Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Green Day - "At The Library" (1990)

I'll never have a better day at one than my visit to VB's central branch on 11/12/98.

The Zeros - "Wild Weekend" (1978)

Mild weekends are OK, too.

Lov(i)e Songs

Hello, Lovie! Sorry it's taken so long to discuss the cherished mix you helped compile. There are nearly 100 ink pens at my disposal, but only about 10 of them write smoothly. I'm done with Rollerballs, because they seem to stop rotating after 750 words or so. The switch has been made to the Pilot Precise V5. I hope it's magic, you know. As you're aware, there's a story behind each of the 27 selections on LS. In our relationship's nascent days, remember when you repeatedly referred to Everlast's "What It's Like" as "our song"? I vehemently refused to apply the tag, but the "Yes, it is!"/"No, it isn't!" exchanges made for some playful moments during those private times behind Planet Music. (Class 4 misdemeanor: Who knew?) For the mix's benefit, Mr. Boxing Equipment's ballad won't be appearing on Lov(i)e Songs, though related tales involving superior tunes will be touched upon. Pour yourself a big bowl of Honey Bunches Of Oats, 'cause "Your Jake" is ready to connect guitar chords with great memories.

How wonderful was the 1998 era? Via a simple request of several sheets of typing paper, November 12th of that year changed both of our lives for the better. Busying ourselves with various projects, I couldn't help stealing several glances of you striking the QWERTY rows in a diligent manner. Your soft and sweet features instantly attracted me, and I felt an excitable tinge while pounding the keys at an increased velocity. That initial face-to-face at Virginia Beach's central branch made Green Day's "At The Library" a no-brainer for LS. People bag on the band for this and that, but this cut bleeds its lines with potent plasma similar to earlier Buzzcocks transfusions. Assignments completed, we had our first "dinner date" at Zero's Subs on Virginia Beach Blvd. We chose foot-long sandwiches and shared a BIG bag of chips over the pathetic, snack-sized offerings. Would've killed for a "Mexican Coke" made with real sugar, much like I would've maimed to see The Zeros (sometimes called the "Mexican Ramones") perform "Wild Weekend" and other buried classics at the nearby Sunset Grill(e). The meal and conversation were very satisfying, as the latter concerned mostly zine- and music-related topics. One fantastic trivia nugget you'd later provide was that Blue Oyster Cult, authors of the cowbell-heavy "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," were originally known as Soft White Underbelly. Handing you a slip with "Gunther" plus seven digits, I wasn't expecting a phone call several days later. Fortunately, you made contact and arranged for us to have cocoa in the cafe at Barnes & Noble. The warmth of hot beverages soothed cold chills, but our impending hunger necessitated more than B & N's cake and pastry options. Pulling final sips of creamy chocolate, we agreed to dine at the chain restaurant across the street. The Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" remains a well-done, deliciously dark entree that's never been sent back to the kitchen even after millions of orders. Too bad the same didn't hold true for your Triple Cheeseburger. Why did the cook believe that "well-done" contained more pink than a Pepto bottle? Since I prefer my burgers the same way, I made sure to stick with chicken fare at Mick And Keith's Place after said mix-up. Our next cocoa cups informed something more magical than undercooked meat, as we kissed for the first time in your plum Neon. The Ramones and Rubinoos, pop practitioners in the respective strains of punk and power, are titularly linked by "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." Shortly after our first bond of affection, I happily became attached to you. Among our nights out was catching The Candy Snatchers at Friar Tuck's. The mondegreen (misheard lyric) in "Shortcut To Disaster" was often cited when the tune spat outta your tape deck. With apologies to Larry and Matt: "It's hot, hot, hot/What do you know?/I ain't drivin' down to Mexico." Another charge of live action was led by Richmond stalwarts The Halfways, one of my very favorites from the whole "gunk punk" era, at Sunset Grill(e). "Bitch Theme," a Pagans/NBT-flavored blast, would be given the utmost lip service by the Snatchers via their killer take at the post-movie Hardcore Norfolk event on August 20, 2011.

Advancing the calendar a bit, I believe you heard the Buzzcocks for the first time in the presence of one Mr. jOhn A. The pulsing beat of "Fast Cars" powered oil-slicked lines like, "Sooner or later/You're gonna listen to Ralph Nader" throughout the aimless cruising on Atlantic Avenue. Regarding jOhn bOy: I saw a recent picture of the dude about two weeks ago. He could pass for Steven Keaton from "Family Ties." Not exactly sure if jOhn is similarly intolerant of kangaroos in his living room. A Lov(i)e Songs mix couldn't possibly exist without The Kids' "Money Is All I Need." Like a bass-heavy Ramones or Vibrators pick-to-click, the Belgians' catchy chorus was repeatedly rehearsed on the way to Fazoli's and Blimpie in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake. You probably don't know what "KBD-punk" means, but the fact you've enjoyed this song and band for over a dozen years makes any definition negligible. "In the dead of night/Lovie bites/She bites." I got a thrill from your paraphrasing of Judas Priest's "Love Bites" back then, and I still sing the verses like that today. For further Priest coverage, go read Josh's review of Defenders Of The Faith on Dirty Sheets. Scouts' honor, I'd placed the glam goodness of Hello's "New York Groove" on your mix before that chick from the TV commercial grafted the track on her comp. I'll concede, though,to having to look up "How are things on the West Coast?" on Google. On the Neus Subjex Message Board 'bout a decade ago, I reconstituted Ram Jam's shitkicker anthem "Black Betty" as "Black Lovie." ("From Baltimore, man/Bam-a-lam/Way up in Marylan'/Bam-a-lam") Speaking of your hometown, I'm still very awed by the acquisition of The Fuses ("New Bomb") and Jakkpot ("Burnin' In '77") at Reptilian Records. Their art-punk attack and punk 'n roll kick, respectively, will always make my "Best Things From Baltimore" list. You, of course, would head such a countdown. Along with Priest, you also get major grit dab for having seen Van Halen at their early-80's peak. Don't recall which tour you witnessed 'em on (Diver Down?), but here's the "Ice Cream Man" per your request. Finally, I "flipped" out when you told me about purchasing Husker Du's Flip Your Wig without my insistence. What an A-plus maneuver! FYW is Bob Mould's favorite Du album, and "Hate Paper Doll" is certainly one of its key tracks. Our bud Billy England once claimed that "The Baby Song" (a kazoo instrumental!) was his pick from Wig's litter. At least it's in line with the theme of insanity.

It's 1:53 a.m. on December 19, 2012 (Doesn't that date look so fictional in print?), and I (still) wanna be your boyfriend. Good night, Lovie. I love you more than Big Lots.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elastica - "Connection" (1994)

"Line Up" would be just as suitable.

The Rolling Stones - "Connection" (1967)

Mick and Keith were also into lines.

Building Blocks: A Tetris Logbook

"Tetris is the game that lasts. In 50 years, those blocks will still be falling on some screen somewhere."
-Seth Schiesel

Whenever a puzzling mood strikes, I can always count on the little Tetris cartridge to quell my connection jones. It's the main reason I've kept a first-generation Game Boy Advance within reach of my eager digits. Of course, Tetris is an essential title for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) mother console. The bright colors, catchy soundtracks and assorted extras (Love the rocket ship that greets high scores!) combine for a wonderfully rendered translation. Still, I usually choose the lock 'n load ease of the GBA over the time-consuming, back-of-the-TV installation of the NES Top Loader. There's something to be said about getting in a few lines while waiting on a friend, lover, doctor or lawyer.

Unfamiliar with Tetris? Here's a brief sketch on the game play. As blocks of various shapes fall from above, your job is connecting them to form a horizontal row. Once the row is created, the blocks disappear and you are credited with one line. Points are increased when more than one row is formed simultaneously. Four simultaneous rows create a "Tetris," which earns premium points. Once ten lines are formed, your level increases by one. The higher the level, the greater the difficulty and point totals become. A "Tetris" at Level 11, for instance, is worth over 10,000 points. For this challenge, I'll make twenty attempts to topple my existing record of 68,368 (111 lines). In the spirit of portability, I'll be taking the GBA handheld with me and contesting some of the action on the go. Should I achieve a Level 12 "Tetris" in between taco crunches at Colley Cantina, I'll be sure to document the feat with salsa-stained hands. Time to build!

12/5/12: My nephew had a doctor's appointment at CHKD/EVMS in Norfolk, so I decided to tag along. The low blood count from the first game wasn't so much of a disaster as it was an adjustment to handling the GBA while in motion (231 points, 3 lines). Test results were way more positive in the follow-up tilt, however, as I nearly approached my PR while exiting the Midtown Tunnel (59,245 and 111). Games 3-5 took place in an empty waiting room. Did the relaxed conditions improve my standing? Not a chance! The cabin temperature was a bit too warm for someone like me. I keep my fan circulating year-round and a "Gunny Towel" nearby. Despite the beading sweat and minor arthritic twitches, I managed a decent total on the third try (36,347 and 79). Ain't gonna comment on numbers four and five, but I'll mention the televised distraction from a channel visitors weren't allowed to change. "Pippi Longstocking" came across like a twisted hybrid of "Dora The Explorer" and those weird-ass Christian cartoons that aired every Sunday morning on WAVY-TV 10 circa 1983-85. Someone needs to sabotage the set with a "Ted" DVD. "FUCK YOU, THUNDER!"

12/8/12: If I had been on "Wheel Of Fortune" instead of in my room, I would've requested many straight pieces from Pat and Vanna. Game six's respectable tally (45,626 and 67) should've been at least 20-thou greater, for I'd built a ten-row wall with an open slot inviting potential "Tetrises" to worm their way through. The Dollar Tree-purchased Sunbeam batteries lasted longer than anticipated, even though most of the round was fought with a red light on the GBA. Pacquiao tasted defeat against Marquez on this night, and I felt much the same way thousands of miles from Las Vegas. The Filipino pugilist had battled valiantly before being tagged in the sixth, but my anemic efforts had less get-up-and-go than Balboa saying "No mas!" to Apollo Creed on the beach. Once again, I paid dearly for painting a high wall in the tenth frame (4,800 and 30). Heck, Jackson Pollock's kid could've done that. After official tournament play, I spent almost two hours practicing strategies for the next day's formations. Will I catch the chicken that Mick let loose, or will I throw in the "Gunny Towel"?

12/9/12: 81,398 and 106! The extra training rewarded me with a new standard in the eleventh game. No matter the pursuit, it's a great feeling to be "in the zone." 12-14 accounted for tomfoolery, but number fifteen threatened to shatter the night's high watermark. Dropping "Tetris" after "Tetris" on Levels 5-7, I accumulated enough points to be within striking distance of the fresh PR after only 75 lines. Six figures, here I come! Or not. On Level 9, the bottom of the screen had six filled rows and an opening on the right, but I wasn't able to flip the desired straight piece in time for a "flash." The log jammed in the upper section and eventually red-inked the "disappointing" grades of 80,816 and 92. 583 points away from another topper? Man, that's like two or three regular connections. Still, it was exciting to be near the entrance sign of a 100,000-point neighborhood. The practice session's highlight was a 128-line game. Dang, two away from Level 13. Time for a cold Barq's and a change of batteries. Just thought of two songs for a possible Tetris mix. I'll reveal 'em later.

12/10/12: Did I reach six figures this evening? Sure, but you'd have to add the respective totals from games 16 (53,061 and 90) and 17 (47,728 and 86) to get it. Nothing to report from 18-20, as the straight sticks decided to take their Christmas vacation days a couple weeks early. The lead-pipe locks for the Tetris mix share a title: The Rolling Stones and Elastica make an obvious "Connection." Actually, the latter's "Line Up" would also be an appropriate choice for the set. I need to crank up the search engine to see if cuts like "Four In A Row," "Straight Line" and "Level Up" exist and are readily available. Post-tourney practice turned in a 130-line result that should've been at least five more. My new goal might be 150 lines, which I'll probably attain before 2062. Gonna break away from Tetris now and try my hand at another Game Boy cart: NBA All-Star Challenge. We'll see how the Suns' Tom Chambers fares against "The Round Mound of Rebound" from the Sixers. "Piece" out!