Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dear Ticketmaster (and, by extension, Live Nation)

Dear Ticketmaster:

I'm so excited for you!  I know how hard it has been for you to make ends meet simply by charging an $18-something service fee on top of a $40-something ticket.  Believe me, I'm as aware as anybody of how hard it is to make it in this tough economy.  You have no idea how much it lifted my spirits to see the ORDER PROCESSING FEE of $7.50, separate from the service fees mentioned above, that you tacked on to the order I placed this morning.  Good on you, old friend, for finding a fun and innovative way to rise to the challenge of these difficult times.

Your pal

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

[AeroTuesday] "Done with Mirrors" (1985)

The real cover, before some genius at Geffen Records decided you were too dumb to read sdrawkcab and changed it.

Wake up baby, what'choo in for?  It's a fair question wherever it may be asked of you in life, but as the signal that my single favorite under-loved Aerosmith song, from my single favorite under-loved Aerosmith album is about to begin, it never fails to grab my attention and then some.  Often enough in critical appraisals, you'll see Done with Mirrors cited as the least of all Aero-offerings.  In general, I try to be supportive of the idea that taste is subjective and, when it comes to music, that there are no wrong or right opinions.  On the other hand, it's a cliché for a reason that rules are made to be broken, so please take the following in that spirit: anyone who thinks this is a bad album needs their FUCKING HEARING CHECKED.  If that doesn't do the trick, then they need their FUCKING TASTE CHECKED as well.  Don't believe me even after that bit of unrestrained hyperbole?  Fine; the truth, as it always is with music, is in the tracks.

"My Fist Your Face" is pure, uncut Boston-via-Yonkers Steven Tyler sass and attitude, a side of his character that we've needed to see so much more often than we have in the years after 1985.  Once you realize what the torrent of clever lyrics are actually about - a trip to rehab forced upon someone who'd clearly rather have said no, no, no - they ascend to the realm of utter, unadulterated genius.  It's the best thing on this album by far, but that's no slam on Mirrors' eight other underrated gems; it would also be the best thing by far on most hard rock albums.  So, for that matter, would be the album's lone semi-hit, a reworking of "Let the Music Do the Talking", still Joe Perry's best moment as a solo artist.  The difference between the Joe Perry Project version and this one is simple and brilliant: Tyler threw out the merely average lyrics and singer featured on the original and replaced both with his inimitable self.  Result: coulda-been elevated to classic.

I could wax similarly ecstatic for the album's other seven songs, but other than needing to call out the breathless rush of "Gypsy Boots", the uniquely funny/brooding "The Reason a Dog" and yet another great closing piano tune in "Darkness" before this review is over, I'll take the band's own advice and, well, let the music do the talking.  You simply must acquire and give a fair listening to this album at some point in your life; it's a great album for new fans to discover, for old ones to rediscover, or simply for anyone who likes high-octane loud-n'-clever rock music to take a shot in the dark on in this era of file-sharing free-for-all.  I'm not simply being a drooling fan-boy when I tell you that this is, in my opinion, the single most artistically underrated item in Aerosmith's canon.  I believe it with all my heart, soul and ears.

There is only one part of the prevailing criticism of Done with Mirrors with which I agree: it was not particularly the ideal comeback album, commercially speaking.  This is not a pop album full of doctored songs and smooth edges.  It is a ROCK album, full of leers, questionable moral content, and illicit substances.  It is proof positive that Aerosmith could, were commerciality not a concern, stand on their own and still write and record a great, fierce, brilliantly composed rock album without the "help" of the squadron of song hacks they'd singlehandedly keep employed for the rest of their careers once this album tanked.  It is the last time we heard them as they were for an entire album.  Rather than mourn what was lost once the overbite was corrected, we as fans should instead celebrate this amazing parting gift we were left.  Done with Mirrors is one hell of a send-off, and it's high time it started to get its due.

Format nerds have more fun: if you're going the vinyl route, you should be aware that the LP omits "Darkness" for some strange reason.  Never fear: it's available as the A-side of a great four-track EP that backs it with white-hot live versions of "She's on Fire", "The Hop" and "My Fist Your Face".  Until Geffen Records wises up (as if) and releases their own EXPANDED DELUXE EDITION, it's time to hook that turntable up to your computer and make your own.

Beyond the Pale

Aerosmith/Cheap Trick (the latter as openers, natch) tour announced today.

They did this before, back in 2004, and I thought it worked out pretty well.  Clearly, from what's available elsewhere on this blog, I love both bands.  In a perfect world for me, the order of appearance and respective allotted performance times would be reversed, but c'est la vie.  Given that Cheap Trick have to do the opening rounds from time to time, I'm far more cool with them warming up for Aerosmith than, say, the Poison/Def Leppard debacle that mostly just depressed the hell out of me back in 2009.

For whatever silly reason, I made the mistake of wandering on to Aerosmith's official forum.  I get that not every Aerosmith fan is obligated to like Cheap Trick, and so most of the negative comments rolled right off for me.  Two, however, stood out.  One poster suggested that Aerosmith should be touring with someone hipper and more currently relevant.  This person's suggestion?  Slash.  Apparently, this poster somehow missed the memo that this already happened - in 1988.  Hipness, I suppose, is in the eye of the beholder.  It's also often best ignored when the weight of your legacy dictates that you need not be concerned with it.

Even better than that was the Aerosmith fan who referred to Cheap Trick as "a bunch of old guys."  Let's let the facts do the talking, shall we:

Steven Tyler: born 3/26/48, age 64
Robin Zander: born 1/23/53, age 59

Actually, they're both (at least borderline) "old guys."  Zander's got much more of his vocal range left, and Tyler's more athletic on stage.  My advice?  Grab a ticket and enjoy 'em both while you still can.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rape, As Defined for the Terminally Dense

I know that it's just one of the many things making the Facebook rounds right now, but if you haven't read this article, you really ought to click the link above and take a couple of minutes to familiarize yourself with the delightful Senator Winder and his downright gynophobic views of the world.  Particularly if you live in Idaho where you might be able to vote him out of office in the future.

I'm perfectly content to let other, more political blogs debate the issue of abortion as a whole.  Speaking for myself, I don't feel I have the slightest right to tell a woman about whom I know nothing what choices she should make in such a complicated and ultimately personal matter.  Truth be told, I don't know what I would do if I were a father faced with a vote in such a situation other than reassure my partner that it was ultimately her body and her final choice, but I do know beyond even the slightest shadow of a doubt that I have no right whatsoever to make such a decision for anyone else.  For the sake of the record, that's where I stand.

For me, the most striking quote in that article is this: "Winder, a Republican from Boise, responded to those concerns by raising the question of whether women understand when they have been raped" (emphasis mine).  Senator, I hear ya loud and clear: these stupid dames don't know a damned thing about what's rape and what's just another Friday night down at the watering hole, do they?  These uppity bitches just cry rape every time an upstanding young man wants to show 'em some appreciatin', am I right Senator?  What is this world coming to, anyway?

(For the sake of anybody with a limited enough intellect that they might have voted for this man, everything after "emphasis mine" in the last paragraph was sarcasm.  I'm pointing this out simply because I believe in a hand up, not a hand out, especially where the terminally dense are concerned.)

Senator, allow me to help you out a bit here.  The full definition of rape is a complicated thing, but let me see what I can do to dumb it down for you.  I think that most people with more than a neuron or two firing would agree that a simple definition of rape would be the intrusion of a penis where it has not been invited to visit.  For example, Senator, if one of your personal body cavities was so violated, that would be rape.  I guarantee that you, like the women whose perception you doubt, would know it the moment it happens.  That would also be the moment after which your life would never be the same as it was before.  It's a horrible fate, and I wouldn't wish it upon you or anyone else.  Certainly, it's not something that any sane human being would take lightly.

As terrible an ordeal as that would be for you, at least that would be the end of it from a physical (as opposed to psychological) standpoint.  Men are lucky (term used incredibly loosely) like that, in a gruesome sort of way.  What you insinuate, Senator, is that a woman should be encouraged (and let's face it, forced, if you had your way completely) to not only endure both the attack and its emotional carnage, but also to carry to term and then parent a child that results from the attack.  To live with the tangible, living, breathing result of that attack for the rest of her days.  To force a child into being that has absolutely no chance for a stable, happy life.

All of that said, Senator, I'll leave you with two simple questions.  I'd like you to really think about them for a few minutes when you're alone someplace where the public can't see and the special interest groups don't have your number.  Ready?  Here goes: are you serious about this?  And, if so, whom exactly are you trying to protect?

[AeroTuesday] "Rock in a Hard Place" (1982)

Also on cassette!
Like the good student of sound that I am, I'll get my prerequisites out of the way first: Rock in a Hard Place is a drugged-out, self-indulgent, murkily-produced tailspin of a record.  In that sentence, I have summed up for you damn near every word of criticism ever put to paper about the album.  As a bonus, I'll throw in some mythology for you at no extra charge: this was the bottom-of-the-barrel depth from which the band would eventually reunite and rise, phoenix style, to the heights of ROCK STARDOM once again.  You can waste your time nosing around the inter-tubes for verification of these things, or you can be efficient and just accept that I wouldn't lie to you.

The only problem with the story as it is commonly told is that someone forgot to tell Rock in a Hard Place it was supposed to suck.  Because it doesn't: it's an entertaining, quirky-as-hell hard rock LP that may be a killer tune or three short of a masterpiece, but it's not even remotely the embarrassment it's made out to be.  In fact, I'm willing to make a fairly bold statement about it here, so listen up: I'll take it over any of the band's 1987-and-forward discography any day, with the important and notable exception of Pump.  Big talk, I know, but if you're ready to hear with new ears, I'm willing to share with you the secret to unlocking this one.  It's simple, actually: you need to completely disregard the album cover and just listen to the tunes as music.  First, you need to disregard the graphics; they're utterly ridiculous, and rumor has it Steven Tyler has never been amused by This is Spinal Tap as a result.  Wonder why?  More importantly, you need to disregard the big AEROSMITH logo on the cover.  Clearly, Aerosmith can't be Aerosmith without both Steven Tyler and Joe Perry at a minimum, so why even bother with the charade?

Instead, you need to convince yourself that the album says STEVEN TYLER on the cover.  You need to think of it as the solo album it really is, and you need to commend Tyler for having the smarts to keep the ace rhythm section from his day gig around for it.  Once you do all of that, the whole thing starts to make more sense.  After all, who'd want to hear AEROSMITH play "Cry Me a River"?  Nearly nobody, that's who.  But would you be interested in hearing STEVEN TYLER the SOLO ARTIST sing it?  Maybe.  At the very least, the idea is a lot more intriguing.  The reality of it is actually well worth pursuing; as it turns out, he sings hell out of the song.

In fact, he sings the hell out of all of these songs.  As compositions, they're mostly solid but not exceptional.  It's Tyler, who sounds better and more engaged here than he has since Rocks, that makes this dusty corner of classic rock history worth taking a flashlight to.  The fact Tyler managed to turn in these performances, some of which rank among his very best vocals, in the condition he was famously in at the time is nothing short of stunning.  Does his voice sound wasted on the album?  Sure.  Does he make it work?  In spades; the burned-out, well-earned rasp around the edges of Tyler's voice here lend these songs an edge and a tone that's unique to them.  I'm sure the fact that we've never heard this version of Tyler again and the fact that he's still alive bear a close correlation, and I'm more than happy that's the way this story ended.  Still, I'm nearly as happy that they got this on tape when they could.

Want one good example?  Let's look at the infamous "Prelude to Joanie/Joanie's Butterfly."  Like everyone on Earth not named Steven Tyler, I have no fucking idea what the lyrics are supposed to be about.  "I met the pony"?  "Kick-ass rocking horse"?  Yeah, Steven, whatever.  I'd say I've not done nearly enough drugs in my life to parse these thoughts, but Rhea, who has never ingested anything stronger than alcohol, named a vintage Volkswagen Bus that she owns after the song.  Maybe it's just that I've never owned enough tie-dyed clothing to get it, but I digress.  The lyrics are utter nonsense that find Tyler aiming for an epic and ending up with something the Moody Blues probably laughed at over breakfast.  Listening to him sing it, listening to the tone of his vocals,  I end up liking the damned thing, even though every other facet of my taste in music tells me I shouldn't.  And that's the worst song on the album.

The better songs are, well, better.  They're also pretty much of a piece.  In stark contrast to the shambles of Night in the Ruts' construction, this one feels like a full, finished album; the songs play off each other and gel into a complete, unified whole.  The rockers are among Tyler's ballsiest (check the title track out if you're looking for a good, typical example), and "Push Comes to Shove" is yet another great entry in the catalog of Tyler's  album-closing piano ballads, a genre I'd love to see him resurrect on the band's forthcoming LP.  Really, though, the whole thing is far stronger than it ever seems to get credit for, provided you can stop thinking about what it isn't long enough to thoroughly enjoy what it is.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day...

...and to all of you headed bar-ward tonight, happy amateur hour!  Personally, I've never been all that big on the traditional jig-and-reel kind of stuff, so I'll leave you with some Irish music that's a bit more my speed.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

[AeroTuesday] "Night in the Ruts" (1979)

Three factors that pretty much guarantee that your new album won't exactly rank among your best:

1) Your famous and popular guitarist quits mid-way through the sessions.  He is replaced for the time being by pretty much anyone in proximity to the recording studio who can play a chord or three.

2) Said guitarist also had a large hand in writing a good two thirds of your material prior to his departure.

3) As a result, your new album will now feature three covers out of a total of nine tracks, which even a math-deprived writer-type like me can figure out is a full one third of the record.

So, yeah, Night in the Ruts is a clear B-list'er from the word "go".  It's a strong one in some ways though, made worthy of pickup at the bargain-bin prices it can now be had for by its strong moments.  Of the six originals, three are winners that deserve consideration in any serious study of '70s Aerosmith.  "No Surprize" is a clever, tongue-in-cheek re-telling of the band's story to date, and the spot it's since found on some of the band's deeper-reaching compilations is well deserved.  Right next to it on those compilations should be "Three Mile Smile", easily my pick for the single most underrated Aerosmith song of the '70s.  That opening riff is simply ungodly, and the strutting, push-and-pull guitars that follow it in the verses are Perry and Whitford at their call-and-response best.  The high-octane funk of "Chiquita" rounds out the A-list, making a perfect argument as to why '70s Aerosmith should have featured horns in their songs much more often than they did.

The remaining three originals are a bit more middling.  Both "Cheese Cake" and the delightfully titled "Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy)" feel a bit more like unfinished demos than full productions; there are fine riffs and good ideas present in both, but neither completely fulfills its potential.  Both are pleasant, but neither would have even managed to slot in on Draw the Line, let alone Rocks or Toys.  "Mia" is the obligatory closing ballad.  It seems like dirty pool to talk smack about a song someone wrote for their newborn daughter, so I'll refrain save to say that it's hardly in the same league as "Home Tonight" or "You See Me Crying."

The covers are pure Vinyl Helper.  The blues standard "Reefer Head Woman" is easily the best of the batch, but it should have been a single b-side at most, or better yet left on the stage where it's a more natural fit to the flow of things.  Their take on the girl-group classic "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" shoots for something akin to the New York Dolls and ends up more in the neighborhood of an overly leaden cover band in a scummy bar somewhere.  It serves only to demonstrate the band's sudden creative decline: for the Aerosmith of a few years earlier, it would have been a great left-field pick well suited to Steven Tyler's natural sass and bravado.  By 1979, sadly, it was little more than a Quaalude'ed mess whose presence on the band's original Greatest Hits album has always mystified me.  As for the Yardbirds' "Think About It", well, it's hard to ever remember much about it when I attempt to do just that.  A quick re-listen confirms my suspicion that it's there simply to push Night in the Ruts' total running time far enough past the thirty minute mark that Columbia Records would accept it for release and nothing more.  Mission accomplished, I suppose.

Listening to Night in the Ruts is a bit like buying a cheap beater car because you're young, broke or both.  If you're expecting a Cadillac, or a Rocks, you're going to be sorely disappointed.  If you're honest about what you're getting yourself into, you will be content with it.  More than that, actually: you will likely find things to love about it even though you wish the muffler would stop making that noise, the Check Engine light would shut off, and that they'd just ditched the covers and released a nicely streamlined, fairly ass-kicking EP instead.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

[Trick Tuesday related] ...and then there's THIS thing...

Newly released by Sony Music's PopMarket: Cheap Trick, The Complete Epic Albums.  Looks like this:
Seems superfluous for a nerd like me on the surface, but here's the rub: the '80s albums in this set are new remasterings by Vic Anesini, the talented engineer responsible for the current versions of the '70s discs, all of which were long ago released separately.  Anesini's work on the catalog through All Shook Up has been everything a fan could hope for: it sounds like the original vinyl pressings, only better: clearer and more powerful without having the dynamics thrashed out of it.  It's impossible to imagine this vital material sounding any better than it does, and it's also a rare win for the consumer.  After all, how often is the cheapest, most readily available version of important music also the best?  I'll answer that: far less often than you would think.

I certainly haven't pulled the trigger on this yet, and I'm not likely to anytime soon.  Rhea and I are in watch-every-penny mode right now, and I'd honestly feel stupid laying out a Benjamin for something I already half-own: by all accounts, the '70s albums are identical to the versions released between 1998 and 2006. As well they should be in a way, given that they are perfect as-is.   But why do I need them again?  It's hard to imagine anyone who'd be interested in this set not already owning at least some of them, and here's where the predictable anti-music industry rant comes in: why should I be forced to help Sony unload aging stock in order to buy titles that frankly should have been available separately ages ago?  If Anesini's remasterings - which I'm sure sound  wonderful and I'd absolutely love to own - of the '80s albums were available individually as mid-lines, I'd already have bit on at least a couple of them.  If a lower-cost second box of just the "new" titles were made available for, say, $50, I've no doubt it'd already be winging its way to me.  As it stands, I just don't see the value in being forced to re-buy the half of this set that I've long owned and cherished.

You'd hope there'd be a lesson in this for Sony Music: instead of a guaranteed sale of a more reasonably priced/presented product, they have so far gotten not one red cent from me.  And if this set isn't aimed at me, sitting here on a Sunday in a Cheap Trick t-shirt and checkerboard Vans sneakers, who on Earth is it possibly aimed at?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

[AeroTuesday] "Live Bootleg" (1978)

6:11 PM: Thinking about what I've got to do with the rest of my day, it occurs to me that today is AeroTuesday.  This is an excellent thing to realize; it's always a fun last thing to accomplish on a Tuesday.

6:14 PM: So today is Night in the Ruts, right?  Should be interesting.  I like that album, despite the fact that it's an utter and total mess.  That combo oughta make for some good writing.

6:33 PM: Oh shit, Live Bootleg came between Draw the Line and Ruts, didn't it?  Damn it, I've always been sort of "meh" about that one.  Guess I'd better pull a copy and throw it on in the background while I'm doing other work.

6:35 PM: You know what?  Maybe I'll pull the vinyl instead of the CD - after all, it worked for Draw the Line, right?

6:38 PM: Here's how I'm gonna do this: I'll keep a Microsoft Word document open and jot down a sentence or two for each song as they go by.  The track list on this thing is largely unassailable, so its relative quality all comes down to the performances.


Back in the Saddle: Jesus, this performance is about as tight as an XXL t-shirt on a midget.  It rocks pretty well, though, and if I wanted perfection I'd just grab the studio version.  Wasted but right, refreshingly not over-overdubbed.

Sweet Emotion: Perfunctory.

Lord of the Thighs: As per the liner notes: Little faster than the studio version, but that's live!  And very kick-ass; I'm usually not a fan of the "extended jam live version", but this one's got a good reason to stretch itself out.  Note to self: add to iPod.

Toys in the Attic: Spot-on.  Recorded in Boston, 3/28/78.  We'll discuss that show at the end of this post.


Last Child:  Faster and funkier than its studio counterpart, both plusses.  Ragged vocal a bit too much that of a punk in the street, a negative.  It's okay, but it easily could have been great.

Come Together:  I just don't really like this song all that much, regardless of who's performing it.  I like Aerosmith's version better than the Beatles', and I like Aerosmith's studio version better than this live one.  I also like "Seasons of Wither" better than any of the above, and wish they'd seen fit to include that on Live Bootleg rather than this.

Walk This Way: Also perfunctory.  Were they already sick of playing the singles by '78?

Sick as a Dog: Ahh, that's the stuff.  Right on the money.


Dream On: Surprisingly not perfunctory.  A touch ragged, but in a way that underscores the theme of the song rather than distracting from it.

Chip Away the Stone: One of rock music's ten greatest all-time non-album b-sides.  I slightly prefer the original studio version (available digitally on 1988's Gems compilation), but if this is all you've got, it'll do ya just fine.

Sight for Sore Eyes:  It's a shame this one didn't have a particularly long set-list life; it's absolutely meant for the stage.

Mama Kin: Delivered with the swagger of a stadium act, rather than the bar-band version featured on the band's debut album.  It's a bit loose, but then again it's supposed to be.

SOS (Too Bad): An appropriately earthshaking closing to this album's clear side-to-beat.  Short, sweet, fast and loud.


I Ain't Got You / Mother Popcorn: Early blues covers, recorded years before anything else on Live Bootleg.  The gig from which these were extracted (Paul's Mall, Boston, 4/23/73) is interesting on its own and readily available in trading circles.  There's nothing at all wrong with these performances, but they're bar-band stuff that sounds out of place with the stadium strut - and more fully realized sound - of the rest of the album.  I've long believed that they'd be more effective tacked on the end of the album as bonus tracks rather than slotted in between late '70s performances.

Draw the Line: See, it's not listed on the sleeve or label, just like the sort of mistakes commonly found on real live bootlegs!  Cute gimmick, solid performance of a classic.

Train Kept a Rollin': Just makes you wish they could still pull this evergreen off live with as much power and velocity as it's got here.

Right, then:  Live Bootleg is better than I remember it being, just like it always is.  Why, then, do I go so long between rediscoveries?  Because there's something similar but better out there: a radio broadcast from the Music Hall in Boston, 3/28/78.  It's from the same era as the bulk of Live Bootleg - indeed, as mentioned above, "Toys in the Attic" on the LP is from this gig - but with crisper sound and a hotter set list (hello "Seasons of Wither"/"Kings and Queens"/"Rats in the Cellar", just to name three).  If you're looking to hear Aerosmith in the '70s, on a good night in front of a hometown crowd, just moments before they were to hit the metaphorical iceberg, the Boston Music Hall show is really what you're looking for; a quick Google search makes it seem like it's sitting around some of the dustier corners of the internet waiting to be found.  If real live bootlegs and/or downloads aren't your speed, however, Live Bootleg is pretty much the next best thing.

Side note to Aerosmith's business managers: if you ever decide to raid the vaults a bit, I'd pay for a professionally remastered version of that Boston gig in a heartbeat.  Just sayin'.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kirk Cameron vs. Modernity

Alright, fine: this bit of washed-up celebrity blather has turned up enough on my Facebook wall this morning that I suppose it's worth a paragraph or two.  There are about a million predictable reactions I could have to this, and you probably already know what most of them are.  Of course I object to the idea that the tenets of the Bible should be enacted wholesale into law; not believing in the traditional Judeo-Christian portrayal of God will do that for a blogger.  I also believe that anti-gay prejudice should have gone out of style long before Growing Pains did.  But anyone reading this blog knows all of that already.

Instead, I'll leave it at this: I feel sorry for guys like Cameron.  It boggles my mind that people - particularly those who work in the arts - would systematically close themselves off from the talents and ideas of an entire population, due simply to the text of an ancient book and some behind-closed-doors activities that no one is forcing (not to mention inviting) them to participate in.

Chin up, little trooper, and learn to love - or at least acknowledge the equal rights of - your brother.  After all, he may have amazing things to teach you that have nothing to do with all that gross sex stuff that "God" says is a no-no.  Imagine that.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Philly Roots

So you really want to celebrate Turned On Its Ear's first birthday?  Here's my suggestion: forget 31 Holi-Days, Trick Tuesday, and all the other popular stuff.  You want a series?  Why not head back to our first weekend of existence as Will Z's Blog Thing, wherein Rhea and I took a very last minute, off the cuff trip down to Philadelphia, largely to gorge ourselves at a few places featured on Adam Richman's most excellent Man v. Food.

At the risk of being a bit too self-congratulatory, this little series reads better than I ever would have expected it to a year on.  For a first at bat, though, it's not half bad; hardly a home run or even an RBI, but a nice solid single at least.  I hadn't completely fine tuned the tone and feel of the blog yet, but it at least feels like it belongs with my more recent posts.  It's hardly the first thing I'd point a new reader towards on here, but for (more or less) the first thing I really wrote for this blog, it's held up pretty well.  Or maybe it's just that 8-Twelve still cracks me up even a year later, who knows?

Wanna know exactly what that last sentence means?  The line for the time machine is right over here.

I Look Like a Monkey, and I Smell Like One Too (or: Happy Birthday to My Blog)

One year - and one much-needed name change - ago today this here blog was born.  They grow up so fast, don't they?  Actually, it was much longer than that in the making: for at least a year, I hemmed and hawed about throwing my thoughts into the public arena.  I liked the idea, but wasn't sure how I'd feel about the day-to-day reality of having at least some portion of my life on permanent display.  Turns out I adjusted to it pretty quickly; you never can tell where things might lead, folks.

The name thing is sort of funny.  For those of you who only found me in the Turned On Its Ear era, this blog spent its first few months saddled with the fairly awkward-and-awful moniker Will Z's Blog Thing.  Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?  Truth be told, it was never meant as anything more than a placeholder.  Three hundred and sixty-five days ago today, I stopped using "but I don't have a good name" as an excuse to not start a blog, said "to hell with it", and just typed in the first stupid thing that came to mind.  Two hundred forty-four posts and thousands of page views later, I think it was easily one of the best decisions I've ever made.

There's been some stuff I'm really proud of along the way, particularly the two biggest series I've hosted so far on this blog: Trick Tuesday, my autobiographical walk through the Cheap Trick discography, and 31 Holi-Days, a one-post-per-day, sweet-and-sour look at the month of December and all it entails.  By the numbers, those series were also the most read things on this blog, and I hope that our current Aerosmith run might soon join them.  This isn't to say everything works out the way I hope when I dream it up: a recent series on Valentine's Days simply wasn't as fertile a breeding ground for material as I'd hoped when I  came up with the concept, for example.  No big deal: it had a few good moments, and I learned a thing or two about vetting my own ideas more thoroughly from it.  That's the thing about this blog: I have never had such a great canvas with which to both hone and experiment with my writing.  Don't like this post?  No matter: there will be a new one in a day or two.  It's as true for me as the writer as I'd assume it is for the audience.

Looking forward, I've got some ideas I'm excited about for the remainder of 2012 in the oven as we speak.  Expect summer concerts, Muppets, more autobiographical nonsense, another new series or two, the stupid presidential election, hell, even the end of the world part deux later in the year.  Who could ask for anything more?

I sure couldn't.  As always, my sincere gratitude to anyone who takes the time to stop by and read something.