Saturday, December 13, 2008

Merry KISSmas

Faced with the prospect of not having many "wants" this holiday season - too little time to indulge in hobbies, too focused on buying shit for The Rozzle to give much thought to myself - I was surprised (astonished?) to recently read this uncharactaristically direct answer from Paul Stanley, when asked once again about the prospects of a new Kiss album:

"Actually, it looks like we’ll be going in the studio shortly to do the first new KISS album in 10 years."

Um...WHOA. Ever the evader when it comes to answering questions he doesn't particularly like, I've learned to trust the Starchild when he comes right out and actually says something. Kiss fans have been clamoring for NEW. FUCKING. MUSIC. for ten years now, and despite solid releases during that decade lapse from Stanley, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss, there's nothing like having an actual disc of new music in your hands that has the famous "Kiss" logo blazoned across it. Gene had claimed that "there's no money to be made from making records case you hadn't noticed, the music industry is dead." Paul said he had thought he'd be happy with Kiss continuing as a "heritage band" (which is apparently what you call has-beens who play their hits to a dedicated crowd of middle-aged men in casino theaters). But lo an behold, my 2009 looks a LOT brighter with this news, confirmed in a TV interview only days ago, that Kiss is actually booking studio time and are preparing an album.

Again: WHOA.

See, for me, Kiss has always been about the music. Yeah, I know: that's hardly fair to say when I got into the band as an impressionable 8-year-old, already hung up on comics and fantasy. But, to be fair: while I have a rather impressive collection of vintage Kiss swag now, I didn't actually have much more than the albums when I was a kid. Albums for the music, 16 and Cream for the interviews...and that was pretty much it. And even as I've become more of a collector over the years (you know, one of those sad guys who buys back his childhood at 10x the original price?), I've still been focused on the music, really not caring who was in the band, as long as there was forward progress. (If the term "forward progress" applies to the world of really really loud heavy metal.) So, I'm a happy camper. And I thought I'd celebrate by forcing you to run through the Kiss tours I've gone to see. Enjoy!

10th Anniversary Tour
This was the tour following the 1982 release of Creatures of the Night. I once read a review - I forget in which publication - wherein the author listed the "return" of heavy metal in the early '80s as primarily being the result of 1) Spinal Tap, and 2) this album. The tix for my first Kiss concert were given to me as a Christmas present from my aunt...the selfsame aunt who first introduced me to Kiss in 1976. My parents were originally going to go to the movies across the street, but my mom decided they ought to see what all the fuss was about, so they bought tickets at the window. Better ones than Deb and I had, which they kindly switched us for. They ended up sitting in the nosebleeds, getting a contact buzz from the potheads in front of them, while I rocked out to a dream come true...never even really understanding that Ace Frehley was no longer in the group! Hey, in a pre-internet world, your sources of information were limited, and since he was on the album cover, I just kind of assumed...

Lick It Up tour
My second Kiss show was their first without makeup. I had no problem with them dropping their trademark greasepaint, happy only to have an LP of killer metal...I remember very clearly that "Chip," who used to pick on me something fierce in high school, became a little kinder when I lent him my copy of this album. I got it back, too; I guess that music is the universal uniter, wha-hey? I remember that the person I went to the show with wanted to leave "early" to beat the rush out of the parking garage, so we were walking out as Kiss was performing their standard closer, Rock & Roll All Nite. I stuck my hilariously short tongue out and waggled it when I saw Gene look my way, and his face first showed bafflement, after which he outright laughed at my display. Great. My 5-second brush with greatness: "Gene Simmons laughed in my face at 15."

Animalize tour
I saw this one twice: once in Saginaw, and again at the old Lansing Civic Center. At the time, Kiss was still the biggest band in the world to me, so I had no idea how troubled their career was that they had to play these smallish 7,000-8,000 seat halls. I just knew that "my band" was still coming around once a year, and I was finally old enough to go see them. When I saw them in Lansing, my friend Jimmy and I went together, and we had something crazy, like 8th row tickets. W.A.S.P. was the opening act - a shock-rock group that I'd recently fallen in love with - and after hurling raw meat at the audience, lead singer Blackie Lawless started throwing posters out to the crowd. For the last one, he licked it, rubbed it between his legs (where it got sort of cut up on his sawblade codpiece), and threw it right at Jimmy. Jim grabbed it, fought off a few other fanboys, and stuffed it down the front of his pants. I wonder if he still has that poster...?

Asylum tour
Kiss had embraced a sort of "return-to-glam" for this tour, and it showed in their poufy hair and spangled outfits. Gene now speaks of his "look" during this tour with red-faced embarrassment, claiming to look like "Bea Arthur, only with higher heels." New additions this time around were the absolutely, stunningly ginormous Kiss sign that filled the back of the stage.

Crazy Nights tour
I was finally in college by this point, and, for whatever reason, took an ex-girlfriend to the show. For the second time. But NOT the last!!! I guess that says something about my dedication to the band: "I'm so preoccupied with spreading the faith of Kiss, I'll take a girl to the show I have absolutely no chance whatsoever of fucking later on!" Sheesh. Anyway, the glam was still evident, but Gene had toned it down a bit. Honestly, Kiss wasn't very special during the '80s; I think they survived by being "just like the other bands" of the time - notably Bon Jovi - but that survival got 'em through a period that would have broken up 99% of other bands. Crazy Nights was a really keyboard-heavy album, and for the first time they started touring with a backstage keyboardist who was filling in harmonies that Paul was too busy jumping around to bother playing on rhythm guitar.

Hot In The Shade tour
HITS marked the last time I saw Kiss in Saginaw, and the first time I saw them in lower-Michigan's hall-du-jour, The Palace. I can't even remember who I went with to see them in Saginaw, but I remember that I took my mom to the Palace show. (I'm pretty sure I had a different date, but she backed out at the last minute.) I remember three things about the HITS tour: 1) Kiss was finally settling on a look - mostly black leather and few-frills stage wear; 2) they started playing some really old, classic tunes for the first time since I'd been seeing them; 3) they were SUPER FUCKING LOUD. Seriously...their concerts had always been loud, duh, but this was something new. From the first chord of I Stole Your Love, I felt like I needed to crawl to the bathroom for some TP to put in my ears. I didn't, of course...but I felt like it would have been a good idea. Shit. LOUD. They also dispensed with the lighted Kiss sign for the first time, opting for a come-to-life version of the sphynx that festooned their album cover.

Revenge Tour
I remember this show really well. I went with Mike and Lisa (of Mike Has A Thought and Fun Gov fame) for the first time, as well as my girlfriend at the time. It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, so we were all ready to par-TAY. Kiss was AWESOME that night: tight, raw, and hungry. Drummer Eric Carr had died before the recording of the album, and Eric Singer was a stunningly accomplished drummer. Kiss again dispensed with the sign, opting for a post-apocalyptic stage set that featured a quasi-Planet of the Apes Statue of Liberty. Halfway through the show, her face blew off to reveal a silver skull beneath, and at the end of the show her middle finger raised up to the crowd. Hopefully not in a way that said "Hey, we're Kiss, fuck you!" They played a slew of old classics that night; understand, for most of the '80s, Kiss had been focusing on the new-era hits, only sprinkling their sets with old faves. Now, though, they were tearing through things I'd never heard live before, plus playing a bunch of tunes from the new album. Awesome.

And that sums up my time seeing the forward-looking Kiss. For those who can't get enough: next time, we'll go through the ill-fated Reunion. Be there!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

PJ Weekend

So, I got home from work Friday, went to get groceries, and got into my "fat pants": cozy flannel sleepy pants, plus a cotton t-shirt and hoodie. Add to that my ridiculously over-fluffy sheepskin slippers, and I was set. For the whole weekend. Oh, I took a shower...on Saturday. And, put on clean underwear, socks, and a shirt, but stepped right back into my jammies. Smoke on the front porch with Mom? No problemo! It wasn't too cold to preclude keeping on my favorite plaid loungewear. Sunday? Not even a shower, baby. No clean nothin', just schlepping around in Saturday's clothes.


Before she left for her Irish Tenors gig on Sunday, I joked with Miss Tessmacher that the baby and I were going to romp around in our jammies all day, and that's exactly what we did. What fun! The Rozzle is doing so many amazing things at nearly 17 months old, it's hard to know where to begin. She knows her alphabet, she counts pretty well, and she's close to spelling her own name. On the walking front, she's beginning to understand that there's life beyond "The Push" (as we call her obnoxiously-bright plastic Fisher Price toy), and soon she won't look like the world's tiniest granny, zooming around the room behind her gaily-festooned walker. And while she still wants to watch way too much TV and YouTube (recent faves: Charlie Brown, SuperWhy!, the old Sesame Street Yip-Yip aliens, and the Mickey Mouse March), she can usually be distracted with something else. Usually. Still, snack time is TV time, and we generally end up sitting down for some YouTube exploration once a day.

Readin' & countin'.
Saddle up, pardner!
"Mickey Mouse? Watch?"

Trying to put a toy in the "trunk" of The Push.

In other exciting news: it's near the end of the semester, and I'm near to done with grading. (*sighs*) Lovely. Plans for the break include lots of family time, several gigs for Tess, and a New Year's Eve that's up in the air at this point. We generally go up to the Island, but it's been so long since we've seen friends that we may elect to try to get together somewhere downstate.

The snow is coming fast & furious, and I have the best neighbors in the world. The guy to the north of us typically snow-blows the west sidewalk by our house, and the guy to the east of us typically shovels the south sidewalk in front...and our porch, while he's at it! I hope this isn't some sort of wake-up call that I'M the "bad neighbor" who doesn't get out and clear the walks, but rather just the generosity of folks who got to it before I could. I don't go out & shovel after dark, and my work schedule means that I'm not home to clear walkways until after 3:00 or 4:00. I return the snow-removal favor when I'm first off the line...but lately, I haven't been. I'm thinking some boozy gifts may be in order!

Randomly: I need to control my eyebrows. They're just seriously long and out of control. Some folks wake up with bed-head...I wake up with bed-brows. Aloe will typically tame them, but eventually I have to pluck a 2" monster before I end up looking like this:

Eyebrows = (Must Cut)2

Or, much worse, this:
I'd make Jeannie *blink!* those brows away, but she's now a secretary at Ewing Oil!

And, that pretty much wraps things up here. Speaking of wrapping...I need to get some fuckin' paper out and make our tree look a little less lonely. Like my mother, I'm not terribly fond of wrapping, but I love the festive look of brightly-wrapped presents under our "holiday table." Maybe I ought to just give really big, outrageous presents that preclude the need for paper & ribbon. Hmmm...something to ponder.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Flying Dream

So, I woke up not once but twice last night, both times coming out of The Flying Dream. Y'all have that dream, right? You know...the one where you can fly! Why do we all have that dream?!? I don't get it. Is there some sort of weird, pre-historical event that only lives in our reptillian brains, unable to be accessed as conscious thought but very much alive in our dream-state? And furthermore: when you're having The Flying Dream...doesn't it seem so familiar??? You know, like, you totally know you know how to do it, and you've know all along, you've just...forgotten, somehow. I hate that.

Well, anyway, that's what it was last night, only it was combined with perhaps too much Heroes-watching of late, because in my dream it was kind of an activated-power; to wit, I had to recite the letters "T-U-V-X" and then...some word. Some "mystery word," like "Shazam!" only not that, but for the same effect. I remembered the oddly non-alphabetical letter string when I awoke...but not the mystery word. But, man, it was so real!! Like, even though I'm typically afraid of heights, when I got up in the air I realized, "Oh, YEAHHH! Of COURSE I know how to do this!!! Shit, how could I have forgotten?" And it felt so wonderful, so weightless, to utter the letter-and-mystery-word sequence and suddenly find myself able to take to the air.

We can do it. I know we all know how to do it! Hell, maybe it's some sort of governmental conspiracy, and even now the Flight Police are zooming to my office from, like, their Detroit field office, ready to take me into custody because my blocked-thought-path has worn away and I remembered how to fly.

If only I could remember the mystery word...

(*Singing*) The Flight Police, they live inside of my head!