Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Race Week Recap

Chester is a town full of old money and older people. And since the town is right on the water, sailing is a big part of the local "cultural" identity. So in the middle of August every year, the local elite throw themselves a little party known as the Chester Race Week. During this week, which is really only four days, sailors and sailing enthusiasts from all over descend on Chester to rejoice in all things sailing related.

On the last few nights of Race Week, the Chester Yacht Club opens its doors to the general public. The small club and its smaller lawn area overflows with people from every tax bracket. Millionaires stand shoulder to shoulder with blue collar joes, all waiting in line to trade their drink tickets in for rum drinks and beer in plastic cups.

The real treat, for a jaded guy like myself, is the chance to see people that I've haven't seen for countless years. It's like a high school reunion every summer, but with enough booze to go around to make it all palatable. I bump into old friends, bullies from high school, the guy I used to play G.I. Joes with when I was seven, old teachers, former neighbors, kids I used to babysit and countless people with whom I make an effort to avoid eye contact.

Over this past winter, the Yacht Club underwent some serious renovations. This meant that the open grassy areas of yesteryear were made smaller and less grassy. Also, in a move that seemed almost baffling, it meant half as many port-a-potties as usual. On more than one occasion I found myself going directly from the bar, with a full drink in hand, to the port-a-potty line. And by the time it was my turn to urinate, I had alreay finished my drink.

While many specific memories from this year's Race Week are difficult to recollect, I do know that I had enough of a hangover after it was over to reasonably assume that I enjoyed myself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"There Are Some Things A Man Just Can't Run Away From."

For this guy, one of those things happens to be this blog. Since nothing really exciting has been going on in my life for the last week or so, I thought I'd at least tell you about some of the movies I've been watching. (But fear not, dear reader, Chester Race Week kicks into full effect this weekend, so you can expect a hangover induced post in the near future.)

First up is one of my favorite westerns, 1939's Stagecoach. This movie is chock full of awesome characters, from the drunken doctor to the gentleman gambler and even a hooker with a heart of gold. Film geeks like myself will tell you that not only was Stagecoach the first western to be filmed in Monument Valley, but it was also the movie that made John Wayne a star. Also, rumor has it that Orson Welles was somewhat obsessed with this movie. He apparently privately screened it some forty times while he was making his masterpiece, Citizen Kane.

Nextly, a pair of 80s classics, Revenge of the Nerds and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. I recently managed to scare up a copy of the out of print Nerds/Nerds II DVD from Ebay, so I was pumped to watch these flicks again. Sure, I have them on VHS, but how long will those puppies hold out for? Anyways, what I can tell you is that these movies still hold up pretty well, despite their age and identification with all things 80s. The first Nerds movie was a bit more slapsticky than I remembered and when you see them both back-to-back you can't help but notice how the two movies are pretty much identical. Not that solving your problems with a creative song and dance routine ever gets old though. These flicks are required viewing for any fan of 80s movies.

Return of the Living Dead has to be one of my favorite movies for a variety of reasons: it has zombies, it has a punk rock soundtrack, it's totally 80s, and it has zombies. I guess it was originally meant to be a continuation of George Romero's Living Dead series, but ask any horror movie purist and they'll tell you Return isn't even in the same league as Romero's flicks. A lot of them won't even recognize this as a zombie flick because it has probably the first appearance of fast zombies, as opposed to the classic lumbering slow zombies. But, all horror movie politics aside, this flick is pretty good. I even got my hands on the elusive workprint version of the movie, a rough cut featuring some twenty extra minutes of alternate scenes and dialogue. If you like zombies, you have to see this one at least once. Return of the Living Dead is b movie schlock gold.

And finally, a movie I haven't seen in a long time that I'm looking forward to seeing when it finally comes to DVD next week, The Wizard. Anyone who remembers the hoopla surrounding the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 back in the late 80s must have at least some recollection of the marketing tie-in that was The Wizard. While it is little more than a ninety minute commercial for vintage Nintendo games and products ("I love the Power Glove. It's so bad.") I'm still stoked to see it again after all these years. Maybe I just long for the days when seeing someone else play Double Dragon seemed so awesome. I don't know why it has taken them this long to put The Wizard out on DVD, fans have been crying for a release and snapping up bootlegs for years now. The Wizard even made a recent list of the top twenty-five most wanted DVDs. The Wizard finally makes it to DVD on August 22nd (you can read a review of the DVD here), so be prepared to push a few fanboys out of the way if you want to get a copy of when it finally hits the shelves.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Sultry Sounds Of Sackville

Well, now that my hearing is about back to normal (or about as good as it will ever be) I might as well tell you about my trip to Sackville, NB, last weekend.

You see, Bagtown (as it is apparently referred to by the locals) was playing host to the Sappy Records Music Festival, a three day celebration of New Brunswick indie rock. Also, it just so happened that the last day of the festival would feature a performance by one of my all-time favorite bands, Eric's Trip.

I began the journey to Sackville early and slightly hungover. But after three and a half hours over torn up roads, I reached my destination. My first obstacle was to find my hotel, sorry, my motel. I had some printouts with me from Yahoo maps, but as my friend Danielle suggested, "Yahoo maps is full of lies." Thankfully, Sackville isn't very big, so it didn't take me too long to reach the motel.

My next obstacle was the motel itself. I had reserved a room at the Tantramar Motel. Now, while it is possible that at one point (say the late 80s) the Tantramar Motel might have been a thriving location, it seems to have descended into a poorly run Mom 'n Pop type establishment. I don't mean to give the impression that it was a bad or dirty place, it just seemed very slack. My key wouldn't work, so I was instructed to jiggle the doorknob until it sorted itself out. It was lame, but I wasn't going to let a shitty doorknob ruin my weekend.

Eventually, I met up with a bunch of my New Brunswick friends. It was a mini Flophouse reunion. (The Flophouse being the nickname of a house many of us shared near the STU campus in Fredericton.) We headed down to what was advertised as a record fair. Now, as a record collector, when I hear the words, "record fair," I expect to find lots of reords for sale. Unfortunately, this wasn't really the case. There were a few tables set up with records, most of which had been released by Sappy Records themselves. I did manage to pick up an Eric's Trip LP and few cool 7"s, but I was hoping to drop some serious cash on vinyl.

While at the record fair, I also managed to score an Eric's Trip t-shirt, but it took a little doing on my part. You see, as a fat guy, I don't tend to fit into the hipster sizes you normally find at merch tables. So, I made some inquiries into larger sizes. Lucky for me, the guy who made the shirts happened to be there and he was kind enough to silkscreen a fresh shirt for me. He also hooked a friend of mine up with a ticket for that nights sold-out show. He totally did us a solid. And if I could remember his name, I would totally plug his print shop.

Sometime later, my friends and I made it down to the show, you know, the thing we came to Sackville for. It was being held at George's Fabulous Roadhouse. I'm not saying that it was fabulous, that's just what the place is called. The bar was small and hipsters tend to be tall, so while I didn't actually see many of the bands, I was able to hear them loud and clear.

One band, the Singing Saws, set up a large tent in the middle of the bar. They had people standing inside the tent spinning it around and shining funky lights while the band played. I didn't care much for their music, but I was impressed by the whole tent and lightshow shtick.

The band I was most surprised by was Purple Knight. Lead by Mark Gaudet, the drummer from Eric's Trip, Purple Knight put on one hell of a show. While I know little of the band's history, they are celebrated icons of the Moncton music scene. I was right up front for their set. I also happened to be very close to the speakers, so I was pretty much deaf by the time they were done.

The last band (and the best band) of the evening had to be Eric's Trip. I would have driven to Sackville just to see them, even if no one else was playing. Despite having broken up several years ago, Eric's Trip manages to put on a handful of reunion shows now and again. And I was lucky enough to be at one of those shows this time around. They were amazing. They played virtually every song of theirs that I wanted to hear. Everyone was super psyched to see them play. And while I'll admit that the band was a little rusty (maybe because they hadn't played together in more than five years) they still managed to rock my socks off.

Following the show, my newly hearing-impaired friends and I found our way back to the motel and called it a night. A few hours of sleep and a big, greasy breakfast later, I was back on the road.

And that, my friends, was my exciting trip to Sackville.