Monday, December 03, 2007

Van Halen Road Trip - Follow-up

Well, the Van Halen Road Trip is over, and I must say I highly recommend such an activity - if you are so fortunate to have such supportive spouses as we have, that is. :)

All in all it was a great trip. We left about 5:30 a.m. for Sacramento. This picture on the left shows us stopped at a freeway on-ramp about one hour into the trip. Luckily we had great weather all the way out and back. Weather in Sacramento and San Francisco was absolutely gorgeous - I don't remember a more beautiful day in San Francisco than November 27, 2007, and I've been there a number of times. Even Donner Pass was snow-free and relatively warm; we were told while there that there is generally about 6 inches of snow on the ground by that time of year.

We visited Alcatraz on the morning of November 27, 2007. Our reservations for tickets were not honored, but fortunately for us we were able to get tickets to the 9:30 a.m. ferry anyway. This is probably due to the fact we were traveling there off-season. If you ever go to Alcatraz, you'll probably still want to try to make reservations, but be sure the reservations are actually honored. Pier 33 is the pier we left from; maybe you can call them directly.

Anyway, Alcatraz is awesome as you might expect. Visiting Alcatraz in the winter is recommended as there are parts of the island that you are only allowed to tour during the winter months; they are closed during the other parts of the year due to the large numbers of birds there. And don't miss the self-guided audio tour - when they say it is award-winning, they mean it. Amazing.

Van Halen performed at the Arco Arena in Sacramento that night, Tuesday November 27, 2007. This was nothing short of the absolute best concert I have ever been to. I was born a few years too late I believe, so I never really saw the big deal about David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Hagar as the Van Halen frontman. Well, everyone, now I get it. Not taking anything away from Alex or Eddie, who are fantastic musicians, but David Lee Roth is a performer. He made the difference between this show and my previous Van Halen concert encounter about ten years ago, which was simply great and not downright unreal like this year's show.

We were talking on the way back, how fulfilling it must be for Eddie to be up there performing with his own son (who did just fine thank-you). More tour dates have been added, so if you have not seen the show yet, you still have a chance.

We came home on Nov. 28, stopping at Donner Memorial State Park. The sacrifices our ancestors made to populate and settle the United States were beyond comprehension, and it made me very grateful to take this time to think of these people and others who suffered so much, and how great my life is today as a result. All in all, it was an awesome trip.

Greg, myself, and the Dall*ns at Donner Memorial State Park.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Unreal - Utah State Wins Again

What a wacky year of college football. Utah State wins again today over the Idaho Vandals, pulling themselves clear up to 7th place in the WAC and clearly not the worst football team in the nation. This is a spectacular improvement from last year. Way to go Ags!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Utah State Wins A Game

It has been a truly wild, crazy, amazing college football season thusfar, but the craziest thing happened last night when Utah State won a football game.

Utah State had lost 16 straight games, dating back to last season, before finally winning a game last night in Las Cruces over New Mexico State. (Take that, maryck!) This is almost sure to vault USU up in the polls from 119th. Way to go USU! There is nowhere to go from here but up!

Yes, Utah State is my alma mater. What of it?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Van Halen is on tour, and that means one thing for me and my half-bad buddies - ROAD TRIP!!!

Actually, it mostly means that we have to go to Van Halen. It isn't like we really have a choice here. But since Van Halen isn't actually scheduled to come anywhere even close to where I live, we decided to make a road trip of it and go to the show anyway. We wouldn't do this for just any old band, but then again, Van Halen isn't just any old band.

So, we will be renting a cool car and driving to Sacramento, California, which until just recently was the most local scheduled concert venue. Trip begins on November 26, a day before the concert. We hope to visit Alcatraz on the morning of November 27, then we'll be at Arco Arena for the concert event of the decade. Can't wait!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Half Bad Days are Good Days

A Half Bad Day is a day when a Half Bad Boy does a Half Bad Boy thing. Going to rock concerts is a half bad thing. So is holding a Guitar Hero party or attending a college football game.

Yesterday was a Half Bad Day. The day before, it rained, and Greg and I know when it rains that means it is time to take the motorcycles to the sand dunes the very next day. Oh yeah, wet sand dunes and motorcycles.

Yeah, check out those awesome dunes. These are absolutely not the dunes we rode yesterday. The dunes we rode on yesterday are now covered with motorcycle tracks. Tracks that the wind will cover up, and restore the dunes to pristine riding conditions for next time.

Any day on a motorcycle is a great day, especially on pristine sand dunes.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dream Theater Rules

My brother and I saw Dream Theater in concert the other evening, and man those guys freaking rock.

I'd love to go into a lot of detail about how awesome John Petrucci is. If I did that, then I would also have to talk about how awesome Mike Portnoy is, and Jordan Rudess, and John Myung. I don't really have the time for that so you'll just have to take my word for it that Mike Portnoy's drum set was totally wicked and that this band is stacked with talent, probably more than any other band I can remember, with the possible exception of Rush.

But I can't just not talk about Petrucci. Without question he is one of the very best guitarists alive today. Eddie Van Halen is still the best guitarist I've ever watched live, but Petrucci is a close second. Nobody else even comes close - we are talking orders of magnitude here. What an awesome talent.

I don't know which was cooler - opening by playing a Dream Theater version of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra op. 30 (also known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) or closing with an amazing Dream Theater medley which terminated with Petrucci center-stage hitting and holding a perfectly clear high E on the 24th fret right before the closing chord.

Definitely skip Into Eternity and don't worry about Redemption, but do not miss these guys. What an awesome experience.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hey Celebrities - We Don't Care What You Think

I've got some news for all you celebrities out there:

We don't care what you think, about anything.

You know who you are. Athletes, musicians, actors, socialites, etc. You hold these press conferences, or get these TV spots, and get in front of the country to give us your opinion on some topic that matters to you. You do it all the time. I can only assume that you believe we want to know how you feel on these issues.

Well, we don't. Just because we, as a whole, may show our appreciation for your talent with our dollars does not mean our appreciation extends to you or your opinion on matters that are not directly related to what we do pay you for. Take Sheryl Crow for example. She is a great, talented musician who has written many songs that I personally enjoy listening to. How she got the idea that this therefore meant that I care what she thinks about current events is beyond me.

Take a note - we don't care what you think. You don't identify with most of us anyway. Your everyday life is like a fantasy tale for most of us. We are aware of that. You don't know what it is really like to work a full day to make ends meet. Stick to what you are good at, and quit trying to push your opinions on us. We really could not possibly care less.

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Half Bad Than I Used To Be

Sorry it has been a while. A new job means a new schedule and I'm just getting used to it. But around these parts, we don't really care about jobs. We care about being a half bad boy, and I have to say I've made some real progress in this area.

The first, essential step was to restore my leather jacket status, which was done over the Christmas holidays. I now have a black leather jacket, like before. This was a very important step - I literally felt the levels of half-badness rise once I put it on for the first time!

The second and probably biggest step to increased half-bad-boydom was when I acquired my electric guitar, a new Ibanez RG-350 SP1. You can see a picture of it here to the left. I have to say, this is a pretty sweet guitar. It takes me about 15 minutes to get the thing into tune, but once it is in tune it stays in tune quite well even with the Edge III Tremolo on the bridge - and you can bet that I use that sucker. I am the king of the dive-bomb!

You also gotta love the sharktooth inlays on the neck. The neck is nice and fast, the guitar is not too heavy, and very versatile. It has a great sound for all kinds of music.

If you are going to have an electric guitar, you also need an amplifier, so I got one as well. The Line6 Spider III series amps are, in my opinion, great amps for the money. I picked up this little 15 watt practice amp for $100. That's a pretty good price for a brand new amp that offers reverb, tremolo and chorus along with the distortion. Four programmable presets make it real easy to find the right sound for a song quickly.

Sorry, this reads like an ad, but I really love this stuff. I can't really play very well, but I am very good at making lots of really awesome loud noises. Sometimes, all you really need to do is make some loud noises to get in touch with your half bad self.

Another good way to do that is by playing Guitar Hero II, which I bought for my XBox 360. Finding this game was no easy feat. I visited several stores before I was able to find it at a nearby K-Mart. (Good advice for the future - if you can't find something at a mainstream store, try picking it up at K-Mart, where nobody shops unless they absolutely HAVE TO.) This game deludes me into thinking that I really can play the guitar, until I move over to my real guitar and jump back into reality. Guitar Hero II - a good time in a $90 box.

All combining to make me more half bad than I used to be. When you combine this with the job switch, things are definitely looking up!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The BCS - An Intentionally Self-Defeating Organization

Well, here we are, January 2 2007. The NCAA College Football bowl games are almost over. Also almost over is the BCS's annual "prove why we are stupid" campaign.

Boise State proved me wrong in my predictions, and I couldn't be happier. They are the deathblow in a volley of shots lobbed at the ridiculous BCS. Bowl Championship Series? Try Bowl Comedy Series.

Let's see how I've faired so far in my predictions:
  1. BYU v Oregon - Hit. Oregon wasn't exactly the tops of the PAC-10, but not considered child's play either. But BYU handled them 38-8.
  2. Cal v Texas A&M - Hit. The PAC-10 may be overrated, but so is the Big XII. Cal wins 45-10.
  3. Tennesse v Penn State - Miss. Tennessee should have won, but maybe there's some karma involved here. Penn State wins 20-10.
  4. Auburn v Nebraska - Hit. Two fundamentally great teams, but Auburns superior defense and 2nd half adjustments prevail. Auburn wins 17-14.
  5. Arkansas v Wisconsin - Miss. What can I say? Arkansas should have won this game but just did not play well enough to get it done. Wisconsin wins 17-14.
  6. USC v Michigan - Miss. Memo to Michigan: When something isn't working, DO SOMETHING ELSE. Michigan was committed to their gameplan come hell or high water, and it sank them. USC wins 32-18.
  7. Boise State v Oklahoma - Miss. And I couldn't be happier. This is one of the best football games ever. Boise State wins in overtime 43-42.
  8. USU v ND C&D - Hit. USU was destroyed by ND C&D in the Toilet Bowl, 3267 to -21.

What does all of this mean for the BCS? Who knows? #1 Ohio State barely beat Michigan, who got trounced by USC, who got beat by both UCLA and Oregon State, UCLA was beaten by Florida State, etc. etc. etc. What it means is: WE NEED A PLAYOFF.

Otherwise, next year the BCS will spend a lot of time and money to prove, on national TV, to millions of viewers, that it is stupid again.