Monday, November 30, 2009

Tom Petty on CBS

Check out this video from a CBS segment on Tom Petty that ran yesterday. He's still one of the coolest...

What In The (Heaven and) Hell?

Man, it's been a tough couple of months for Heaven and Hell. Just saw today that drummer Vinny Appice will be out of commission for five months after shoulder surgery that he'll have today (11/30).

But that's nothing compared to Ronnie James Dio, who is reportedly battling stomach cancer. Dio's Web site posted the following last week: "Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans."

Eeeks. Here's best wishes for speedy recoveries for both guys.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CD Review - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - The Live Anthology

Tom Petty has kind of always been there in my life. He hit it big when I was around 10, and although I was way more into KISS at the time, I remember Don't Do Me Like That and Refugee playing on the radio non-stop, along with other people's stuff like Lido Shuffle and Dream Weaver.

I saw them live in the mid 80s, on the Let Me Up, I've Had Enough tour and thought the band was fantastic but I have never seen TP in concert again. A total pity, as I also rank The Last DJ as one of my favorites of his and I even missed that tour.

But for us couch potatoes and tour skippers, Petty had issued (just in time for Christmas) the four-CD set The Live Anthology. I bought it on iTunes for $24.99 - 52 tracks (including 3 live videos) -- less than .50 a track -- a nice bargain.

The music on this set is awesome. In the liner notes, Petty says he didn't want this to be a "live greatest hits package," meaning "the greatest hits, played faster," so there are some nuggets the band rarely played, like My Life, Your World, and various covers that didn't last in the set list for too long, such as I'm In Love (made semi-famous by Wilson Pickett), a cool version of Friend of the Devil and a 13 minute slow jam version of It's Good to Be King.

You get the hits too, but again, all these versions are excellent. For example, I was thinking I might skip the 7 + minute version of Breakdown, but it's very good. Petty even concedes in the liner notes that they would get carried away with extending the song live, but this 1981 version is a good mellow burner, with the "Hit the Road Jack" middle section being totally off the cuff with the band following Petty's lead.

Petty also said that one of the rules he set for himself in putting this set together was no editing or fixing of anything in the songs, so if there is a mistake, you get that too (I haven't heard any). A big highlight from the first CD is the "Driving Down to Georgia" into "Lost Without You." I heard these on Petty's XM Radio show last week and that was when I decided I would buy this anthology.

The set is not organized chronologically, so it jumps from era to era (read 'bass player/drummer to bass player/drummer'). But it works very well this way - much like a real good live set, it flows energy-wise. The first five or six songs are from the early 80s and then it starts moving around.

The iTunes LP feature is very cool too. You open the window in iTunes and an application pops up that lets you go song by song and read liner notes from Petty about where the version of the song was recorded and his memories of it. It's a neat way to explore the album on your computer.

There seems to be a fairly even mix of early 80s recordings when the band had just broken through, counter balanced by more seasoned performances from the 90s and more recent shows too.

One thing that is constant is the tasty, tasty lead playing of Mike Campbell, one of my favorite lead players of all time, but someone who does not seem to grace the cover of Guitar Player magazine or the top of guitar popularity polls. But really ought to. And the other secret weapon of course is Benmont Tench, the band's Garth Hudson. Check out his gorgeous piano work on Melinda from CD 3. These guys really shine on this set.

For me, the set is yet another return to The Heartbreakers. I recently watched the four-hour Running Down A Dream, which is a fantastic overview of Petty's career. The whole first hour or so is about Mudcrutch and the Heartbreakers and the rise to success. Then in the 90s, Petty gets tight with the Wilburys crowd - Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, etc.

And while this period was the apex of his success and for sure the coolest deal - to hang with all of these flipping legends and write/play music with them - the Heartbreakers got set aside for a while. Of course there has been great work since then, such as the 20-night Fillmore run (many tunes on the Anthology are from those shows), the aforementioned killer album The Last DJ, but it's so great to hear The Heartbreakers shine once again and to hear Petty give props to former members such as drummer Stan Lynch.

All in all, the point of the set is to showcase how good of a live band The Heartbreakers have been all through their career. And damn, they were (are) one of the tightest good little rock outfits to have ever existed. And good grief, why do I also always forget about how good of a songwriter Tom Petty is and has always been? This set proves it without a shadow of a doubt.

52 songs - it's going to take me a while to soak all of this in, but I can strongly suggest buying this set based on my first impressions. I can't see why anyone would not thoroughly enjoy this music.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Concert Review - Them Crooked Vultures in Portland

I spent my Sunday night like every responsible working stiff parent of three (soon to be four) boys - I was in downtown Portland catching a rock show.

But not just any rock show, peeps. Oh no, this was Them Crooked Vultures, the latest 'super group' or just a super group as I heard someone rephrase it (both are correct) featuring John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl (Nirvana and the Foo Fighters), and Jose Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). They had a fourth member to help augment instrumentation and vocals -- Alain Johannes. This guy was a jack of all trades who played bass, guitar and keyboards and did some great vocal harmonies.

But the two I was really there to see were Grohl and Jones. I had never seen either live in any incarnation, which is really pathetic because I could have seen Nirvana a bunch when they were in their heyday and for sure The Foo Fighters have been through Portland a ton of times.

So I was really seeing these guys live with a fresh brain. And my poor fresh brain was filled with groovy goo, ripped out of my skull and smooshed around the floor of the Roseland Theater over the course of the hour and a half long show.

People, I didn't even know who to focus on. Dave Grohl is a monster. I have never seen someone hit the drums with such a sense of purpose and BELIEF. He also hits them incredibly hard. He is a big guy, and he plays the drums very physically. No - he beats the SHIT out of the drums. Like I said in my CD review, I feel like he is auditioning for the next Zeppelin reunion. I seriously think he may have the part...

John Paul Jones on the other hand just makes what he's doing look amazingly easy. He is an effortless player and after a while I was so stunned by his talent that I kept forgetting I was looking at one of the founding members of Led Zeppelin. He pulled out all the instruments, too. He played four string bass, eight string bass, twelve string bass, some kind of multi-string lap steel oddity I had never seen before, and keyboards, including one of those keyboard guitars that you wear over your shoulder.

There were a couple of songs (Reptiles was one, and the others I don't know by name) where Grohl and Jones locked tighter than I have ever seen a drummer and bass player lock together. And they knew it, too. Big, big smiles on their faces all night.

I mean come on. Playing with Zeppelin's bass player has got to be like some unreal crazy-assed dream for Grohl, and can anyone tell me another post-Zeppelin band Jones has even been in, much less something this heavy and groovy at the same time? I tell you what - you want to see what Jones' contribution to Zeppelin was? Go see Them Crooked Vultures. It was A LOT.

Homme was also excellent. His vocals were spot on and he added great vocal melody to the insanity of the music. He and Johannes also had some of the coolest guitars I have ever seen, and played with all sorts of interesting techniques, from slide playing to octave effect pedals. He's a darn good soloist as well.

The band did all of the stuff off the CD plus a couple of other things and didn't touch the vast catalogue of any of their previous/current bands. They didn't even do an encore - they ran out of songs! Part way through, some chump in the audience shouted out for a Zeppelin song and Homme told him they weren't a cover band but if they wanted to hear covers, there was one playing down the street.

I also have to point out that I usually don't like seeing music at the Roseland because it's a pretty dark rock venue and there is always a kind of heavy vibe there. But I have to say, the security folks did a GREAT job keeping things under control. I was two back from the barricade on JPJ's side, and some wasted idiot tried to barrel by me. I stopped him but of course later he made another run. When he got to the front center, a gigantic security guy grabbed him and told him to chill the hell out. They stopped some mosh breakouts too, ensuring that the younger kids in the front didn't get hurt, as the show was all ages.

Also, the rumor mill had Eddie Vedder and Krist Novoselic in the audience but I didn't see them in the roped off special balcony section. I did see Myles Kennedy however, and was tempted to go up to him and scream "Stand up and Shooooooooooooouuuuuuuutttttttt!" but I didn't want to get punched. Hell, maybe there is truth to the Zeppelin rumor after all - he'd sing the shit out of The Immigrant Song!

Not sure if Them Crooked Vultures plan on continuing indefinitely or if this is kind of a one-off endeavor. So, I'd encourage you to see them while you can. You will not be disappointed and your brains may feel better too. I know mine do.

Here are some more of my Treo photos:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Isorski's Musings Hits The Big Time on KISSONLINE

I usually hesitate to toot my own horn, but I have to do it today. And also I need to throw out a big thank you to whoever runs the site, because they posted an edited version of my review of Tuesday's show in Portland on their home page.

Imagine the shock I felt when I went to the KISS Web page this morning and lo and behold, my photo of Tommy Thayer (taken with my crappy Treo camera phone) is on KISS' very own Web site, along with my review. They did edit out everything snarky but who am I to complain? I feel practically famous for the day. The same edit ran on KISS' fan page on Facebook. Here are links to the stories:

--Facebook Fan Page story (the comments are quite amusing, as the old debate over who's better - Ace/Peter or Tommy/Eric rages on)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CD Review - Them Crooked Vultures

I fired up the new Them Crooked Vultures CD with a level of trepidation. Because I felt like before anyone even heard the band they were over-hyped. I have friends who worship Dave Grohl and he could shit in a bag, post the sound on iTunes and they’d buy five copies and say it was GREAT.

But from the first song I was smiling. This is gooood shit. First off, the sound. It’s raw. The drums are pummeling and it sounds like Grohl is auditioning for the next Zeppelin reunion (he probably is, as a matter of fact). He throws in a few Bonham fills for good measure before the first song hits 1:15.

The guitars are in your face and again, from the first song there is excellent riffage. Don’t forget that bassist John Paul Jones wrote the riff to Black Dog. Need I say more? The same syncopated heavy riffs that add a beat here, take away a beat there to throw you off are weaved throughout these songs. The singing is urgent and one-off. They must have made this CD quickly because that is how it sounds – Excellent players cranking out fresh unprocessed, not overthunk rock and roll. Good for them.

For me, the quintessential track is Elephants. In this song, I hear late 70s era Zeppelin, mixed with the rawness of (believe it or not) The White Stripes (but with better drumming) and fer God’s sake I know squatney about Josh Homme but I personally think he sounds a lot like David Byrne. That is a hell of a combo and it’s one of the reasons why I think this band is so good.

Also, check out Scumbag Blues. Partway through the song, JPJ dusts off the clavinet and it’s Trampled Underfoot part two. Great tune, that Scumbag Blues.

There is some really weird/interesting stuff on the CD, like the track Interlude With Ludes (the song is named appropriately), the latter half of Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up and the closing track, Spinning With Daffodils. It sounds like at the very end of this last track, after the band fades out, Jimmy Page steps in for some slide work. But that is just my overactive imagination plus wishful thinking!

Fellow blogger Seano (who also reviewed the CD here) told me that the band live was a life changing event. I have tickets to see these guys this Sunday in Portland at the Roseland, a theater-like rock club that holds about 2,000 people. Bring it ON, vultures!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Concert Review - KISS in Portland

Just got back from KISS at the Rose Garden in Portland. Where do I even start?

This review is going to be totally biased because this was not my usual concert experience. First of all, I bought side stage (read “expensive”) tickets because I was taking my 10 year old son and wanted him to have his mind blown. So our seats were unreal.

Second, my co-guitar player in my Portland band colorfield is a long-time friend of the Thayer family (KISS-man Tommy Thayer is from Portland). So long story short, I run into Pat at will call, and he is picking up a pass for a meet and greet. I knew about this and of course had asked if he could find out if he could bring me and my kid, and of course he couldn’t. No shock there – but I thought it never hurts to ask.

But lo and behold he gets his envelope and there are five passes in it. He wanted to make sure he didn’t mistakenly have someone else’s passes so he went in alone and my son and I got settled. Opener Buckcherry started and honestly I wasn’t impressed so we bailed just in time for Pat to text me that we could have two of the extra passes. Sweet!

So he comes and gets us and we stroll across the main floor backstage just in time to see the fab four in full makeup and gear walk by to go to the meet and greet. I high five Gene Simmons as he walks by. My life is complete.

We are ushered into a room where almost everyone is a friend/family member of Thayer. On the other side of a black curtain separating the room is the meet and greet, and there is a line of folks posing with KISS for a photographer. We figure this is for sure the radio contest winners, people who paid to meet the band etc. But we get in line anyway. If I can get a copy of that photo I will post it because that is the closest we got to the whole band. Didn’t really have a chance to talk or anything. It was stand here, snap snap, go over there. But wow, we got our photo taken standing with KISS.

So we went back around to where we started and eventually Tommy came into the room to greet his friends and family (oh and me). Got his photo with my son, got an autograph on my Sonic Boom CD etc. We had just enough time to hit the crapper, grab a couple of waters and get back to our seats.

So, THANKS to Pat for making this happen for me and especially my son. Wowsa.

Oh yeah so then the SHOW started. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I slag on KISS frequently. I didn’t give Sonic Boom the best of reviews, although it has indeed grown on me. I have questioned how much money those guys feel they need to make with the merch. I am not a giant fan of WalMart. Blah blah blah.

It doesn’t matter. The band I saw tonight was the tightest version of KISS I have ever seen. Of course I was blown away by the lights, bombs, smoke, spitting blood, revolving drum set, flying bass player etc.

But they were really tight. Gene and Paul finally let drummer Eric Singer have a double kick set and he used it to its fullest potential. Maybe it was b/c he was in his home town, but Thayer blew the doors off of his leads. I swear I didn’t miss Ace once, and that is about as blasphemous as I get. Didn’t hurt that we were so close to Thayer that I got one of his thrown guitar picks, which I promptly gave to my son. The night just kept getting better huh?

Vocal harmonies were tight. Paul Stanley did less prancing and more rocking than I have ever seen. Gene was great. His blood spitting bit has evolved a bit and is even more monster-movie derived, which is a good thing. He did Calling Dr. Love, which is one of my faves from childhood. In fact, the setlist was mostly stuff from Alive!, with personal faves being Hotter Than Hell and 100,000 Years. They did two new songs – both were awesome live, two 80s era songs (Lick It Up and I Love It Loud), and they mercifully did not play I Was Made For Loving You, which never sounds that great live, even with the killer new lineup.

One more note on Thayer. He kept mugging to our side because many of his family/friends were seated in my section. Right before Rock and Roll al Nite, I saw him go up to Eric Singer and get a drumstick, which he promptly slid into one of his hip-high boots and walked towards our side. Under cover of the raining down confetti, he leaned over the stage and handed the stick to a guy who came over to our section and gave it to a kid who must have been about 3 or 4. High class, that Tommy Thayer.

So to sum up, this is not the classic KISS lineup, and they don’t sound like the classic KISS lineup. It’s something else and damn it, it is good. I bought this ticket thinking, I will take my kid and then I'll be done with KISS. But shit, if they came back tomorrow I'd be there. They are kicking serious ass right now.

PS – if I am able to do half the stuff Paul Stanley did onstage when I am pushing 60, I will be a very lucky guy. That dude is immortal. Up close, you can tell he’s older, but man those new hips he got a couple of years ago are holding up well!

PSS – Noted one other popular musician at the meet and greet – Journey drummer Deen Castronovo. He was about five people in front of us for the photo opps. But I was so star struck being in the same room as KISS I didn’t even think to get an autograph or even say hey on behalf of my most fanatic Journey blog followers! Sorry everyone!

Here are some of the photos I took with my substandard Treo phone.

For some proper photos of this show, check out Chris Ryan's site here.

Also here is a video montage someone shot:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monty Python Meets Iron Maiden?

Watching the new six-part documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) a couple of weeks ago, I was somewhat mystified as to the appearance of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson as an interviewee.

My wife in fact commented, "What, did they just interview anyone who was available?" But on further research, Dickinson is a big Python fan, as are many big-time musicians. For example, from the documentary we learn that Pink Floyd helped the troupe finance the Holy Grail movie in 1975, and George Harrison did the same for Life of Brian a few years later.

What I didn't know is that one of the last things the late Graham Chapman from Python ever did was to appear in the fairly typical dumb video for Can I Play With Madness off of Maiden's 1988 album Seventh Son of A Seventh Son. Where in the hell was I? Anyway, here ya go:

Iron Maiden - Can I Play with Madness

Everyday I Write the Book | MySpace Video

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Britney Spears is a Satan Worshipper - She Said it Herself on Twitter!

I don't know why I think this is so funny but I do. Britney Spears' Twitter account was hacked (again) but this time instead of making her look like more of an idiot/sexpot/loser than she really is, they turned her into a follower of the Illuminati and Satan.

According to a post on CNN:

Hackers appear to have struck the singer’s Twitter account on Thursday, altering her wallpaper and posting the following tweets:

“I give myself to Lucifer every day for it to arrive as quickly as possible. Glory to Satan!”

“i hope that the new world order will arrive as soon as possible! -Britney”

The Illuminati wallpaper and offending tweets were quickly removed. #DontHackBritneySpears later appeared as a popular trending topic on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steven Tyler Joins Joe Perry Onstage in New York - Aerosmith Breakup Rumors Are Shattered?

Anyone trolling the rock and roll news sites on the Web the last couple of weeks has likely seen all the drama around Steven Tyler and the rest of Aerosmith. Tyler has been having a rough time the last few months, what with breaking his shoulder in a fall off a stage mid-concert, and various rumors that he has fallen off the wagon.

This week's news was that Joe Perry got off the plane from a recent concert in Dubai to hear that Tyler announced he was quitting the band, via his Web site no less. What he actually said was that he was going to focus on the "Tyler brand," which probably means a solo album or something. But Perry took it as a resignation, and even went so far as to say they would be auditioning for replacement singers, adding that Tyler won't even return his phone calls.

Well, according to a Tweet from @PiercingMetal who is at Perry's Fillmore NY show right now, Tyler just joined Perry onstage for Walk This Way. So much for all the bullshit tabloid-like coverage, stoked by Perry himself. Maybe it was a ploy to get people to his gig!

Anyway, if the band needs a break, let 'em have it. It is often good to take a break to recharge the ole batteries. But after all this time, it’s hard to believe those two wouldn’t stay buddies somehow.

Stream the New Them Crooked Vultures Album

I just got an email that simply said, "Fuck Patience. Let's Dance" and provided me the below link to stream the new Them Crooked Vultures album, which will hit the stores next week. Enjoy:

CD Review - U2 The Unforgettable Fire Remastered

On the urging of fellow blogger Seano, I went out at found the 2 CD remaster of U2’s The Unforgettable Fire. I had a bitch of a time finding it too, and finally got it at a Border’s.

I had not heard this album in years but know it well from high school, when U2 and The Police were my ‘secret bands’ I listened to by myself in my room.

Publically, it was all Quiet Riot, Sabbath, Maiden, Priest etc. U2 were just not musically adept enough to pass muster with my metal friends. Plus, way too many of our fellow students with strange haircuts liked this stuff. Therefore, I could not.

But I did! And The Unforgettable Fire is my probably my favorite U2 album, followed by All That You Can’t Leave Behind, No Line on the Horizon, The Joshua Tree, and War, in that order.

Anyway…This remaster is fantastic. The original CD is crisp and as with all good remasters, I hear all sorts of stuff that I never heard on the original. For example, you can hear the amp hiss at the very beginning of Bad. Not something you really WANT to hear, but you get the idea of the clarity presented here. This album is also a great one for remastering because it is so sonically ambitious. The layers of guitars, echo, keyboards and the pulsing bass and drums just sound really good here. A Sort of Homecoming and the title track really stand out.

The very odd Elvis Presley and America is very Floydworthy. I heard they got that sound by slowing the tape down and letting Bono wing it live. He wanted to re-do his vocals and they all said no. Imagine that. Telling Bono ‘no.’

The bonus disc also sounds great. It kicks off with a song begun for the album but finished for the remaster. So, kind of a ‘new’ old U2 song. The next four songs are from the EP Wide Awake in America, which contained live versions of A Sort of Homecoming and Bad, and two studio tunes, the better of which is The Three Sunrises -- a song that sounds like it would have been on War. I have to note that this live version of Bad is my favorite version of my hands-down favorite U2 song. And it just sounds great here.

The rest of the bonus tracks are B-sides, remixes and odd soundscapes that didn’t make the album. Together, they paint an ambitious picture of a band trying to do something new, with producers (Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois) who had some powerful sonic tools at their disposal and weren’t afraid to use them. For example, the instrumental Yoshino Blossom has a bit of a New Years Day feel, but with some screaming guitar tones from The Edge armed with an E-Bow, according to the liner notes written by Edge himself.

Another fun piece is the remixed version of A Sort of Homecoming that was done at Peter Gabriel’s studio (around the time he was recording So with Lanois). You can hear Gabriel doing backing vocals and that is kind of a neat novelty. The song starts like a Peter Gabriel song, as a matter of fact.

Two new mashup mixes of Wire are pretty good too. Overall the bonus disc adds a lot to this release, and the packaging is really nice too, with liner notes from Eno, Lanois, and like I said, Edge. Lyrics are also included. Very helpful in the afore-mentioned Elvis Presley and America, which has always been mysterious to me lyric-wise.

There is a super-deluxe version with a bonus DVD but I didn’t get it – maybe I should have. But if you ever dug this album back in the day, you’ll have fun re-experiencing it in its sonically enhanced state. Rock it!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Neil Peart Waxes on the Future of Rush

What to write? What to write? Another Rush post? Seems like there are lots of opportunities to put up little things about Rush these days. I usually let them pass because there are better sites for that – like

But every month, Neil Peart posts a usually-lengthy entry on his Web site that either chronicles a motorcycle trek, a bird-watching episode and sometimes items about drumming. This month, he got way into the drumming again, and it’s worth a read if you are a Peart fan.

One part of his post struck me as interesting enough to repeat here. Peart said that soon he would be getting together with Alex and Geddy to talk about what they are going to do next as a band. He said that none of them have any idea of what lies next but that they have been paying attention to the changing landscape of the music business and may decide to go very non-conventional moving forward.

They only have one album left on their deal with Atlantic (he didn’t say this, but it is true), so after that is done, they can pretty much do whatever they want, business-wise. Interesting possibilities. Here is some of what I am talking about:

... In this autumn of 2009, the three of us are poised on another kind of "reinvention." We have agreed to meet in Los Angeles in November, and discuss our future. ... these are parlous times in the music business, so our time-honored pattern of touring, recording, and touring is no longer the obvious way to do things. ... Because of that reality, record company advances that used to pay for album projects are a thing of the past, so if that was what we wanted to do, we'd be on our own. ... To this point, the three of us haven't even discussed what we might discuss, so to speak-so our ideas and shared enthusiasm for the entity of Rush will be fresh, spontaneous, and quite likely exciting. For myself, I'm open to anything we can all agree on (I've pointed out before that in a three-piece band, we need consensus, not democracy-it's no good having one outvoted and unhappy member). My favorite group activity is always songwriting and recording, and I've got some lyrical ideas and those new drumming frontiers to explore. However, those rhythmic concepts would also be inspiring for a new drum solo, if we decided to do a tour of some kind, maybe with an orchestra. We could write and record just a few songs, and release them some way. Or there were a couple of film-and-music projects we had discussed in the past. In any case, there are enough possibilities for future collaboration, and I am curious to see what we'll come up with.

Maybe they could just do house concerts and start in my basement. There’s an idea to discuss!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Concert Review - John Cleese

I saw comedic genius John Cleese last night in Eugene with frankly low expectations. I had seen Cleese in some interviews over the last few years and thought he was funny but not rip-roaring funny. I thought, well, maybe the man has lost his edge and his best work is behind him.

Well, call me all straightened out. Last night Cleese did what amounted to a two-hour monologue in front of a sold out theater. He used hilarious slides on a screen behind him to help drive the jokes home, and he showed various clips from his career as well.

He started off saying that he was so old, one of his teeth fell out when he was brushing his teeth that morning. “I am so old that pieces are literally falling off of me.” He continued on by saying he had to do this tour because he was recently divorced and has to pay his ex $20 million dollars. He continued saying that by other divorce settlements, he could have married Pamela Anderson 8 and a third times (accompanied by a graphic of eight and a third Pamela Andersons), and other similar comparisons of what $20 million can get you these days.

He talked about his mother, who was afraid of everything. “The only two things my mother and I had in common were that we were not raised by wolves and that we both loved black comedy.” He went on to say that his remedy for her complaining that she was depressed was to offer to have someone come to her house and kill her. When she said "You'll forget about me when I am gone," Cleese said "No I won't because when you die I am going to have you stuffed by a taxidermist, and I will put you in a glass case by my door so when I grab my hat to go outside, I will see you." This promise, according to Cleese, upped her status at the nursing home.

It went on and on and soon focused on how he got into comedy, with of course lengthy segments on Python, Fawlty Towers, his late writing partner and fellow Python Graham Ghapman, and the Fish Called Wanda movie. Then he said, “since my career has been dead for the past 19 years, let’s go to the Q&A,” and took a few questions from the audience.

I was dying laughing all night and immediately wished that every one of my friends were there with me to see this. One was – one of my oldest friends Brendan. Brendan runs the production house that puts shows on in the Theater, so we watched the show from the soundboard. And Steve, the house sound guy, had a 30-odd page script that was basically everything Cleese was saying. There were some improvised parts but I was very impressed that Cleese basically had written a two-hour comedy skit about his life, complete with props, slides and films. And he delivered it flawlessly.

Cleese brings the show to his home state of California next week, with various shows (mostly in Southern California). Do some Googling and see if you can see this. And while you’re there, get the tour shirt (yes, he has merch) that says “I saw John Cleese Live. Before he died.”

There is a pretty good interview with Cleese in the Glendale Press as well, here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Governator and His Secret Message to the California Assembly and Senate

According to numerous reports last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger included a secret message, Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds-style, into a memo to the California Assembly and Senate.

Seems that the Assembly and Senate unanimously approved Assembly Bill 1176 to help the port of San Francisco with financing issues. Schwarzenegger decided to veto the legislation, sending a letter to the state Assembly chastising them for focusing on “unnecessary bills.” And check out the little secret message he included:

The Wall Street Journal provides more context, making this even more amusing:

Earlier this month, the Republican governor crashed a San Francisco Democratic Party fund-raiser, where he was booed by Democrats still upset at the spending cuts he pushed this year. One attendee, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, yelled “You lie!” at him, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Then, Ammiano, a former standup comedian who is famous in San Francisco for his championing of liberal causes and gay rights, walked out on the speech, shouting a vulgarity.

Schwarzenegger has said he was unfazed by the incident.

Four days later, Assembly Bill 1176, which just happened to be sponsored by Ammiano, reached his desk. The bill would have expanded the financing powers of the Port of San Francisco. The state legislature didn’t have a problem with it; it cleared the Senate 40-0 and the Assembly 78-0.

Nonetheless, the former tough-talking “Terminator” star vetoed the bill, sending along a message.

...When asked about the intent of the message, Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said that “like every veto message, it says why the governor vetoed the bill.”

Okay. What about the other message in the letter?

“As far as what it says on the left-hand margin, that’s just a strange coincidence,” McLear said. “When you do so many vetoes, that’s bound to happen.”

Monday, November 02, 2009

John Cleese Silly Walks Into the Northwest

John Cleese from Monty Python's Flying Circus is on a rare tour right now. The 70-year old Cleese is calling this the "A Final Wave at the World or The Alimony Tour, Year One." Similar to the Carol Burnett tour I just took my mom to, Cleese will talk about his life in comedy, of course hitting on Python and Fawlty Towers, and then taking questions from the audience.

I am attending the show with my one of my best/oldest friends Brendan on Wednesday in Eugene. The show in Portland tonight is sold out but it'll be more fun to see it with Brendan in Eugene anyway, despite the 109 mile drive. The venue is where my band plays the Floyd tribute shows, so it'll be nice to be there and not have to perform!

Serena Markstrom from the Register Guard in Eugene had the good fortune to interview Cleese for an article in the paper to promote the show. She published the mostly complete transcript here. Check it out!

I certainly will post something about the show on Thursday or Friday, time permitting.