Get an A-Maze Mug! c[_]


Hey, we talked about it before… No one, not two, but three times.

It’s finally here! Get an A-Maze Mug from Ci3! How cool is that? Each mug comes with a dry-erase marker so you can solve the maze, both in a nifty box covered in mazes!

A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13
A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13

More cool maze-related merch coming soon. What else would you like to see? Socks? Masks? T-shirts? Books? Puzzles? Mirrors? Tiles?

I haven’t ever done anything to make my mazes available for any kind of sale, so this is exciting to me. What do you think?

I am eternally grateful to Mike Copen for the nudge and the opportunity. It’s so cool for artists, designers, entrepreneurs, & creative types to support each other.

Of course, I think they’d make great gifts for friends, family, teachers, co-workers, or even anyone that may be hard to buy for. Who doesn’t like a nice warm beverage? Solving the maze with the dry erase marker is a good opportunity to kind of zone out in a zen-like state, to help you regain focus to start the day or even decompress at the end of a long day! I know that’s the drive behind drawing them.

These would be great for coffee, tea, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, ramen, or one of my soup recipes.

Please, share the link if you’re so inclined. I’d like to see how far these can go. Thanks in advance if you plan on making a purchase!

Wanna do a #maze or two?


I have been posting them to Instagram, just not here much.  I have a few I have drawn but haven’t shared.  I may share them here.  Is anyone interested in them?  Should I save them for a publisher or Etsy shop? I need to get with CI3 and make some mugs!

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So, who's gonna solve my #GuitarCase #Maze?

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Yeah, that one is on my guitar case. It would be killer if someone could complete that one… just not on the actual case. Ha ha.

Thanksgiving is my favorite. Maybe after Halloween.

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Give it a go. #maze #mazes #solvethismaze

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I am so proud of my little artist!

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Cleaned up my #maze from earlier.

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Another #maze if you dig.

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https://www.instagram.com/p/Bsa51dkBfyb/Who%20doesn't%20need%20a%20good%20inspirational/motivational%20quote/meme%20not%20and%20then?https://www.instagram.com/p/BsbyuFphJmL/

You know you wanna print one and try it, or use an app on your phone/tablet to draw right on it. Then you wanna tag me in social media with the solution or leave it here in the comments.

Bands vs. Venues: Who promotes? Who makes money? Can everyone “win”?


Rick from the Fallout Shelter brought up a great discussion topic on Facebook, and it inspired me to blog about it.

That’s a private group on Facebook, so here’s what was said in case you’re not a member:

Rick D'Agostino Looking for some feedback from the music community out there. Do you think that the $5 cover charge keeps you or your friends from attending shows at the Fallout Shelter that they might otherwise attend to check out new bands? In other words, are folks only willing to pay a $5 cover to see bands that they already know? And as a band member, would you rather play to a larger crowd with a tip bucket or to just a few people and make some gas money? I am thinking of making some changes. you can reply here or message me if you want. thanks!

Rick D’Agostino is looking for some feedback from the music community out there..

Dig?  So now, you have the gist of it.  My blog may go on its own little tangent, you never really know with these things.  It’s certainly worth talking about.

First, it’s clear that I’ve never been in a band where making money is the ultimate goal.  I’m amazed over & over that venue owners let me come in, set up, and play in front of people.  Sometimes we get money from the door, sometimes we get money from tickets sold, sometimes we give it all to the touring band, sometimes it’s a charity gig, sometimes no one shows up to pay anyone, sometimes we get some gas money or a couple of bucks to dump back into merch or something.

This is how it’s worked nearly everywhere and every time I have played:  Most of the time, the cover is $3 to $5, unless we’re opening for a national act & it’s through a booker where we’re asked to sell tickets.  Some call the latter “pay to play“, and rail wholly against it.  Some people have no problem selling tickets.  Some bands like mine do, but we try anyway.  At bar gigs, the cover charge is usually $5.  Sometimes it all goes to the bands, especially if it’s a bar & if you provide your own door person.  Sometimes it pays for a sound guy (if there is one) & a cut goes to the bar, then the bands get paid.  Sometimes locals defer and let the out-of-town bands take the cash (if there is one).  Sometimes you can play for free at open stages, sometimes you pay to get in at open stages.  Sometimes no one comes out to see you, and no one gets paid.  Sometimes the band gets free or discounted drinks.  It’s generally a no pay or break even situation.  You hope to sell merchandise and/or CD‘s if you have them, and the bar hopes to sell drinks & food.  The bands should promote and the venues should promote.  Some venues think the bands should do it all, some bands think the venue should do it all.  Generally 3 or sometimes 4 bands are all on the same gig.  Sometimes, it all works out, sometimes… it doesn’t.  This is how bands who largely play their own music are forced to operate.

That’s only 1 way.  There are many other “scenes” here overlapping in the ‘Burgh.

Cover bands… or human jukebox bands, can generally charge a fee for playing a certain style, genre, or “songs that people know”.  This is to provide entertainment to drunken Yinzer patrons who want to yell out requests.  You probably usually play 3 sets, maybe 4… and you’re the only entertainment all night.  You’re probably playing pop country, classic rock, or a little mix of everything.  Professional singers/songwriters operate pretty much the same way as described above, but can get away with putting in more of their own material.

High-class…  I know a band that plays funk, and can get $5000 a gig at the least.  They put their twist on a bunch of songs, dress up, bring lights, and put on one hell of a show.  I’m pretty sure I could never command that much cash for what I do… but how is one less relevant or entertaining?  They do weddings, corporate parties, and “events”.

I’m sure there’s other stuff out there that I’m not even aware of.  I can’t really speak for any other parts of the scene than the one I’m in.

I’ve heard the argument that charging only $5 is devaluing our craft.  Bands should demand more to be heard live.  It worked for Yuengling.  They raised the price on their beer in the late 90s/early 00s and they took off ahead of the other “microbrews”.  Should we then put a higher value on ourselves & our art?  If we raise the price do we raise our expectations?  Do we raise our worth?  Do we raise the value of our music & entertainment?

I also see that a cover charge can make or break a show.  Times are changing.  People aren’t spending money on entertainment.  Music is seen like it’s all supposed to be free.  Why would someone pay for a live show?  To me, if you don’t have $5 on you for a show, maybe you shouldn’t be going to a bar in the 1st place.  $5 might get you 2 beers if you’re a butthole & don’t tip the bartender.  Then again, we hardly ever walk away with any money anyway (the Fallout Shelter is an exception here, we get paid well there, regardless of turnout), so why not let people in for free?

The tip bucket.  I’d play for one.  I have no doubt that we’re entertaining.  Why not, right?  Do all bands split the tip bucket?  Or go per performance?  That if the 1st band up gets all the cash & the “cleanup” band gets nothing simply because the patrons ran out of cash?  Are we nothing more than indoor buskers if we play for a tip jar?  Is it a better measurement of our entertainment value to work for tips?  Does it devalue our art to basically beg for donations to support the rock n’ roll cause?

I certainly don’t want to see my favorite venues close because they can’t afford to operate.  I like to play them, I like to see other bands in them… I want them to do well.  I want them to continue to host my band & other bands.  I even want them to make a buck so it’s all worth their while, and so they can do it to make a living.

I just want to play.  I don’t care where, or for how much.  I have fun doing it.  I think this is an important discussion to have, though.  What is the value of live rock n’ roll?

So…

  • Would you play for less of a cover charge?
  • Should we charge more for shows?
  • Should bands play for tips?
  • How should the tips be split?
  • How does the venue make money?
  • Who pays the sound guy?

Leave your opinions in the comments below!

Related Articles

So, how do I make money at this art thing?


I’m a lazy artist.  I always have been.  I generally make art for fun, and give it away.  I made a ton of cool stuff in art class in high school and even in my time at WCCC, now I only have a fraction of it.  I’ve never had an interest in making money from any of it, perhaps because I felt it wasn’t perfect or even “good enough” to sell.  Perhaps it was because I’d feel “dirty” making money from art.  I’m also lazy in that I have a lot of ideas that don’t make it to fruition.  (You should see the AiXeLsyD and Gasoline Dion “almost” song piles… and that Yup-punk band idea…)

I also went through a phase of drawing a bunch of comic book stuff… and it was always my understanding that Marvel didn’t want me selling my Wolverine art, and DC didn’t want me to sell my Batman art.  Somehow the Airbrush guy at the mall makes money on pretty much any popular character out there.  (Exactly who’s buying white T-shirts with airbrushed Mickey Mouse and Garfield on them at a mall kiosk in 2011 is a subject of another blog.)  Is that guy bootlegging?  Is he paying royalty fees?

With the advent of sites like Etsy (and more so Regretsy), I can see now that my art is certainly acceptable for sale.  I’d like to think it’s a few grades above what’s considered acceptable for sale.  The question remains on copyrights though… I see all kinds of people selling Superman, Batman and Spider-Man stuff with images clearly ripped from elsewhere.  Not that I want to sell comic book-art, but I never know what mood will strike me.  My flyer art is mainly bastardization of existing images… so I’m sure I can’t sell any of that kind of stuff.  Again, I think I’m veering toward the subject matter of an entirely different blog.  Back to the insanity at hand…

I’ve been drawing mazes for what seems like forever.  I started them when I was a kid & was in the hospital for a while.  I remember my pediatrician saying I ought to look into getting them published.  I obviously never have.  I have through twitter found another cat on the internet who draws mazes… he sells them online & at art shows and has used LuLu to publish some books.  Is that a good avenue to explore?

I have an idea for what I think would be an amusing photo book… but how does one go into execution of such an idea?  Do I even have time for something like this?

Would I use something like deviantART to set up shop?  How do I get prints made from original artwork?  Should I settle for a Cafe Press or Zazzle store?  Ha ha.  I’d like to put photography in the mix too, eventually.  Every once in a while I capture some stuff that would look great on someone’s wall.  How do I sell the stuff online without the seller site making most of the money, or without breaking the bank in setting up a site & paying any maintenance fees while not selling anything… therefore eventually losing money?

People have also told me that I ought to get paid to write.  I must confess, I would most likely be an editor’s nightmare.  I jump tenses like hopscotch, and my grammar & typing can be quite poor… even though I can differentiate between you’re and your and the apparently difficult they’re/there/their.  (Is it just me, or do they all sound totally different if you’re pronouncing them correctly?)  If you would like to pay me to write, I will certainly take your money.

I don’t think I do well with deadlines or commissions though.  I don’t work well with others’ ideas.  I’d like to make my own mazes, drawings, paintings, photos, etc. at my own pace.  Although, I aim to be productive with art, & maybe buy some more camera accessories, or a new amp, guitar, or some other new goofy instrument or piece of equipment.  (Because I apparently can’t make any money as a musician unless I join/form a human jukebox band – and let’s face it; I’m a poor guitarist.  Ha ha.)

As you can see, I’m all over the place.  I need focus/direction.  I guess I’m just looking for advice beyond the “you should publish a book” or “you should sell your photos” or the “you should write for someone” point.  I get that, and accept that… but how?  I’m looking for specifics here.  I’d like to hear “I use such & such & it’s fantastic, and works like…” and not “I think my cousin’s uncle’s mother’s neighbor uses blah blah blah, …I think.”  Are you an artist?  How do you sell your work?  Hit me with your wisdom!

Envisage Your Ideal Concert


Okay.  You just found out that you’re secretly related to Oprah, and since she knows you’re a huge music fan… she’s letting you put together the concert of all concerts to celebrate.  Since you have Oprah money, you pretty much have no limit there, but you are limited to bands that are alive and actively together, or that you believe could be reasonably brought back together with a little grea$ing of the wheels.  Example… you’re probably not going to get Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite or (even the Illusions tour) lineup to get on stage together… but you probably could get Steven Tyler & Joe Perry in the same room.

Put together the whole thing…

  • The Venue: A small club?  A stadium or amphitheater?  Your living room?
  • The Run: Is it a one-night-only deal, or is this a 3-day festival?
  • The Name: Every killer show has to have a killer title.  No “w00t-stock”, please.
  • The Bands: Who’s playing & in what order?  Bonus points for linking to ’em.
  • Added Insanity: Want a 20 minute drum solo with Neil Peart & Lars Ulrich?  Want an unplugged duet with Danzig & Shakira?  Want GWAR to disembowel you on the stage?  A guitar battle between Eric Clapton and Slash?  Want all the bands to do nothing but Black Sabbath covers?  Can’t hurt to throw the idea out there!
  • Micro-Manage: If you really want to get nuts, what do you want to see in each performer’s setlist?  Either highlights or the whole thing.

I’ll think about mine while you post yours in the comments below, and in a few days or so I’ll revisit the whole idea in another blog post.  Links to bands’ websites, videos, and music strongly encouraged!

 

Subway | Eat Death™


I’ve recently renewed my dialog with Subway, sparked by the news of them rolling out a gluten-free menu.  Here’s how it’s going down:

From:

ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 11:16 AM
Subject: Gluten-Free Menu Options in Texas?
To: Paula Gomez <gomez_p@subway.com>, Rob Searfus <R.Searfus@sfaft.org>, Mack Bridenbaker <m.bridenbaker@sfaft.org>, Christine Sumecki <c.sumecki@sfaft.org>, Subway Customer Care Team <asksubway@subway.com>, “B. Pingarron” <b.pingarron@sfaft.org>, “M. Luby” <m.luby@sfaft.org>, “Anna Marie Seeley (Customer Care Representative)” <seeley_a@subway.com>, Kevin Kane <kane_k@subway.com>

Hello Friends at Subway,

I write to you today because we have had a dialogue going in the past about food allergies and cross-contamination that I would like to continue.  I have recently read a few articles online informing the masses that Subway plans to roll-out some gluten-free menu options in the Dallas & Tyler Texas markets soon.  If you would like to read the articles in question, here are some links:

While I would like to be able to applaud this effort, I also find it quite frustrating.

I am quite proud of Subway as an organization when I read such responsible things like “The baked goods will arrive pre-packaged and individually wrapped. Employees will be educated on how to cut the bread using a pre-wrapped knife to avoid cross contamination.”  I mean, really… this is a novel idea and a stellar effort as well as great news for Celiac afflicted potential Subway customers.  Certainly lines like “Also, to further avoid cross-contamination, that same Sandwich Artist will prepare the order from beginning to end, ensuring a 100-percent gluten-free meal” offer a level of comfort to those who must dine gluten-free.  While other restaurants have offered gluten-free menus, you seem to understand that a knife that cuts a regular bun cannot also cut the bun of a gluten-free selection.  This would, I imagine, be quite a worry for a wheat-allergic or Celiac person.  I can imagine this scenario quite well, actually.  You may remember my past missives expressing my allergy to shellfish (and more specifically to your “seafood” sub offering).

This is where my frustration sets in.  I have written to you on multiple occasions expressing the frustration for not only my shellfish allergy, but all of the “top 8”; Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy, & Wheat.  Why have you picked this opportunity to only concentrate on the wheat?  There are others too… I know of people with tomato and pepper allergies that would be thrown into the same anaphylactic shock that I would given I were to take a bite of unknowingly deathfish-laiden lunchmeat.  While you seem to understand the importance of a gluten-free knife… what about a cheese-free, tomato-free, and shellfish-free knife?  Perhaps you have forgotten my previous letter with a few colorful illustrations of the contaminated knife issue.  I will repost here for your convenience:

Then we have the community knife.  If one were to cut someone’s seafood sub with that knife, wipe it off, then cut my sub, there are STILL allergens on that knife, enough allergens to kill me.  Do you want me to be thrown in to an Anaphylactic fit?  I doubt it.  Well, at least, I hope not.

Think about this – do you share your toothbrush with everyone in your household?  Would you with everyone in your office?  Would you share it with everyone that you pass on the way to work in the morning or with everyone who’s eating lunch with you at the same place where you’re choosing to dine?

Yes, it sounds gross, but those potential germs that you’re no doubt currently horrified of are the same as the very real allergens that will most certainly throw me into instant death.

If that didn’t do it for you, imagine I put a giant dried dog turd on the sandwich board, cut it in half, wrapped it, wiped off the knife [with a re-used dishrag type cloth], and then cut your sandwich.  By Subway’s current logic, that knife is clean and contamination free.  This is most certainly not a pretty picture to you, my friend.  Is it?

Does any of this ring a bell?

Also, I have received conflicting reports on how such issues are currently handled or have been handled in the past.  One reply states…

The Company policy directs our independent restaurant owners / operators to take all necessary precautions to prevent the possibility of cross contamination. This includes the policy of washing all utensils and containers after each use. Each restaurant is independently owned and operated and is the responsibility of the franchise owner to implement and enforce the policy.

Which seems to conflict with yet another reply…

I have gone ahead and copied our Training Department so that further lessons can be addressed with owners and their employees on proper handling.

And, the latest information according to the QSRWeb.com article is that “Sandwich Artists in those two markets will be trained on how to cut the roll with a pre-wrapped knife for one use only.”  So, have they been trained in allergies in cross-contamination already, or not?  Color me confused, my friends.

I’d feel safer if the seafood concoction wasn’t anywhere near the meat & cheese where it currently sits.  I’d also feel safer if the same knife wasn’t used to cut all of the sandwiches, and the same dishrag-type towel wasn’t used to wipe off the knife in random intervals between sandwich slicing.  I’d feel safer if all the sandwich artists, managers, and owners were trained on allergens, cross-contamination, and the seriousness of anaphylactic shock.  I’d feel safer if all stores contained a first aid kit complete with an epi pen and clear instructions for its use.

Why should the Celiac-afflicted feel safer, but the rest of us with deadly food allergies should not?  I look forward to your response, your insights, and how you plan to move forward regarding all potentially deadly allergens and how they are to be handled in your stores.  Thank you once again for your time, I hope to hear from you soon.

Inquisitively,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

P.S. – I was wondering, when you work in an office for Subway, do you have an in-office Subway in which the employees receive (or make) their own lunch?  Or, is there a Subway nearby where you get free or discounted food?  Or, are you all too sick of Subway to eat there?

And I got this back…

From: Searfus, Rob <R.Searfus@sfaft.org>
Date: Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:31 PM
Subject: RE: Gluten-Free Menu Options in Texas?
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Hello Eric,

My apologies for not replying earlier, I was traveling and in meetings most of the week, (as well as attending to some family business).  But enough of the excuses.

Forgive me for not having more product answers, but I’m simply a field marketing representative out here on the west coast.  I have inquired with our R&D department to try and get the answers to your questions.  No replies yet, but this week has been tough for me to get a hold of anyone on the east coast due to the severe winter storms that they have been having (offices closed for at least a couple of days.)

I’ll follow up by e-mail when I get any answers for you.

Thanks, and BTW, what part of the US to you hail from?

Rob Searfus
Field Marketing Manager
Subway® Franchise World Headquarters
16337 SW Leeding Ln
Tigard, OR 97223
Cell: 503-954-5479
Toll Free: 1-800-888-4848 x 4089
Fax 503-579-6715
e-mail: searfus_r@subway.com

IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION CHANGE:  PLEASE NOTE MY EMAIL ADDRESS HAS CHANGED TO searfus_r@subway.com.  Please update your address book to reflect this change.  We are undergoing a technology transition.  During this transition, you may still receive emails from the “sfaft.org” address.  This is not an error, but please enter my new subway.com email address when sending emails.

So I wrote this…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Jan 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM
Subject: Re: Gluten-Free Menu Options in Texas?
To: “Searfus, Rob” <R.Searfus@sfaft.org>

Thank you Rob,

I had actually wondered if anyone would reply.  I had an email chain going before with a Ms. Paula Gomez & Ms. Ana Seely… but they have been short replies and my main questions have gone unsanswered.

I’m in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  Thanks for your time, I hope to hear from your colleagues soon!

-Eric

But in the mean time, I made some pretty pictures.  I can’t decide which one I like the most.

Which one do you like best?

McMummy Meal


Heard about this on the radio, saw the link to this article on Yahoo! this morning.  Creepy:

McDonald’s Happy Meal resists decomposition for six months

 

Day 180 | Davies Happy Meal Project | October 7, 2010

Day 180

 

Not that this is really all that surprising or life-changing… just makes you pause to think about the absurdity of it all.

From an art perspective, this is very fun & funny.  From an experimental perspective, this needs a little more control.  I’d like to see the meal left to sit still in between photographs, and perhaps even from a camera that sits on a tripod in the same spot every time.

I’d also like to see meals from other chains like Burger King, Wendy’s, Steak N’ Shake, as well as a home-made patty cooked from fresh ground beef… and even a store-bought pre-made hamburger patty.  Hell, why not even throw a Morning Star Farms or Boca veggie patty in there too?

You can follow the project directly on Flickr here:  Davies McDonalds Happy Meal Project

I find the comments from Theresa Riley at McDonald’s to be the most absurd part.  “Completely unsubstantiated?”  Have you seen the photos?

Also, Dr. Michael Doyle going on record saying “no hamburger would look like this after one year unless it was tampered with or held frozen” is kind of goofy.  Has he done this experiment?  Does he know for sure?

I do have to say that environment has a lot to do with it.  The fate of the burger & fries may be markedly different in an apartment in Florida vs. one in Alaska or Arizona… and then is there heat, A/C, or other environmental control going on in that apartment?

I’d love to see this as a Mythbusters episode.

Don’t tell me it’s too late… Slash solo album review.


Slash“Don’t tell me it’s too late” is a line from my favorite song on the album, I’m reviewing this well after it came out, and it seems like a running theme lyrically through more than a few songs on the album… so I felt that it was appropriate to work into the title of this post.

If you know my musical tastes at all, you know that Guns N’ Roses is near the top of my list in all-time favorites.  So, with some warning, this may be a little biased.  The basic idea for this record was for Slash to pull in session musicians and do the record he wanted to do that wouldn’t necessarily fit into any other mold.  He’s done session & guest work with everyone from ICP to Rihanna, it’s about time to turn it around.  (I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Velvet Revolver is on “hiatus” and Slash’s Snakepit seems dissolve after each album.)

Since it’s such a diverse record (with and endless number of releases), I’m going to try to throw out my opinions track-by-track, and then wrap it all up.

  1. “Ghost” – Featuring the vocal talents of Ian Astbury and the only other guitarist to appear anywhere on the album, the venerated and underrated Izzy Stradlin.  The song starts the album with a really nice melodic riff and Izzy’s guitar fills in just like it did back in the Appetite days.  Their work back & forth is unmistakable… and I’d love to hear more of it in the future.  While I like the guitar play in Velvet Revolver with Dave Kushner, Izzy and Slash are like a left hand & a right hand when playing guitar… they’re aware of what the other is doing without thinking about it.  Ian Astbury sounds awesome, and really fit well with this song.  I laugh every time I hear him though, as I once spent the better part of a day convincing a former co-worker that Ian Astbury & Glenn Danzig weren’t the same person.  I’ll never forget when The Cult’s “Fire Woman” was on the radio… he was all “You can’t tell me that this isn’t the guy who sings ‘Mother’.  It’s the same guy!”  At any rate… I hope this is picked up as a single, I’d love to see some live performances of this with Ian, or even a video.  It’s a nice unapologetic 80’s-ish rocker of a tune that doesn’t sound ridiculously dated.  Already you can tell that Eric Valentine‘s production on this album blows any Velvet Revolver stuff out of the water, because you can actually hear the guitar.
  2. “Crucify the Dead” – With Ozzy Osbourne on vocals, and somewhat inexplicably Taylor Hawkins on background vocals., this one starts out somewhat somber and ends up rocking.  It could have easily been on any Ozzy album from No More Tears on.  It’s somewhat odd to hear Slash doing the palm-muted power-chord chugging… and just the way that the guitars are layered.  I think that’s the point of this album though, to hear Slash doing stuff that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else.  It sets that right away with this song.  It would have been cool to have Zakk Wylde on this track too.  The one thing that makes it stand out as an Ozzy song is the lack of Zakk’s style of pinch n’ squeal harmonics.  I really love the melodic guitar lines here though.  I can imagine that Taylor was in the studio hanging out with Chris Chaney who plays bass on most tracks of the album (whom with he currently plays in Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders & they both played with Alanis Morissette once upon a time) and/or Dave Grohl and they just needed someone to do Ozzy backing vocals because he was too tired or didn’t know where he was.  This is the first of many incestuous rock n’ roll band relationships that are all over this album.
  3. “Beautiful Dangerous” – This is the song with Fergie.  Yeah, that Fergie.  Slash has done a bunch of live gigs with her, and she slays on some GN’R songs. In the first few seconds, I get an “oh no” because it starts off like a Rob Zombie song… but that’s quickly eaten by the guitars, bass, & drums.  It’s hard to hear a woman sing a rock song and not compare her to a small list of other rock singers…  This song has a Heart vibe.  I can imagine Fergie wouldn’t mind being compared vocally to Ann Wilson.  She’s got a strong beautiful clear voice… and I can totally hear an Axl influence.  You knew the A-word was coming eventually.  It’s not in the sound of her voice, but in the cadence and delivery of some of the lines… I challenge any GN’R fan to not hear it.  There’s a certain way they Axl holds on to & twists notes… Fergie does this also here… not sure if it was prompted or just came naturally with the style of riffs if she’s a GN’R fan at all.  This song is full of some nice solid riffs, and is one of my favorites off of the album.  My wife likes this one too, and she’s not the world’s biggest guitar-rock fan.
  4. “Back From Cali” Myles Kennedy takes up vocal duties on this song.  The feel of this song reminds me of It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere, and is definitely a Slash composition out and out.  It’s a pretty straight-up blues rocker, and Axl is again channeled at a mere 30 seconds into the song.  Myles will take vocal duties in Slash’s touring band, he’s probably as notable for being the guy rumored to sing for the Led Zeppelin reunion tour as much as his last band, Alter Bridge.  This guy has the pipes & range to hold it down well, no doubt.
  5. “Promise” – This one starts out a little strange, although this riff could have been on either  of the Illusions albums in a different context.  It really reminds me of Audioslave… maybe that’s why Slash called in Chris Cornell in the first place.  This is the first mellow one… and while it’s not a bad song, I think I have to be in the mood to listen to it.  It’s quite a haunting melody & riff, perhaps it’ll grow on me as time goes on.
  6. “By the Sword” – This is the album’s first US single, I think the video has been shot it’s just waiting for production, and they’ve been doing the lateshow circuit with performances.  Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother takes the vocal helm on this blues rocker.  This could have also easily been another Snakepit song… but I feel Stockdale does it real justice with his oddly whiny vocals.  Slash’s solo here (starting at 2:45 into the song) reminds me of George Harrison on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for some reason.  At first, I wondered why on Earth this was the first single as it wasn’t a straight-up rocker, but the more I hear it, the more I really like the song.
  7. “Gotten” – Having Adam Levine of Maroon 5 on the album is probably as shocking as having Fergie, if not more so.  I have to say, I really dig this track too.  The guitar is surprisingly nice & clean for the most part, a very gentle riff… this could be on top 40 radio if there is such a thing left.  It builds in a “Don’t Cry”-like crescendo, although the strings mayJudgement Day.) be a little much.  (Sorry, Again, you most likely have to be in a mellow mood for this one, but it stands as a good track.)
  8. “Doctor Alibi” – Old school metal fans are going to love this one… or at least I do.  Lemmy takes vocal and “distorted bass” (according to the liner notes) duties on this un-apologetically obnoxious rocking beast.  The opening riff jingles with bad-ass and descends into chaos with Lemmy’s story telling of visiting various doctors until he gets the answer that he wants to hear.  I vote for Lemmy as the next frontman to Velvet Revolver, ha ha ha.  This song is full of rock clichés and that’s OK with me.  This solo rips through you, reminiscent of the rambling in “Nightrain”.  It even breaks down to just vocals and drums before the rest of the bands comes back in.  This one is a keeper.
  9. “Watch This Dave” – I have to admit that I couldn’t wait.  I had to jump to this one the first time I popped the album into the CD player.  (Yeah, I bought the CD that came with the T-shirt from Best Buy on the day that it came out.) Why did I jump here?  Because it features Dave Grohl on drums and Duff McKagan on bass.  On some track listings, it’s simply titled “Watch This”… but my CD adds the “Dave”, so I added that here.  This is a timeless instrumental groove that just smacks you in the eardrums.  I miss Duff’s bass playing on the rest of the album.  No offense to Chris Chaney, but Duff has a definite signature that just fits with Slash’s guitar work like hot fudge on vanilla ice cream or ketchup on fries.  You don’t need it, but it’s always a perfect combo.  Dave pounds the drums like a madman, and they seamlessly string together patches of riffs & guitar wanking that swell an undulate into a heart-pounding mess of a ride that ends by just slamming you into a wall.  Parts of it remind me of the feel of Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu” or “Orion”.  Slash does some shredding work here, something you don’t usually think of when you hear his name.  I for one would love to hear a whole album of stuff like this.
  10. “I Hold On” – This track has Kid Rock on vocals.  It could have just as easily been Myles Kennedy… and may have been better if it was.  It plays out like a mellow country/gospel inspired Kid Rock ballad.  I don’t know, I guess I just don’t feel it.  It’s by no means a bad, song, it just doesn’t make me say “wow” or anything.  Slash’s solo is great, but could have gone over anything with these same chord changes.  I would imagine that this would clean up on country radio.
  11. “Nothing to Say”M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold was a surprise guest to me… but I was also really anxious to hear this track.  I must say that i wasn’t disappointed!  I’m an A7X fan, and I remember thinking that they went form a Metallica influence on Sounding the Seventh TrumpetWaking the Fallen to a Guns N’ Roses influence on City of Evil and Avenged Sevenfold.  At first, I didn’t like it, but as time went on, it made sense.  I love both of those bands, why wouldn’t they?  Only AC/DC fans like the same album over & over again.  This was an excellent paring, as the riff is just more evil and menacing than anything  else I’ve ever heard Slash play… and I can’t imagine anyone vocally pulling this off any better. (For reference,  see “Chains and Shackles”.)  I really would have a hard time telling that this wasn’t a straight-up A7X song, and I can typically pick out Slash’s guitar work in just a few notes.  There’s more shredding here, within the blues context that Slash likes to stay in, and within the confines of the song… but again, I would love a whole album of songs like this form Slash.  It’s odd to hear him playing Metallica-styled palm-muted chugging even though I know he’s a big fan of theirs.  Speaking of Metallica… why wasn’t Lars or James on this thing?
  12. “Starlight” Myles Kennedy is the only one to feature twice vocally on the proper US album release.  This is another bluesy/gospel sort of ballad that could have easily went on either Snakepit
  13. “Saint is a Sinner Too” – Yeah.  I’m wholly unfamiliar with Rocco DeLucca who sings for this one… and really, I think I’m glad.  I mean, the guitar work is beautiful and quiet here… and shows great range… but I really can’t regard the vocals as anything more than annoying.  I’m sorry if it offends you, but I hate this kind of crap, and the crap  thatit reminds me of… like Dave Matthews and Coldplay.
  14. “Were All Gonna Die” – Slash dusts off Iggy Pop for this one which acts as the closer to the regular US release.  Iggy sounds bored, and the song is a little slow.  I’d actually love to hear Duff sing this one… and for the tempo to be upped a little bit.  Duff has a great punk sensibility, and like I said Iggy just sounds bored.  You’d think a song that stars out with the line “Gee I really like your tits” would be a little more raucous.  Maybe I just expected more from this pairing?  “Home” off of Iggy’s Brick by Brick album features Slash & Duff, and it hits a little harder than this one.  Still, it’s not a ad tune, and gets better with every listen.

Well, that’s all the normal tracks.  I’ve managed to hear all of the bonus tracks form the various albums, and I’ll give my run-down here…

  • “Sahara” – This one’s from the Japanese release and the iTunes release.  It features Japanese rocker Koshi Inaba of the Japaneze rock band/duo B’z.  This sounds like a Winger or Poison song.  It’s the closest Slash has ever sounded to that… and I love some Poison… but this is super-cheese.  This was the first single overall, released only in Japan.  I bet they loved this one… it’s #4 on the Japan charts according to Wikipedia.  This one can be found with both English and Japanese lyrics.
  • “Chains and Shackles” – I mentioned this before during the “Nothing to Say” review… basically it’s the the same base, with some slightly different ingredients… provided by Nick Oliveri,  of Kyuss/Mondo Generator/Queens of the Stone Age.  Had I not heard the other first, I may dig this one a little more.  This is a heavy hard-hitting song with some killer structures & vocals… but I just liked what Slash & M. Shadows did with it in “I Hold On” more.  Slash also talked about giving this one to Dave Mustane… I’d love to hear that.  This is on the Australian iTunes edition.
  • “Paradise City” – This is an odd collection:  Cypress Hill, Fergie, and Slash covering Guns N’ Roses.  This was a B0side to the “Sahara” single as well as being on the Australian iTunes, Best Buy Exclusive, Napster, and Brazilian versions.  (This is according to Wikipedia… I bought mine at Best Buy, and this isn’t on it.)  This wasn’t really a surprise, as I’ve seen  Slash, Duff, Dave Kushner & Matt Sorum do this with Cypress Hill before.  Fergie rounds out the vocals nicely imitating Axl.  This is Campy and fun, and really shouldn’t be taken beyond that.  I enjoy it.
  • “Mother Maria” – On this song, Slash teamed up with Beth Hart to help Linkin Park’s Music for Relief charity.  I have no idea who Beth Hart is, but she sure can sing.  This is a country-tinged blues song with a real nice groove.  It rides the mellow/rocking line… and feels like it could spill over in either direction any minute.  This track is available on the iTunes version of the album.
  • “Baby Can’t Drive” – This is apparently what happens when Slash, Alice Cooper, Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls), Steven Adler (classic GN’R drummer & VH1 reality show train-wreck), and Flea all get together.  I know Alice has always been theatrical… but this seems like a Meatloaf song with all the love & sex taken out.  I can see why this wasn’t included on the album.  Flea is known for being a wild/crazy bass player… and there’s no way you can even tell it’s him here.  It’s good to see that Adler can still play drums.  You can get this on the Best Buy Exclusive, Napster, Brazillian, and “Classic Rock Slashpack” editions.

Well, that’s it track-by-track.  Hope it made you more interested in the album if you’re a Slash fan, and certainly I hope I didn’t deter anyone from listening to a track or two.  I didn’t get to mention that Josh Freese is on drums for most of this album… I think he’s the only guy that does more session work than Slash or maybe Dave Grohl.  If you have a band, check and see if Josh Freese is a member.  I bet you he is, and you just don’t know it yet.  Josh holds it down nice & solid.  Oddly enough, he was also in Guns N’ Roses for a while, and played the title track on Chinese DemocracyTeddy Andreadis was on it playing the clavient & wurlitzer too.  So that makes 6 past members of GN’R on one album, 4 of them from the classic lineup?  Can we please, someday get our shit together, guys?  Before someone dies?

Conspicuously absent were Slash’s VR band mates Matt Sorum & Dave Kushner, but maybe that’s calculated and why it’s a “solo” project… although you know Duff  had to make it in.  Also, didn’t Sebastian Bach tweet about being in the studio & on this album?  I wonder if he ever recorded a track, or if he went all “Savage Animal” in the studio?  Also… what ever happened to Gilby Clarke?  I would have thought that Nikki Sixx or Tommy Lee would have popped up here too.  I’d also like to have seen some more guitarists.. but this is Slash’s solo record, not mine.

Here’s the album trailer from Slash’s website

I’m anxious to hear if anyone agrees or disagrees with me on the song analysis… please, let me know what you think!

Nick Oliveri

Pandora’s Lunchbox


Heh.  Twitter is fun.  So, you may know that I have my W(aL)D Twitter account, and I use it to be goofy.  I think I re-opened the Subway door here.  Mayhaps this time I’ll get some sort of resolution?

Today, Subway Freshbuzz tweeted the following…

Does anybody else out there try to save half of their $5 Footlong for a 2nd meal, only to be called back by its delicious siren song?

So, I posted this in response…

@subwayfreshbuzz Nope. Not when 1 bite is a potential trip to the E.R. thanks to cross-contamination in the food-prep area.

Tonight, I have this in my Direct Message box…

subwayfreshbuzz Thanks for the feedback. It would be great if you could let us know more about this incident on our cust. service page  http://bit.ly/bhSAn

Well, at least I have someone paying attention!  I sent them a link to my original complaint to Subway, but I’d like to list the whole saga here… in case I need them to refer back to the message trail at some point…

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass.

• October 28, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

Subway Customer ID: 1918316

• October 29, 2009 • 7 Comments (Edit)

Quiznos writes back before Subway!

• November 12, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

So, we have a response from Subway! – Not really a response, if you ask me…

• November 13, 2009 • 2 Comments (Edit)

The Quiznos Toasty Torpedo™ and the diminutive hand model…

• November 17, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

“You never told me you spoke my language, Doctor Jones.”

• November 18, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½. – No doubt.

• November 20, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

Subway®: “First, allow me to apologize.” – Again, this really wasn’t a nice response, or a response at all…

• November 24, 2009 • 4 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Alliteration, and Annoyance.
– I had to take it somewhere else.

• November 25, 2009 • 6 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Annoyance, Alliteration, & Acceptance

• December 21, 2009 • 1 Comment (Edit)

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass.


So last night, I snapped. I have finally seen and heard my fill of Subway commercials.

Granted, there are certainly more annoying ad campaigns out there right now, and there will be in the future. But this snap sparked the ignition of the realization that I used to love Subway, and now I hate it. There’s no one reason, or even a real reason. There’s nothing that a rational person can do to change any of it or for it to make any difference or have any significance.

That’s where World (and Lunar) Domination steps in.  You may have seen my letters to companies on past message boards or blogs… maybe not.  From time to time I get goofy, and take it out on corporate America.  Sometimes the responses are serious, boring, nonexistent, intentionally funny, or unintentionally funny.

I have been encouraged to keep these rants somewhere, hence this WordPress blog.

I submitted the following (with some editing help from my friend Dave) via webform at Subway.com:

Hello Sandwich Art Dealers,

I’d like to start out by saying I find that web submission comment forms are generally a letdown. As the submitter you’re usually sent a ‘form letter’ type of reply that doesn’t address any specific issues, and thanks you for the input. Less often, it’s followed up by a seemingly more caring missive that really doesn’t address anything specific, and sometimes attempts to placate the sender with some coupons, a T-shirt or something to that effect. It’s also generally a letdown, because I can’t cc myself a copy of what I sent, and it’s a 50/50 shot of whether my original comments are to be included in any future correspondence. Then there’s the issue of the dreaded “Your message exceeds XXXX characters” error message. When did someone’s opinion become relegated to a set limit of letters, numbers, and punctuation, my friends?

At any rate, I should move on to the point of my web form submission, as I’m sure you’ll agree by this point. I write to you today to express my general dissatisfaction with the state of Subway as it stands today.

At the top of the list: the inclusion of the seafood sub on your menu. This has plagued me for years. I have a severe shellfish allergy, and will go into anaphylactic shock if any food that I ingest were to come into contact with crab, lobster, shrimp, oyster, etc., or even the same food prep area. I have seen more than a few Subway employees who aren’t exactly sanitary in their sandwich artistry, flinging microscopic bits of crab (or imitation crab) meat all over the adjacent meats, cheeses, vegetables, and cutting board area. The last time I had this discussion with a slovenly employee at the Subway in the Kuhn’s Plaza on Banksville Road in Pittsburgh, PA… as I explained that my sandwich must not touch any shellfish or remnants of shellfish she touched the eternally-damned-to-the-wrong-function ice cream scoop that had been sitting in the red and white pile of mushy death and swung it all around spewing certain doom to the immediate food prep area and all the while exclaiming something to the effect of “Well, that’s OK, no one ever orders this stuff anyway.” I just stared blankly in disbelief as a reply. If she didn’t already know what her sandwich-baggied hands had just touched and distributed the contaminant that I had previously noted was a toxin to my system, then there was no way I was going to be able to impart this wisdom to her. I found myself having to exit on that occasion, to never return to that location.

Are sandwich artists trained in the ways of sanitary work stations, cross contamination, allergens, and general good hygiene? One would hope, but the question has been raised.

How can I complain about Subway if I never eat there, you ask?

— Message 1 of 2 — To be continued

Hilariously enough, their webform did only allow 3000 characters, so I had to split the message into two parts…

— Message 2 of 2 — Continued from previous message

I did discover that I could get my Subway fix due to the limited-menu Subway located inside the WAL-MART in Heidelberg, PA. After all, as I’m sure you know… the smell of your bread baking is intoxicating. Sadly my friends, that is where the romance ends. I used to applaud the meatball sub from Subway, and held it as the standard to which all meatball subs were to be measured. This was once upon a time when the bread was doughy, the triangle was removed from the top, and replaced… keeping the meatballs secure in a blanket of cheese to ensure safe delivery to my digestive system. I know, this was a lifetime ago, but it still burns, amigos. It still burns. (I even remember the waffle fries that went through their own tiny toaster oven which have sadly gone the way of the Dodo.)

Have you seen the Left-Handed Cartoon about Subway, cheese tessellation, and soul-crushing disappointment? A friend of mine posted the humorous drawing on a message board a while ago… and sadly it rings true of the current state of Subway. (It’s located at http://www.lefthandedtoons.com/77/ for your reference if needed.)

Lastly, I find the current crop of five-dollar foot long commercials to be among the most annoying in the world… especially the one with Jared and the football players. What advertising company actually took money for that? Hopefully it was an in house idea. If not, then you were played (as they say in the streets).

As noted in my opening paragraph, I understand that is customary to include a trite reply and coupons in apology for dissatisfaction. If so inclined… please make sure they’re for Jersey Mike’s, Quiznos, or Sheetz. (FYI, Sheetz touts a far superior foot-long sub for only $4… This reminds me of when you guys started toasting subs after Quiznos moved to town.) I would include W.G. Grinder’s, but they recently started serving a crab-cake sub, so they’re also on ‘the list’. Perhaps a Jimmy John’s coupon would work? They’re fairly new to the Pittsburgh area, and I’ve yet to go to one… I wouldn’t mind trying them out! Jersey Mike’s is by far my favorite though. They’re not the cheapest, but worth the price in quality! Being a national chain, you may not be familiar with local Pittsburgh area heavyweights Carhops or Uncle Sam’s. They would be sandwich makers to emulate!

If you’re not comfortable providing a coupon to a direct competitor, I understand completely. I would also appreciate any discounts from Qdoba, Chipotle, or the Pita Pit.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to your personally tailored reply, and perhaps a continuing dialog on Subway’s sandwich artists, advertising, and overall quality of the name brand.

Best Regards,
-Eric AiXeLsyD
W(aL)D

I hope the emails go to the same person, and aren’t split across some you-take-this-one,-I’ll-get-the-next-one kind of automated system.

Thanks again to Dave for the editing and re-arranging help, the chaos needs reigned in every once in a while.

Can’t wait to see if we get a reply to this one!