MLB Championship Series

NLALCS

Yes, I know I said I would assess the Championship series more thoroughly on Tuesday, but given the first results I felt it was better to do it today.

Who would have thought that home-field advantage would mean so much in the Division series? With the exception of the Mets, that sealed the deal in LA, the other three teams won their series in their respective ballparks.

In the ALCS Kansas City proved how hard it is to beat them, especially at home and with their pitchers playing the way they are playing. It’s not easy to keep this Toronto line-up quiet like that.

In the NLCS, the prophecy is closer and closer to not being fulfilled. Syndergaard and Wright managed to keep the Cubs attack under control, but most of all the Mets won the game Arrieta pitched. I’m pretty sure Chicago didn’t see that coming.

Anyway, let’s try and project how the rest of the Championship series will develop. And I’m a man of my word, so I won’t change the predictions I made at the end of my last post even if I’m having second, third, fourth and fifth thoughts about it.

ALCS

Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays:  This is a life or death situation for a good Toronto team. If the Royals open 3-0 with two games yet to be played at home, the Blue Jays can kiss the World Series goodbye. And they have a great challenge in front of them: Johnny Cueto will be pitching for Kansas City. He had his ups and downs during the season, but seems to be finding his rhythm in the playoffs. That should make things harder for the Blue Jays. Stroman can hold the Royals attack for a while, but Bautista, Encarnacion, Colabello and Donaldson will have to produce.

NLCS

New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs: The Chicago Cubs are in an even worse position than Toronto. They lost the game their best pitcher threw. This was catastrophic. Furthermore, the Mets still have deGrom up their sleeves while the Cubs don’t have another pitcher they can rely on so much. Besides, how do you stop Daniel Murphy from hitting everything? And if that was not enough he is having some help from players like Curtis Granderson who is also having a phenomenal postseason and Travis D’Arnaud who hit the apple on Game 1. I don’t know how much the crowd at Wrigley can help their home team, but the Cubs are going to need all the help they can get.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Paul McCartney – New

Paradise Lost – The Plague Within

Motörhead – Bad Magic

Watching:

Hitler: The Rise of Evil

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal”

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

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Hall of Idols # 49: Ernest Hemingway

ernest-hemingway

Forty-ninth installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.

Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.

Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.

As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.

I love to read. It started out just as a pastime and it turned into something absolutely essential to my professional life, whether as a writer or a translator. However, the fact that I read a lot doesn’t qualify me as a literature scholar. I just know if I like the stories I read or not.

With that simple premise in mind, I’m inducting a guy that to me is maybe the greatest American writer of all time, although he’s not my favorite (Anne Rice and Stephen King got that “honor”).

But to me, Ernest Hemingway is the one who got all the qualities which literary scholars (which, again, I’m not) search for: innovation in storytelling, language and new ways of building characters. And he too, was heavily criticized in his days, which just goes to show that there isn’t an absolute truth in the arts world.

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His father was a physician and his mother was a musician and they lived in a seven bedroom home in a respectable neighborhood in town.

In high school Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School and took part in a lot of sports like boxing (which would greatly influence his writing later), track and field, water polo and football. But he exceled on English classes and contributed to the school newspaper called The Trapeze.

This experience led him to work as a journalist at the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter where he stayed only for six months. It was a brief period but the influence in his style would be eternal. He followed the paper’s style guide of “use short sentences, use short first paragraphs and use vigorous English” for the rest of his life and hence developed his innovative style.

In 1920 after a fishing and camping trip with high-school friends he wrote “Big Two- Hearted River” in which he created the semi-autobiographical character of Nick Adams that would fill many of his stories later.

He went to live in Paris in 1921 among artists like Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, among others. They became known as the “Lost Generation”, a term Hemingway popularized in The Sun Also Rises. This time on his life can be perfectly seen as a background to the delicious story of Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen.

Hemingway’s stories are direct and to the point. There’s not much plotting involved. And that’s one of his biggest draws to me. I like that because it seems like you’re hearing the story been told to you by a friend.

That’s why I read all his short-stories and it’s hard to choose one I like the most, but I’m partial to “The Killers”. Not only the story is great, but it was seen as groundbreaking in its form. It was written as if it was a screenplay and no one had done that until that moment.

I’m actually lagging when it comes to his novels though (shame on me!) but I have read For Whom the Bell Tolls and absolutely loved it. Especially the descriptions about the torture of some Spanish government officials by the rebels are pretty graphic, and much better for it. His experiences in the Spanish Civil War are wonderfully portrayed in the mini-series Hemingway and Gellhorn.

Hemingway had a drinking problem and at the end of his life he became paranoid, which lead him to a nervous breakdown and sadly committing suicide with a shotgun in the very same day of his birthday in 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho.

Therefore, Mr. Hemingway you’re one for whom the Hall of Idols is opened. Welcome!

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Current playlist:

Listening:

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell

Blackmore’s Night – Shadow of the Moon

Watching:

Avengers: The Age of Ultron

Breaking Bad – Season III

Reading:

Tales from the New Orleans Saints Sideline – Jeff Duncan

Be sure to check out my book “Straight and Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

Sonic Highways

FF

First of all let’s make one thing clear: I hate Nirvana. I always have. Yes, because I’m a metalhead and yes because I think they were responsible (along with record companies) in destroying that 80‘s scene I loved so much. Call it spite or whatever you will, but that’s my opinion. Therefore, everything you’re going to read in here has absolutely no bias regarding Nirvana.

Now that hopefully I got that out of the way, I may start today’s post. And today I’m going to remember when I used to write for a Rock/Metal magazine. Besides interviews and festival coverage, I used to write concert, CDs and DVD reviews. And I’m gonna review a Blu-ray disc today.

Right off the bat, I must say this: Dave Grohl managed to enter the pantheon of immortal Rock Stars with this one. What he did is something so valuable from a historic point of view that even if every record the Foo Fighters release from now on is bad, his place in history is guaranteed. And is definitely not because he was once part of Nirvana.

I must admit, I never really gave the Foo Fighters a fair chance because of the prejudice I felt (and still feel) towards Nirvana, although I thought that “Big Me” video was funny as hell.

However, time went on, I started liking some of their singles, Dave Grohl’s did the Probot project (which was VERY METAL) and in his interviews and attitudes he showed he was a huge fan of bands I love: The Beatles, Rush, Heart, Joan Jett, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Slayer, Queen, Motörhead and so many others. But I still thought to myself: No way, the guy is former Nirvana’s drummer, I can’t like his band.

Then I started reading about this big project of his (and the band) of recording 8 songs in eight different studios across the USA and making a documentary about each city, telling its musical and cultural history. It sounded like a great idea, until I saw the first episode on HBO. Then I thought: “This is not just a great idea, this is wonderful. I’m definitely buying this video.”

I didn’t need to catch any of the other episodes on TV to know that all of them would be great and so, as soon as I had the chance I bought the Foo Fighters Sonic Highways Blu-Ray.

And you know what? It’s not as wonderful as I thought it was. It’s like a million times better. This is a work of art. This is a masterpiece. I’m actually kind of lost for words to describe how great this is.

The statements from people like Buddy Guy (Chicago), Ian MacKaye (D.C.) Dolly Parton (Nashville), Billy Gibbons (Austin), Joe Walsh (Los Angeles), Allen Toussaint (New Orleans), Chris Cornell (Seattle), Paul Stanley (New York) and president Barrack Obama among plenty of others are sensational and coupled with some historical footage, it makes for a landmark not only in Foo Fighters career, but in music overall. And I might add that the Foo Fighters songs are actually pretty cool as well. Especially because the lyrics are all inspired in the statements given; they are actually rather clever.

In the extras, there are details about the actual recordings which will delight all you recording buffs out there. The total running time is almost ten hours, but you just don’t feel the clock ticking.

I compare this with what Spike Lee did for a capella music with his brilliant “Do it a capella”, almost twenty-five years ago. I remember saying time and again that Spike could do anything after that; and I now extend this courtesy to Dave Grohl as well. Anything bad he might do in the future, he’s forgiven. This is of essential viewing for anyone who loves music: from Grindcore to New Age. Oh, and by the way, I even forgave him for once being the drummer in Nirvana.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Thunder – Wonder Days

Ruby the Hatchet – Valley of the Snake

Blackberry Smoke – Holding all the Roses

Reading:

Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr.Death and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders – Peter Richmond

Watching:

Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways (Blu-ray extra disc)

American Pie

House of Cards – Third Season

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

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You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

The Devil in the White City

When I wrote about Paul Stanley’s autobiography I made of point of stating that I’m not a book blogger or have an intention to be. However, I’m an avid reader and sometimes I come across some rather interesting books that I think are interesting to talk about.

Case in point a book released in the now ancient year of 2003 called The Devil in the White City.  If my intention was only to tell you what’s the story I would just say that it’s the story of the serial-killer Dr. H.H. Holmes with the background of the Chicago World Fair of 1893.

However, although that it is precisely the story, the greatest thing about this book is the way it was written. All facts are real (it’s a non-fiction book) but when you’re reading it, it does seem like you’re reading fiction. Especially due to the way the storytelling is built.

The author (Erik Larson) wrote it telling the story of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 in one chapter and the killings and scams of the serial killer in another. He alternates between the two stories from one chapter to another almost religiously. There are some times, with everything that happens in the fair that it is granted to it some more chapters in a row, also due to the huge amount of characters connected to it, but overall it’s one chapter the fair, another the serial killer.

As a bonus, you even have the case of the murder of the mayor of Chicago, happening almost right after the World’s Fair ended. The amazing thing is that it does have deep connections with the fair.

It looks so much like a crime novel that I really thought we would have a showdown on fair grounds between Burham (the main architect) and Dr. Holmes at the end of the book. I thought somehow their paths would cross and I waited for it to happen.

I found this book completely by accident while I was browsing about The Coop in Harvard. And I confess my utter ignorance for never having heard about a book this good released some 12 years ago. But hey, it’s never too late, right?

If you like a good crime novel and have an interest in architecture (it’s amazing how many architectural terms I learned) and in the history of Chicago and America itself, you could do a lot worse than reading The Devil in the White City.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Iommi- Fused

Reading:

Reversing the Curse: Inside the History-Making Red Sox Championship Season – Dan Shaughnessy

Watching:

All The President’s Men

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.

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You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico

Buying CDs in America

If I was going to write this post before the advent of Napster and music downloading, its utility would be highly debatable. After all, there was a CD store in almost every corner of the USA. However, ever since Tower Records, Virgin Records, Sam Goody, Borders (they used to have a good CDs section) and HMV (in America) went bankrupt, something like an urban legend started to spread: you can’t buy CDs in America anymore. That’s bullshit.

I just mentioned those mega-stores because they were always downtown or sometimes even in a shopping mall. Therefore any dumb person was able to find them. Now, what you have are the rather wonderful independent record stores and some of them need you to look a little outside the box.

First, if you are really interested in buying CDs in an American city, take advantage of some good tourism websites. I, personally, always research “yelp.com” to see if I could find some record stores in the city where I’m going to. And I always manage to find something, regardless of the place.

And there’s the rub. Let’s take Chicago for example. Whereas before there was a huge and excellent Virgin Megastore on Michigan Avenue and a Tower Records not so far away, now you have to dig a little deeper. If you use “yelp.com” (I know it sounds like I’m advertising for them, but I’m just telling you how I do) you’ll find some independent and used CD stores in the neighborhoods. You just need to see the address and ride the subway. However, there was still a FYE downtown as well not so long ago.

New York is a little trickier. I can’t tell you about Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens but in Manhattan, there are very few used CD stores and they are not very good. But again, I didn’t have the patience to search the other boroughs. I’m sure that must be some cool ones somewhere. New York is huge.

New Orleans is a musical city and gone were the days where in the same street within a short walking distance of one and other, you could go from Tower Records to Virgin Records. However, at that time you already had a wonderful used record store called Magic Bus. It was through them that I discovered the wonders of used CDs stores. It was wonderful but they went out of business after Katrina. Now, in the very same place where there was Tower Records is Peach Records. It’s a little expensive, but it’s good. If you are not driving and is willing, you can catch a cab and go to Euclid Records. It’s a dream for those who love vinyl. There’s also Jim Russell Rare Records on Magazine Street. You gonna need to catch a streetcar for this one, but it’s worth it just for the trip, you pass through some rather wonderful places. And there’s the small but nice Skully’z Records on Bourbon Street and Louisiana Music Factory. The latter only had typical Louisiana music until some time ago, but now they are carrying all types of music, so it’s worth a visit.

Of course, Boston (Newbury Comics), Denver (Twist And Shout and at least two others), Seattle (Silver Platters and Eastwest Records) and Austin (Waterloo) are, at least of the cities I’ve been to, the best ones to buy CDs. It isn’t a coincidence that Boston, Denver and Seattle and their main record stores are featured on my book, “Straight And Lethal”.

All in all the final message is this: you can still buy CDs in America. The difference is that you just need to look a little further than before (nothing that an internet search can’t solve) and be willing to take a cab or a bus, ride the subway or walk  longer distances.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Queen – Queen II

Paul McCartney – New

Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/carlo.antico

Follow me on twittter: @CarloAntico