World Series 2015

World Series

And then there were two. After a hard fought ALCS and a rout on the NLCS, Kansas City Royals and New York Mets are the last ones standing in the baseball season.

As I wrote in my first post about the playoffs, there’s something great about baseball in October. I love any sport played with balls (literally): football, basketball, hockey and soccer mostly, but I can safely say that in October none of those comes close to baseball. Baseball in October is the greatest sport in the world.

Okay, so I got the NLCS absolutely wrong because I based my assessment in the Back to the Future II prediction due to my undying love of the movie. But even if I had taken my humble baseball opinions in consideration, I might have chosen the Mets but I would never predict a swept. NY cruised past Chicago in every game. Of course, when you have Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Sydergaard at the mound and Familia closing things become much easier. I started to suspect we might have a sweep when the Cubs lost the game Arrieta pitched and I was right. Add to the starting pitchers a great postseason by Curtis Granderson and an unbelievable Daniel Murphy home-run hitting streak.

I got the ALCS winner right, despite the fact that I went Royals in seven, not in six. Anyway, it’s really hard to underestimate the heart of this Royals team. They never give up and they have a talent to manufacture runs rarely seen. They are the poster boys for modern small-ball. And my guess is that this Toronto team will be here for the long run. They also played great, but they relied too much on home-runs and this is risky when you face a team that manufactures runs and have a great bullpen. Correction: not a great bullpen, the best bullpen in the majors. And that was fatal. Toronto’s bullpen couldn’t match KC’s and that cost them the series. I even dare saying that if it was not for Cueto imploding right at the start of game 3, we could have watched another sweep. As a post-script: it broke my heart to see the Blue Jays lose because of Rush’s Geddy Lee was in the attendance at every game in Toronto.

Now, to the World Series: I don’t think it’s too much complex to analyze the showdown. It will be down to how long the starting pitchers will be able to hold both attacks. If Kansas City starting rotation manages to equal Mets starters performance, then I guess the Royals have a big chance, because their bullpen can guarantee them wins. If not, it is really hard to score against Harvey, deGrom and Sydergaard and KC will be in trouble. That’s the basic assessment. Of course, there’re the variables: what if Daniel Murphy keeps hitting the way he is? What if KC attack starts hitting home-runs? Nobody can answer those questions for sure, so we will be forced to watch the games! It will surely be fun and I can barely wait for tonight. It’s promising to be one of the greatest WS of all time, just like it was last year.

My pick: Royals in seven, but I’m absolutely not sure about it.

Current playlist:

Listening:

Candlemass – Nightfall

Iron Maiden – Book of Souls

Watching:

Twister

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone

Reading:

Blood and Gold – Anne Rice

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

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Hall of Idols #47: Spike Lee

Spike-Lee

Forty-seventh 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.

Usually, your interests are what makes you connect to people. Think about it for a moment: your best friends are those with whom you have a lot in common. Types of music, political views, sports, movies, you name it.

I have an opinion that you can transport this to people who are not your friends, but that you admire who also because of that, become your idols. Of course, you first admire their art, but hey, if you discover that you also have some common passions, this is a great bonus.

And that’s the case with Spike Lee. Not only he’s a brilliant director, he also has a great love for sports and good music. That makes him a winner in my book.

Shelton Jackson Lee was born March 20, 1957 in Atlanta (GA). His mother was a teacher of arts and black literature (and the one who nicknamed him Spike) and his father was a Jazz musician and composer. When he was a child, the family moved to Brooklyn, New York where he attended John Dewey High School.

He graduated from New York’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Film & Television.

His first feature film was She’s Gotta Have It where he played a character called Mars Blackmon, who loved the New York Knicks and Michael Jordan. Given the success of the film, Nike offered him a job for directing Air Jordan commercials. The pairing made both stars, superstars.

Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing is in my humble personal opinion the best race tension depicting movie ever made. It manages to be a great critic without sounding corny, is entertaining and showcases the talents of actors such as Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Samuel L. Jackson (in a great radio broadcaster role) and a young Martin Lawrence. And it also shows the world the talents of Public Enemy and their most famous song, “Fight the Power”. Ending with the quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X is the cherry on the cake.

In the early nineties Spike made two things that showed his love for music. In 1990 the wonderful movie Mo’ Better Blues starring Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes showing the struggles of two Jazz musicians in late sixties New York and in 1991 he directed the documentary that, at least in my book, allowed him to do anything he wants for the rest of his life and I won’t care if it’s good or bad: the incomparable Do it a Capella. No need to deepen the conversation here, as I already wrote a whole post about it. It’s a masterpiece, a real work of art.

Of course there are other great films like Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Malcolm X, Summer of Sam, The Inside Man – one of my very favorites – and many others.

When it comes to sports, Spike is known by his love for the New York Yankees, but mostly for his unconditional love for the game of basketball and the New York Knicks. And that’s a nice thing: he loves the game, more than anything. If not, how could he be so good friends with MJ, who year in and year out routed the Knicks at Madison Square Garden?  And he’s also good friends with Kobe Bryant from arch rivals Lakers about whom he filmed a rather nice documentary called Kobe Doin’ Work.

Now, if you wanna talk documentaries and basketball, you don’t need to go further than ESPN’s 30 for 30 classic: Winning Time: New York City vs. Reggie Miller. The altercations between Reggie and Spike during games are hilarious and this is a must see.

For all that, Spike, do the right thing, and step into the Hall of Idols.

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

NewPinnacleAward3D2 (1)

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

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

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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.

NewPinnacleAward3D2 (1)

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

 

Stanley Cup and The Finals

stanley-cup-final-20142014-nba-finals

It’s June and despite the fact that this year we have the soccer World Cup, we still have no football and baseball is warming up. However, June is great because that’s when the NBA finals and the NHL Stanley Cup begin.

I’ve been terrible with my guesses lately, but as a sports lover and a blogger I feel the need to express my guesses in both finals as well.

My two greater mistakes were underestimating the heart of the LA Kings in hockey and the talent of the BIG 3 (LeBron, Wade and Bosh) from the Heat in the NBA. I really thought Chicago wouldn’t be stopped in the NHL and that this time the Pacers had a real shot in beating Miami.

Anyway, that’s what’s great about sports in general: you almost never know what’s going to happen.

So, let’s see if this time I get it right.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings vs. New York Rangers    

First of all, one thing must be said: a classic East Coast/West Coast showdown is just a blast to witness. Actually, not only that, it’s a classic New York/LA rivalry, so this is probably one of the most anticipated finals over the last few years.

As I said before, I hugely underestimated the heart of the LA Kings in the series against Chicago so I have to be more careful now because not only they have their heart they also earned a huge boost in their morale.

The Rangers have a hungry team. It’s been twenty years since the New Yorkers last won a Stanley Cup and it doesn’t look like they are going to let this one slip away.

In a nutshell: an extremely hard pick, but as the Kings have home-ice advantage, I’m picking them. Most important though: it should be WONDERFUL to watch.

Kings 4-3.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat  

Well, I’ll repeat what I said other times: I’m totally biased when it comes to the Spurs because they are my favorite team in the league and I love the city. However, the analysis here has to be objective.

The Spurs have been playing with a chip on their shoulder for the entire season because they were only a free throw away of winning it all last year. They manage to get here with their ageing 3 (Duncan, Parker and Ginobili) healthier than last year and players like Leonard, Splitter and Green playing better. And of course, there’s Pop: definitely an all-time Top 5 coach in the NBA.

The problem is that Miami do have more talent; even in their bench. Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Norris Cole, Rashard Lewis and even Chris Andersen are all very good players. When they are playing well is almost impossible to beat them.

It should also be fun to watch and I hope I’m wrong again, but much to my chagrin, I think the Heat will take the 3-peat.

Heat 4-2.

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

You can contact me at: carloantico666@gmail.com

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Back FROM the New York Groove

BookExpo

It’s no secret for those who know me that I’m not head over heels for New York. Everywhere is crowded and you keep bumping into tourists who walk like zombies without the slightest idea of where they are. Although I still have the same impression about Times Square (probably one of the most boring places in the world) my view of New York as a whole changed significantly this time around.

First of all you don’t need to pass by Times Square everytime. There’s a lot of ways around it. Second, to deny that New York is the cultural center of the world is stupid, and I’m a lot of things but I’m not stupid. Third: walking down 5th Avenue, walking down Central Park West (with the obligatory stop at the Dakota Building), going to a Mets game, go to the MET, buying books at Strand, eating at any of those amazing restaurants and watching a great Broadway play are just some of the great things you can do in the Big Apple and feel extremely fulfilled.

However, my judgment may be a little biased due to the amazing time I had at the BEA. Book Expo America was a great experience, not only the actual expo which is HUGE, but getting to know and chat with people from SBPRA (our CEO Robert Fletcher, Kait and Shaina) and fellow writers.

Robert lead us on a very interesting tour through all the expo, explaining how every little thing works regarding business, e-books, independent publishing, new ways of marketing, etc. It was really educational.

Afterwards, there was a “Books & Booze” (what a great title) Happy Hour at the Houndstooth Pub, sponsored by SBPRA where we could chat about a lot of things and discover that at our core we are all the same people with the same goals in life and maybe have a little faith in the seemingly gloom future of mankind.

All in all, the BEA made me like NYC much more than the first time around and provided me with an experience I will never forget and will treasure it for the rest of my life. Hopefully we can all meet again next year!

And that’s me and Shaina at the Happy Hour with a copy of my book!

BEA - Books & Booze

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