Friday the 13th Part 3: The greatest movie ever made.

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This was the third film and just like the third film in the Jaws series, it’s in 3d.  This is great because it fills the film with random images of people pointing things out at the camera in that “doesn’t THIS look cool” way that early 3d films had about them.  The fact that the DVD is not 3d just makes it hysterically awesome. Want a random scene of a guy sticking a broomstick into the camera, you got it.  Want to see a worms-eye view of a guy playing with his yoyo?  DONE.

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This guy is the greatest character in the history of the moving image.  What’s his name?  Shelly.  You’d better remember that too, because if anything goes wrong, it’s his fucking fault.

FUCK YOU SHELLY.

This moron is totally, universally, and roundly hated by everyone in the film.  They react so strongly with so much negativity to everything he says and does…just the SIGHT of him….it’s freaking hilarious.   For example: all of the characters rib each other, constantly joking and just having a good time.  Shelly shows up and contributes to the conversation or plays a part in the prank and immediately it’s

“God DAMMIT Shelly, I’m so SICk of your SHIT! “

“Shelly, Jesus CHRIST.  What the HELL?!?”

“Holy shit, why don’t you just go off and DIE, Shelly, you worthless stain of a human being….”

They just all hate Shelly.  And there’s NO redemption for him.  He just blunders through the film being hated, ruining everyone else’s good time.

Shelly: “Well I can’t go on that ride anyway because they say I’m too fat.” (Sad face.)

Everyone Else:  “You’re goddamned RIGHT your too fat you stupid, lazy, BASTARD!”

This continues on until finally Shelly is blissfully murdered and the stain of human excrement that was his soul is whisked away from the earth.

You have to watch the film to really understand how great this is.  My friends and I have even taken to calling each other this in real life when one of us screws something up.  It’s also the beginning of an archetype in horror movies that we’ll see again and again:  the loser friend all the popular kids hate….who gets killed and never redeems himself.  He’s like the opposite of Charly from Critters.

This chick name Vera compliments Shelly in one of the scenes, saying she likes his juggling.  (NOTE: He juggles.)  Then he says something like “Hey, Vera….you know, your’e really nice…”

She cuts him off with something to the effect of “hahaah, no way Shelly. I’m going outside.  Screw off.”

The film gets better.

There’s a motorcycle gang.  That’s them about to whip up on that stupid sonofabitch Shelly.

There are three members of this gang and they have to weight 280 pounds combined.  They are absolutely fantastic.  Shelly and one of the chicks run into them in the pharmacy when they are buying supplies.  The music in this scene is this fantastic early 80s disco beat which plays while we witness how hardcore these bikers are.  Let’s say there is some epic sweetness.  Fist pump!  They go around causing mischief until they are all murdered while playing swingset in a barn.  Yes, that happens.

The group of teenagers in this film are also friends with two 50 year old potheads who hang out and explore the camp in a very scoobie-dooish kind of way.  Your’e so happy when they finally bite it.

We also finally get to see Jason in his hockey mask, which serves better than a guy with a bag on his head.  And who discovers the hockey mask to begin with?  The one that Jason ends up using?  You guessed it:

Thanks a LOT Shelly.

So this film also has some fantastic 3d-style deaths with popping eyeballs, flying harpoons, and other IN YOUR FACE 80s effects.  Rad.

For what it’s worth, this is one of the creepier Jasons as well.  He’s just big, lumbering, and dangerous.  More real than in the other films.

I’m going to watch 8 of these films, so we have 5 more to go, and I don’t love them all as much as I love this one.

Friday the 13th 1 and 2

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What a classic, right?  At least it’s a classic in the sense that it’s the original series of Friday the 13th films which were produced with love and attention as only the finest rip-off genre films are.

The story is that these pictures were created following the success of Halloween and if we can believe the production notes, it was really a giant marketing experiment to see just how stupid teenage moviegoers really are.   Apparently for the longest time, they only had the movie poster.  No actual script.

Having just watched it, I’d say the script wasn’t entirely necessary.

Yep, that’s it.  I love the idea that people looked at that ^^^ and said “GO FOR IT!  MAKE THAT PICTURE!”

What follows is a surprisingly entertaining bit of good ole’ fun in the forrest.  We begin with the dirtiest, most unwashed hippy chick I’ve ever seen hitching rides to Camp Crystal lake.  Already, we know we’re in for a great time.  Next is a string of first-person murders in the style of John Carpenter’s brilliant opening to Halloween.  By the end, we find out that the killer is actually this woman:

Yeah, so I should probably explain this.  If you’ve been living in a cave for the past 32 years, you don’t know that this is Jason’s mother.  The best part is that she’s played by a self-professed “serious actress” who is by far the most melodramatic ham-fisted performer in the entire series.  It’s great when you encounter this special kind of actor in the “making of” and documentary features on horror DVDs because they always talk about how serious they take their craft and how the film was such a departure for them.  “Ha, ha, I can’ t believe I did THAT film, ha ha….”   She spends the last half-hour of the film screaming like a dolphin stuck head-first into a snare drum.

What saves this film is one of the coolest ending sequences in 80s horror.   That is, if your’e afraid of balding mal-formed mongoloid zombies springing at you from a lake.   Chalk me up as a “yes.”

I also got to take in the sequel, Friday the 13th part 2.  (Yes, I’m riding this one right into the goddamn mountain).  The best thing about the sequel is this guy:

This is “Ted.”  I don’t know what to say about him, but he’s just….fantastic.  This is clearly the nerdiest, most doofified guy on the planet and he’s cast in the film as the most popular, attractive, and intensely desirable “friend” in the group of counselors.   If you look at this picture and think “so what,” just imagine him in a pair of cutoff jean shorts, laughing with his hands on his hips.

This is really the first of the Friday films to have fun with the counselor characters.  We have memorable personalities in this one.  There’s the guy who jokes around all the time, the very, very popular kid (see above), the guy in the wheelchair, and the strange woman who has a look of confusion perpetually frozen onto her face.  Note how there is absolutely no attempt to turn this person into a fully-formed character.

I’d sum up the film with a single image.  Yes, that’s the wheelchair guy with a machete stuck in his head.  From here on out, we get a lot more character development for the counselors and also see the beginning of a lot of the horror-movies stereotypes featured in the first Scream film (which I hated.)   When they kill the kids off….like this:

We actually care a lot more than in the first film.  Not because they’re well developed…hahahahahahha…no, we care because we lose that awesome stereotype and can no longer enjoy watching them do whatever it is that they do.  For example, wheelchair guy is the strong-silent type.  When he gets chopped in the face, we say “damn, there goes the strong silent type……”

Fun fact: Jason doesn’t wear his hockey mask in this flick.  He doesn’t actually pick it up until the 3rd film (which might be my favorite in the entire series.)   He wears a bag on his head instead.

Critters 4 and Demons

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I took in Critters 4 as promised.  Closed out the franchise with that one.   I’m not even sure how to talk about it.  Truly this is the maraschino cherry on the sundae of epic crap that is the Critters franchise.  While I may have been disappointed with the lack of lasers and rocket ships in Critters 3, Critters 4 saves that battleship by setting itself in outter space.

Yes, if there’s anything that brings horror home to people – that makes it real – it’s setting the entire story in outter-fucking-space.

Somehow we also ended up with academy award-winner Brad Dourif,

 

acting sensation Angela Basset,

and Critters veteran and alleged 80s rock god Terrance Mann. (Did I mention he was also Rum Tug Tugger in Cats?)

as well as good ole Charly.  Yes, he’s back and as dim-witted as ever.  Zero gravity does nothing to improve his cognitive way-finding.

I really don’t want to spend any additional time talking about Critters or any of the 4 corners of Critter filmdom, so let’s move along shall we?

Demons.  Now we’re talking.  This one actually crosses that line into the “so-bad-its-good” zone.   Yeah, we’re a bunch of 80s punk kids who decide to go to a party in a house possessed by evil demons.  What gonna happen?

 

What I love about this film, aside from the fact that it doesn’t have Critters in it, is the hodgepodge of ‘friends’ that make up the gang of young punks.  You have the totally unlikeable fat guy with the mohawk and rubber pig nose who is just…..so, so ulikeable.  Yet totally inexplicably, he is joined by 3 or 4 beautiful women in various stages of life-ruining decision paths.  Also we have a few other dudes including random intellectual kid and a frat-boy who basically wears a tuxedo with the sleeves rolled up.

So let me summarize:

We’re a bunch of douchebag teenagers going to a party.  We go to a “party” at an abandoned house – which could easily be mistaken for a bunch of kids standing around in an old room, drinking beer and staring at each other while the fat guy looks for a place to shit.  I guess parties were different back then.

One by one, we start turning into demons until there are only two kids left, the stuck-up virginal girl and the token black friend.  Then we go home and get to see a random old lady who’s never been on screen before just randomly murder her asshole husband.

Yup.  Great watch, though.  A nice palate cleanser.

So we’re diving into the first in the Friday the 13th series next.  Still kind of saving the good stuff.

Critters and more critters

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Imagine my delight as I sat down to finish up some rings for shipment this week and opened up my vault of DVDs to discover that I had two more Critters films to watch.  Lucky me.

So tonight I took in Critters 3 in all of it’s glory.  The film is full of flashbacks to the other to Critters films: strike one.  The film is also rated PG-13: strike five.

Perhaps you’re wondering: “What about the local town idiot, Charly?  Is HE in the third film?”   You bet your sweet young life, he is.

Yep. Although in the second Critters we got a chance to watch him crash his spaceship into hundreds of Critters fused into a giant bowling ball whilst screaming “I’m a bounty hunteeerrrrrrr!” (yeah, you read that right) We were totally dismayed when he turns up alive at the end of the film and then literally springs out of the ground at a group of young kids dressed like this ^^^ in the third movie.  Nothing creepy about that!

Plus, this being the third in the series and bearing in mind the audiences need to ‘kick it up a notch,’ the creators of Critters 3 introduce yet another horror-tard to keep Charly company named Frankie.


Franky spends most of the film carrying around a goldfish, talking to himself, and making lovable Italian-American remarks like “AAAYYYEEE!” and “you TOO pal!!!”  Break me off some more of that, right?   On the idiot scale, I think Frankie is slightly ahead of Charly – meaning he’s more ‘together’ and probably doesn’t carve things out of his feces.  Still, it’s a load-off when he finally gets iced.  Truthfully, Frankie really doesn’t fit into that archetype because he’s not meant to be lovable and charming.  He’s kind of a prick.

Another great thing about Critters 3 is that it has Leonardo DiCaprio in it.  He’s just a little kid and doesn’t quite look like himself yet.  It also has that bucket-headed kid who hangs out with Arnold in Kindergarten Cop.  Win-win.

This movie is more of the traditional horror format and less sci-fi.  No 80’s deathrocker bounty hunters in this one and a lack of outer space sequences.  I made some sci-fi laser sounds with my mouth while watching to try to turn that shit up.

This flick was made in 91, so it’s kind of late to the party.  The creature effects were definitely a big step forward, but the PG-13 rating is a hayoooooooge step backwards.  I guess selling this concept to a bunch of paste-eating 13 year olds was an easier play than trying to justify this goofiness to adults or even older teens out on a date night.

“See, baby, in the last two films, the Critters form a critter-ball to try to roll over the church, but Charly stops them with his rocket ship and they all end up eating lettuce….”

Yeah, a date spent watching this film resulted in going home ALONE for sooooo many people.

Still one more to go as well.  I have to say I don’t remember much about Critters 4, so all bets are off.

Spooky. 1 of ???

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The holiday orders are starting to come in which means I’ll be spending more and more time sitting on my ass in my studio working on rings which means I’ll be watching a lot of movies.  Nothing beats blockading myself in the studio at night with a cigar, a drink, and a stack of jewelry projects.  I throw a flick on the screen and just whittle away.

Fall – also my favorite time of year.  So we’re doing what I do every fall: plowing through 70s, 80s, and early 90s horror films.  Hell yeah.

Todan, while finishing up Jonathan’s Boss Voodoo and a ring for Joe, I took in Critters 1 and 2.   Yeah, they suck, I know.  I usually wait until October to start this marathon of latex, fake blood, and Panavision lenses but I couldn’t wait any longer.  It’s getting cooler in the ATL and I was semi-in the mood.

Which is great, because Critters is semi-horror.

I can only guess that this crapfest came about after Gremlins came out and filled teenagers with a dread and fear of little shitty rubber puppets.  The Critters, in particular, seem to love eating lettuce, rolling around in the dark, shooting darts out of their spines, and biting people to death.  If this wasn’t reason enough to blow 5 bucks, you also get the parallel story of two 80’s cockrocker bounty-hunters who travel to earth in order to blow up the Critters, who apparently escaped some kind of prison asteroid.

Yeah, that’s Terrance Mann….looking 1980’s as hell.

I also got to watch Critters 2.  You’re welcome, universe.

Critters 2 is more of a party.  It takes place in the same small town and features some of the same characters – specifically Charly, the local simpleton who everybody just fucking loves.

Can you guess which one is him?

We’ll be revisiting this horror archetype, who I will call the horror-tard.  If you’re offended, join the club.

Neither one of these films is even remotely creepy.  In fact, they’re kind of a party.  Power of the Night?  Oh yeah.  Like THIS:

There are lots of “ROCK OUT” shots with the Critters all eating lettuce, smashing furniture, and squirting condiments on each other whilst listening to some fierce 80s cock rock.

Wow, glad we got through those two.  I like to ease into the good stuff.

Zen in Action

Jason’s just whipped up an amazing hand-knotted necklace with the enso pendant.  Again, a freakin’ HAND KNOTTED necklace with a hand-carved and cast enso in sterling silver.  See why I’m a fan of this guy?

 

Check out his facebook page here or visit www.custommalashop.com or Shade of the Bodhi Tree.  When I saw this photo I kicked myself in the face.

And now, a picture of my skull ring Frank next to a giant corned beef sandwich.

 

 

 

A Zen Thing

Happy to announce that the Zen ensos are now for sale exclusively at Shade of the Bodhi Tree. and Custom Mala Shop.

 

For those of you not familiar with the site, let me do a little rundown.

I discovered this shop online when doing some research.  The place is run by Jason Walz, who is doing something incredibly profound with his work.  He’s making custom malas by hand, with great quality materials.  Trust me, this is rare.

 

I got into silver and skull rings because I got tired of the junk.  There was so much shit out there.   Hollow-backed mass-produced, soldered junk made by 12 year olds in a sweatshop somewhere.  I wanted to make a quality product.  Truly custom made work cast as one piece with no solder, no hollowed-out backs, and made by me sitting on a workbench surrounded by sketches.

I get the feeling Jason is doing much of the same thing, reminding his clients that there are still artisans in this country who can make things by hand out of real materials.

That’s his work above.  Hand drilled with legit Chinese knotting chord and REAL stones.

 

Do a google search for malas and you’ll see dozens of places that sell them.  Hell, they are extremely popular right now – not just for Buddhists, but for people who want to make a fashion statement.  Thing is, most of them are crap.  They’re strung on cheap wire or freakin’ fishing line.  They snap easily.  Their made with shitty imitation stones or wood that’s been stained with the same kind of crap you’ll find in Home Depot that rubs off on your skin and gives you a rash.  The tassels are machine-made out of crappy threads that disintegrate shortly after public wear.   They’re also made by people who don’t give a shit about what they’re doing.  Some low-salaried employee who’s making them on an assembly line or a hobbiest who doesn’t take it seriously.

Not Jason’s stuff.  He is a master craftsman.  He’s studied, he’s researched…..he gets it.

 

Best thing is, his work is entirely custom.  He has a few pre-made pieces as well, but the FUN of ordering from him is that he has a custom design tool on his page.  You start off by selecting what type of mala you want.  Full 108 bead count?  No problem.  Something smaller for the wrist?  Piece of cake.  Turns out Jason will also make crazy configurations that aren’t on his site if you send him an email.

 

 

Once you get your basic configuration laid out, you pick what type of beads you want.  Onyx?  Bone?   Lotus seed? Sandal wood?  Jade?  Crystal?  There are a lot of options.  Plus, virtually EVERY part of the mala is customizable.  Spacers, tassels, chord knots, pendants, guru beads, etc.  Goes on and on.

In fact, I’ve just finished a skull guru bead that will be available at Custom Mala Shop as well.

 

If you don’t know what a guru bead is, it’s the bead at the center of the mala where the knot and/or tassel is.  You can see what I’m talking about below.

 

you can imagine that knot coming out of the jaw of that skull.  Should look fantastic.  They’re not up on Jason’s site yet, so check back in a week or so.

Well, I didn’t want this to be one big commercial for Jason’s work, but frankly I just admire the hell out of it.   I’m going to be doing more articles like this: reviews of work from artists I admire.   My enso pendants and that new skull guru bead are available exclusively through his site.   I’ve had so many requests to make beaded pieces like these for clients and I’m now happy to say that if your’e interested, you can finally get one complete with an MT Maloney skull or enso pendant.

Taker ‘er easy.  Stay tuned……

Bar Flu

I’ve been posting a lot about jewelry and believe me you’ve only been seeing the tip of the iceberg with all of the christmas orders I’ve been working on.  I’ve taken a few hours this morning, however, to write about something else.

BARS.

Nothing crazy or mind-blowing here.  I just really felt like writing about my 10 favorite bars.  These aren’t in any particular order and I’ve definitely left out some great places, but at any rate, these are MY personal favorites from recent memory.

  1. Holeman and Finch Public House

Where:  Atlanta

If this joint were only a restaurant it would be enough to be put it in on my stomping ground list.  When you add the kick ass bar to the mix and the mixology-hardened badasses that make the cocktails, this is one of my favorite places to eat and imbibe PERIOD.

First of all, they do the best sazerac I’ve had outside of New Orleans.   For those of you who don’t drink ‘em, you need to start.  From what I understand this was THE first cocktail.  Sold in pharmacies at first.  Yeah.  It even has a nice little medicine-bitterness that…really sounds horrible, but it’s great.   I don’t even know how to explain how good the bartenders are.  It’s not human.   Give them the merest hint of what kind of a cocktail you’re in the mood for and they’ll take care of you.  Those trendy mixology places you see all over the Travel Channel?  They WISH they were Holeman and Finch.

The food is insane.  You want a chicken head and a split femur full of marrow with a side of veal brains?  You got it.  Seriously.  You want what might be the best cheeseburger and hotdog I’ve ever had?  They got that too.  Everything, even the bread and condiments, is made right there by the cooks.  And it ain’t expensive.

  1. The Pawn

Where:  Hong Kong

There are a lot of great bars in Hong Kong and I’ve been to a mess of them.  I dig the local places.  They’re great.  Nothing like having a glass of room-temperature gin while being glared at (not necessarily in a bad way) by locals who are wondering why the hell this American dude covered with tattoos is in their bar watching them play darts and sing karaoke.

The Pawn is different though.  This f’cker is an old stone building nestled in the middle of these Blade Runner-esque skyscrapers.  You sit out on the patio on the second floor drinking ice cold martinis and watching Hong Kong swarm around your little sphere of calmness.  The place is old-school British, so if you’re like me and you dig good pub grub in brown sauce, you’re in luck.

There are a few tourists, which is usually a deal-breaker for me.  Thing is, at the Pawn, the tourists are cool as sh*t internationals and ex-pats who make it feel like something out of Casablanca.

  1. Flat Iron

Where: New York City

There are a lot of good bars in NYC, but a lot of them seem like fad places that are crowded as hell or they’re full of total douchebags.  Often both.   Then again, there are so many great bars in the city that avoid both massive crowds AND douchebaggery.  Me?  I like the Flat Iron.

This place has AWESOME bartenders who really, really know they’re stuff.   They’re mixology guys, but they KNOW how to make good, classic, no-frills martinis (which to me is still the most often-f’ked up cocktail on the planet, despite them being simple.)  They also do a great sazerac and our bartender made me an Old Fashioned that was….compelling.

One of the great things about this bar…and I really mean this….is that they don’t serve food.  That’s right.  No mozzarella sticks, no freakin’ hot wings, no freakin’ nacho baskets.  This place is drinks.   It’s a young crowd, but not rowdy.  I can tell you that my sister, our spouses and I shut this place down at something like 4am and STILL weren’t ready to leave.

  1. Boadas

Where:  Barcelona

So like I said, these aren’t ranked, but this joint may be my all-time favorite bar.    Like Flat Iron, they don’t serve food.  UNLIKE Flat Iron, it isn’t a young crowd.  And this is AWESOME.   My Spanish is good enough to get around and my brother in law’s is better, so we were able to chat with the bartender while this fella made me the absolute best martini I’ve ever had.  Ever.

Why was this martini so good?  Well, it was stirred (step one.)  And it was also served  in a 3.5 ounce glass.   These weren’t the stupid mini glasses you see in party stores, these were full height classic stemware, but they held the PERFECT amount of gin.  It took me days of searching, but I’ve found them online at a restaurant supply warehouse and am having 24 of them (the smallest order I could make) shipped to me.  In the States, you’re lucky to find a martini glass that holds less than 5 ounces – a VAT of gin.   Type “3.5 ounce Martini” into Amazon and you’ll get a picture of this:

The inside of this bar is right out of the 40s.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s been updated since it was built.  It’s dark, it’s moody, it’s classy.   We shut this place down too…..which really isn’t saying much as my sister and I shut down pretty much every place we go to.   The bartender ever directed us to a nearby place to get a great toasty early-morning bacon sandwich.

  1. Monteleone Carrousel Bar

Where: New Orleans

I admit that the concept of a spinning bar is retarded.  If you say that this bar is a motorized spinning bar, you’re not technically wrong, but you’re not honestly representing how classy this place actually is.   You really have to GO there to understand.  The bar spins slowly.  Very slowly.  In the center is a 40s or 50s style circular tower of alcoholic goodness and one or two master bartenders whipping up all manner of classic cocktail with relative ease.

Again, no food.  Cocktail-wise, everything is good here, but their special is the Vieux Carre.  This drink was INVENTED IN THE F’KING BAR in the 30s.  How badass is that?   When you sit at this bar, drinking it and looking around at the décor, you feel like it’s 1930s New Orleans and the illusion isn’t shattered until you leave.

This bar is extremely light on tourists for being in the French Quarter.  Go in here an order a hurricane and they’re club you with martini stirrers.

  1. Pinky Masters

Where:  Savannah

This bar is loud.  This bar is crowded.  This bar smells like the inside of a cigarette machine on fire.  This bar is FANTASTIC.  Are you a craft beer guy?  Dig microbrews, do ya?   Stay away.  Beer of choice here is Pabst Blue Ribbon and it’s been that way as long as it’s been open.  Long before it was TRENDY to drink PBR.

Light ‘em up.  Smoking is allowed and encouraged.  Best way to meet dames in this joint is to come bearing a few packs of Marlboros and a cool zippo.   Of course, the smoke is dense enough that you really don’t need your own cigs.  It gets so crowded in here that it often spills onto the street.  Savannah is an open-container city, so have at it.

The crowd is a mix of Savannah locals along with grad students and professors of the local college.  So basically this means you can drink PBR and cheap Scotch, talk about modes of semiotic investment in narrative animation, and leave with the best flippin’ bar flu you’ve ever had.

  1. Absinthe Room

Where:  Memphis

This place is on Beale Street, but it definitely IS NOT your typical Beale Street bar.  It’s on the second floor so most of the riffraff is kept out.  Stairs frighten stupid people.  My buddies and I racked up about 500 bucks in this joint (staying a looooong time) played several rounds of pool, darts, and talked to the bartender.  Most of the tourists in there were Australian.   Not sure what that means.  I’d say Australians love absinthe, but most of them ordered PBR.

If you do love absinthe though, this place has it (at least what passes for absinthe state-side) and they serve it in a number of delicious cocktails I don’t specifically remember.   Like I said, we were there a while.

Memphis is one of my favorite US cities.  Lots of good hangouts and places to hear loud, beautiful blues music and drink Wild Turkey.  After a while, though, I like to retreat to a place like the Absinthe Room to have a mellow refresher, shoot some pool with some Australians, and drop some green fairy.

  1. Molly’s

Where:  New Orleans

Last time I was in this joint with my British pal Jeremy, we were there until about 7 in the morning.  Molly’s is another great French Quarter bar split between locals and the more savvy tourists who don’t want the sh*tty fruit-punch beverages and 80s karaoke of Bourbon Street.  The place is dingy and dark, but lively and comfortable at the same time.

Molly’s has two drinks that I jones after when I’m away from New Orleans.  The first is the infamous Molly’s frozen coffee.  Yeah, yeah, I know, but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.  The other is their hot buttered rum, which is a necessity during the winter-time.  You can drop into Molly’s on one of those rare crisp-cold evenings and town on some hot buttered rum and feel like you’re right at home.

This bar also holds the record for me in terms of time spent imbibing.  That 7am departure time I mentioned above?  We started around 4:30pm.  That should give you an idea of how great that place is.  It’s just so damn comfortable.

  1. Rocco’s

Where:  Los Angeles

I wanted to include at least one sports bar so I started racking my brain for the best sports-viewing experience in recent memory.   Rocco’s made the list for a number of reasons.   Great beers are a start.  On top of that, you can choke down a 1 pound cheeseburger with chili fries and hot wings while meat-sweating in the cool Culver City air.

This joint doesn’t suffer from the sportsbar syndrome that a lot of places do.   So many sports bars cram in as many flat-screen televisions as possible (to the detriment of atmosphere) and sacrifice good food and attentive service in favor of offering warehouse-size seating and quick ‘n easy snacks like frozen calamari or slimy hotwings.

Rocco’s isn’t the best bar in LA, or even in Culver City, but it’s easily the best sports bar I’ve been to in recent memory.   More than a sports bar, it’s a bar that plays sports.   That’s what I dig about it.   Good food, good beer, and enough TVs to go around.

10. Whiskey

Where:  Durham

If you check this place out on Yelp or any other consumer review sites, you’ll see two things.  You’ll see people like me ranting about how great the scotch, bourbon, and rye selection is.   How awesome the atmosphere is.  The talented bartenders.  The fact that you can smoke cigars inside the place……And you’ll see college age millennial brats complaining that they were thrown out of the place and they don’t understand why or that they don’t smoke and didn’t understand why the cigar bar was full of smoke.    This ALONE should make Whiskey one of my top 3 places.

The place is absolutely STACKED with whiskeys.  They have literally everything and the bartenders are talented enough to know what to do with the breadth of selection at their fingertips.  Yes, you can buy and smoke cigars as well.  My sis and I reclined in the corner on a Wintery night with our respective spouses, smoked cigars, drank scotch, and just wandered through a bleary-eyed internal wilderness on one of the more delightful cerebral strolls I’ve ever had.    What a great place.

It is CROWDED, though.  Oh yeah.  You have to get there early.  One of the best things about the place, however, is that they actively prevent students in their early 20s from even entering the place.  If you see a 21 year old in the joint having a smoke, they’ve got their ‘cool card’ from the bartenders and obviously have taste and wisdom beyond their years.

Light My Fire

I’m thinking of doing a zippo.

I’ve never done a custom lighter before and I’ve always admired the lighters on Bill Wall’s site or over at Steel Flame.  I’ve thought for some time about doing one in sterling with some cool skullwork on the front.  Maybe even a gemstone or two.   I want to put this bad boy on a chain as well.   I’ll be doing some sketches in the next week or so.

I love that Steel Flame work.  What a beauty, eh?  Not my style, but definitely an inspiration to do something in sterling with a little less ‘gear’ on it.  If you haven’t been to Steel Flame’s site, you should definitely check it out.  Their “Killbox” pendant is absolute genius.

Twisted Sister Part 2

Landed in Manhattan last night at 1am.  Immediately hooked up with my sis at a joint called the Flat Iron.  We argued about McQueen and pounded Old Fashions, Gin Martinis, and Bourbon.  I’m not sure who won the argument, but when we got back to her place, I accidentally used her husband’s toothbrush, so joke’s on them.