Steelers Thoughts #4 (9/29/14): Duck! Rabbit! Duck!

I have a few points to make about yesterday’s last minute Steelers loss to the Buccaneers, and no wish to belabor any of them. Sixteen hours later, the sting is still fresh and the taste still bitter. It was one of the most frustrating losses in my recent memory, or, at any rate, has temporarily crowded out all other contenders from my personal shortlist. I certainly have no desire to detract from the performance of Tampa Bay, who were game, opportunistic, resilient, and tenacious in victory. Though Tampa played well enough to win, I also don’t think it’s homerism to suggest that, by most objective measures, the Steelers on the whole outplayed them. They moved the ball, often with ease, and for much of the game held close to a threefold advantage on Tampa in terms of yards gained. The Bucs parlayed a crippling turnover into an early lead but then seemed to succumb to our offensive pressure and relative defensive competence, before the Steelers, who have a well-established recent history of playing down to lesser competition, shot themselves in the foot late, taking it off the gas in the process. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #4 (9/29/14): Duck! Rabbit! Duck!”

Movie review: “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001)

not another teen movie

“And I’ll bet that you lose that bet…but that in doing so, you’ll learn an even more valuable lesson, and win. (pause) In life, I mean.”

The late Roger Ebert lamented, early and often, the inadequacies of grading movies on any sort of scale. Essentially, art is so subjective that it has a built-in natural resistance to easy criticism, and the labels we use to compensate can be obscure, imprecise or reductive, even with the best of intentions behind them. Ebert’s print reviews, which are absolutely required reading for anyone seeking more than a cursory knowledge of 20th Century film, followed a “star” model, with four being the highest possible awarded rating and zero the lowest. On television, of course, Ebert was never granted the ideal space or agency to regard a movie as much more than a simple up/down vote (cue his famous thumb), but in print his muse and talent ranged far and wide, requiring a more nuanced scale to render the final verdict. Ebert found the star format frustrating and limiting, a necessary evil of sorts, and since adopting it as the basis for my own grades on this blog, I’ve come to understand a bit from whence he came. Continue reading “Movie review: “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001)”

Concert review: Overkill

The Orpheum, Tampa, FL – September 13, 2014

Overkill is among the great craft breweries, so to speak, in the entire heavy metal genre. Think about it. Its music is singular, memorable, and tasty, and fills a niche no one else is quite able to. Its fans are brand loyal and highly devoted. The band does lack mainstream press and wide acclaim, but is able to compete in the marketplace, more or less under its own rules. Overkill has been making its peculiar brand of sardonic, high energy thrash metal for over thirty years now. In that time, it has muscled into the overall conversation on its own merits – equal parts quality and tenacity, with a healthy chaser of Jersey attitude – yet, compared to thrash’s long-established “Big Four” – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax – the band is still relatively unsung. Through all those years, however – as Metallica famously sold out, cut its collective hair and eventually morphed into the metal version of the Walt Disney Co., as Slayer replaced its early peaks with foothills and mid-period plateaus with valleys, as Megadeth turned into some weird sideshow for which sustained musical excellence was the exception rather than the norm, and as Anthrax struggled variously to find its footing and reclaim its identity, or build any sort of new millennium momentum – Overkill has been constant, a steady, dependable, often outstanding force for metal good and an enduring DIY success story. Continue reading “Concert review: Overkill”

Post No. 50: Iron Maiden saved my life.


AUTHOR’S NOTE – Tradition for this blog, informal until now, has been for every 25th post to eschew the usual route of reviews and features and speak to something personal. What follows does all that and much more. In rereading and editing it, I realized immediately that its protagonist doesn’t come off particularly well. I hope much of that can be chalked up to these being remembrances (fairly accurate, I’m forced to concede) of how I felt, and what I was, at the ages of 11-13, a shy, lonely kid trying and failing to navigate the choppy social waters of junior high/middle school. What I was and how I felt were pretty much one thing and the same: lost. I try to always write from a passionate point of view, in part because it’s comfortable and inspiring, but also because I worry I’m not particularly interesting and hope that subject matter for which I feel a particular affinity will help make up the difference. When I’m the subject matter I’m writing about, well, the intensity is necessarily compounded.

What you’re about to read is a long and winding journey, cathartic (I found) in addition to being self-indulgent, meticulous in detail and overreaching in scope. Some of the details were particularly uncomfortable for me to excavate and inhabit, and I apologize if they’re upsetting, or if the journey becomes wearying. I thought it proper and necessary to describe both the heights and depths in full. This was a very hard piece for me to write, or at least half of it was. When things later shifted abruptly to far happier subject matter, I predictably found it difficult to stop writing. Continue reading “Post No. 50: Iron Maiden saved my life.”