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books & writing

Lisa reads Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) by Ken Sharp

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I was a Kiss fan as a teenager, so I was really looking forward to reading Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975). Author Ken Sharpe has pulled together an amazing series of interviews with former band members, roadies, industry and media people. In addition, there are a host of more recognizable names: Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Eric Bloom (Blue Oyster Cult), Neal Schon (Journey), Bob Seger, and Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny, Marky and Tommy Ramone. There are a lot of great quotes and interviews in the book – perhaps too many.

There are a number of things about this book that I loved. First, the interviews – it was fascinating to read the quotes from other musicians, people that liked Kiss and those who didn’t, bands who were more popular and those who were just starting out. Hearing what these bands had to say about Kiss, good and bad, gives you some context. Kiss was doing something very new and different, with the makeup and the theatrics. Some of their contemporaries embraced it, while others hated it; some were amused and others may have been a little jealous. But hearing them talk about the band – particularly those who said it was a gimmick and they would never make it – is definitely interesting.

The interviews with friends and industry people are a real look at what goes into launching a band. How difficult it is to get a label’s attention and then, once you have it, how to keep it. Getting signed certainly doesn’t guarantee success, and it is clear from each section of the book that if Kiss hadn’t had a few people who really believed in them, they’d have been doomed. Neil Bogart (Casablanca Records) and Bill Aucoin (their manager) did everything from manage, produce and promote the band to paying for their tours on their personal credit cards. Considering that they didn’t get a lot of radio airplay and they often had difficulty getting signed on as an opening act, they would never have gotten off the ground without their unflagging support.

It’s also clear that Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons shared a dream for their band and were willing to work very hard to make it  reality. There is a sort of single-minded devotion to the band and a refusal to believe that they would be anything other than huge stars that is, by turns, endearing and annoying.

For me, the downside of Nothin’ to Lose is that it sometimes got a little tedious. There is a definite “us against the world” vibe to the book, and it can get a little tiresome. Perhaps it’s accurate – perhaps there really were almost no supporters for the band in the early days – but it is reiterated so often that it seems like overkill.

I was also disappointed that the book really glosses over the departures of Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. I was interested in reading about that, perhaps even getting some of the story right from the departed band members (a timely topic, considering the controversy surrounding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions). Unfortunately, their departures are covered only briefly on the last two pages of the book. Still, the book is an amazing look at a young band, on its way to stardom and all the ups and downs of that journey. There are some great stories here for anyone who was a member of the Kiss Army, and anyone interested in a slice of rock and roll history.

My copy of Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.

kiss

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: I guess the NFL is okay with domestic violence

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NFL training camps are just getting underway. Football, certainly the most popular sport in this country, is about to become the center of our sports world yet again. The NFL, you would imagine, should be trying to make sure that it sets the tone for the coming season appropriately. No one wants to start a new season off with a huge misstep, right? Despite that, the 2014 season has stepped in a pothole almost before it has started, and rather than setting the table for a great new year of football, we are all talking about Ray Rice, Stephen A. Smith, domestic abuse and inadequate punishments. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Now that Warren G. Harding’s love letters to his mistress have revealed that he used to refer to his penis as ‘Jerry’, top ten other nicknames for Presidential penises

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10. President Lincoln: The Rail Splitter

9. President George W. Bush: My Weapon of Mass Destruction

8. President George H. W. Bush: The Idiot Producer

7. President Jimmy Carter: Peanut

6. President Bill Clinton: The Troublemaker

5. President Harry S. Truman: The Fuck Stops Here

4. President Ronald Reagan: The Big Gipper

3. President Theodore Roosevelt: The Rough Rider

2. President Lyndon Johnson: Johnson’s Johnson

1. President Richard M. Nixon: Tricky Dick
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

books & writing

Lisa reads Live By Night by Dennis Lehane

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There’s a bit of a story behind my reading of Live by Night: I picked up the audiobook from the library months ago – probably closer to a year ago. I sped through the first 9 cds and then…lost it. I brought it in from the car, set it aside, and it disappeared. I was furious! Ransacked the house, went through all my suitcases, the car, called the hotel I’d stayed at. No luck. Cut to this past week: I spent my vacation doing a thorough cleaning and decluttering of my spare bedroom, and guess what I found? Yep. I was finally able to finish!

Live by Night tells the story of Joe Coughlin, and it is a big story. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Ernie Els hits fan in the face with a golf ball

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I don’t know the actual percentage of little kids that dream of being professional athletes, but I expect that it’s a pretty large number. Most of the time, the dream is built around having the athletic ability to be able to compete at the highest level. There is a lot more to it than just physical skill, however. It is the ability to focus that separates the great from the good. Even the great ones can be perfectly ordinary or worse when that focus is thrown off, and that was very much on display in the opening round of the Open Championship on Thursday if you were watching Ernie Els. [Read more →]

language & grammarThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that ye may not use “genius” as an adjective

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. 4528: No, he didn’t quit. You can’t quit being Emperor — the Universe makes you Emperor. We were just….Emperoring. None of your concern. Just continue to obey. For instance: We’ll say this only one more time. “Genius” is a noun, not an adjective. One can not have a “genius idea.” One can have an “ingenious idea.” Someone went to all the trouble to create the distinguishing prefix and that extra “o”. Use them. You sound like a dip when you say “genius idea.” Yes you do. Don’t argue with me. I’m the Emperor.

The Punishment: Those who “adjectivize” the word “genius” will be fed dictionaries for a week. Ketchup will be allowed, as the Emperor is feeling munificent this morning.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning. 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten complaints of Danielle Davies, a 39-year-old New Jersey woman who is dating a life-size cardboard cutout of Bradley Cooper

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10. “The police still won’t let me use the car pool lane.”

9. “Every time we go to dinner, it always winds up being my treat!

8. “My Robert Downey Jr. cutout is always getting jealous.”

7. “The lack of a sense of humor at construction sites when I slip him under the wheels of a steam roller.”

6. “The ordeal of having to meet his cardboard cutout parents.”

5. “The fact that we can only go out when it’s not raining.”

4. “His constantly referring to himself as a ‘working stiff’.”

3. “It seems like I’m always the one who has to initiate sex.”

2. “Sometimes I get tired of his one-dimensional acting.”

1. “Paper cuts.”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

A license to text

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With extensive apologies to my many Ayn Rand-loving, small government-promoting friends, it’s pretty clear to me that the textual communications associated with cell phones have to come under the government eye. Something must be done. We need, quite simply, age-based and perhaps behavior-based texting control: A Texting License. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: On vacation plus links

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Hey there, loyal readers. I am on vacation this week and have not had time to put together my usual brilliance to share with you. I will return next week with something sure to astound. In the meantime, here are a few links with stories of interest from this week.

Bad:

1) Two University of Miami football players arrested for rape.

2) Idiot baseball fan sleeps and then sues.

3) Jan Segura’s infant son dies.

4) Brazil collapses at the end of the World Cup.

5) You know that World Cup trophy you won, Germany? It’s not yours.

Good:

1) LeBron James goes home to Cleveland.

2) Pitcher Madison Bumgarner hits his second grand slam of the season.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten suggested new slogans for GM

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10. Our Cars Switch Off Randomly – Saving You Gas!

9. Igniting Excitement!

8. Our Cars Are Captivating! (Not Decapitating)

7. We’ve Already Fired Our Criminals!

6. Our Newest Models Are Positively Kevorkianesque!

5. In A Word: Smashing!

4. A Car You Really Have To Look Out For!

3. General Motors – A Product Name That’s Easy To Recall!

2. We Put Safety First! (If You Don’t Count Profits)

1. We Make Every Trip An Adventure!
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Daytona is a big mess once again

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For the third time this season, NASCAR foisted the joke that is restrictor plate racing onto its fanbase. Everything about this race was bad, although not all of that was the governing body’s fault. The summer race at Daytona has been going on for a very long time, and this year’s edition was just a mess from start to finish. I guess it is my own fault for paying attention. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingsports

Top ten nicknames for Uruguayan soccer star Luis Suarez

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10. The Hungry Hungry Hippo

9. Chewbacca

8. Great Bitten

7. Caught Masticating

6. Chomp and Circumstance

5. Hannibal the Cannibal

4. Fang Chung

3. Gladys Bite and the Pips

2. Baron Von Munchausen

1. Chewy Lewis and the News
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: There’s no biting in soccer! Oh wait…there is?

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OK, I have watched a bit of the World Cup. Not much, but I have watched the U.S. matches. Actually, I shouldn’t even say I watched…I actually was listening to the match against Germany in my car, and found it engrossing enough that when I got out of my car to go run, I actually found an internet radio station that was broadcasting the game and listened to it during my run. I am not totally anti-soccer, even if it sometimes seems like it. However, there are some bizarre things about this sport and the behavior of the athletes who play it, and that was very much on display during the match between Uruguay and Italy on Tuesday. Luis Suarez, a striker for Uruguay, actually bit Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during the match. You did not misread that. [Read more →]