more details) would be laid out to protect the expensive vinyl. The vinyl would be placed on the cloth and untied, ready to be unrolled. Two men were required for this job: one would unroll the vinyl, the other would pull it across the frame to the other side, using a rope that is attached. Once the vinyl is stretched across the entire frame, its tied down on both sides to make sure its firmly in place, but never too tight: as I’ve mentioned, vinyl is expensive, and if it was secured to tightly, and the vinyl happened to rip, well, someone would be in some shit. I know because every supervisor told me this when I was tightening vinyl. Luckily, no vinyl was ripped on my watch.

Once the vinyl was all in place, the fun would start: time to raise the tent. By this, I mean the legs (blacks) were to be inserted. Now, let me just say: this isn’t exactly easy. It goes like this:

Every guy stops what he’s doing, and comes to one side of the tent, where the legs have previously been laid out. If its a twelve man crew, ten line up along the perimeter. Two stand at either end. On a count, everyone lifts the frame over there heads (note: this is a great workout for the arms; I had a nice set of pipes back in the day). At first this is cool; no sweat. But for about a minute, the frame is being held up, while the dudes are running around at full speed, slamming the legs into there connectors. This is fine if the guys running around are good, but if they’re slow, or if they trip and fall (more likely), things can get interesting. Eventually, barring any craziness, the legs are all put in place, and the tent can rest sideways.

At this point, the same thing is done on the other end: this is actually a little more strenous on the arms, since the both end of the tent are up in the air (makes the arms quiver a tid bit). But after a little more running around and connecting pipe, its cool to let go and admire the fully erected tent.

At this point, pins need to be inserted: every tenter always has a few pins in his pocket, along with some bungees. Once everything is pinned, the tent, in essence, is completed.

Ofcourse, there is always other stuff: sidewalls need to be put in, christmas lights need to be hung, things need to be bungeed, tables and chairs may need to be pushed underneath. But this is really all there is to putting up a frame tent: build the tent, pull the vinyl over, and erect. The times to put up a frame tent vary depending on size: a really large frame can take a whole day to put up, while one guy can erect a 10×10 (ten feet by ten feet…..the smallest possible tent) in about ten minutes.

Notes: as a general rule, most frame tents are smaller than mods or centuries. But some frame tents are massive. The truly huge frame tents can be a little trickier to put up: for instance, if its a 100×200, thats too big for guys to simply lift up when legs need to be put in. So for massive frame tents like this, hydraulic lifters are taken to replace manpower. Ofcourse, a guy has to operate each pump, which is a little tough, since he has to crank at the precise speed of everyone else: there is usually a lot of yelling involved with this process. The reason some folks want giant frames over centuries or mods is that there is a lack of centerpoles (I’ll get into this). Ofcourse, frames can only be so big: they need to be able to support themselves, and eventually, they’d just fall in on themselves. Once everything else is done, staking begins: ropes are tied to the stakes, and the stakes are beaten down with hammers. And that, my friends, is how you build a frame tent.

Mods and Centuries:

Century Tent

The above tent is a century tent, which is about the exact opposite of a frame tent: there is no frame. As you can see, there are large poles holding it up: these are center poles. A mod (or modular tent) is just a slightly different shaped tent (circular), but its pretty much the same thing.

With centuries/mods, the set-up is in the exact opposite order of frames: before the tent is built, the vinyl is stitched together. Since centuries are usually larger (these are the big daddies), the sheaths of vinyl are absolutely huge: this is where special vinyl dollies are needed for transport. I don’t care how strong you are: there is no way you’re carrying a huge piece of vinyl off of a truck. It usually took two dudes to drive a dolly: one to push and one to steer. Coming down a truck ramp, three dudes were often needed.

The vinyl is laid on the ground and rolled out over drops. The lacers take off their shoes, and begin the painstaking task of crawling over the vinyl on their hands and knees, lacing everything together. This is might sound like a nice, relaxing jobs, but there’s a couple things to remember here: first, the vinyl is white (excluding clear vinyl) and reflects the sun very brightly, which means that if its a hot day and you’re in the middle of some field somewhere, you literally roast. Second, lacing is very, very important. If you miss a lace, the mistake won’t be noticed until hours later, when the entire tent is finished: and yes, it will be noticed, because the tent will not look right. If its extreme, the entire thing has to be taken down and started over (in other words, “expletive, expletive, expletive!!”). The old saying goes: ‘Miss a lase, buy a case.’ In case you were wondering: yes, I missed a lace. I remember distinctly which job it was: a tent we were setting up for Vermont Public Radio. We even got free hats. It was about 90 degrees, and I just couldn’t get it right. After four tries (and some help), I figured I had it. Turned out: I didn’t. We didn’t take it down, and I somehow got out of buying a thirty rack, but I still felt like shit.

And the third thing to remember about lacing: you get blisters. But with all this in mind, it is nice to kick off the old workboots and crawl around on your hands and knees for awhile.

Once everything is laced correctly, side poles are attached to the vinyl. Side poles are a little different than the blacks used for frames: first of all, they are not pipes. They are wooden poles, with little metal feet on the bottom. At the top there is a hook to loop to the vinyl.

Once the side poles are attached, its time to raise the center poles. The center poles are the gigantic things in the middle. How are they raised, you ask? Well, like so.

There are two parts to center poles: the pole, and the top. The top part is only about three feet long: it is screwed onto the pole beforehand. The very tip of this is a long point: this is inserted through a whole in the vinyl, and secured. To accomplish this: a group of six or eight guys grab the completed pole; a couple guys hold up the vinyl; and two guys, one being a boss, stand waiting at the whole. When the pole enters, it is directed in by the boss: grabs a hold of it, and puts it through the hole. At this point he turns his attention to the hole, where he must tie and secure it. Without looking, he tells the other guy if the pole should come in a little, go out a little, ect….

Meanwhile, the guys holding the pole wait for the signal to go. Toward the bottom of this pole, there is a hole. And through this whole, a metal pipe, known as a cindy bar (no idea why), is put through to serve as a handle. When the signal is given, four to six guys pull backward on the cindy bar with all of their might….and lift up the entire tent. The center pole stands on a little wooden plank: once it is place, the cindy bar is removed, and it is tied into place. This same process is done for all of the poles.

Once the tent is up, the same stuff goes on as would after a frame tent is set up: staking is still done, but instead of simply rope, quick tights (cranks specific to tenting) are staked to hold the tent down. And that is it.

As for taking down, it can be a little more hectic: the poles can shoot out pretty fast when they’re removed, and the heavy vinyl often falls on everyone’s heads as they’re carrying the pole, but its really just the opposite of the set-up.

Other tenting specifics:

Dance floor and flooring: This is a pretty intricate part of tenting: you can imagine how many events require some kind of floor. Dance floor is pretty simple: sheathing is laid down, and the dance floor is drilled into place. But flooring is a little more complex: it is more secure, meaning that two by fours are laid out before the sheathing. The sheathing is drilled into the two by fours, and then the flooring is screwed into the sheathing.

Any type of flooring has to be built before the tent is put up: that means its always in the elements. If its hot and sunny, there is no vinyl to shade you as you painstakingly drill. If its raining, diddo. Of all the jobs associated with tenting….I hated flooring the most.

Stage: stage is another thing we set up a lot. Stage, despite its appearance, is infinetely more easy to set up than flooring. Its pretty much like putting a puzzle together: all the pieces fit perfectly. The only thing is that stage is heavy, but with a dolly, this isn’t a problem. (There was some special stage, however, that we set up for an outdoor Shakespeare production ontime, that was simply atrocious. Everytime I lifted it off the flatbead truck, I thought I was going to lose a finger. That was the last week I was working there, and I remember how relieved I was that it in my next job I wouldn’t have to worry about my fingers).

Tables and chairs: tables and chairs are intricate parts of tenting. Rounds are rolled; 8ft banquets and six ft. squares are carried (the squares are a bitch!); chairs are pushed on dollys. A general rule concerning 8 foot banquet tables, which are the standard tables at most events: if you don’t take two on your shoulder, you’re a total pussy.

And that my friends, wraps up this Tenting 101 Seminar. Now, whenever you walk by one of those pretty little tents outside, you can tell your friends, “Hey, that center pole was lifted by a few guys with a cindy bar, and let me tell you, its no laughing matter if a lace is missed beforehand.”

Now, before I go: some memorable tents:

Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont, June 2005:

This was a memorable trip for me. Often in tenting there are overnights: this is when a job is so far away and/or huge that it is required that atleast a few guys stay in a motel for an overnight. Overnights are good for a couple reasons: you get paid a lot of OT, and my company gave us 35 bucks cash for each night there, which is more than enough for dinner and some beers. The bad part: every overnight I was ever on was excrutiatingly hard work.

Bennington College was my first overnight. I was driving White Beauty (one of our pickups) down Route 7 in Vermont: from Burlington to Bennington, it is about a three hour drive (in those slow trucks). For those of you who don’t know: Route 7 through Vermont is one of the most spectacularly scenic roads in the country (no joke). As we headed through southern Vermont, we’d pop over a ridge line and it would be endless vistas of green mountains. Honestly, that’s one of the greatest rides I’ve ever had.

The town of Bennington is large enough for Vermont (about 10,000 I think), but Bennington College is pretty seperate from the town. A few things about the school: it was once officially the most expensive school in the country. This was brought up on an episode of the Cosby Show, when Dr. Huxtable’s daughter wanted to attend. The campus is located on top of large hill, and is surrounded by large hills, and is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Ofcourse, the kids are all weirdos.

Now, there was a running subplot with Bennington College: my former employer sets up their graduation tents every year. The year before, the school had set aside a bungalow for the guys to sleep in. Well, one thing led to another, some beer was bought, and the next thing you know, an all-out party was going on. In case you weren’t aware: this is not a party school. To top it all off: from what I heard, some of the guys had a very good time with the ladies, if you know what I mean.

Well, the school couldn’t help but notice that a huge party had gone down in the tenters bungalow. About a week before we went down in 2005, an email was sent to everyone at the tenting company (with an email address……tenters didn’t apply). In it, it was stated, very clearly, that no tenter was to have any verbal contact, whatsoever, with any students.

Getting out the trucks, my boss took us aside, and gave us this little speil:

“Okay guys, look, I don’t care what happened last year….you’ve all heard about the email. You cannot talk to these people. Don’t even look at them. If they try to talk to you, ignore them. Please.”

So that was it. We set up the tents (a couple frames and a large century) and ignored any verbal contact that people tried to iniate with us. It all worked fine, until lunch.

To speed up the staking, we were using a staking machine to get the job done quicker: two of us were running it. I was helping to hold it, and the other guy was running it. We both had ear plugs in. Well, at about stake number 20, I felt something hot sting me, and saw something come out of the machine at the same time. Before I could say anything, hot oil started spraying all over me.  I yelled, but due to the earplugs, my partner couldn’t hear me.  So I took a hand off the machine and punched him: he stopped and looked at me, and saw oil all over me.  Well, it wasn’t a big deal, but we didn’t have any napkins, and it was lunchtime, so we headed into the cafe.  We all looked like typical workers (dirty and sweaty) except me: dirty, sweaty, and covered in oil.  There was oil in my mouth (I distinctly remember that).

I remember walking into the cafe to get a couple napkins and some free pizza, and some girl stopped:

“Ohh my God, what happened to??  Are you okay??”

“Ahh, it was just an oil spill….no big deal.  Hey, is the pizza here good?”

And then I remembered Marty’s words, and the email, and feeling a little weird, I walked away before I could get an answer.  So I broke the whole speech thing; luckily, I wasn’t fired.

Also on that day:  I ripped open my hand using a rubber hammer (kids: always use plastic handled hammers; rubber hammers are evil), leaving a gash that would stick around for a month, and a scar that I still have to this day.  That night, I drank two beers and fell into a deep sleep while watching the Red Sox in a motel room a couple miles from campus (we were banned from the bungalow).  But honestly, that was one of my memorable tenting trips.  I’m not sure why: I think over everything, because it was so damned beautiful down there.  That’s the great thing about tenting: you see cool places.

Some day, I might post more about cool tenting stories: I’ve got tons of them.  For now, though, I’m exhausted.  I’ve gotta go.  If you ever wanna know more about tenting, let me know.

Until Next Time,

Greg

Why I’m banned in China/Beer ads, beers ads, and more beer ads

Hey,

Don’t you hate it when you read someone’s stuff on the internet, and you expect them to write consistently, like atleast twice a week, but then like a total asshole they take the whole week off without an explanation, and the only post they have up is some stale post about a story that was cool to talk about four days ago. It really drives me bonkers. I hate people that do that.
Yah, pretty much, I hate myself.

But hey, I’m here to take care of business: lets get started.

Okay, I’ve got two ongoing projects I’m working on: The Nintendo songs thing and my history of tenting (some of you may not know what the hell I’m talking about). I plan on finishing those projects, but like most things that I start without finishing within a week: I get tired of them. I will finish them, because I set out to get the job done, dammit!!!……but I’m just gonna talk for a little bit.

Don’t Mess With the Chinese:

I just talked to my friend recently who is living in China for about the next three months. While he was living here, he frequented my blog a lot. Well, he told me that he couldn’t read my blog anymore because the Chinese government has pretty much shut down access to all blog website access throughout the country. There is obviously a lot of stuff at play here, but he told me in his email that one of the reasons is that an American guy living in China has ruffled a lot of feathers. He was teaching English to adults and simultaneously writing in a blog. In the blog he talked about how he slept with all sorts of Chinese woman, some of whom were married. He also mentioned how he was sexually superior to all Chinese men. Now, obviously, some of this probably hogwash, but it brings up some interesting points:

China=Scary: We’ve all heard for awhile how the Chinese government has put clamps down on internet access, which have recently been loosened. Hey, there’s even a Chinese version of MySpace now. But this still makes it clear that China can pretty much control what over a billion people access on the internet. I don’t know what else to call that but scary.

Some people take the term “Brass Balls” to a whole new level: Okay, I understand a lot of people like to express their sexual prowness on their blogs. Hey, whatever floats your boat. But this guy in China is taking that to a whole new level. Its one thing to say, “Sandy and I had great sex last night.” Its a whole nother thing to state, while living in China, that, “Not only do I sleep with married Chinese women, but Chinese men are inferior in the sack. Oh, and by the way, I’m an American. U-S-A! U-S-A!” Yah, last time I checked, that’s a good way to get yourself executed.

Now, I’m not debating the pair of Brass Balls this guy has: they’re about as brass as they come. But there’s a fine line between having a set of cojones and being straight-up suicidal. With this guy, I’m gonna go ahead and call him suicidal. I just hope for his sake his ass ain’t thrown into some dungeon.

I Feel Cool: Honestly, the fact that my buddy can’t read my stuff, simply because he’s in China, makes me feel real cool. My stuff is banned in China!! I’m totally being censored!! If you go to China, its illegal to read my blog!! I don’t know how you feel, but that makes me feel real freaking cool.

Anyway, enough about the Chinese and blogs. The moral to this story: Don’t blog mess with the Chinese.

Television Ads I Want to Talk About:

Every now and then, I like to talk about TV ads I see. Why?? Because I feel that the corporations spending all this money on advertising expect us to pay attention. Hey, I might not buy their product, but I will blog about their ads. That’s something.

Redstrip Beer:

Every once in awhile, a really clever, low budget ad campaign will roll around. Back in the ’90s, Foster’s beer had some great ads, with the concept being, ‘How to Speak Australian.’ Unfortunately I can’t seem to find any of the really good ones on Youtube. But one showed a grainy image of a Great White Shark swmimming around, and the Australian voice said translated it to “Guppy.” It was great. It was totally low budget, and hilarious. This has nothing to do with the fact that Fosters sucks and Australians don’t even consider it beer, but hey, they had damn good ads. And then, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, they started putting more money into them, and actually making real ads. And you know what…..they were never as good or funny. They were just like other generic ads. And to top it all off….Fosters still sucks.

Anyway, for those of us who watch PTI consistently on ESPN, a similar ad campaign has been going on for the last few years: Redstripe. Just like Fosters, its imported (from Jamaica). Unlike Fosters, its actually pretty good (and expensive).

Well, the ads have been running pretty much exclusively during PTI airings for the last few years, so it’d be easy to miss ’em if you’re not an aged 18-35 male. But the original ads were obviously low budget, unconventional….and absolutely fantastic. Here are a couple of the good ones:

There were a couple more like this. I don’t know about you, but I think they’re freaking brilliant. I love ads like this….they fart in the face of everything that’s conventional about advertising. And now??? Well, unfortunately, they’ve gone the way of Fosters. Now there’s special effects, quirky humor, and new sets: and they’re not as good. I mean, maybe its better for them. Maybe sleeker ads bring in more revenue. But its still sad to see the ads go down hill. (Luckily, the Redstrip guy is still the star).

Before I leave this subject, here’s another one that I’ve never seen before.

While We’re Talking About Beer Ads:

Screw it, here’s some good beer ads for your viewing pleasure:

No idea why this first one was banned from TV. It may just be the most FREAKIN COOL BEER AD EVER.

Here’s a good one….my Mom will like this ’cause she likes Flashdance.

Hahn’s may just have the best damn beer ads in the world. Don’t know how the beer is.

The next one is easily one of my favorite ads ever….it was on heavy rotation here in the states about 3 years ago. Since this ad, I’ve been very disapointed with Coors Light ads in general.

Honestly, I can’t even tell if this next one is a real ad or not….but it totally kicks ass.

A really good Heinenken ad.


This last one is without question the most epic beer ad ever made. In fact, its probably the best beer ad ever (I wrote another one of my asbolute favorites in an earlier post; I will post the link). But first, please, enjoy this superb achievement.

Here’s the link for where you can find a previous entry where I posted two Heinenken ads and wrote about. I think one of these ads rivals the Carlton one for being epic.

Okay, I’m about done. Sorry if all these videos have frozen your computer….I’m kind of a jerk like that.

Until Next Time,

Greg

The Day the Sopranos Died

Warning:  I give stuff away about the Sopranos from earlier seasons

“Can I just get some macaroni and gravy?”

Paulie Walnuts, The Sopranos. While visiting Italy with Tony and Christopher in Season 2, this was Paulie’s classic response to the authentic Italian cuisine he was given. Ahh, Paulie…..is there a greater guy in the universe?

Anyway……I just had to put in my input in, as everyone seems to be doing. I think the ending to the Sopranos last night was the most spineless, cowardly way for a show to go out….but I don’t really think it matters. Why? Because the Sopranos hasn’t even been a good show for the past 4 years.

I’m a little upset with myself…..I’ve been thinking all day about how I was going to absolutely roast the Sopranos, and then, just out of curiousity, I took a look at one of my favorite writers and what he had to say about it, and he really liked it. I hate it when that happens…..he’s skewed my damn thoughts, and taken away from some of my rage. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not pissed off….I’m gonna try my best to lay it out as I see it.

In my opinion, when the Sopranos came out, it was the most revolutionary TV show ever. I don’t use that term lightly: look at TV these days, and the kinds of shows we see: Interesting shows with intricate plot lines, good dialouge, and excellent characters. FX has a slew of shows like this; HBO has about 25, 23 of which may be awful, but still. The culture of TV has changed. Go back in time to mid-90s and you wouldn’t see this stuff. The Sopranos, with the help of being shown on a network that allowed sex, swears, violence, and pretty much everything else, showed us that a TV show can be brutal, intellectual, and politically incorrect, all at once. It showed us that TV shows could break away from the idea that eveyone had to be pleased in order to keep the ratings up: without ratings to hamper them, they pretty much shit in the face of the modern TV drama was at the time. And it was a wonderful thing to watch.

I didn’t start watching the Sopranos until the third season was finished: watching the DVDs, I started at Season 1, and made it all the way through Season 3.

They were the best three seasons of television I have ever watched.

The reasons were countless: Without going into the details, it was mind-blowingly good. It was one of those shows where you feel like you knew the characters like you went to school with them for 12 years.

Tony, the boss who ran his crime family with an iron fist, but who was sometimes a softie at home.

Christopher, the out-of-control, hotshot newphew (in the early days).

Silvio and Pussy, Tony’s go-to guys.

Paulie, the typical tough-guy, and one of the funniest characters on any show ever.

With these characters as a base, a beautiful thing was created. Brutal violence and brutal honesty combined to make a specatular thing.

The First Season only scratched the surface. In the Second Season, we started to mee the truly interesting characters: Tony’s sister Janice, one of the most despicable witches in TV history; despite this, she brought alot to the table in the early days.

An even more monstrous character was Richie Apprio (forgive me if this is spelled wrong, as I think it is). I think of every Sopranos character ever, Richie Apprio was by far the most under-appreciated and underrated. He was an absolute pychopath who was truly fantastic all the way around. Season 2, in my opinion, was the Season of Richie Apprio.

In Season 2, the plot lines became more intricate. There was the Pussy situation (for those who watched back then). There was the memorable trip to Italy, where Christopher first got a taste of the drugs that would ruin him, and Paulie got a taste of Europeans distaste for Americans. There was Furio, who for a few episodes was one of the most badass characters ever. Every Episode was brilliant.

And finally, Season 3….in my opinion, the greatest season ever. It was the Season where we all got to meet Ralphie, the most memorable character in the show’s history. He was one of those few characters who I can only describe as someone that You Loved to Hate. Don’t get me wrong….we all hated Ralphie. I hated Ralphie….he was an awful, awful person. But didn’t you just love to hate him? When he killed the stripper and Tony punched him, when he made horrible comments in public, when he challenged everyone’s sanity……we hated him, but we loved to hate him. Ralphie added a sort of joy to my life. (I would describe Janice, on the other hand, as someone we Hated to Hate…..but I think she still brought something to the table for Seasons 2 and 3). Add to all this that Christopher and Paulie were in their absolute primes (in my opinion, the Episode when they got stuck in the woods with the Russian is the most memorable episode ever), and Season 3 is simply untouchable. It should go down as one of the Greatest Seasons of Television for any show in any genre…..period.

Why am I reminscing about all this? Because in my opinion, the Sopranos officially died after Season 3. Hell, I’ll be the first to admit it….I wasn’t too interested in them until everyone was saying how good they were (thats why I watched). I mean, I never had HBO…..but still, I was one of them. I wasn’t there in the beginning….I heard the buzz.

Once the buzz started really buzzing, the inevitable pitfalls started coming. Suddenly, other acting jobs came up for the stars. Contracts got stuck in negotiations. Movies had to be done. Between Season 3 and Season 4, about 2 years elapsed.

When it came back, it was never the same. Don’t get me wrong…..the single greatest moment in TV watching in my life came up (when Ralphie got killed….that was even more mind-blowing to watch live for me than when the Pats won their first Super Bowl). But the show just wasn’t the same show. The writing wasn’t as good. There wasn’t as much action. Things slowed down. At the end of the Season, Tony and Carmela got divorced. That was it. That was the focus of the entire season. I remember watching and thinking, “Uh-oh, this show will never be the same.”

And it wasn’t….ever. People who have only watched Seasons 4-6 haven’t really been watching the Sopranos….they’ve been watching the ghost of the show that once was. Sure, there were new characters, and new plot twists, and more murders…..but it had a certain tame edge to it. Take, for example, Tony B., Tony’s cousin who gets out of jail.

Tony B. was played by one of my all-time favorite actors, Steve Buschemi. Buschemi directed a few episodes before, notably the episode with the Russian from Season 3. So it seemed fitting that he come. But as great an actor as he is…..Tony B. was kind of lame. I might shot for making this statement, cause a lot of people really loved Tony B……but he was boring. What did Tony B. ever do that could compare with Richie and Ralphie? Nothing…..thats what.

Maybe I’m being unfair…..its difficult to keep a show like this fresh for a long period of time. But like it or not….its been stale for awhile.

And thats why this whole Finale thing bothers me. This entire final Season, there’s been a feeling like this show was sort of drifting into parts unknown. Like any good story, there should be three parts: the take-off, the flight, and the landing. The take off was fine, but in my opinion, the Sopranos Airplane has been flying at tree level for the past few seasons, just waiting to make a safe landing. When it was decided that it was indeed time to land, the plane started wavering all over the place.

All the episodes this season seemed dis-jointed and unconnected: Tony fought Bobby Baccala; Tony took peyote in Vegas; Tony lost trust in Paulie. It almost seems like a guy going through his mid-life crisis, grabbing at every plotline before its too late. In the end, the show, like the guy, burned himself out.

And so that’s where we were left with three episodes left: a bunch of broken, unpromising plotlines. Then the whole ordeal with Christopher, which, despite my whole feelings as expressed in this post, was still very moving; the violence towards the end; and the last episode.

I wouldn’t feel angry if the entire last season was treated differently. If they had just slowed down the last season, and addressed some of the old plotlines more clearly (Unlce Junior, ect….) it wouldn’t have stung so much. But instead, they had a bullshit season where nothing happened, and then tried to make up for it in the last two episodes. I felt like I was watching two boxers who played around for 12 rounds, and then gave it their all in the last 30 seconds, just appease the crowd. In a lame excuse for a Finale, old plotlines were addressed (somewhat), old characters popped-up (Meadow’s friend Hunter….I’m sorry, but thats totally lame), and all was supposed to be made well with us. After clearing all that up, they gave us the ending that simply everyone now feels the need analyze.

Well, I won’t analyze it….cause its bullshit. This was not a show ending…..it was a showing playing with diehard fans. All that fade to black crap is shit….maybe if something happened it would be acceptable, but nothing did happen, so its garbage.

Whether there is some kind of movie to wrap things up or not, this was a pathetic way to put a show to death…but, as I said earlier, it doesn’t really matter anymore, because it hasn’t really been the Sopranos for awhile.

Sadly, people will continue to discuss this like it means something. In the meantime, I’ll recall one of my favorite memories:

In the pilot episode, Christopher has to kill a Polish guy, who starts talking about sausage. In Classic Christopher fashion, he goes, “You guys have sausage?” The Polish guy goes, “Yah.” And Christopher goes “Wow, I thought there was only Italian and Jimmy Dean. Who woulda thought.” Two minutes later, he put a bullet in the guy’s head. The was the Sopranos…..brutally violent, brutally honest. Its a shame that it has become something entirely different: just another show to talk about at the water cooler with everyone else.

Until Next Time,

Greg

Random Radio Pick

Hi There,

As you may have noticed, I haven’t had time to write this week.  I have to say, it was probably the craziest week I’ve ever had at work, so that’s why.

But the real reason I’m stopping by?  To tell you about a radio program you should be listening to on Saturday afternoons.  I was driving around Boston at around 2pm last Saturday, and got tired of listening to the Red Sox on the radio (I don’t even really like baseball…..I like listening to it on the radio though…..go figure).  Anyway, I started flipping through the FM dials, and hit 88.9, Emerson University’s radio station.  I usually listen to this on weeknights for underground hip-hop, but they play all sorts of crazy crap the rest of the week. 

Well, at about 2pm on Saturday afternoon, they were playing Accapella stuff.  Accapella usually doesn’t jump out at me as something that’s all that cool.  But let me tell you….this accapella kicked ass.  Eric Clapton covers, Backstreet Boys covers, whatever…..it was great song after great song (I think any song you can recognize and say, “Hey, I know that song!” can be classified as a great song when it comes to accapella.)

But seriously….if the radio just isn’t doing for you on a random Saturday or Sunday afternoon, try All Accapella on 88.9 FM.  Or if you aren’t in Boston, you can stream ’em online

Anyway, I’ve gotta go, because I have to attend my Birthday Cookout here at my parents house (I turned the big 25 on Wednesday, June 6.)  I’ll be back with various projects I’m trying to finish…..but I am still kind of busy, so I’ll see how often I can post. 

Until Next Time,

Greg

The Most Memorable Nintendo Songs Of All-Time, Part 2

All videos have been provided by nesguide.com, the most comprehensive site you will ever need to visit regarding Nintendo games.

“I Feel Asleep.”

-Metal Gear, NES, 1987

The above is one of the many memorable quotes from the archives of old video games, this one found in the orginal Metal Gear…..in case you don’t know, it should have said “I fell asleep.” Ahh….the Golden Years of video games.

Anyway, I plan on talking about some original Nintendo music right now; ASAP. If you missed part one, here it is.

Okay….a few things before I get started. I will be looking specifically at music from NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) games. I will not be rating them: I think that’s a task for someone else. I will take into account the quality of the game (I think it plays a factor as to how the music is heard), and I will also factor in how enjoyable the song is, whether it brings back old memories, how addictive the tune is, ect, ect, before I choose them. I won’t discuss them very deeply for now…..if you have issues or would like to discuss, leave some comments.

Okay, lets get started.

For now, we’ll keep them in one section: The Solids.These are solid songs from solid games that you can’t go wrong with.

Metroid, 1986.

Metroid is the story of a fighter in the future, fighting space pirates who attack space ships. It has one of the largest cult followings of any game. Here is the Wikipedia link.

The music is on a fairly short loop, but is unique and catchy. Great music for a great game.

Metal Gear, 1987:

Metal Gear is a military game that gained a major cult following into the 1990s. In 2005, to much fanfare, it was released on Sony’s Playstation 2. Here is the Wikipedia link.

The music is the original version consists of two parts: regular and frantic. I really enjoy the regular music: it has a sinister touch that Metroid’s doesn’t have (I would describe Metroid’s music as ‘heroic’ or ‘epic’.).

While watching this clip, look for the “I Feel Asleep!” quote.

Shadow of the Ninja, 1990.

This is a game that I know virtually nothing about. I was perusing the videos posted by nesguide.com, and happened to check out this game. I really liked the music. Here’s the Wikipedia link.

Kid Icarus, 1986.

Kid Icarus is a game somewhat similar in gameplay to Metroid; here’s the Wikipedia link.

The music for Kid Icarus changes with the levels, but all the tunes manage to stay stuck securely in one’s head.

One great thing about Kid Icarus is that it has five possible endings, depending on how well you finish the game (speed and lack of mistakes). You’ve gotta love the programmers way of keeping the game fresh, even after it had been beaten.

Ghosts and Goblins, 1986.

A few words need to be said about Ghosts and Goblins. Released in 1986, it is considered by many to be the most difficult video game of all-time, or atleast one of them. My good friend, who has beaten many video games (I don’t know if I’ve ever beaten a game), spent a great deal of his childhood playing this game, and then gave it a whirl for awhile last year….and never even beat the first level. That’s right….he spent about 8 years (granted, not straight) trying to beat the first level, and couldn’t do it. And he’s damn good at beating video games.

The funny thing about all this: there are only 6 levels in the game. If someone is good enough so that they finally beat it, a message comes up saying that the screen is an illusion created by Satan, and that the player must start over. The game then re-starts at level one: the only difference is that the difficulty is increased.

Can you imagine this? Being a kid, one can only dream of beating a game this difficult. To finally make it to the end, and to then realize that the entire game has to be re-played, at a higher level of difficulty….well, that’s just cruel. The programmers of this game were real jerks.

There is a 22 minute clip on Youtube of a guy beating this game: it is also the official world record. I actually sat and watched the whole thing. At the end, in typical Nintendo fashion, it says: “Congratulations. This Game is Happy End. Thank You.” Not an especially great prize.

For anyone interested in reading further on what may be the most difficult video game of all time, here’s the Wikipedia link.

Gradius, 1986.

Gradius is a great game. Anyone who doesn’t like the music from Gradius, well, isn’t my friend.

Here’s the Wikipedia link. Enjoy the tune.

1943: The Battle of Midway, 1988.

If you liked the music from Gradius, then this is right up your alley. Totally different….and yet, so similar. Here’s the Wiki link.

Kung Fu, 1985.

Yah, I know I’ve said this before……but if you don’t like the music from Kung Fu, then I’m not your friend.

(Before you say, “Hey, Kung Fu’s music sucks, its just some stupid bass line,” well, I just want you to know, that you suck, not Kung Fu.)

Here’s the Wiki link.

Spy Hunter, 1983.

Today’s discussion will end with the epic game Spy Hunter, which, interestingly enough, has no ending (you can’t beat it). There were rumors about a final level involving a graveyard, when the driver gets out of his car and begins running on foot….but these rumors have been pretty much squashed.

As for the music….well, its that tune that everybody knows…but I can’t seem to put a finger on what it is or whom composed it. Maybe one of you know. If you know the tune….help a brother out!

Here’s the Wiki link.

This post would not have been possible without the knowledge and insight of Kevin Canavan.

There were obvious absentees from today’s discussion: They will be covered when I write my next post regarding this subject.

Until Next Time,

Greg