Archive for the Entertainment Category

Then there was the time I almost met Anthrax…

Posted in Entertainment with tags , , , , , on August 6, 2010 by Mike

Yeah, I know, “almost” meeting a band seems kind of pathetic.  But here’s the story…

These are the guys I almost had a beer with

Anthrax has been my favorite band, oh, since I was 15.  I’m not going to try to explain why, as I think someone trying to explain why a band connects with him or her is ultimately a tedious exercise, but suffice to say I think I saw/heard a lot of my personality through their music.  They had a fuckin’ sense of humor about themselves, and I appreciated that.  They read comics and Stephen King, as I did, and their guitarist at the time, Danny Spitz, used a guitar emblazoned with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – the original Eastman and Laird depictions, not the bastardized children’s cartoon versions.  Fuckin’ cool, IMO…

I had this poster up in my room...no, I didn't date in high school, why?

Anyway, I lived through the ups and downs of the band over the next twenty plus years, even going so far as joining the Anthrax Fan Club sometime after turning 30 (don’t judge – I’m loyal to a fault).  The website, as fan club sites are wont to do, posted updates about the goings-on of the members, and it was here that I learned that their drummer, Charlie Benante, collected action figures, just like me.  Yeah, sure, he was the drummer of one of the legendary “Big Four” metal bands, but I used this as evidence against my wife’s claims that she had “married a geek.”

Early in my collecting career I was only buying the Lord of the Rings figures that came out with the Peter Jackson films (today…eh, it’s best I don’t get into that right now).  I still have most of them in their original boxes, unopened – largely because I have no place to display them – but I do have the “Fellowship” figures displayed in my classroom.  So that meant I had another set of the Fellowship still in their boxes.

The Fellowship of the Ring figures. I sent my duplicates of Aragorn and Frodo to Charlie.

OK, back to Anthrax.  One day a message comes up on the website that Charlie was looking for a couple figures for his LotR collection, namely a Frodo and an Aragorn.  He joked around a bit about how he knew it was geeky (damn you, Charlie!), but it was better than wasting his money on drugs (the band has always had a reputation for NOT doing drugs).  He then asked if anyone out there had those figures and offered Anthrax “swag” in exchange for them.

Damn right I was on that.

I emailed the guy who was running the website (“Brent”, I think)  that I had the figures, and almost immediately (maybe a day later), Charlie is emailing me about what I’d want for the figures.  Now, I was thinking a set of signed drumsticks (though I don’t have a drum set nor any real musical inclination), but then I emailed my twin about an idea I had – I wondered if I could get the chance to meet Charlie/have a beer with him next time they went on tour and came to Dallas?  I didn’t want to push it – I had visions of Charlie suddenly thinking he had some sort of weirdo emailing him – but my brother encouraged me to go ahead and ask – all Charlie could really do is laugh and say “nice try – how about a pair of signed drumsticks?”  So I emailed my idea, telling him how I’d like to buy him a beer.  He had posted a message a few weeks before, a “Blast-Beat”, talking about how important it was to stay in touch with your musical roots, and I’m pretty sure I mentioned that Anthrax was part of my “roots.”

Here’s where it got very fucking cool – Charlie agreed.  He even said he’d get me and a couple guys into the show in exchange for mailing the figures to him.  I don’t recall that I asked for “backstage access” or anything like that, but Charlie agreed to get us in the door. I emailed my brother with the news and was the fuckin’ man for the next few months: “Your dedication to being a geek has finally paid off!”

Later that year Anthrax came through Dallas on a small club tour.  I had emailed Charlie a few times between when I sent the figures his way and the concert date – I’m not going to exaggerate things, it was largely me asking some questions about the band and his experiences with him giving some quick replies, though I did get a longer, more passionate email from him after I asked him about the Great White concert that ended up killing 100 fans because of the pyrotechnics the band used in the small club.  He was pissed at the carelessness shown.  But the emails were few because I didn’t want to be “that guy”, though I have to admit it was pretty cool to have Charlie’s email address.

I’ll also admit I was nervous about the arrangements – who knew if the band would communicate with the club to get us in?  I was going on faith, I suppose.  And if I wasn’t “on the list” then what did I do but hand over a couple figures worth about $20 total for nothing.  We got to the club and waited in line for a bit, shooting the shit with a couple other guys there.

Then the doors opened, and I went up to the woman taking the money and told her I should be on the list.  She looked at me like I was full of shit, and then walked away for a bit to where I couldn’t see her and came back with a piece of paper in her hands.  “What’s your name?” she asked.  I told her and she scanned down the paper and said, “Yep, go on in”, with what seemed to me a bit of resentment in her voice.  The guys behind us called us back and said they had to hear how I accomplished that, so I quickly told the story of the Lord of the Rings figures – they were impressed.

The show started off with some local band who tried to get the crowd going but couldn’t overcome the apathy.  They closed with Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”, though, so they left the stage on a high-note.  I seem to recall a second band being scheduled to come on before Anthrax, but there was apparently  some cluster in the scheduling and were no -shows.  Anthrax came on with their fairly standard “Blues Brothers” music moving into “Among the Living” and the show was on.  By the way, “Among the Living” kicks ass – you need to listen to it again:

Anthrax puts on a damn good show, no matter the size of the venue.  Frank Bello, the bassist, has a presence on stage that’ll make you think he’s playing for you individually the whole damn show.  John Bush, the singer at the time, knew how to work the crowd, too.  So after  about an hour and half/two hours of moshing and head-thrashing later, the place cleared out and the lights came on, and the techs started disassembling the stage.

The band members moved immediately to their bus and we’re left there hanging out, drinking the last of our beers, and I’m wondering if I’m supposed to go back and hang outside the bus and wait.  I should also mention this: Dimebag Darrell made an appearance after the show and I saw him getting on board the bus with Anthrax.  We decide to go outside with some other fans and see what happens, but after about five minutes of that, my brother turns to me and says, “You know what, we got in for free to a fuckin’ Anthrax show – that’s good enough for me.  We’re 32 and don’t need to be waiting outside a tour bus.”  I agreed and we walked back to the car, got in, and left.

Yeah, a bit anticlimactic, to be sure.  But there’s a bit more.

On my drive back home from Dallas I texted Charlie’s email address thanking him for the tix and such.  Charlie texted back saying sorry he missed us, telling me that he did have somebody look for us after the show, but apparently the meet-up just didn’t happen.  Again, though, how much can I complain?

My brother and I and a couple other guys have pit tickets to the upcoming “American Carnage” tour featuring Slayer, Megadeth, and, yep, Anthrax.   I’m tempted to pull out Charlie’s email address (one I’m not sure he still uses) and see if he might be willing to have that beer.

Anthrax is part of my “roots”, you know.

Three years ago I entered a writing contest…

Posted in Entertainment, Novels with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by Mike

… put on by Wizards of the Coast, the company responsible for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game and legions of fantasy novels that occupy the shelves of your local bookstores. This particular contest was a chance for an unpublished writer to tackle a novel revolving around a particular god/goddess in the pantheon of the Forgotten Realms (and I figure most of the people reading this are now rolling their eyes – yes, we’re talking hard-core geekdom here – but in case this doesn’t turn you away I’m providing some links for the uninitiated); in this case it was a goddess named Loviatar, maiden of pain.

Now, I hadn’t played D&D since junior high, but I had been reading a few of the Forgotten Realms novels (particularly the Drizzt Do’Urden novels written by R.A. Salvatore), and had been playing various video games set in the realm (plus I stayed at a Holiday Inn…), so I decided to give it a shot.  I spent that summer cooped up in my high school classroom – I would teach summer school each day and then spend a couple hours working on my 10 page sample and plot outline.

I was in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong: because I knew very little about the Forgotten Realms/Faerun, I spent quite a bit of time (and money) reading the various D&D books educating myself  about the world and the key figures there.  The research was oftentimes a pain in the ass because WotC (reasonably) expected its authors to know their history and be familiar with the major events of the fiction set there.  I was hopelessly behind the curve. But writing that sample, creating that storyline was intoxicating – I loved the process, and by the time I finished my sample I thought I had a puncher’s chance to at least get noticed by the editorial board over at Wizards of the Coast.

The rejection letter came about three months later.

I console myself a bit by telling myself that, judging by some of the message boards I lurked at where other posters who had submitted their entries had received rejection letters early on, my own rejection came later suggesting that perhaps my entry made an early cut.  Of course, the rejection letter itself doesn’t say that, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Another point I pride myself on is that I actually submitted the sample – I could have started it and left it for dead once I realized just how much I didn’t know, but, in what to me is actually a startling exception to my normal pattern of “get good idea, get distracted and move on to something else”, I followed through.  And I’ll also say this: I still have the sample, and I still like reading what I’ve written; again, normally not the case.  Sure, there are some changes I would make, but I still think it’s an engaging, intense read.

My brother and a couple others who I asked to proof the sample have on occasion asked me if I’m ever going to finish it. Right now I’m toying with the idea of doing so on this blog, though I fear the whole “start it, not finish it” if I do commence to serializing it.  Another problem is that last year I got rid of all those damn manuals and books detailing the realm, so I’d have to either start looking at Wikipedia to refresh my memory or just wing it, and not worry so much about getting it right as far as Faerun is concerned.  The latter option appeals to me.  We’ll see what happens…

Looking more and more like Krasinski’s going to be Cap…

Posted in Comics, Entertainment with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Mike

Now, this article doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to happen, but signs are beginning to point to John Krasinski being tapped to play Captain America.

Yes, “Jim” from The Office:

is going to be playing the Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America:

Despite my previous post, I’m not going to go throw myself off a building or follow through on my threat to drive out to California and burn Hollywood down.  I’m going to play the bigger man, and try to give Krasinski the benefit of the doubt here; hey, at least he can act, unlike many of the other candidates for the role.

And while Ji-, er, John Krasinski isn’t the ideal actor physically, and does not seem to have the necessary charisma to play Bucky, much less Captain America, I’ve only seen him in The Office where he’s supposed to act like a sarcastic yet admirable everyman slacker, and Leatherheads with Clooney where he played a gifted football player (problem is, I never could get “Jim” out of my head).  It also doesn’t help that those are both comedies, either, and I expect Captain America the movie to be heavy on action and drama.

But what I do know about Krasinski as a person I like.  He’s an English major and was  an English teacher before he became an actor, for God’s sake.  Hell, maybe I’m just jealous that he gets to play my all-time favorite superhero.  There but for seven years and a lack of acting experience goes me, right?

God, I hope that’s it, and I’m letting the green-eyed monster blind me to the possibility he might just pull this off.

/please please please don’t screw this up

UPDATE:

And then there’s this, which declares Krasinski’s out of the running.  I’m so confused!