Thursday, December 29, 2011

Camp Freddy 2011

I'm pretty certain you won't remember my posts from last year about Camp Freddy but we saw them twice again during this year's Christmas residency at The Roxy.  A brief recap -- Camp Freddy is basically a band made up Dave Navarro (of Jane's Addiction & Red Hot Chili Peppers), Matt Sorum (of Guns N' Roses & Velvet Revolver), Billy Morrison (of Billy Idol's band) and Chris Chaney (of Jane's Addiction).  The big attraction of the show is they play cover songs and have a ton of guest singers and musicians onstage.

Last year, we were treated to Steven Tyler singing Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and Billy Idol singing his own "Rebel Yell."  I was very excited for this year's shows even though both The Wife and I were exhausted from work and various holiday functions.  They play on four consecutive Fridays at the Roxy and we decided to do shows 2 and 3.  I figure they will never have their biggest show first, and the last show was too close to Christmas.

Week two guests included Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) and Paul Stanley (Kiss).  It was a pretty good show although the song selection was a bit odd overall.  I mean, you've got Paul Stanley onstage and he does Strutter (decent Kiss song), You Shook Me (terrible blues song), All Right Now (a cover of the Free song which was okay) and then they closed with the Kiss song Lick It Up.  Huh -- no Rock & Roll All Nite?

Week three guests included Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Chino (Deftones), Steven Adler (Guns N' Roses), and Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple).  The song selection this night was stronger, I thought.  The Wife and I had gone to her company's holiday party then straight to the concert so we were very tired.  Before they brought out the Big Guest at the end, I said we could leave early if it was lame.  They introduced Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) so I turned to her and said, "Let's go."

Week 3 Setlist -- Relax & Seven Nation Army (w/ Donovan Leitch Jr.), 20th Century Boy & Search and Destroy (w/Neon Trees), Anarchy in the UK (w/Billy Morrison), Firewoman, Helter Skelter & War Pigs (w/ Franky Perez), Round & Round & Tobacco Road (w/ Stephen Pearcy), Creep & Whole Lotta Love (w/Linda Perry), You Really Got Me & Sweet Emotion (w/Fred Durst), and Strutter, You Shook Me, All Right Now & Lick it Up (Paul Stanley)

Week 4 Setlist -- Relax & Seven Nation Army (w/ Donovan Leitch Jr.), Highway to Hell & Helter Skelter (w/ Franky Perez), Pretty Vacant & Fight for Your Right (w/ Mark McGrath), L’il Devil, All Right Now & Highway Star (w/ Glenn Hughes), In the Meantime & Search and Destroy (w/ Chino), Youth Gone Wild, Paradise City & Sweet Child O’ Mine (w/ Sebastian Bach & Steven Adler) and Wine Wine Wine, Foxy Lady & Sharp Dressed Man (w/ Billy Gibbons)

Not sure if we'll go again next year.  The shows are a lot of fun but they start around 11:30 and are over by 1:00 so it's a lot of standing around.  Plus, everyone gets their cellphones or cameras out for the really good shit and put it up on YouTube anyway.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Saying

You know that old saying "never bring a knife to a gun fight."  I have a food based variation on it --

Never bring a vegetable dish to a Christmas potluck at work.

I made a super delicious Southwestern corn dish (consisting of corn, bell peppers, hominy & seasoning) and I think maybe 3 or 4 people tried it.  It got passed over in favor of the nachos, the meatballs and the 13 different types of dessert.  There's supposed to be variety at a potluck!  I figured some health conscious people would appreciate something that wasn't filled with sugar.  Oh well.

Lesson learned.  Next year I'll just bring something covered in cheese and sugar, and it will all be eaten.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I'm surprised by a lot of my coworkers and people I've met that are fairly clueless as to what improv really is so I thought I'd try to condense it down, and explain why it's so much dang fun.  Improvisation basically boils down to a game.  The game is titled "Yes, and..."

One person starts a scene by doing or saying something and it's up to everyone else involved in that scene to play the game of "Yes and..." but adding to it.  So if I start off the scene by miming the lifting of weights, I have established that we're in some sort of gym or at least exercise area.  If the next person comes in miming that they're underwater wearing a scuba tank, they've kind of f'ed me over by denying what I established.  Likewise, if they start a scene by saying, "This is a lovely Thanksgiving dinner you've cooked" I can't switch gears and pretend that we're flight attendants.  I'd have to say something like, "Thanks, Grandma."  I've acknowledged [yes] what they've said and added to the scene by establishing that person as my Grandma.  The scene then goes on and on until it reaches whatever conclusion.

Of course, things can go awry and curveballs can be thrown.  In one of my classes, a woman started a scene by being very somber weeping and miming an outstretched hand touching a coffin.  Her scene partner came in and said, "Mom, I know you're upset that Dad never fixed the heater."  It was a curveball but it added to the scene and took it from something kind of heavy, like a funeral, to something more comical, like family dysfunction.

I'm toying around with the idea of having an improv party for my birthday in June where I get a bunch of people together to take an improv class as a group.  It's really a lot of fun and you get to be pretty damn goofy.  Hopefully I continue to enjoy taking these classes over the coming weeks.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


So, I started taking weekly improv classes again.  I like this theater because it's a lot smaller, it's not in Hollywood and the people seem to be average people taking this for fun -- not the usual mattress (model/actress) types.  I'm only two classes in but I am enjoying a hell of a lot more than the last time I took improv back in 2008.  I'm a lot more relaxed this time around and I don't feel like I'm competing with a bunch of mattresses just trying to get noticed in town.

The first time around, I really struggled with improv because you're supposed to hold back and let scenes develop.  Everything in my mind and training as a comedian taught me to go for the joke!  Time is of the essence, so you get up there and it's set up, punchline, set up, punchline.  I don't know what's changed in the 3 years since my last improv class but I seem to be doing a better job of holding off.

I remember one day during my previous improv class.  I was about to start a scene when the teacher told us to hold off because he wanted to relate some story.  He went on for about a minute or two, but I wasn't paying attention to him.  In my mind, I was thinking, "I'll start the scene like this, then my scene partner will probably say something like this, and then I can steer the scene in this direction, and then this will be the payoff joke at the end."

The teacher told us to start the scene and it went pretty much exactly like I mentally mapped out.  Afterward, the teacher told me after 5 classes, it was one of the best scenes I had done.  I had no guts to tell him it wasn't truly improvised and finished out the class weeks later.

Part of my brain still tries to plan ahead and think of stuff ahead of time, but I think I'm better at letting go.  I've had a few scenes where I thought they would go one way, and my scene partner surprised me so I had to react and keep it going.

So anyway, as you can tell by the blog title of this post, I think I am improving at improv and I hope it continues to go that way.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Thinking about the Katy Perry song "The One That Got Away" and the overproduced pop version versus the stripped down emotional version reminded me of one of my favorite bands of all time - Ednaswap.

Ednaswap was a band I first saw open up for Better Than Ezra in 1996 at The Roxy and I was immediately hooked.  Thankfully, they were a local band so I had a chance to see them multiple times and meet them at least twice.  Ednaswap was responsible for writing the song "Torn" which was covered by Natalie Imbruglia to great success.  Natalie's version is overly poppy and lacks the true emotion of the song as you can see in the live performance here:

*sigh*  I really, really miss Ednaswap.  So whatever became of them?  Some of them formed the band AnnetennA which lasted a little while and recorded a stellar debut album, but then broke up.  The primary songwriters, singer Anne Preven and guitarist Scott Cutler, went on to become songwriters for others including Katy Perry, Madonna, Miley Cyrus and many others.  They were even nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for the song "Listen" from the movie Dreamgirls, so I'm pretty sure they're content.

Still, I really miss them.  If they did a reunion concert, I'd be there in a heartbeat.  Their albums are available on all of your favorite digital music channels so do yourself a favor and give 'em a listen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Katy Perry

Yes, in fact, I did see Katy Perry at Staples Center a few weeks ago.  I got tickets to this as an anniversary gift to The Wife a few months ago and I actually really loved it!  I was familiar with a few of her songs from the radio but borrowed the CDs from The Wife a few days before the show so I could familiarize myself more with them.

Stark confession here, friends: I've actually been listening to her CDs a lot since the concert.  Like a lot A LOT.  I don't know if it's her somewhat goofy personality or seeing the songs performed live accompanied by dancing, costume changes, fireworks and beach balls, but I think I'm a bona fide fan here now.

One song I was blown away by is called "The One That Got Away."  I also kind of glossed over it on the album but the live performance was stripped down and full of emotion.  It's actually an personal and emotional song but it's turned into a generic pop song on the album.  I hate when they do that.  Here's the way it should be:

I also loved all of the dancing and costume changes during "Hot N Cold":

Such a fun concert!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to Keep Your Coworkers Away From Your Food in the Communal Fridge

Lie about the contents.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Valiant Comics

One of the things I've been excited recently is the announcement that Valiant Entertainment will relaunch their comic book line next year.  A brief history - Valiant Comics existed from about 1992 to about 2000 and at one point, was the third largest comic book company.  They got bought out by the video game company Acclaim around 1996 who decided to flush all of the good things about Valiant down the toilet in order to make the comics more adaptable to video games.  It worked, kind of - with the success of Turok and Shadowman, but eventually the comic book market crashed and Acclaim went bankrupt.

The run of Valiant Comics lasted about the same length as my foray into actively collecting/reading comic books.  I liked the books they produced a lot - partly because they weren't Marvel or DC comics.  Their characters were a bit more realistic (origins, body types, problems, etc.) and also the entire universe had a tight continuity to it.  You didn't need to read all of the books they published, but you had a real sense all of these characters existed in the same universe.

In comparison, take the Marvel character Wolverine who currently stars in his own monthly book, and is a part of the team books Avengers, X-Men and X-Force.  That would almost be like one quarterback playing on four different teams in the same week.  I know, I know, they're comics, but still.

Anyway, back to Valiant.  The rights to the vast majority of the characters eventually lapsed and were snatched up by a group intending to relaunch the comic book line in 2012.  I'm not able to pinpoint it exactly, but I am very excited by this.  I may even venture into a comic book store again and pick up some of the relaunch on the days they come out.  I've been re-reading the old Valiant stories and enjoying them and have also been buying some older back issues to fill in some gaps in my collection.

I'm very curious to see what they pull together for next year and hopefully it will last.  They're supposed to release some information in the next week or two on what their overall plan is.  Stay tuned to the official website for details, all of you comic book fans that read my blog.


Hello all.  I'm not sure who still has this bookmarked or is subscribed to it.  It's been a long while.  Part of me feels like nothing super profound has happened so I haven't had a lot to say.  Even when I get together with friends I haven't seen in a while, it's not like I have a million crazy stories to share.  But nonetheless, I do somewhat, sort of, kind of miss blogging.  I hope to do this more often.