Posts Tagged ‘Dream Theater’
If you ask me to explain what could break a man’s mind and cause him to slaughter unarmed women and children, I would submit to you that there is no humanity in modern warfare. When you are able to shoot another man dead from two kilometers’ distance, it is inhuman. When you are able to lay mines under a road and be miles away when your deed causes another man’s body to be blown apart, it is inhuman. When you can pilot a drone from a command base far distant from its human targets and, when the deed is done, simply shrug and say “looks like we got ‘em”, it is inhuman. When men are sent again and again into the same godless breach, thousands of miles from home and burdened with horrific scenes and increasing questions of “why”, it is inhuman. And the repercussions should not be surprising.
I have never seen combat, never enlisted in the army. But I have had a keen interest in war since I was a kid. I read books about military history. I play games which simulate famous battles, or whose goal is the conquest of foreign lands and people, whether fictitious or real. I am fascinated by the reasons why ancient battles were fought; engrossed with the strategies imposed by generals of old; rapt with the colorful characters that populate our planet’s military history. But when it comes to modern warfare (anything post-WWII), my interest is limited. The only two books I’ve read on the subject – In the Company of Heroes and Sebastian Junger’s War – deal almost exclusively with the human experience in modern war, as opposed to technology and tactics. There is, dare I say, no fun in modern warfare. No courage. No cowards. No chivalry. There is only technology, money, and a race to combine the two into the next grand killing machine.
Future wars, I hope, will be fought by non-human participants, i.e. robots, cyborgs, clones, etc. – who will either control themselves or be controlled by a soldier who operates in a capacity not unlike that of a kid playing a video game. But to continue involving human beings in a theater of war ruled by long-distance weapons and vicious killing machines, and thus force upon these human beings the ever-present fear of instantaneous death or dismemberment, is asking too much of the human psyche. Short of creating an army of super-soldiers who feel no psychological pain, it is my belief that human beings were not meant to participate in battles such as the ones currently waged, where one’s survival and success relies too much on luck and sheer force of numbers, and not enough on skill, cunning and bravery.
Technology has not made war more humane – it has only served to shatter the final barrier between the horrors of war and the protection afforded by a man’s mind who, in the past, could at least look the person he killed in the eyes.
This is one of my favorite songs, and the title always reminds me of the movie From Here to Eternity, which has something to do with this post:
Since the demise of hair metal in the early 90’s, Kip Winger has on a couple of occasions made it known that his band, the eponymously named “Winger” (which wasn’t the band’s original name – that would be “Sahara”, and it would’ve been awesome if they toured with Asia — or better yet, if they’d toured with a hypothetical supergroup featuring Malcolm Young, Rikki Rockett, Mark Slaughter and Alex Van Halen called “Gobi”), was far more than just your average hair metal band, and was simply “lumped in” with the hair metal scene simply because they were popular at the same time as the eight million other hair metal acts plying their trade back then. To bolster his case, Kip maintains — and rightly so — that Winger’s musicianship was such that it transcended most other hair metal acts (except for Bullet Boys – psyche!). He’s even gone so far as to refer to his band as “the hair metal version of Dream Theater”.
I don’t know if I’d go that far, but Winger no doubt had/has (I say “has” because they’re still rokkin’, playas!) a talented lineup. Reb Beach and Rod Morgentstern are first-class musicians, and Kip’s no slouch on bass. But when one of your most memorable tunes is an innuendo-free, jail-bait celebratin’ anthem called “Seventeen”, I really must take issue with the notion that Winger’s “hair metaledness” was simply a case of bad timing.
“Seventeen”! “Seven friggin’ teen!!” C’mon, Kip – after “Cherry Pie”, “Slide it in” and “Tease Me, Please Me”, that’s about as hair metal as it gets! I mean, it’s not like you guys were out there singing about the afterlife, or dragon slayers, or alien invasions, or time-traveling Gjorks from the planet Kazar. Look, it’s real simple: if there was any question Winger was a “prog metal act with a terrible sense of timing”, then “Seventeen” provided the answer. Only AC/DC could come up with a song less inconspicuous. In fact, after reviewing Winger’s song catalog, I was shocked not to find a cover of “Sink the Pink” or “Squealer”.
And speaking of Winger’s catalog, here are some other song titles that don’t exactly have a prog metal feel to them:
- “Headed for a Heartbreak”
- “Poison Angel”
- “Can’t Get Enuff”
- “Loosen Up”
- “Easy Come Easy Go”
- “Little Dirty Blonde”
- “You are the Saint, I am the Sinner”
- “Junkyard Dog (Tears on Stone)” — Huh?
Most of these songs are from Winger’s first two albums, which would’ve seemed like a good time to put down those prog metal roots – that is, if you were a prog metal band and not a hair metal band, which Winger certainly was.
IOH: -0.004. I’m down with Winger, but I’m not down with Kip claiming they were unsuspecting victims of hair metal’s onslaught of awesomeness, only to record a bunch of songs that sounded suspiciously hair metal.
Here’s a reminder of what a prog metal song sounds like, complete with lyrics that are a bit deeper than a tale of Kip’s dalliance with a high school junior named Suzie at Taste of Arvada in 1988.
Kohl’s Uses Rebecca Black’s “Friday” in “Black Friday” Television Ad – Civilization Moves within Three Inches of the Abyss
In a decision widely criticized by industry analysts and the general public alike as “stupefying”, “inane” and “who the $*@! would do that?!?”, Kohl’s featured Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” in its “Black Friday” television ad and immediately thrust civilization to within three inches of the abyss.
“Since the dawn of mankind, music has been responsible for keeping the cosmic spheres in harmony,” said Karen Treehorn, Director of the S.O.A.M. (Stamp Out Awful Music) Foundation in Everett, Washington. “Every so often, a song is released by someone who has no business singing, which can really screw things up on a galactic scale. For instance, when Don Johnson’s Heartbeat album was released in the fall of 1986, our planet was nearly targeted for extermination by a warmongering alien race known as the Cjkluggs. Thankfully, a quick-thinking producer at Def Jam Records sent the Cjkluggs a copy of Slayer’s newly-released Reign in Blood, which served to ease hostilities. Of course, when Miley Cyrus began recording music the same thing happened again – but the progressive metal scene was in its ascendancy by then, and it was a simple matter of sending the Cjkluggs anything by Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation or Vanden Plas to keep them at bay.”
According to Martin Weigarten, Kohl’s Executive Vice President of Marketing, the decision to use the song in the company’s “Black Friday” ad was made in order to “capitalize on the purchasing power of the 8 – 13 year old demographic”. When told that the purchasing power of the 8 – 13 year old demographic is virtually non-existent, and that 93% of that age group had reported vertigo-like symptoms within the first 30 seconds of listening to “Friday”, Weigarten said “Fuck!” and fired his admin.
“There exist people on this planet who simply should not sing,” said Ben Andersen, associate editor at Kerrang! “Most of these people are celebrities who become so enamored with their own success that they think they can do anything – I cite Lucille Ball, Robert Conrad and Phillip Michael Thomas as examples A, B and C of this particularly heinous form of self-delusion. My advice to anyone who can’t sing, but still feels obligated to record a song, is to follow the Mackenzie Brothers’ lead. “Take Off” is the gold standard of “celebrity” songs because Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas do nothing more than talk during the entire song, while Rush’s Geddy Lee handles the actual singing.”
Analysts confirmed yesterday that Kohl’s “Black Friday” sales were down 97% from last year, and that the company was forced to close 23 stores as a result of the ad. This comes as no surprise to Margaret van Peese, a homemaker from Rhinelander, Wisconsin who is contemplating a lawsuit against the department store chain, citing emotional distress and property damage. “I was in the kitchen the Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving when that effing ad came on,” said van Peese, still holding an ice pack to her forehead. “Before I could get to the TV and change the channel, all hell broke loose. My toaster exploded, the oven started breathing fire and my two-year old son chucked a paperweight at me while mumbling something about Beelzebub the Deceiver. I’m suing Kohl’s because the assholes in their Marketing department have zero concept of the difference between “playfully cheesy” and “mind-bendingly awful”, which equates to gross and willful negligence in my book. Kohl’s can burn in hell as far as I’m concerned – I’ll be shopping at Piggly Wiggly from here on out.”
IOH: -1,543,298 (for every human being who can’t sing but does anyways and leaves a permanent scar on humanity’s psyche)
Speaking of the “abyss”, here’s a reminder of what good music sounds like:
There are songs that make me laugh (Montt Mardie’s “Dungeons & Dragons”), songs that make me cry (“Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables — yeah, I said Les Miserables. I also like Yanni, Josh Groban, Enya and Seal – so eff off!), and songs that make me long for my youth (the theme from The Greatest American Hero, by Joey Scarbury, and anything by Orleans). And then there are songs that transcend basic emotion and bring about an existential awakening in me which causes every hair on my body – including the seven on my left big toe – to stand on end. Dream Theater’s “The Count of Tuscany” is one such song. I defy your spine – that’s right, DEFY your spine – to not exhibit a profound tingle during at least the first three minutes and twenty-one seconds, if not the entire 19+ minutes. This song will make you want to climb Mount Rainier, hug your worst enemy and take up jousting, all at the same time.
True story: the first time I heard “The Count of Tuscany”, I was driving home from work. Exactly 1:47 in, Merlin Ambrosius materialized in my back seat with a staff in his right hand and a silver chalice in his left. He raised the chalice and said, “This song pretty much kicks ass, huh?” Before I could respond, he jumped out the window, grabbed on to the talon of a griffin headed northbound and soared into the ether.
This isn’t just a song – it’s a portal to a different dimension. Rumor has it that if you stand on the second floor of an ancient tower house buried deep in the Tuscan hills at precisely 9:43pm on June 21, and blast this song at a walled-up doorway adorned with a painting of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a passage to Elysium will appear. Since I was busy chairing a meeting of the George Lynch Fan Club, I wasn’t able to make it this year. But next year, mark my words, my boom box and I will be there.
John Petrucci has eight fingers on each hand
What’s that you say? You don’t understand?
I’ll say it again – John Petrucci has eight fingers on each hand.
He played “Under a Glass Moon” like an octopus with long hair,
He played “Hell’s Kitchen” like a squid with a stare
That causes lesser guitarists to go weak at the knees,
And reset their sights on solos from Squeeze.
My Grandpa George once said, “John Petrucci? Bah! He’s really just fair.
He’s not Clapton, or Satch, or anyone in Slayer.”
My only reply was a shake of my head,
And a heads-up to Gramps that it was eight o’clock — time for bed.
Up he went for the night, but he came down not long after
With a spooked look on his face and an odd kind of laughter.
He said, “John Petrucci just visited me in my dreams.
He flew down on an Ibanez possessed of golden strings.
Then he played a solo that plucked the hair from my chest,
And conjured up three leprechauns in green leather vests,
Followed by unicorns, and dragons, and wizards galore,
And a topless biker chick who came and kicked down my door.
It was the most beautiful thing, you must understand,
And at the end of it all he showed me his hands.”
With a smile on my face I said, “Let me guess – eight fingers there were?”
To which my grandpa replied, “Yes, my boy, yes – and then it became quite a blur.
For all of the guitarists I ever did see,
The Vais and the Johnsons and even guys named CC,
Rushed into his pinky and pulled up a chair,
While John Petrucci played every solo they’d ever shared,
Only he played them backwards – and on one leg.”