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Friday, May 30, 2008

Secrets of the Guitar Heroes: Eddie Van Halen


How did you start playing guitar?
My brother and I were forced to take piano lessons, and it wasn't fun for me. I heard music in my head, but I wasn't allowed to play it. Then I bought myself a drum kit, and somehow my mom convinced my brother Alex to take flamenco-guitar lessons. I had a paper route to pay for the drum kit, and while I was out throwing papers, Alex got better than me on the drums, so I said, "OK, fuck you. I'll play your guitar."

What were the first songs you learned to play?
The Ventures: "Pipeline," "Wipe Out," that kind of stuff. My brother and I loved Dave Clark Five, but they weren't really a guitar-oriented band. The first time I turned an amp all the way to 10 and it distorted, I went, "Yeeeah! This is fun."

You ended up covering another Sixties classic, the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," on your first album.
At our shows, we used to do that and "All Day and All of the Night" and, you know, just a bunch of old, semi-obscure rock tunes. I always liked taking old songs and turning a prop plane into a jet plane. To me, that's what "You Really Got Me" sounds like. Ours is like whooosh [laughs].

How important were the Kinks for you?
I just like songs. I don't mean to sound like a prick or nothin', but I've never really been that much of a fan of bands outside of Cream. And I don't really listen to anything nowadays. The last record I might've bought was Peter Gabriel's So. With Cream, I was more a fan of their interaction live. You know, they were an example of "What's the difference between jazz and rock & roll? We just play louder." That's all. We get 12 notes. Do what the fuck you want with 'em, you know?

Your biggest innovation was two-handed tapping — using both hands to fret notes simultaneously. Where did you get the idea?
I was watching Jimmy Page going [sings hammering guitar lick], like that, with one hand, in "Heartbreaker." I thought, "I can play like that, and you wouldn't know if I was using this finger [points to left hand] or this one" [points to right hand]. But you just kind of move it around, and it's like, "You got one big hand there, buddy. That's a hell of a spread!"

It became the most imitated sound in hard rock.
Well, don't blame me. It's not my fault. The tapping had been part of my playing since about '72. Early on, my brother told me to turn around onstage so no one could see what I was doing until we had a record out.

Did people think that you were a guitar player from Mars or something?
I remember a long time ago we were playing and someone told us "A&M Records is here to see you guys." And it was Herb Alpert. I met him years ago later and he came up to me. He goes, "One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was passing on you guys." I'm going, "I remember exactly what you said, too. You said the guitarist is too psychedelic and too much uncontrolled energy." I asked him why? He goes, "I didn't understand what the hell you were doing 'cause it was so unorthodox." It didn't make any sense to him.

Was "Eruption" a piece that developed in concert over the years?
No, no, no. We recorded our first record on Sunset Sound in Hollywood, and we were warming up for a weekend gig at the Whisky. And I was just rehearsing, and [engineer] Donn Landee happened to record it. It was never planned to be on the record. So the take on the record was a total freak thing. It was just an accident. He happened to be rolling tape.

Your rhythm-guitar playing is underrated.
Real musicians actually respect me more for my rhythm-guitar playing than my soloing. 'Cause soloing is almost like pissin' up a rope, showing off — unless you're truly improvising off the melody of a song. But I'm actually a very rhythmic player, 'cause I'm the only guitarist in the band, so I've gotta cover both.

I've always been a true believer that music should hold up without singing on it. You know, listen to Beethoven, you know. There's no singing on it.

Has anyone taken the electric guitar further than you did with Van Halen?
That's hard to say. Especially nowadays with all the effects and Pro Tools and all this and that. You don't know what's what anymore.

You've been writing new music for a while?
Yeah, I haven't written much lately because we've been on tour. I got thousands of tapes laying around, but one of these years I've got to go through 'em, see what lurks. I think a lot of them will surprise you, everything from mellow stuff to kind of weird shit. I'm always experimenting with sounds.

Are you going to record?
Yeah. We'll cross that bridge when this tour is over.

How would you imagine the next few years for Van Halen?
I don't really make plans. I don't know. This tour takes us to June 2nd. We'll probably take a little break and then sit down and discuss what we want to do. But it's always based around music.

How have you managed to sustain the tour this time?
It's a way of life, you know? It's just kind of inherently built in. It's the only thing I know how to do. [Laughs] I guess the songs we write stand the test of time, so to speak.

And you're getting along on a personal basis?
Oh, yeah. We always really have. To me it seems like the press made more of a stink out of shit than we actually did. 'Cause everybody kind of parts ways and tries to find their own niche, you know, or whatever, but no hurt feelings about anything.

[From Issue 1054 — June 15, 2008]

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The 7 Most Pathetic Supervillians in Cinematic History

They can't all be the Lex Luthor or the Joker. Heck, sometimes they can't even be Bruce Banner's dad from Hulk. These 7 Supervillains didn't just fail at defeating their nemesis, they failed at entertaining audiences.

7- Nuclear Man from Superman IV

Boy, was Superman's back against the wall in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, as he attempted to fend off warring nations while also doing battle with an atomic villain created from the deadly combination of hair, missile, and sun. Just prior to leading the Man of Steel on a 9-minute chase around the world, this blonde nuclear bombshell made the exclamation: "First I have fun," and, along with our current president, proved that a command of the English language is not necessary to be successful in this modern world. What made this super villain so lame wasn't solely the stink-eye he shot Superman every 20 seconds, but also the fact that his powers disappeared when the sun went down and that he refused to trim his two-inch-long, green fingernails.

6- Iron Monger from Iron Man

In Iron Man, Tony Stark is the engineering genius who managed to create a mobile weapon-suit to escape a terrorist enclave, and then, destroy threats to humanity. Obidiah Stane was just some cocky power-grabber who happened to nab Stark's blueprints. Somehow the audience is supposed to believe that a guy using old blueprints and less-experienced workers can create a worthy adversary to Iron Man, just because he made it bigger? Even taking into account that Iron Man is literally fighting with half a heart, the outcome of the battle is never in question. The kicker is when the Iron Monger is almost felled when Stark reminds Stane that he didn't account for freezing conditions affecting performance, which is the super-suit equivalent of forgetting to rust-proof your car.

5- The Killer Shark from Batman: The Movie

Why is this shark included on the list? Simply because he was so very close to killing off that horrible campy Batman from the 1960s and he failed. This shark also seems to have revealed a very troubling Achilles Heel--the tendency to explode when sprayed in the face with an aerosol can--which could really haunt many man-eating sharks in the future. I'd also advise any other sharks who get a hold of Batman's leg to thrash about a bit more when attempting to pull him off of rope ladders. If you don't make a concerted effort to drag the Caped Crusader back into the deep blue, you can rest assured that you're going to get a face-full of that dastardly shark-repellent bat-spray. I do, however, commend your readiness in attaching yourself to superheroes who briefly dip into the water.

4- Red Skull from Captain America

In the comics, the Red Skull creatively derived his name for possessing a skull that was red in color; however, in the magnum-opus Captain America, his head hardly resembles a skull, leading one to contemplate more appropriate cinematic names. Such possible new names could include: Red Wet-Meat Head, The Red Rocket, or Penis Breath. As the clip above indicates, the Red Skull is no pansy, as he easily beats up the best soldier America has to offer, initially making one question his inclusion on this list. However, once the aforementioned clip reaches the 3:24 point, you'll quickly understand why he makes such a horrible super villain. I won't spoil this antagonist's poor decision; just understand that the first rule of being someone's archenemy is that whenever presented with the opportunity to inflict pain upon them, you do so.

3- Dark Overlord of the Universe from Howard the Duck

What makes this massive, evil space-alien so crappy isn't his corny use of one liners ("eat claw duck") or his terrible eye-laser aim. It's the fact that a midget waterfowl in a golf cart is able to defeat him. How tough of a universe could this Dark Overlord truly reign over when bipedal ducks are able to take him down? In fact, placing the adjective "super" in front of this villain's title is a bit of a misnomer when all observable evidence indicates that he poses very little threat to anyone. To make matters worse, the Dark Overlord of the Universe appeared in what many have called The Worst Film of All Time, making him despised not solely by his own merits but by the merits (or the lack thereof) of the people who created him.

2- Mr. Freeze from Batman and Robin

Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the top of his game when he portrayed this down-and-out scientist, who uses winter puns as weaponry. While Arnold's portrayal of this desperate man of science was certainly bad, the movie as a whole was either just as bad or much worse, causing what had been a very successful and lucrative franchise to thankfully end. Besides the ridiculous puns, the over-the-top acting, the corny action scenes (picture Batman and Robin fighting Mr. Freeze on ice skates), the cheap-looking sets, and the nonsensical story, you'd be hard pressed to find any flaws with this very plausible movie. Actually, the only thing less believable than Schwarzenegger as a scientist is Schwarzenegger as a politician....oh, wait.

1- Bullseye from Daredevil

This villain sure is good at accurately throwing things. So much so that he appears to have developed a career out of beating middle aged men at darts (that and attempting to kill blind superheroes). When the audience is first introduced to Bullseye in the ambitious blockbuster, Daredevil, two minutes goes by without him delivering one line (I'm not counting the guttural grunt he emits when asked for one more round of darts). This either makes him appear creepy and dangerous or mute and slow. Unfortunately, we later find out that he is not mute, although the mentally-slow question is never fully answered. Also, when calculating a super villain's lame-score, one should take into account unbelievably precise and intricate facial scarring, which in Bullseye's case registers off the charts.

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5 Things You Can Learn About Women from Sex And The City

Do you hear that? A vortex of suck that hungers for your soul. It can only be one thing, the new Sex and The City movie is coming and your girlfriend is already making plans for the two of you to go in spite of your pleas that you don’t like it, don’t want to see it and want to keep your last shred of dignity. But let’s not be so close-minded about the whole thing.

Of course, it’s going to be a terrible movie; it’s based on the awful TV show. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get anything from the experience. Look at it like this: this show is beloved by millions of women. It appeals to their basest nature in a way even they don’t understand. If you’ve ever watched a group of drunk, 20-something year old women falling down in the street screaming at each other ‘no, I’m the Carrie,’ you know what I’m talking about.

So think of this movie not as 2 hours of material porn for women, but something you can use. A window into a woman’s mind they wouldn’t dare say out loud to us. With that in mind, I present the primer 5 Things You Could Learn About Women from Sex And The City:

1) NYC is a fantasy land for women. It’s like the Playboy Mansion for us. New York is a magical place filled with shopping, art galleries and copious amounts of flavored vodka. A place where women who hate trees and driving, can live in peace.

If you don’t believe me, watch every episode in which they left NY. They go to the Hamptons and one of their friend’s husbands tries to start an affair. They go to the beach and drunks invade their house. Hell, when they go to the woods they’re assaulted by the overwhelming quiet.

But what’s so great about NY? Why does the show demonize life outside it so much? Because the SATC girls are all about name brands and NY is the biggest name in cities. Living in a 1-room box in Brooklyn still has caché. It’s like having a cast off $1000 Prada bag; it’s still a Prada.

2) Women Love Money. Every chick on that show was banking and every guy they dated had even more money. Carrie’s relationships in which the guy didn’t own whole buildings in NY, a place where an apartment is 700-grand, were doomed to failure. Why did these women need so much money? They weren’t taking care of children or saving for retirement.

Because if they saw something they liked, they bought it with the justification “you deserve it.” Alternately, if they couldn’t afford something, they must not deserve it. That means if your boyfriend can’t afford to buy you thousands of dollars in jewelry or fly you to Paris on a whim, you must not deserve it. Scary when you think about it.

Even scarier, which one of them didn’t get a guy with money? The bitch. Men accept that if they don’t go to college and get a good job they’ll end up with a less attractive woman, but how about having to spend the rest of your life strapped to the biggest bitch in the group? If that doesn’t scare high school males into studying, nothing will. Put that message on an SAT prep book cover and you’ll raise scores instantly.

3) Women don’t do stuff together. They talk and they shop, but they don’t do anything. This is why they get so mad when we want to do something with the guys. To women, couples do things and friends talk. Time we spend doing stuff with the guys is time they spend doing nothing - unless they can find a friend to talk with, although, they’re still really doing nothing.

This is also why single women are so blindingly unhappy. It’s not that being alone is so awful. It’s that they’re bored out of their skulls because they need a guy to do something with.

4) Women talk about everything. EVERYTHING! They talk in so much detail that her friends may spend 5 years referring to you by your anatomical distinctions instead of your proper name. If you’re lucky, it’s “Mr. Big.” What’s scary is they talk about more than sex; if you’re mother gives you a bath her friends will hear about it. Yeah, think about that for a second.

How much do you want her friends to know about you? Illegal activities? Money problems? Personal issues? You have to control the flow of information to your girlfriend to control the flow of information to them. All things considered, her friends knowing that you cry when you have an orgasm is relatively minor.

5) Women be crazy. Again this is a no brainer to us, but they actually did a whole lesbian storyline on SATC just to illustrate how crazy women are. That means they know it too.

Use that to your advantage. She knows she’s being irrational, so be the rational one. When she’s freaking out over something small, sit there calmly until she’s done. Tip: Don’t tell her she’s being irrational. That’s not being rational; it’s being superior. Wait for her to let it all out. Women like it when you keep your head in the face of their meltdown. If you’re lucky, anger turns to tears and tears turn to post-traumatic crazy sex. See, you can learn some useful stuff from SATC.

So there you have it. Not reason enough to go see the Sex and the City movie on your own, but reason enough to tolerate it if you’re forced to go. View it all as an experiment, a sacrifice for science, if you will. You can make the best of a bad situation. And man, is that movie going to be a bad situation.

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From Star Wars to Firewall:

Nearly two decades have passed since the fun loving, swash-buckling, scruffy looking, snake fearing, nerf herding, Harrison Ford graced the silver screen with amicable characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones. I’m pretty sure the last time we saw him genuinely smile (sarcastic grins don’t count) on camera was when Princess Leia said those three magic words: “He’s my brother.” What happened, Harrison? Your films have grossed over $6 billion at the worldwide box office, you’re ranked the #3 biggest American movie star behind Eddie Murphy and Tom Hanks, you were in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Richest actor alive,” AND you have a spider named after you. So why the long face? Why is Harrison Ford so damn grumpy? Let’s find out shall we?

1. Because everyone says he is.


2. Hollywood keeps stealing his wife and/or his family.


In an interview with Harrison he describes acting as the ability to “figure out the mechanisms to create belief, behavior that the audience recognizes as cues for how they would feel if they were in the circumstances.” Imagine every time you went to work you had to make people believe your family has been kidnapped or your wife has been murdered. By the end of the week you’d be downright suicidal!

3. When a tree falls in a forest, it makes the sound of hair being ripped from his chest.


4. Two divorces and four little Fords
After Star Wars and before his engagement to Calista Flockhart, Ford lived through two failed marriages. And not the typical one-month, married today divorced tomorrow Hollywood-style marriages, either, where the emotional damage can be softened with a few beers and some deep dish pizza. He was married to Mary Marguadt for 15 years, producing two kids, Benjamin and Willard. He then moved on to Melissa Mathison for another 20, with two more little ones, Malcom and Georgia. I guess he saves the “I’ll die for my family” attitude for the big screen.


5. Years of repressed wedgie rage.
When Ford was a kid he was very shy and would often get beatings from his classmates. A firm believer in non-violence, he would never fight back and would bottle his rage up for years. He suffered from depression in college, describing his own performance as “Sloth,” until he was expelled in his final year. Thank God he discovered acting, where he was able to overcome his fears and where he was able to beat the crap out of bullies for the next 40 years!

6. “Firewall”
Nuff said.
Last but not least…

7. Still gets bullied today



Harrison, if you’re looking to pick up your mood, maybe check what you raked in for some of your films.

American Graffiti (1973) - $500/week

Star Wars (1977) $650,000

Clear and Present Danger (1994) $1,000,000

Patriot Games (1992) $9,000,000

Presumed Innocent (1990) - $12,500,000

The Devil's Own (1997) - $20,000,000

Air Force One (1997) - $22,000,000

Six Days Seven Nights (1998) - $20,000,000

Random Hearts (1999) - $20,000,000

What Lies Beneath (2000) - $20,000,000

K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) - $25,000,000 + 20% of the Gross

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The end of Hulkamania

Hulk Hogan has been pro wrestling’s ultimate Teflon man for years, but this time I think his reputation has been tarnished beyond repair – and rightfully so.

I’m assuming that most people reading this have either heard the taped conversations between Hogan and son Nick during Nick’s incarceration or have heard about them. I don’t know how anyone can ever look at Hulk Hogan the same way after listening to the tapes on tmz.com. I know I certainly won’t.

During one conversation, Hulk and Nick – who recently began serving an eight-month sentence for felony reckless driving – assassinate the character of John Graziano, who was Nick’s passenger during the accident and was critically injured.

If that isn’t disgusting enough, Nick also talks to his father about wanting to put a deal together for a reality series that would chronicle Nick’s attempt to get back on his feet after leaving jail. When an enthusiastic Hulk asks who they should make the deal with, Nick says, “I want to do it where I’ll make the most money.”

So rather than having the car accident and jail sentence serve as a wakeup call, the Hogans are busy thinking about how they can cash in. These are some sick people.

In addition, Nick is heard asking his father to pull some strings for him and get him out of jail and onto house arrest. “I’m trying,” Hulk replies. Nick also complains that he doesn’t have a window in his cell and has nobody to talk to. In a conversation with his mother, Linda, a tearful Nick says, "I have to get out of here.”

So much for the recent claims of Hulk and his daughter, Brooke, that Nick in real life was nothing like the spoiled, cocky knucklehead he was portrayed as on Hogan Knows Best.

With everything that has happened to Hulk Hogan in his personal life recently, just think about how ironic the title of his reality show is. I was on a conference call with Hogan about three years ago before the show’s debut. When comparing it to The Osbournes, Hogan said he and Linda as parents were the exact opposite of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. “We run a real tight ship,” he said. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

Hogan certainly is no stranger to controversy. He was in the middle of a steroid scandal in the early 1990s, and he is almost as famous for his backstage politics as he is for his 24-inch pythons. More recently, he has been involved in a messy divorce and allegedly had an affair with his daughter’s friend.

I can overlook all of that, but I will never be able to get past Hogan badmouthing Graziano and callously trying to turn this tragedy into a money-making entertainment vehicle.

For decades in wrestling story lines, countless heels tried to kill Hulkamania. As someone who first became a Hulk Hogan fan in 1979, and who always found him easygoing and gracious during the handful of times that I interviewed him, it pains me to say that the person responsible for killing Hulkamania is a guy named Terry Bollea.

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