Archive for May, 2008

The Mayfair Triplex

I had planned to just take it easy and spend the long Memorial Day weekend bumming around with Cassie when she suddenly had to head out of town unexpectedly, taking her car with her. I was now stranded in my house alone as all of my roommates were either traveling or camping for the weekend. What was I going to do with only my stack of video games; multiple guitars; NBA playoffs basketball on tv; and nearby, giant, metropolis, New York City to keep me entertained?

I improvised and wandered around my neighborhood!

Walking 10 blocks south of my house I ran into a quaint (lo, I hate the word), rundown theater that played new movies for $5 called The Mayfair Triplex (or “Mayfai Trip” as it’s known on the front marquee). After a little research on the interweb, I discovered the Mayfair Triplex is a pre-1950’s theater that was once one giant screen but has since been remodeled into three screens. I’ve been in two of the rooms and they both are strangely shaped, nothing resembling any of the theaters I’ve been in before (one of theme even had a couple old movie organs … though I doubt they were used here). There’s even the remains of the original balcony above one of the rooms. It all comes together to make a really unique viewing atmosphere. Please don’t confuse the word unique with good, as the sound was terrible and the picture quality wasn’t great, either.

Well, since I had 48+ solid hours to kill, the location was so close, and I loved the experience so much, I actually ended up seeing two movies at the Mayfair Triplex about which I will now review!!!!!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – much like Spider-Man 3, this movie is really a tale of two halves. The first half is good (not great) with Chinflap Jones hitting all the regular Indy formula points: Paramount logo merging into “mountain,” mini-serial opening, Indy interacts with important historical event of the time, shot of Indy’s college, humorous gags in the middle of action sequences, Indy gets into archeology traps, etc. And then, all of a sudden, around the halfway point, the movie turns into a terrible version of The Incredibles. Indy is a regular guy – sure he can fight well, he’s lucky and he’s smart – but he can get hurt. He’s surely not a superhero and yet that’s what the second half seemed like – the superhero Family Jones summer vacation. Ugh. And don’t get me started about the aliens … ladies and gentlemen, it will soon come out that that lame aspect was George Lucas‘ idea and not Spielberg‘s.
Verdict: 2 out of 5 Anthony Stets figurines.

Iron Man – whereas I kept waiting for Indiana Jones to get good again after the half way mark, during Iron Man I was anticipating the moment it would get lame or too fanboy-ish. I was still waiting when the credits started rolling. Wow … I wasn’t really overwhelmed by this moive: it’s too superhero-by-the-numbers to be great and too solid to be terrible. I guess Iron Man lands in the barren category that is “actually good, but ultimately throwaway movie.” Other movies in this group: Blade and anything from Jean-Claude Van Damme‘s early career. I’d go into more details about the movie but who cares? It has robotic suits of death armor, taut but concise action sequences, and Robert Downey Jr. sipping cocktails. What more need you know?
Verdict: 3 out of 5 Dirk Nowitzki jersies

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Master Planner

Congratulations to the most famous and largest nerd on the East coast as Cassie got her master’s degree in sociology from Columbia last week.

Cassie’s sister, Tori (Story), and I took off the first half of work Wednesday and made the trek up to Columbia for the event. The last time I had been there was back in 2001 when I visited Bill “The Thrill” Bert (just a week before they started filming Spider-Man there 🙁 ) so it was cool to see it again. That trip was only my second stay in New York and I was still overwhelmed by the whole city – the college seemed so crazy and closed in. Now, it was filled with people but felt so open … being comfortable in an environment really changes one’s perspective.

But where was I going with this, again? Oh, yeah: graduation. Cassie separated from us right when we got there and Tori and I spent the better part of half an hour trying to find seats. We failed miserably and eventually just sat on a bench outside of the event near the school of journalism building. About an hour into the looooong awards presentations, some seats opened up and I got to sit in the blazing sun, getting burned! Finally, Cassie’s school was called (it was the absolute last thing in the entire ceremony) and the entire mob shuffled back out into the streets to the sounds of Frank Sinatra‘s “Theme from New York, New York.”

It only took a year for her to wrap this latest step in her school career up, but I can’t believe she still managed to do it. I for one was more than happy to finally get my bachelor’s degree (or “plan b” as I like to call it) out of the way and be done with school for quite a while. She now moves on to her plans to set up a blog at casshole.com (note: I honestly have no idea what the hell that link will go to) and wed her long-time boyfriend, Jesse L. Martin – of Law & Order and Rent fame.

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  • Sunday, May 25th, 2008 at 12:11 | #1

    Unfortunately, casshole.com is already owned by someone named Chelsey Marshall who lives in Canada. She hasn’t set up the site though so I bet offers would be entertained!

    Congrats Cassie!

  • Zepmoon
    Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 at 09:29 | #2

    Please pass my congratulations on to Cassie. This is a major milestone from a major university. Note: Stanus’ grandfather graduated from Columbia with a Masters Degree in 1948.

    Great minds think alike.

Guitarted

My Les Paul turned 30 this year and, unfortunately, is showing its age in a certain spot: the glue. The adhesive keeping the washers attached to the tuning pegs is beginning to fade. This causes the washers to bounce around as I play, hitting the strings and causing so much more stress on them than the regular wear and tear of performing. My strings become brittle fast and break much quicker than normal and the washers hitting the strings causes secondary noises that I’m not fond of. The solution is a simple process of replacing the washers and re-gluing them, but it would take the guitar a few days or so to recover in a shop. What would I do without a guitar for a week??!?!?!

Obvious answer: buy another guitar! I realized that I would need a second guitar eventually (what if I break a string on stage during a gig?), so I actually started to give some credibility to this option about two weeks ago. When I started to fantasize about finally having a real Stratocaster (I’ve been seriously thinking about getting one since about summer of 1998), I couldn’t stop myself from finding one on eBay and bidding!

I’ve had incredible musical purchase delivery stories (my Vetta II amp showed up in 4 days, and my Black Beatle bass was waiting outside my door within a week), but this one actually didn’t go so hot. UPS decided I lived at 24 78th Street rather than 24 76th Street and when they realized Stan Syckes didn’t live there they took it back to their warehouse in Secaucus (which I was told by the UPS hotline would be open until 7pm). I rushed over there after work and just made it before that witching hour only to find out that this warehouse actually closes at 6pm everyday. Thanks for the incorrect information, UPS hotline!

Long story short, I left a few hours early from work last Friday and made it in time to pick up the new guitar (though I was forced to watch The Tyra Banks Show while waiting in line). That would probably conclude a normal person’s blog, but this one will be forced to continue. In fact, to keep with a theme I explored a year ago with my historical amp blog, here’s the rundown on all of my guitars I’ve ever owned.

1. Beginner’s Axe
Model: Charvel Stratocaster Wannabe (Black)
Date Acquired: 12/25/1995
Method of Acquisition: Christmas gift
Date Divested: Early 1998
Method of Divestment: Gave it back to my Dad when he moved; still in his possession (with some seriously funky-old strings on it)
Time in Use: ~2 years

Though I was always a fan of music, I didn’t get into popular music until relatively late (8th grade). I’m not sure what exactly it was as I slowly acclimated myself to the modern musical landscape, but I started to gravitate towards the guitar. Ryan Schneider, a friend of both Steve’s and mine, owned a Fender Stratocaster and must have let us jam on it at some point as we demanded and, luckily, received one for Christmas of 1995.

This thing really saw a lot of use and abuse as Steve and I fought over it every minute outside of school. I played it in my first band and at my first gig (still weird to think I had to essentially get permission to use it during band practices). Hell, this thing even survived a short-circuiting mishap when one of its guitar strings brushed up against my computer monitor immediately blowing out both monitor and amp (the monitor survived; the amp was less fortunate). I think I may have officially retired that story as I’ve told it way too many times in this blog.

The Charvel didn’t have a great sound as tolerating damage was the prime directive in its build. I don’t remember the action being all that great and there was absolutely no sustain at all. Still, whenever I’m pulled under a riptide of nostalgic waves, I’ll pick it up at my dad’s place where it still (barely) lives. And then I immediately put it back down after remembering how poorly it plays!

2. The Red Alien
Model: Epiphone Les Paul Standard (Heritage Cherry Sunburst)
Date Acquired: Early 1998
Method of Acquisition: Purchased (with my own money!) at Springfield Mars Music shop
Date Divested: None; I still have it but haven’t played it in years
Method of Divestment: N/A
Time in Use: ~7.5 years

After a couple of years with my beginner’s instrument, I realized playing the guitar wasn’t a fad and that I wanted to upgrade to an intermediate-level ax. There was a (now defunct) music store called Mars just a couple of miles away from my high school that my friends and I would haunt constantly. After playing all of the display guitars there for years, I whittled down the selection to one special model and saved up the $500 or so (an immense amount of money to me) to make it mine: an Epiphone Les Paul Standard!

Dubbed The Red Alien after an illustrated guitar strap I bought with the guitar (you can see it in the picture), my second guitar served me well through my much-heralded Bras phase. Bras was a band I started with high school friends Richard “Detective Kimble” Killiam (vocals, rhythm guitar, incessant discussion about Magic: The Gathering) and Bill “William” Bert (bass, 40 oz bottles of malt liquor). This was the guitar that accompanied me to college where I started a relationship with digital recording (before that it was all computer notated MIDI) and on which I penned the vast majority of songs I’ve written in my brief songwriting career.

The sound was warmer and more sustained than the Charvel. The neck was also a little wider so chords were harder to play but leads easier. As all Les Pauls, it was extremely bottom-heavy and just generally weighed more than my first guitar; an anchoring feeling which I grew extremely accustomed to. Unfortunately, after 5 years, I began to tire of The Red Alien’s intermediate sound and the at-first cool Heritage Cherry Burst began to look as gay as the color sounded. Worse, after almost a decade of my terrible custodianship, The Red Alien eventually just broke down. It required so many re-soldering jobs that I just left the back covering off, allowing me to manually maintain the wires from being ripped apart. Also, by the end I was down to just 2 out of the original 6 tuning pegs in working order from so many drops and spills. Even in its dilapidated state, however, The Red Alien heroically remained my #1 (and, really, my only) guitar for quite a bit longer than it probably should have.

3. Vintage Hotness
Model: 1979 Gibson Les Paul Standard (Tobacco Sunburst)
Date Acquired: 6/2/2005
Method of Acquisition: eBay
Date Divested: N/A; Still using it
Method of Divestment: N/A
Time in Use: 3 years and counting!

While I purchased my acoustic guitar online, I also made it a point to scour eBay for vintage Gibson Les Pauls. I knew I had discovered “my” type of guitar in The Red Alien, but I needed upgraded playability and craftsmanship in a professional build and I craved an authentic, vintage tone. I believe it was only a week or two after buying the acoustic (though I couldn’t track down that exact date) that I found and won an auction for this beauty! This still-unnamed, official replacement for The Red Alien turned out to have belonged to a man who had recently died. His daughter had discovered it in a closet where it had remained untouched for years.

I fantasized that a cloud of dust would fly out of the case as I opened it but when it arrived I was happily surprised to find the guitar was in amazing condition! Sure, there were a lot of scratches on the back but the front was immaculate. It smelled of pickles for the first month (maybe there were pickles in the closet? I’ve never spent much time pondering that peculiarity) and I ceremoniously jammed on the thing with the decade-old strings that were still on the guitar as a tribute to its previous owner (though they turned my hands black with all of its collected dust and grime).

The sound of the guitar is definitely a step up from The Red Alien, but the biggest upgrade is the playability. Where I used to be able to bend strings a whole step on my old guitar, I can go a full two whole steps here. And I’ve never played a guitar with longer sustain than this guy. I’ve been reading a lot of Daredevil recently, and I’m thinking about naming this guitar “Daredevil” or “Murdock.” Both he and I have red hair and I sure feel like I have some sort of crazy radar sense while playing through songs on this thing … it just seems appropriate (also I’m a superhero). Only time will tell if this name will stick (and, heaven help us, if another Dohblog drops!).

4. Unplugged
Model: Taylor 714-CE (Natural)
Date Acquired: 5/2005 6/12/2005
Method of Acquisition: eBay/obsession!
Date Divested: N/A; Still using it
Method of Divestment: N/A
Time in Use: 3 years and counting!

All through college, I would “borrow” Steve’s Sigma DM-4 acoustic guitar. Playing acoustic songs on a clean electric grew stale after a while and jamming on his real acoustic inspired a easier, more open-sounding method of songwriting. I also discovered a great way of doubling acoustic parts to make fuller, but not competing, rhythm tracks in recordings.

So, naturally when I moved back home after graduating and Steve continued on with his studies, I suddenly found myself in a world without this luxury to which I had become accustomed. This was something I couldn’t stand so as soon as I had enough money I went to the Fairfax Guitar Center and spent several hours trying every single one of their guitars in their acoustic department. The last man standing was the Taylor 714-CE, an acoustic-electric guitar with a bright but muted sound. Chords shimmered on it and single notes shot out like laser beams (sidenote: though I picked out the guitar at Guitar Center, I went home and bought it on the cheap from eBay).

UPDATE: Brandon, my old roommate, reminded me today that he actually bought this Taylor from eBay for me as I didn’t have a credit card. Looking at his records he got it on 6/12/2005, which would actually place the purchase of the acoustic after getting the 1978 Les Paul. So, I’ve switched some things around between these two entries.

5. The Black Beatle
Model: Jay Turser JTB-2B/GBK (Black)
Date Acquired: 11/6/2005
Method of Acquisition: eBay
Date Divested: N/A; Still using it
Method of Divestment: N/A
Time in Use: 2.5 years and counting, Mr. Bond!

Much like my acoustic guitar purchase, I bought this bass based on one of Steve’s that I would borrow while at college. A short-scaled sized instrument (making it easier to play for guitarists), the JTB-2B is modeled after Paul McCartney’s famous Höfner violin bass and produces a wimpy, semi-acoustic, sharp sound when played. However, when recorded directly using line-in, the bass has the best, most professional sound I’ve ever heard! Hell, I won the “Best Bass” award in my Pro Tools class thanks to one of these babies!

I just had to own the instrument that made the bottoms of my songs sound so big and fat (let’s not let our minds wander too much on that statement), so I ordered this only a few months after moving into the Pink Sock. It’s the first, only, and quite possibly the last bass I’ve ever owned.

6. “Schneider” Nostalgia
Model: 1995 Fender Stratocaster (Sunburst)
Date Acquired: 5/16/2008
Method of Acquisition: As usual, eBay
Date Divested: ???
Method of Divestment: Went to the highest bid on Dohblog!
Time in Use: 3 days thus far!

As I already mentioned, I was in “need” of a new guitar and, after thinking for a long time, I arrived at the perfect choice. My 1995 Fender Stratocaster is not only a great sounding and playing guitar, but it also brings me back full circle to my initial guitar playing days: I started to play in 1995 on a Fender Strat-clone and since part of the initial spark to play was facilitated by him I have decided to name the new guitar “Schneider.”

I’ve gotten so used to Les Pauls that when I first strapped on this guitar it felt like nothing – the weight difference was that great! Then, when I started to jam to some old favorites, I kept hitting my hand against all the Stratocaster knobs at the bottom of the guitar. I don’t know how players can really rock out so much on this model and not affect their sounds and volumes accidentally, but I guess it just takes as much practice as getting used to a Les Paul’s weight. I immediately fell in love with the whammy bar again (an attachment that is ignored on Les Pauls) and got back into the crunchy, brightness that emanates.

However, it wasn’t until the second practice session that I started to really get excited about the guitar. The sound and playing started to jog ancient memories of why I picked up guitars in the first place. I started to feel the same inspiration I felt when learning one of my favorite songs for the first time or when I mastered a new chord. Having played consistently for some time now I was already confident in my skills, but now that my inspiration levels are starting to match that level, I’m really looking forward to starting back into a band situation. Here we go!

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Comments:
  • Monday, May 26th, 2008 at 12:39 | #1

    $500 as an incredible amount of money. it’s so true. When you’re in high school it’s like, wow.. I cannot afford that. Now I fantasize about buying a new guitar and price is no option, but i have to contend with the fact that I don’t play my electrics nearly enough to justify an upgrade. A classical guitar, then? I enjoyed your wit as it pertained to your various music instruments.

  • Zepmoon
    Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 at 09:25 | #2

    1. Just so everyone can sleep easy, the Beginner’s Axe is enshrined in the Man Cave until negotiations begin with the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.

    2. Question, since we all know that “he who dies with the most toys wins”, who is winning the guitar toy contest – Stanus or Stever?

Band Down

Well, here’s one of those promised stanus.butt shockers: as of yesterday I have officially quit my band.

There were several reasons that led me to realize this current musical situation just wasn’t for me. I naturally feel like I should be quiet and keep my big mouth shut: there’s no real good about coming out with my reasoning – I think it’d be best if we all just move on. However, I feel a greater loyalty to this blog and will force myself to be a little more vocal and honest than I think is probably beneficial for you, dear reader!

First, I felt stifled from making musical suggestions at times due to a micromanaging type style of a member. This was a situation that I was just as guilty as he was for allowing to occur, but I knew if we were going to recover, he had to know how it was destructive. After discussing this problem with him I wasn’t completely sure he heard everything I was saying, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. We took a week off as the other band members had sit down discussions with him as well, and this stretch gave me a lot of time to reflect.

I realized that I was also unsatisfied with the music, as well. When we played songs they would start to all gravitate towards the same area – 120-130 bpm, hard rock, and either heavy riff- or heavy chord-oriented (and build on 4!). When I first heard their songs I immediately liked their heavy, dark style but I was beginning to be worried when I couldn’t bring them out of that ever.

Finally, I felt like a hired gun for much of the experience which was exactly what I didn’t want in a band. We were working on 9 songs … 1 of which was mine. The previous 8 were ones the other three members had worked together on before I joined. I was always under the impression we were going to move on quickly from these to work on a sound that resulted from all 4 of us, but four months in, we were still on those first 9.

These guys were great guys and a lot of fun to hang out with. I’ll be honest, there were some musical issues that I don’t feel I need to mention at all here, but for the most part they were great to jam with for our four or so months. However, I became so much more excited about starting a new band closer to my style than I was about going to practice towards the end with my old band and that sealed it’s doom. I wish them all luck in the future and now turn towards making some more music, myself.

And … wouldn’t you know it … there’s quite a few news items in that category! But I shall wait for another post to go into that! Patience, my readers!

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  • Thursday, May 15th, 2008 at 00:32 | #1

    Woah! I thought you were gnona end up getting into Avenged Sevenfold! I await the next news item with baited breath; I hope it’s an acoustic album (seriously!)

    Oh and I want in on the Doh Drop!!

  • Thursday, May 15th, 2008 at 13:32 | #2

    What’s upcoming on your Band Calendar section?

Hard-hitting Journalism

As promised in a previous blog, I wanted to announce the creation of a new project by El Stever and I.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bid thee welcome to The Doh Drop! If you are a fan of Toine (and who isn’t) and just aren’t getting your Doh-fix at Dohblog then this is the site for you! Here you can find up-to-the-minute, late-breaking news, rumors, and gossip concerning everyone’s favorite celebrity, discussions with other fans, as well as trips back into the Dohblog past with the weekly Dohblog review. It’s all good, clean fun and if you wish to actually partake in any of it you’ll have to let me know personally, as the site is password enforced to protect the innocent!

Be prepared as there are some heavy-hitting stanus.butt news reports coming down the pipe: some interesting, some exciting, and some just plain shocking!

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  • Zepmoon
    Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 18:34 | #1

    Z-News begs for permision to enter The Doh Drop.

Give Me a Break

So Baller ‘Bama has now distanced himself from “controversial” Reverend Jeremiah Wright … this isn’t breaking news. But, let’s be honest with ourselves. This is a knee-jerk reaction to public criticism over things Wright has said in the past. It’s no mere coincidence that Obama has taken a hard-line stance against the Reverend in just the past few days.

But I have to say … what is the fucking controversy, people? Is questioning the complicity of his country’s foreign policy really so oft-putting to “mainstream” America? Ok, I’ll grant you his conspiracy theory of HIV being created to kill black people is out there. But, take a second … is that really any crazier than fervently believing in an invisible, almighty cloud person that is super-concerned with one species of animal on a planet? In my opinion, this guy has been saying crazy shit all his life. Hell, he’s been getting paid to do it for three decades!

So, as far as all the sound bytes of Wright criss-crossing the internet superhighway in a YouTube sports car: These rants that are probably 5% of his Sunday service are pretty much at the same level of craziness as the fairy tales that take up the other 95% of his speaking time.

Controversial? All of this seems rather (insanely) consistent to me.

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  • Tuesday, May 6th, 2008 at 16:33 | #1

    Favorite Books: Anything written by Dean Koontz

  • Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 at 06:30 | #2

    lolz @ ‘almighty cloud person’! That guy sounds pretty cool!