Monday, February 28, 2011

Hollywood, life lessons and the “knot” in my shoulder

Take a look at some work from an up and coming actor, Joseph Mancuso. He's a good friend and he's also a real chop buster:

So, my shoulder’s been acting up. Not in the sense that YOUR shoulder may act up mind you. See, my left shoulder did have a knot in it but MY left shoulder also starred in a major motion picture movie scene with our pal, Mel Gibson –or “Mel” as I call him. It’s a long story but one you should know. Myself and some friends were cast as extras in a scene with Mel himself a couple years ago at Tully’s in Northampton for his movie, Edge Of Darkness. This was an exciting day and was quite an experience, there was one problem though. My shoulder was sitting right next to Mel himself and the director was instantly taken with him (my shoulder). I mean he does hang a nice shirt off himself, if I do say so myself and is about a charismatic as they come but still…So, my shoulder ended up getting all the screen time and hung out with Mel all day instead of myself. This led to my shoulder getting work in European films, commercials and music videos which really launched his acting career. Before I continue, I must tell you that he goes by the stage name of “Alex Blaze” and I know he reads this blog and I’m sure will come up in conversation…So, I would appreciate you humoring him or else I get to wake up with a sweet knot in my shoulder.

Anyway, people started talking about his performance in Edge Of Darkness and next thing I know it’s all parties, out till 5:00 every morning…work suffering, not eating, fast women –for my shoulder anyway, I basically drove. It was cool at first but I soon realized that he only cares about himself and livin’ the Rawk –n- Roll lifestyle as he refers to it. Anyway, his fame didn’t last long because his scene with Mel didn't make it into the movie combined with the fact that people realized he is very limited in his acting and screen presence. Recently, he has done some random, low paying work but mostly has just gotten bitter as of late. Basically acts like he can tell the right arm what to do –I think that’s actually true at times-he twists up when he’s in a bad mood and generally is a narcissistic ass. Alex is just getting to be a problem… shit. I was “going to sleep” two nights ago and that asshole tried to join in!!! Ahem, you know what I meant, me going to sleep …like resting…that’s what I meant…anyway, any advice on how to deal with this is appreciated.

Now readers, you know that good ole ZFJ likes to curl up with a good movie from time to time and, I got a chance to do so this weekend. And, as my “friend” Christopher “M”. Deprey would say: “…it’s the weekend, we all know you have nothing better to do.” Wrong Chris. I derived pleasure from watching a movie that really struck a chord in me. A movie that made me want to strive to be my best. That made me excited, made me cry and, even made me laugh. A “complete” movie named, The Marine. Featuring John Cena.

The plot is simple but extremely intricate: Cena (aka, John Triton) is a Marine that has been discharged dishonorably- all he wants to be is a Marine and therefore has trouble adjusting back home in regular life. He and his wife seem to have a great relationship. They talk about how all he wants to do is be a Marine. Some bad guys take his wife hostage randomly and then he chases them down, killing or whipping their asses and he ends up rescuing his wife.

ACT 1: Cena and the wife get the movie started with a “bang” (heh heh). Cena has his shirt off. He gets a job as a security guard. Then, there’s scene where the slick talkin’, joke crackin’, trigger happy diamond thieves steal a ton of diamonds and beat up/shoot a couple employees –one of whom was in on the job with them!!! Cold Blooded!! Then the main bad guy gives a longwinded, extra slick speech to the employees and customers on the floor and then they take off, shooting cops and blowing up cars in the process. Now, back to Cena. He’s at his first day on the job as a security guard. He meets what appears to be a new best friend while on their first work shift together. Eventually they get into a spirited brawl with a two-bit-would-be trouble maker named “The Drake”. They end up putting him and his cronies through a fucking window! Yeah!! He gets fired. They go to the bar. His best friend (the security guard he just met) gives him deep insightful advice on life and what he should do. It hits home with Cena and also gives him an opportunity to tell his new friend of his prowess in hand to hand combat, military tactics, demolitions and how all he wants to do is be a Marine. His friend looks at a the waitress’ ass as she walks by. They smile. Cena’s “best friend” drops him off at home with an endearing fist pump and reassuring parting words. This pivotal character is never seen again in the entire movie. Cena and his wife decide to take off on a romantic get away. While stopping to fuel the SUV they encounter the bad guys who are fleeing from the heist and are also getting petrol. (I have to say, again, how slapstick funny these bad guys are through the whole film while comfortable music plays in the background during their banter, simply brilliant!) Then, a cop pulls up to get fuel and the shit hits the fan. The Villians shoot one cop and the other one too –but he lives. Cena ends up diving out of an exploding gas station. His wife is taken hostage. At this point, I am edge of seat material.

ACT II: Cena jumps in the abandoned cop car and gives chase. During the nasty high speed chase, the car ends up taking hundreds of rounds of bullets and still drives perfectly. Nasty. Eventually the car flips off a cliff with the bad guys riddling it with still more bullets until it explodes. Cena leaps from the exploding car into the water below. Bad guys think he’s dead. I didn’t…they trek through the swamp to avoid cops and hide. Cena gives chase. Meets a cop (new character), the cop seems to know him for some reason, not supported by any dialogue at any point of the movie, and tells him to give up, at first. But Cena retorts. The cop seems to instantly trust him and lets him go. I would too. Cena gets snagged in a trap owned by some drug runners. They take him to their shack. The end result is: both of the drug runners get their asses get whipped. The shack catches on fire and Cena escapes the exploding building by running out of it. Cena drives up to an abandoned restaurant (it’s normal to have a restaurant located somewhere in a swamp?) and catches up with the bad guys. There is no sign of water close to this location from what the viewer can see. He whips two of the henchmen’s asses then goes to confront to two main villains. He does so. Suddenly the cop who we just heard about reappears!!! In yet another plot twist, we find out that the cop is in on the heist too! YES. New cop gets shot by main villain. The restaurant gets set on fire. Cena escapes the exploding building by flying out of the inferno and diving into –the water??? Cena catches up with the main villain who has his wife hostage in the cab of an 18 wheeler that he recently commandeered. Cena runs and jumps on the moving vehicle. Throws out the other main villain (the girl) and tries to open the locked door. The villain runs the truck through two small buildings with Cena clutching the door handle on the side of the truck. Cena is still holding on to the truck –unscathed. He does fall off the truck soon and groggily looks up as it slams into a stack of containers that explode. The truck is now ablaze and the bad guy jumps out. The truck hits four, count em’, four more piles of exploding containers as Cena chases it. The truck nose-dives into to the water in the back of the building and then, the building begins to explode. The main villain tries to kill Cena with: punches, kicks, metal pipes, a sledge hammer and a chainsaw. Nope! Cena whips HIS ass and leaps from the exploding building into the water. He gets to the submerged truck and breaks a metal bar that his wife is handcuffed to, with his hands. Gives her CPR...Love scene-Interrupted!!!- The villian takes one more shot at Cena with a chain around his neck but the attempt is reversed with ease by Cena and The villian is anti-climactically dispensed with!


So don’t tell me I’ve done nothing this weekend because, I learned to try against all odds. I learned to never give in. I learned to hit the gym way more. I learned that it is good to jump into water when escaping a burning/exploding car or building. I learned about betrayal, unconditional love and various ways that buildings get set on fire. While my friends choose to watch movies with excessive talking that goes nowhere and plots that nobody can follow, I got all these realizations through a din of explosions, guns, death, ass whippings…and, I’m a better person for it. Thanks John.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Green Vibrance, Rick Astley & A-guy-who-is-of-a-reputedly-frugal-ethnic-group.

People may think I’m crazy but I’m simply using this blog as a forum to expose the fact that it’s all of you who are crazy. Shit, now I’ve got friends of mine coming up with skits of me being main characters in classic movies and posting this drivel all over my blessed Facebook page –not normal behaviour. Being among a precious few of the sane and righteous members of society as well as a self taught expert on identifying psychotic behaviour and tendencies, it is my mission to enlighten the masses about the real danger that exists in our society. Those who we think are “normal”, non-paranoid and have wholesome thoughts but are actually lying in wait for moments when they can alter our lives with their psychosis. Such as my roommate Matt.

To most people, Matt is a nice guy, a pleasant fellow, an active musician, someone who goes with the flow and someone who buys food that I like to eat. Recently he purchased a bottle of Green Vibrance, which is a very healthy supplement that I regularly use in my morning power shake, and he said I could use a little bit of it if I needed to before I replaced my bottle. Sounds fair enough? One roommate helps out the other roommate -the team concept. Of course, timing is everything and I had just run out of my supply so, I used some of his supply. Then I used a little more, then a little more…and eventually got addicted to using it every day. What a pleasure to not have to trek to the store, reach in my pocket for money and lug the bottle all the way home! Any sane person can see the benefit of this! With my daily use, I did notice that there was sharpie lines drawn on the bottle that would line up when it was closed tightly as well as clear tape which needed to be set back in it’s place when closed and I thought to myself, “That clever J*w! Who does he think he is trying to monitor my usage of his Green Vibrance with these primitive methods??? Does he think he’s slick?? Is he bold enough to think he even has a chance to discover just how much of this I am using???” Ha-HA…fool! I simply lined the sharpie marks up, replaced the tape and continued on with my clever, money saving plan. One day Matt approached me indignantly with, “Hey bro. Are you using my Green Vibrance???” I was like, “Just once or twice man, calm down.” Then, Matt revealed his true psychotic self and divulged that the Sharpie marks and tape were actually decoys and that he had been weighing the bottle daily with a digital scale before he used it and was also recording the “pre-use-weight” on a notepad as the weight decreased each day!!! My jaw hit the ground as I realized I was not only living with a very “frugal” person but, a psychotic person as well. I fessed up to some usage and thought about having surveillance equipment and Private Investigators hired to watch him from that point. I feared for my life at times in light of this new information about his capacity for insanity.

As if that wasn’t enough. Matt decided one day that he was going to sing “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley on his way to the shower wearing only a towel (as referenced in the UPDATED: CBR-STR Ranking Blog). The first time I witnessed this, it was humorous and I threw up in my mouth a little. Within a short period of time, I realized that this wasn’t some playful gag and the vision began to burn and distort my thoughts and dreams. I soon realized that he was trying to destroy my mind and soul with this repeated image and make me pay for the Green Vibrance usage. One time I got home and heard the musical intro being hummed from within the confines of the bathroom because he heard the door open!! He couldn’t even miss one time of engraining that song in my head due to his mission to turn me into a lunatic like he is. I am now considering seeking professional help because I cringe whenever I hear these words in any combination: “Never, Gonna, Give, You, Up, Never, Gonna, Let, You, Down…”

So readers, your ole pal ZFJ isn’t the one with the lunacy issues as you can plainly see. I am here, rising like a mountain above the trees of insanity and publically defending those who among us who are sane yet misrepresented by all of those who are simply “out to get us”. If I can find any of you that is…


Thursday, February 24, 2011

If you diss ZFJ, you diss yourself.

Had a power meeting with my administrative team last night about some key topics such as music, blog content and mostly, where the hell is Billdo??? After him ranking rather high on the Top Ten CBR-STR Rankings we thought he would be more active in his paltry attempts at humiliating me. One trusted insider has reported that he’s “saving up” for some real big time chop busting in the near future. I really worried…”oh no”. Thing is, Billdo, as a trash-talking-athlete is as good as it gets. He’s not usually too clever with his efforts but is very mean and effective in most cases. For example: “One time at rehearsal I dubbed myself as ‘Sugarfoot’. Bill slurred out “More like Saltfoot” from behind the drum set. Just one example of his “brilliant” shit talking abilities. Still, some of his insults and physical attacks have left me scarred for life (reference Double leg dropkick in “UPDATED: CBR-STR Rankings post). As a result, I’ve been training for at least two years to defeat him in the only thing he really cares about: Madden Football.

…and, I hope he remembers that I am a natural athlete. I’ve been playing Madden on my iphone (which is probably more difficult than Xbox or Playstation, in case you people don’t realize this) in training for the moment where I can take it all away from him. When I can leave him with mental and spritual scars like he has done to me. I know I am ready after what I accomplished the other day.

Using the Green Bay Packers in “season” mode, I played against the vaunted Minnesota Vikings Football club on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field (it was actually snowing in the game!!). The final score was Green Bay – 116 and Minnesota - 38. Go ahead, read that again. That’s right Bill, 116-38. Comin’ your way buddy. The game started neck and neck with Minnesota scoring first on 3 straight Brett Favre completions followed by a 40 yard TD run by Adrian Peterson. Peterson did not enjoy the rest of the match as he finished the game with a total of 52 yards rushing due to my overpowering defense. Minnesota’s run defense did a fair job of containing Ryan Grant and the running game and, heading into the second quarter the score was so close that I was actually sweating: 21-14 in favor of Green Bay. At this point my back was to the wall and I applied my exemplary coaching and game management skills –which Billdo unfortunately will soon find out about- and unleashed Aaron Rodgers upon the Vikings. The scales quickly tipped in my favor as Rodgers could not be stopped. His skill level when under the guidance of an electrifying play caller seems to be a deadly combination and he finished the game with a passer rating of 143.8. Passing for 1,164 yards, 13 TD’s against 4 INT’s and completed 50 of 68 pass attempts. Unreal. In the process my defensive play calling impressed even myself holding the hapless Vikes to a 6% 3rd down conversion rate and a 0% 4th down conversion rate. My Redzone TD average was 87%.

Readers, I know you’re asking yourself “why the fuck did this zero fun John just write this shit?” and/or “Why the fuck did I just read this shit??”. Sometimes…some certain people eventually are going to have to pay for their previous insolence. So, why did you read this? Why was it written?? Why does good ole' ZFJ take up valuable blog space with this outpouring??? Your answer is this: I have just publically challenged Billdo to a match of Madden 11’. Bill, it’s time to pay.

Note: Readers, I apologize that you will never reclaim the few minutes you’ve just spent reading this post. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

“The Natural Athlete”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Silent Revolution

As my friend Bobby Roast Beef,, once told me: "There is no shame in condiments bro -be strong!"

This past Saturday I stopped in to my favorite local watering hole, Tully O’Reillys in Northampton, to do a bit of drinking and unwinding. Quickly, I realized I was hungry so to remedy that I ordered some gourmet mozzarella sticks, with a side order of Coleslaw. The food comes out and I notice that a MAJOR component is missing: WHERE IS THE RANCH DRESSING??? I simply ask politely “Hey man, can I have a side of Ranch Dressing?” Then, the shit hit the fan. Rich, the bartender there, gets all loud with “Oh, here we go with the Ranch dressing!!…of course!!...etc”. (Rich was previously mentioned in the “UPDATED: CBR-STR Rankings blog”) This promoted Andy (resident Chef) to shake his head in disapproving disappointment while begrudgingly preparing the side of RANCH DRESSING for me. As this unfolds, two patrons hastily make their way out of the bar looking sideways at me with disgust and utter disbelief. I was made to feel like a sub-human and a dullard. What a scene for a guy who’s just trying to unwind and enjoy something that tastes really good!! The worst part? This isn’t the first time that “my kind” (i.e. those who love Ranch Dressing) have gotten jeered at, questioned, persecuted or otherwise attacked for just having Ranch Dressing with: Shepards Pie, Pizza, Mozzarella Sticks, Meatloaf, Turkey Stir Fry, Chicken Tenders or Filet Mignon. I've even been accused of owning a "Ranch Plant" in the past (by Colleen K -also mentioned in the UPDATED: CBR-STR Rankings blog)! This has been going on for many years…and I know I am not alone in my plight. But still, this begs the question of why? WHY??? Why do people go crazy when someone asks for a side of ranch dressing??? Why are we looked at differently than other humans?? Why are we laughed at and made to feel alienated and/or inferior?? Why do bartenders and cooks question us as to why we “need” that side of RANCH dressing then compare us (not in a favorable light mind you) to others who “annoy” the bartenders and cooks when they request RANCH dressing as a dipping sauce?? Why are we cast aside with pointed fingers when we’re eating, watching football and generally just trying to live??? Readers, unfortunately, I don’t have the answers…other than this; there are MANY of “us”.

The silent revolution begins now.

I encourage my people to stop cowering, second-guessing and feeling like we’re doing something “wrong” when ordering our dipping sauce choice. I encourage us all to be proud, stand and be counted, and to continue to order that buttery, on-the-sour-side-of-the-taste-spectrum, creamy and versatile dipping sauce known as RANCH DRESSING!!! Maybe, if we stand together and educate the citizens that seem to not understand our passion for RANCH, we can achieve the equal right to just be allowed to enjoy the taste of what we’re eating without the needless brow beating? Maybe if we stand fast to our commitment to RANCH as a dipping sauce and versatile cooking ingredient we will not have to endure countless hours of chop-busting and persecution for using it to dip everything in -or pour on top of Shepards Pie? If we stand tall, understand our self-righteousness and stand by our commitment we may just enlighten the rest of the world to how good things can be when eating gourmet bar food.

So citizen, next time you order your delicious bar food, stand tall with confidence, stick your chest out, and proclaim: “I WOULD LIKE A SIDE ORDER OF RANCH DRESSING PLEASE!!”


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

UPDATED: Top Ten CBR-SBR Rankings

As my friend and fellow Blogger, would say, "All calls will be answered in the order they were received."

Hello readers. In this blog you will frequently read about things I get my balls busted for and the people responsible for it. Things I like are scrutinized and turned into fun for other people. They create fun for themselves, out of “me”...And, I'm just trying to live over here. I get my balls broken for: My love of Coleslaw, my “control station”, Ranch dressing, my "weight" problem, French dressing, fantasy football, my former band, my current band, Ammo and even the fact that I lost 11 sports bets in a row over the weekend. Hard to do...I do appreciate these people in weird ways. Not hard to do.

I've been devising this ratings report for the last few years but the overall "Chop Bust Rating" or “CBR” will be a designated number between 1-100 and will be reflective of the last year and a half or so of ball busting, combined with the intensity of the shit talk & skit-making-up and divided by other numbers...then multiplied by still more numbers.

The "STR" -also known as the "Shit Talk Ratio" is an hourly over daily fraction such as “24/7” which represents the bulk amount of ball busting/shit-talking/chop busting that is done weekly. The Top Ten CBR-SBR Rakings will be updated periodically. Below are the current top ten rankings.

1) Christopher "Maurice" Deprey (aka San Fransisco Cocksucker, Iron Chris Deprey) Top Attributes: Good looking, creative, musician, lunatic.
Made The Top Ten because: He recently created a skit where I had Gene Simmons (KISS) face makeup on but was in normal clothes during normal situations in every day life. In the skit, the people interacting with me did not ever seem to notice my makeup. He managed to work with Rich Tardy to spread this to at least 20 mutual friends and in excess of 100 different skits before I even knew about it. He also hates my former band. And, there's so much more.
STR: 24/7
CBR: 91

2) Rich Tardy (aka Rich, Tardy)
Top attributes: Intelligent, band-mate, sells the sizzle, best amigo.
Made the Top Ten because: He is consistently the most productive person in either coming up with shit to bust on about my life both in my face and/or behind my back. He also enjoys jumping in/supplementing other shit talking initiatives. And again, so much more.
STR: 24/7
CBR: 87

3) Mick Hubis (aka Demetrios Kanavaros)
Top attributes: Intelligent, grammar, musician, very outspoken.
Made the list because: He just belted me with some blogging about how lame I am. Often created(s) laughter and good times at my expense. Hates my current band. Is still awesome.
STR: 19/6
CBR: 83

4) Hollywood G-Man (aka Mike Govoni)
Top Attributes: Can legally shoot me, musician, is on his own planet, Norm.
Made the Top Ten because: He throws Biblical Proverbs at me and has inspired dullards like Dan D to also throw proverbs at me in efforts to demean me. He also does not approve of my lifestyle or existence. Hates my former band. Hates my current band. Hates my future band.
STR: 20/7
CBR: 75

5) Binaural Chinchilla-Scranton (aka Chet Thunder, Brian O'Toole)
Top attributes: Imaginative, witty, musician, writer.
Made the Top Ten because: Although we don't know each too well, he has posted two blazingly funny and demeaning versions of 1) the mint hotel album and 2) the other night's show @ Maximum Capacity. Also conducts excellent and well spoken smack talk sessions from time to time. Hates my former band. Hates my current band. Hates my future band?
STR: 13/2
CBR: 75

6) Bill Nacewicz (aka Billdo, Douchebag)
Top Attributes: Great Drummer, Whiskey, Beer, Madden (EA Sports)
Made the Top Ten because: He drop kicked me (double leg) in the back after a recording session a few years ago, shot beer into my belly button at a rehearsal and made me endure his drum overplaying for years. Hates my former band. Reads Elf Books. Hated being in a band with someone who was once in my former band :) Will probably be in my future band.
STR: 12/4
CBR: 70

7) Rob Driscoll (aka Bobby D)
Top Attributes: Painfully good looking, hip, musician, artistic.
Made the Top Ten because: He is a strong administrative/behind the scenes player in Rich's anti-ZFJ efforts. He recently worked with accomplice/girlfriend Jenni Sussman to draw the ZFJ cartoon that supposedly looks like me. This was not meant as a compliment. Rob also enjoys running skits with Rich and other people right in my face. Hates my current band.
STR: 12/5
CBR: 69 :)

8) Matt Silberstein (aka MAtt)
Top Attributes: Facial hair, musician, music knowledge, room-mate.
Made the Top Ten because: He decided one day that it is somehow humorous to sing Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" en route to the shower. Wearing only a towel -thank the Gods for the towel. My eyes and my poor little son's eyes have both seen this horror repeatedly. He is regular contributor in chop busting. Also, Just asked him to pack this bowl and he goes “Oh yes sir! Right away sir.” In Jest about me writing this and having him run along to tend to that grunt work. Hates my former band.
STR: 15/4
CBR: 67

9) Colleen Knight (aka the Knight Owl)
Top attributes: Smart, witty, well spoken, works too much.
Made the Top Ten because: I realized that there were no girls on the list. Then I also realized how intensly she busted my chops with Rich about ranch/french dressing, eating too much, Ammo, and my life in general. She, being one of Rich's best friend, has had plenty of laughs at my expense.
STR: 10/1 *too busy/life is too good to focus enough for higher rating*
CBR: 55

10) Joseph Mancuso (aka Joey Kiss)
Top Attributes: Hot, cultured, actor, attractive.
Made the Top Ten because: He joins in AND is a major contributor to ball busting. Hates my former band. Has a much better life than I do.
STR: 10/1 *his life is far too good to focus enough for higher rating*
CBR: 50

Check back for real time updates as these elite athletes and other up-and-comers battle for Top Ten CBR-SBR Ranking honors!

A narcissistic post this was - not even busting your balls there Hubis.


Monday, February 21, 2011

A few thoughts about Ammo

Here's some background on Ammo. Ammo is my dog. She is a tiny "Min-Pin" (miniature Pinscher for those who don't know the slang) who I inherited from my son's mother. Ammo is half the size of a standard Min-Pin which adds to her cute-ness. Ammo had a brother named Gunner who unfortunately got hit by a car -rest his soul.(Gunner was the first dog resident in the house until the much smaller Ammo moved in. See? Gunner and Ammo -get it??) Ammo is extremely cute and novel. Because of her dimunitive size people basically drool over her or are just really amused. I've never pictured myself as the owner of a tiny dog such as her but rather, I pictured myself as owning a German Shepard and running through fields and streets playing, terrorizing people and it protecting me when people try to mug me. The best laid plans...

So, instead, I find myself with Ammo and we have been locked in a battle of wills for some time now. And I'm not winning this battle. Ammo doesn't seem to have much sense of loyalty and kind of goes with the hot hand -meaning, whoever is available/in the mood to coddle her, give treats or focus all their attention strictly on her. Strike one.

Ammo is very smart as dogs go. Selectively smart though. For example, the main battle we have is based on couch sitting protocol. She is welcome to sit on the couch when I, Matt (my roommate) or guests are in the room but I'd rather her not hang out there in most other cases. She has a slick bed/food area but seems to have no use for it. She IS a dog and of course DOES prefer "human" food, sitting locations and other things "Human" related over things deisgnated for a dog -I get it. Here's the issue: she knows that she isn't supposed to sleep on the couches at certain times -as evidenced by how many times I come down the stairs only to hear/see Ammo high-tailing it from the living room into the kitchen where she is supposed to be sleeping. On one occassion, Matt walked down the stairs first followed by me and Ammo didn't even budge! She only thought Matt, who is not even close to being as militant as myself about the "couch sitting", was coming down the stairs and therefore posed no threat to her extreme relaxation. She didn't even bat an eye. Until she saw that I was there. She jumped off the couch in a flurry of confusion and speed and headed into the kitchen to continue her rigorous sleeping regimen from that point. The issue is that she knows she isn't supposed to be making the couches her usual hangout but she is just determined to keep on with what she's doing. The straw that broke the camel's back was one day when I saw that she had actually moved doggie toys and her blankets from her dog bed onto the couch where she was chillin'!!! WTF??? Strike Two.

She broke protocol once again the other day prompting me to raise my voice towards her saying" "RE-cruit!!" She perked up and stood up quickly -which gave me considerable joy and humor- and then I issued the following command of: "GO-GO-GO-GO..." which sent her scurrying into the kitchen like a military recruit in boot camp! Well, now quite a few people have witnessed the boot camp that Ammo has unintentionally gotten herself into and many of them have joined in the training process when she is on the couches in non-designated times saying: "REEEE-Cruit!! Go-go go-go-go-go go-go...!!!"

One way or the other, this little dog will learn to become a "real" dog with some level of loyalty and obedience through this training. If you stop by the house, I would appreciate the use of "Recruit" as her interim name until further notice. Any advice on how I can add to my training program is appreciated.



Friday, February 18, 2011

Vote for Zero Fun John!

I'm going to lower taxes!!

But first, a recent post from a reader who goes by the moniker, "E".

"Zero Fun John: So what DID you create? You are defending yourself but remain very vague... Demetrios said he has no beef with you but an opinion about some of the stuff you wrote in your post... You are so defensive, what gives? Calling one of your readers irrelevant and telling him he doesn't mean much to you kind of defeats the purpose of having a blog in the first place... How about being grateful for someone taking the time to read your post and even better: Taking the time to write you back... He's entitled to an opinion, and if he really doesn't mean that much, then Again: Why so defensive? E."

Well, I WAS going to make tens of dollars on this blog and rule The Universe until you came along!! Just kidding...not being defensive but...ME AM MAD AT YOU SAYING ME IS DEFENSIVE!!!! Okay, ok...seriously, what I've created is strong friendships, great relationships with people I love and care for, I helped create a great little kid named Jack, I have created music, I've helped to create events, I've created very real comradery with many people, I've created this blog...I am currently creating another record with my band.

To be literal, a lot of the subject matter that you've translated pertains to my band Swillmerchants. Whether people will own up to it or not. It is what it is. Or, am I really just a narcissist???

I don't feel defensive but rather offensive. Demetrios did accuse me of making something "personal". I do care and it is my personal opinion, yes...Maybe a word or two was too harsh for someone's particular taste? It's hard to make a distinction when you don't know ALL the information involved. Right? Or you don't know all "sides" or opinions,...I'll say what I feel is "real" and relevant to my personal life (foreshadowing) in this blog. Now, please enjoy an excerpt from Wikipedia about Blogs:

"The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people would keep a running account of their personal lives."

So, for reference here are the blog topics I posted, in order:

1) Wrote about events from Saturday night's show and referenced a conversation about people feeling that the show could be the beginning of a new "scene". Great conversation. Shitty band attittudes.

2) Wrote, half asleep at work, about Northampton and Springfield "Scenes" as I perceive them.

3) Responded to Demetrios post which came out after a Facebook Status update of his the other day which was directed at my post, which led me to his blog somehow, which was directed at my amazing "narcissism".

4) This blog post.

I never even referenced the man, never mentioned feeling that my band is "superior", never credited myself with creating a "scene" and actually did not think of him or bands I referenced in a negative light. I did say WE created something though.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Narcissistic Vision of Zero Fun John

Before I begin, I’d like to thank the thousands who read this blog for not being as good as I am –at anything.

So, I was checking the Facebook newsfeed while at work (like you were) and I come across some playful status updates like “Crediting one’s self for the renaissance of a complex dynamic, such as a “scene” of sorts, only perpetuates a narcissistic personality…and, it’s hilarious” or “Hahahahahahahaha Oh Western Mass. Sometimes you are too adorable” Noted AND appreciated …Well, here goes.

If you have 4 minutes to read my post "scene Queens and the 25 minute divide", then, proceed to and read the post "A Palpable Air of Narcissism: Local Music At It's Most Deplorable". This post will make more sense if you read them in that order.

The post is well written but missed the point completely. When I mention things like a “scene” or offer my point of view on things it doesn’t mean anything other than that Now, just because I try to do things with my band to create more of benefit for everyone involved rather than just to honor myself or proceed with delusions of grandeur and entitlement, doesn’t really point to narcissism in my opinion. Shit. I didn’t even insinuate that we are better than the next band. Plus, anyone who knows me realizes that I can’t even say narcissism quickly three times in a row. For the record, I never even mentioned my band and actually referenced bands who I respected and had a lot of good times with (one of them was his former band). This from a time when we all felt involved in a complex and dynamic social consciousness that some would call a “Scene”. That’s it. The blog writer clearly has a bit of an issue with my band or my opinion and, I wish I could be more flattered, but his opinion never held any weight with me or most people I know. No delusions. No ego. No crediting one’s self for anything. Just weighing in with thoughts that seem to be shared by at least a few others, I am not concerned if there is a scene or not.

Now, on to the actual topic of “vision” for a band or an artist. There’s a huge difference between musicians actually working towards a vision and musicians with fantasies about their place in music (or wherever). You learn music, write some songs, some people like it, they tell you how great you are, you love that, it continues for awhile, you love it more, you feel important, you feel accepted, recognized…you may even adapt an identity through it. I’m just saying, if you’re vision is to write songs and play them in your basement for friends and get drunk. Great. If your vision is to be a rock lord and tour the galaxy, that’s awesome. What I’m getting at is, whatever your vision is, it is worthwhile and relative and cannot be argued against. My observation is that most bands/musicians do not understand what they’re really “going for”. They’re just used to a lifestyle maybe? I’m talking about people that may have “failed” or just gave up and they make excuses about people that are succeeding in realizing their vision. People who fail will have the relevant excuses handy to defend why they didn’t get what they want rather than being accountable for it. All a person needs to do sometimes is step back, redefine what they see for themselves and just go to it. Vision changes as you go if you’re honest with yourself. And you’ll need to limit the excuses.


scene Queens and the 25 minute divide

Soooo...I've heard quite a few comments & rumblings about "scene" recently and let's face it; we don't currently have a strong unity of bands, musicians, fans and artists all working together and supporting each other's causese right now. This includes the "Northampton" scene and the "Springfield" scenes (funny to me because the people who potentially comprise these respective demographic areas only live 25 minutes down the highway from each other but are worlds apart otherwise) ...but, let me digress into a time when there was a common vibe among musicians, bands, fans, etc that an awesome "scene" exisited.

A few years ago, my band realized that we were about to start performing our music live but there wasn't really a scene/market for our music that we knew of. Noho was primarily indie/folk music at the time and Springfield was metal/Nu-metal/Hip Hop/DJ . So, we decided to create something. To do our part, we booked our own shows and asked the hottest bands around (in our opinion)at the time (Under Falling Skies, The Room, America Business Machines, Yucky Octopus etc) and we knew we had to be electric when playing on a bill with these bands because they all really brought it live, had solid followings and were "competitive" enough. We would watch each others sets to check out the live portion and to "size up" the competition, we'd drink together and fans of the different bands came to know and appreciate the different band's styles. Bottom line is that we all did this together and many people got involved in the social awareness that makes up a "scene". We all appreciated the other band's efforts/music/people even if it wasn't totally our thing. We still nurtured a very mutual feeling of unity while doing what WE all do.

These days? Not so much. In Noho we have a wealth of talented musicians -most with no vision for what they're actually doing. I've often felt and stated that "musicians come to Northampton to die", meaning they want to write something and play it for people who will embrace it and reassure tham how "amazing" they are. Extending yourself to the world can be tough...I could be wrong but I can't seem to find bands who have much vision past playing ten times a month @ venues in Noho, EHamp and -if you're really ambitious- Amherst. Very few go even venture out and perform regionally (i.e. CT, NYC, RI, VT, Eastern MA...). So, when you have a band and they play 6 times a month in the same area your fans will eventually not come out to see you. They'll just catch you next week when you're playing at a venue one block away from the last one you just played at. Nothing exclusive there. It's just very comfortable and easy to form a band, book a show (everyone out here is a show "promoter" it seems) and get your friends out for 6 months -if you last that long. Bands come and go. Musicians give up or whatever, they form a "new" band with the usual suspects and...nobody gives a shit because it's usually a reincarnation of something someone just did. Just my take. In Noho, things are stale -save for some isolated shows/events that make everything worthwhile again.

Springfield scene. Shit. I hear of Nu-metal bands putting a few hundred people in Max Cap now and then...cover bands doing decently and random other acts (not Nu-Metal, Metal or Cover) putting on good shows/events. Truthfully, Maximum Capacity seems to be the only venue anyone even mentions in the "Springfield" scene. It's just that people aren't thinking. It's not just about writing a few songs, thinking you're God and then booking shows in your local area every 3-6 weeks. Your fans will get burned out. We need to be aware of what we're giving. Why do people want to spend their money and time to come to our show? What's in it for them? Plan an event rather than just play a set of music. Get bands together that can have a cross-over effect and fans of respective bands may get into the other bands. Bands out there should change their self serving attitudes and actually promote the WHOLE show rather than just their set. Working together is the only way to begin a scene that will: be fun, expose more people to more quality music, get venues, publications and people of influence outside of our immediate area to take notice -thus providing real opportunities for driven/creative musicians who are serious about their careers to "get somewhere"...bands, fans, venues and anyone with an interest of creating this social awareness known as a "scene" just need to drop all the pretense and delusions like yesterday. Maybe stand in the crowd as a band plays that you don't like but do respect? Maybe go to a show that isn't totally your thing? Maybe stop talking shit abut bands that are relatively successful in what they're doing and learn from them? Maybe get so competitive and be clever about it rather than hoard your fan base? Whatever, all I'm saying is that I am hearing a lot and getting the sense that MANY people are ready to enjoy this kind of thing again. Things will need to change before this will happen. Smarten up mother fuckers!!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Speculation of a scene, pretense and delusions, oh what a wonderful time!

I approached Saturday with some optimism. I left with MORE optimism...

but not in the normal, comforting sense. I had a conversation the night before with a good friend and former bandmate in regards to the show Saturday. He said it seemed like a lot of people were coming out, many even had a sense that it may be the start of a new "scene". Everybody talks about "the scene is dead..." or "music sucks around here now...". Not really, it's just hard to find an enjoyable event sometimes. Anyway, I foolishly agreed with my friend about the feeling of something being started anew. Wrong about the scene, right about something starting.

My singer booked the show a few months ago and set the lineup with the owner of the venue, who by the way, puts any club owner to shame with his promotional efforts and genuine advocacy for original bands. Fast forward to the show: one band showed up early, set up all their stuff and basically tried to dictate the lineup putting our back to the wall to clarify things with the other band who was bitching about going last. Don, the owner, told us the actual lineup and then the band going last started sulking and bitching through the bar. When I told the guitar player that they would have to go last and he says to me "Oh, that kind of sucks. We told everyone we were playing at 10 and they were going to watch our set and then leave..." Wow...WOW. Perhaps I just heard it wrong?? What the fuck is that??? The other band demanded the slot right before my band and they deserved it because they were the other band on the bill with us the whole time. They played their music. They broke down their gear and then, none of them were seen in the bar during our set. As if they are really something??? It's ok, a couple hundred other people decided to stay in the room to watch our set. My band's never been anything but cool to this crew but they sure like to talk shit about my band for some reason. It is endlessly flattering when you're a relatively big target. Shit like that doesn't nurture a scene. It destroys it. The fucking self serving, self consumed and delusional musicians that have such tiny visions for themselves they can't even see beyond their own recognition or praise seeking. I'd love to see musicians out supporting each others shows, saying decent things, not being jealous when other bands get success but rather using it to fuel their's nearly impossible to succeed alone.

Something DID get started after Saturday. A few key people are on fire again and that means some fucking good things are going to happen. So, people, get together. Drop your storylines, issues and what you think you know and we all may get the vibes we want again.

This is the first post for the new blog: zero fun John.