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I’m an APEman, I’m an APE APEman.

February 1, 2003 Leave a comment

Today was day one of APE.

I waited in line, got my laminated volunteer badge. It’s pretty. Even the exhibitor badges are unlaminated. I must be special to get the plastic coating, eh?

First things first, I had to find the bathrooms. No, not because I needed to use the bathrooms but because I was wearing a volunteer badge and surely someone would ask me where the bathrooms are! No one ever did, but I was asked where the ATM is (no clue).

Next I went looking for the booths of some friends of mine. I had to find out if the Sandy Clark who writes Moo is the same Sandy Clark I used to game with before he disappeared from the gaming group. And it was! We had a nice long talk, and his strip (about a New York cow in California) is pretty funny. I’ll buy the book tomorrow.

On to find Mark Britt (goes by Mark Haven Britt). His book is really fascinating. I want to read the rest of it now. Now! But alas I cannot. It looks to be a good story – only the lettering needs an upgrade. Someone should publish it so I can buy it!

Then I went to the people who sell the ding and dent comics for 40 cents an ounce. I bought $165 worth of books for $40. Their booth is a must-see every year. And this year, I remembered to go on the first day!

Then I wandered some. Saw some books I have to get tomorrow, like Keith Knight’s knewest and this book by this guy whose name I don’t remember that tells Japanese stories using old fashioned Japanese art like you might see on woodblock prints. Gorgeous stuff.

I attended Terry Moore’s panel during which he discussed multiple aspects of Strangers in Paradise. He went into some details on the characters, went into no detail on where the plot was going, admitted there is an ending to the story, discussed the novel and the lack of a movie, apologized for Birds of Prey 49, said many nice things about DC Comics in general, mentioned that he has read the entire works of Ian Fleming and generally came across as he always has before – as a nice thoughtful writer with no ego whatsoever. I bought Francine and Katchoo pins – you can see them on my purse (guide bag) next time I am around.

After the paneling and the wandering, I ended up doing my volunteer shift. I had to sit in front of a door and make sure he doesn’t leave. And I got to read while doing it. But then my friends came over to hang with me because they were tired of wandering. Finally at 6:30 the guy in the uniform locked the door, I turned in my laminated badge for the evening and we were off to dinner.

We are at Moonstar Seafood and Sushi buffet. It was very good. Worth every penny of the $20. I ate at least $65 worth of food. Stay away from the beef and green beans, but go nuts on the sushi and the claw like things with fish and the BBQ pork and the Shumai and the pork buns and the spinach dumplings and the duck and the gyoza. Yum.

And now it is a little past midnight and I am off to bed so I can go back for another fun day (that’s my Sunday) at APE. Cheers!

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The Top 10 CDs in order

February 1, 2003 Leave a comment

I am up way too early to leave for APE, and I have put the CDs in order. So here goes:

10. OK Go – I feel a little wrong adding this to the list as it has 12 songs, and I don’t like 4 of them. But I REALLY like 8 of them. This is basic power pop in the Cheap Trick/Adam Ant vein. Impossible to not sing along once you know the words.

9. Opeth – Deliverance. Opeth’s last Steve Wilson (more on him later) produced album was number one on this list two years ago. This album has a little more growl, and therefore I like it a little less. It doesn’t have the surprise effect working for it, either.

8. Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For the Deaf. I based a whole column on this album (the only one I ever posted to http://www.planetelgart.com), so I must like it! Hard charging guitars, smooth vocals, rock hard drumming from Dave Grohl (more on HIM later, too!). It rocks! And where have you seen that lately?

7. Porcupine Tree – In Absentia. Porcupine Tree also had a number one on this list (Stupid Dream in 1999) before. This album is more of the same from Porcupine Tree, mildly psychadellic melodic rock with tight harmonies and interesting arrangements. This album leans a little heavier than the previous ones, and the overall mood is darker.

6. Foo Fighters – One By One. The Foo Fighters have finally reached the inner circle of “my favorite bands.” I’ll mention what these are a later date. This is just another great rock album from the best rock band in the business. No one else plays straight ahead rock better – no one else even tries. Great dynamics, great lyrics, brilliant songwiritng. Dave Grohl is without a doubt the most talented guy in Nirvana, but who knew?

5. Pain of Salvation – Remedy Lane. Pain of Salvation keeps making theatrical progressive rock concept albums, and this one is the most theatrical yet. Cool melodies, bombastic vocals and down and out shredding.

4. Dream Theater – 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Never afraid to use a dumb name for an album, Dream Theater finally makes one to match Images and Words. Apart from one fairly lame song (The Great Debate), this album is amazing through and through. I almost forgot to include because I forgot it came out in 2002 (a little Oscar effect thing there). There are standalone songs on the first disc of two, and each one has a different sound to it. The particular standout for me is Misunderstood. And then the second disc is the best thing they have ever done. Just great. 40 minutes of masterwork. A song suite about inner turbulence (thus the title), a popular lyrical theme for the band. It touches on numerous styles, from soft melodic tunes to hard rockers to the trademark intricate weird time signature stuff that they do. An early year obsession for me.

3. Ben Folds Live. It isn’t fair to other acts when Ben Folds puts out an album. I like him too much. But seriously, this album is a document of his recent tours during which he played with only a piano. No backing musicians. Just him. And it was his best tour yet. His songs are so strong and his stage demeanor so fun that it works well. The songs just sound more alive, more immediate. And this album captures that perfectly. [Editors note: I was at the show during which they recorded Fred Jones, Part 2. You CANNOT hear me screaming]

2. Andrew W.K. – I Get Wet. You’ve all heard me pimping this album. This is a great album. All in all, too short. But I don’t think I could survive it if it were longer. Just 30 or so minutes of fist pumping, screaming at the top of your lungs, slam dancing, life affirming, balls to the wall music. Every song is about partying or braggadocio or never giving up or going after something you want . . . it’s positive stuff and there is not enough of it out there. No whining. He’s young, he’s a musician and he is happy. See him live. Tape your ankles, wear a helmet, remove your glasses, put on your steel tipped shoes and go. You’ll get on stage, you’ll sing along, he’ll hug you, you’ll stage dive, and then repeat. It’s crazy. Read his website (www.andrewwk.com) for more life affirming messages.

1. Peter Gabriel – Up. This album took him about 10 years to make, so it had better be good! And good it is! The album is so THICK. One time I tried to read on the BART while listening to it and I couldn’t do it. It makes you pay attention. It has everything you want – dynamics that keep you on edge, lyrics that make you think, layered vocals, a fascinating blend of instruments. The production is incredible. He spent months on each song and there is not a single note that sounds out of place. There are tiny little moments in the background to discover on each listen. And the songwiritng is so strong, that all of the extra work may not have even been necessary. Some albums reek of overproduction and stomp on the songsmith below. In each case on Up, the production serves the song. Great stuff from a classic guy.

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