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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Did Video Games Make Me More Productive This Weekend?

I’ll start by mentioning that I stopped following video games in high school. The two systems I really owned and played were SNES and N64. I played a ton of both through high school and Mario Kart for N64 proved to be a big dorm room game in college. We even ended up playing Kart 64 at my bachelor party. But I couldn’t tell you the first thing about any platform created after 1998.

Typically, I keep my games packed away. On the rare occasion that I’ve got someone to race against, I’ll take the time to set up the system. This is partially strategic. I tend to get very sucked into things and I don’t need yet another distraction in my life. A couple weekends ago, at my wife’s suggestion, I visited Arisia, and sci-fi con of sorts local to Boston. They had a room set up for video games, complete with an NES, SNES, Sega, and N64. The game selection was small, but I was still a kid in a candy store. I also felt like I had given myself permission to play all I wanted. I’d paid my admission to the event, it was up to me how I spent it.

A week later, I see an old elementary school friend and his brother share on Facebook a video explaining a glitch in Super Mario World for SNES. This is arguably my favorite SNES game, and the one game I was ever really a pro at. I didn’t think anyone cared about the game and I also didn’t think there was anything else for me to learn about the game. I then fell down one of the deepest YouTube holes of my life. I watched speedruns, I watched glitch explanation; matter of fact I’m still a few episodes into a 50-something part series explaining glitches in every level. This was how I spent my commute time all this week. I was that jerk on the T who was totally absorbed in his phone. And I wasn’t even playing the game. I was just watching. As this weekend arose, I knew I had to play. (more…)

Punk Rock Dating Advice: Is She the One?

Sometimes you just need dating advice. Sometimes you just wish your friends would give you a straightforward answer. Nuance? Feh!

Thankfully, two of my favorite punk bands are here with answers.

The Ramones will tell you “She’s the One.”

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Marketing WIN: OoOTie Teaches Me to Tie a Bowtie and I Immediately Buy One

OoOTie Boston Purple Husky Bow Tie

Why yes that is a husky. Who ever said I didn’t have school spirit?

It’s a real treat to live walking distance of the SoWa Open Market in Boston’s South End. If you’ve never been, it’s one part farmer’s market, one part crafts fair, one part flea market, and one part food truck meetup. This past Sunday was the first one of the season and we were excited to shop. While perusing the crafts fair, a couple guys in one booth invited us to learn how to tie a bow tie, something I’ve never done before in my life. Like any great teacher, they demonstrated, they let me try it myself, and they did it without being condescending. Turns out, it’s not much harder than tying a necktie. (more…)

Yours Truly Joins Sammy Kay and Fast Four at The Midway Cafe

Last Saturday night I had the pleasure of seeing my pal Sammy Kay at The Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain as he traveled through with his East Coast band The Fast Four (aka The Snails). I was pleasantly surprised when they invited me up to jam with them on their last tune, “Sweet Misery.” Check the clip below. You can read my full preview of the show at Boston Ska (dot) net.

Huge tip of the hat to Kevin for taping the set!

How I Kept Christmas Lights from Getting Tangled

Back story: My girlfriend and I inherited my father’s old fake Christmas tree. (Yes I’m Jewish, no she’s not, yes we have a tree in the house, no this is not that post. Focus.) He got this thing when I was in middle school, but it still stands up. At some point he decided it would be a great idea to wrap a string of colored lights around the spine (I hesitate to call it a trunk…) so it lit from the inside once it was decorated. It didn’t look that bad. We happen to have less decorations and tinsel to wrap around the tree so it just sort of looked sad with the lights on the inside. So the tree was already assembled and I wanted to remove that string of lights so we could use it on the outside.

Lifehacker schmifehacker!

Lifehacker schmifehacker! Also I recycle.

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Spring Heeled Jack USA in the New Haven Advocate

But it’s 2010, not 1998. Seeing the late 90s ska/rock act Spring Heeled Jack USA on the cover of the New Haven Advocate in high school was not such a big deal; they were from the area and were big. Seeing the video for “Jolene” on MTV2 was a very big deal; were they really that big?

SHJUSA broke up roughly 10 years ago but will be having two reunion shows this weekend at Toad’s Place in New Haven. Against my better judgement, I have tickets to both nights. The Advocate ran a really great article about the band and the shows this weekend. I got warm-fuzzies reading the article when it hits on a few things in particular. The writer and guitarist/singer Mike Pellegrino talk about the Tune Inn at length:

“That place was so sketchy, so cool,” says Pellegrino. “How many shows did we play there? 100? That’s not pushing it right? It was totally sketchy. I miss it. There was a burnt-up building across the street and parents would be like, ‘Where am I dropping my kid off?’”

The Tune Inn, formerly on Center Street in New Haven, was an all-ages club. It didn’t serve alcohol until near the end of its existence. It was a place for teens to go that wasn’t contrived (or chaperoned), to play, mingle and listen to music.

My mom definitely was concerned where she was dropping me off. The very first show I ever drove myself to was there. Pilfers stole my hearing permanently at the Tune Inn. My first high school pop/punk band played some of our first shows there. When high school senioritis kicked  in, I was there at least once a week, it almost didn’t matter who was playing. I remember being extremely frustrated when they were muscled out of New Haven and made it out for the venues last show when Thumper (also mentioned in the article) reunited. I remember just how weird the place felt with half the sound equipment and furniture gone that last night.

The article goes on to talk about how SHJUSA fit into the third wave ska explosion, the subsequent fall, and several reunions. It’s a really nice intro for those aren’t familiar with the band or the context but a nice recap for anyone who was along for any of the ride.

I had all but forgotten that in 2006 I wrote an article on SHJUSA for the short lived Upbeat Ska Zine (picture below) run by some friends of mine during what I felt was a really great ska renaissance taking place in CT at that time.

As I mention in the article, I only saw them once in high school, somewhere between my sophomore and junior years. This was really the start. Tracks from “Songs From Suburbia” became staples of almost every party I went to. Were you ever at Tap Out House at midnight when I cranked “Mass Appeal Madness?” While I was filling in on bass for CT ska band Stealing From Peter, who was known for covering various SHJUSA songs live, we had one show where Mike Pellegrino (singer/guitarist mentioned above) jumped on stage to sing “Jolene” with us. It was pretty surreal. Here’s that video:

Most recently, for a birthday present, one of my good friends got me a signed poster from a benefit auction (a beautiful story in and of itself) that now sits above my bed. I’m pretty proud of it. I still consider them a major influence on my current pop/punk/ska project, Hey Stranger.

Spring Heeled Jack USA on MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia and Vinyl via Asbestos Records.

We’ve been gone for so long that it doesn’t really matter where we’re going to, there’s no looking back.
I know I should be strong, but my heart isn’t in it and I don’t know my limit, so all I can do is move on.

*** Update 5/11/09 ***

These shows were both amazing! The music was great, the openers were fun, the band had not lost an ounce of the energy they once had and I ran into everyone. I ran into old friends, members of every band I’d ever been in, an old roommate, heroes of mine in the audience, and the list goes on.

In addition to the New Haven Advocate, the New Haven Register ran a great article that was more the human interest angle, reflecting on the loss of a band member and how that affected the band’s decisions. Hat tip to Duff Guide To Ska for linking it and running a really great preview for the shows as well.

206

…is the amount of gigs I estimate I’ve played in my life. I’ve played 56 gigs since I moved to NYC in August 2008, which begins to make up for the 2 gigs I played between June 2006 and then. The bulk is roughly as follows (I didn’t really start keeping track until the Tap Out years).

Hey Stranger – 14
The Hard Times – 20
Across The Aisle – 17
Push To Release – about 25
Tap Out – About 104
Lost In The Shuffle – About 7
Stealing From Peter – About 8

And there are a bunch of one-offs in here (such as backing Hannah Fairchild, filling in for The Roland High Life, a TMBG cover band, The Silent  H) and the Hardcore Karaoke Pile-On Extravaganza shows that would be weird to count.

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have played all these shows, especially having never gone on a proper tour (save for an 11 date run with Tap Out in 2005). I’m psyched because I feel like there’s so many more to come.

(originally posted on my Tumblr page)