DIXON 2-PACK

the-walking-dead-tv-series-4-merle-daryl-dixon-2-pack-mcfarlane-24I’m not one to collect action figures. There’s enough stuff taking up space around my apartment already, but I sure wouldn’t mind dropping a few bucks on the Merle & Daryl Dixon 2-Pack. Of course, by purchasing one item, I run the risk of becoming obsessed with owning every collectible from the hit series, The Walking Dead.

And if that happens, my collection would quickly depreciate in value. Because there’s no way I could buy such cool toys, and not take them out of the box. I’m still a kid at heart, and if these action figures were left in my possession for any amount of time, it wouldn’t be long before they were waging imaginary battles against my dog.

Here’s an excerpt from the product description from the website of McFarlane Toys:

Two badass, backwoods, rebel yelling redneck brothers thrust against an unyielding onslaught of ravenous undead. Both original Atlanta survivors, Daryl and Merle Dixon have proven time and again, blood is thicker than brain matter! Family reunions can be a bitter sweet pill to swallow, especially in a world inhabited by The Walking Dead!

For more information or to buy this product, click here.

RED LIGHT SAINTS ROCK NYC

On a cold, rainy night, Red Light Saints rolled into The Bowery Electric and brought the thunder and lightning with them. Despite the crappy weather and poor turn out, frontman Travis Schinke led the charge with an energetic and in-your-face performance. The band unleashed a blistering set that included tracks off their new EP The Legend of Jasper Pipestone, a few unreleased songs and a couple of covers for good measure. It was hard to believe there were only twenty something people in the venue because the intensity that this band brought to the stage quickly turned this humdrum night into a bona fide rock concert.

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After show, I caught up with the band backstage. And I had to ask, how did they summon such verve despite the small crowd. Schinke’s response was not only enlightening, but it also provided insight into the mindset of this band.

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“I don’t care if there’s one person or ten thousand people in the room,” said Schinke. “I’m going to try and give that to that one person or those ten thousand people every fucking time. That’s it, man. Because that’s what music is all about.”

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RLS opened their set with “On The Pavement.” The song begins with a grooving guitar riff, but during the verses the duel six string attack (Ben Kurowski and Lane Bashaw) take a step back and allow the bass player (Andy Nader) and drummer (Luke Heckel) to provide the foundation for Schinke’s vocals.

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Power chords as heavy as concrete dominate the chorus, and the song features a tasty guitar solo that will bring any headbanger back to a time when wah wah pedals ruled the land.

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By their fourth song, “The Plan” everyone in the venue had moved front and center. And that only seemed to fire Schinke up more. “I want to see your fucking hands in the air,” he commanded. From the floor monitor to the bass drum, Schinke used every object in his reach to mount his perch. He even pulled a Roger Daltrey and swung the microphone in tight circles at his side during the guitar solo.

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Wisconsin is known primarily for football and cheese, but you can add one more accolade to that list with RLS. Matter of fact, it’s hard to find anything that I don’t like about this band. So it’s no surprise that people are starting to take notice. In less than four years, this band has not only toured with national acts, but last year they won the Wisconsin Area Music Industry’s People’s Choice Award. And this year they were nominated for the Hard Rock/Metal Artist of the Year WAMI Award.

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That’s quite a list of accomplishments, but let’s not forget that they’re currently on tour with Faster Pussycat for the second time. And being the opening act for a veteran rock band comes with a host of learning experiences and surprises. Like what happened not too long ago in Georgia during Faster Pussycat’s set. Bass player, Danny Nordahl suddenly fell on stage and hit his head on the drum riser. Luckily, RLS’ bass player (Nader) knew their songs and the Pussycats didn’t have to cancel the show (watch the video).

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RLS’s new EP, The Legend of Jasper Pipestone will be released on April 17th, and to celebrate the occasion, the band is set to open up for Faster Pussycat in Greenbay that night. It’s bound to be a spectacular homecoming that their fans in Wisconsin would be foolish to miss.

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However, music aside, there was one question that was plaguing me all night long. Who the fuck is Jasper Pipestone? I kept picturing a tatted up dude with an unkept beard, in a Packers jersey with intense bloodshot eyes. You know the type, an intellectual stoner with a plethora of local lore. But as it turns out, I wasn’t even close. Schinke filled me in on who…or what Mr. Pipestone represents.

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“Jasper Pipestone is the combined feelings and thoughts of five guys. Trying to do something different. We actually had his name before we realized what it was all about.”

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Something to live by for sure, and it’s clear that this band has a good idea of what that’s all about. The plan gives them freedom to explore their creativity. It also gives them free range to let loose and interpret other people’s music as well.

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As we all know, cover songs can be hit or miss depending on the popularity or obscurity of the track. But when bands pick a crowd pleaser, and deliver the goods, there’s no way things can go wrong. RLS treated the audience to “Man In The Box”  by Alice In Chains and elevated the audience to yet another level. Schinke spent a good portion of the song singing with the crowd. He even shared the microphone with members of the metal band that opened for them, Usurp The King.

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Their last official song was “Say What You Will”. The tune opens with some heavy bass guitar and then clears the way for the main riff. It features a catchy hook, and after a brief interlude, the song builds with intensity. Warning: This tune will get stuck in your head, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  

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When their set was over, the band tried to leave the stage, but the crowd called them back for an encore. Not one to disappoint, they finished the night with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” It wasn’t on their set list, but as Schinke belted out the lyrics: “It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled.” I found myself thinking of the irony in ending such a hard rocking show with that song.

To hear a sample track or to download Red Light Saints’ new EP click here. All photos by Michelle Jesipaz. Cover art and design by Mark Engeldinger

WHO NEEDS A GUITAR PICK?

A few years ago, Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big) decided to change-up his style and play guitar without a pick. Considering his genre, it was a risky move. But after listening to a few tracks from the band, The Winery Dogs. The evidence is in the sound, especially since he has bass legend Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) plucking away next to him. Talk about musical chemistry! This power trio is backed up by Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums. Check out the official video of their song, Elevate.

HERE COMES ANOTHER ‘SEX TAPE’

There’s a new comedy set to hit the theaters this summer, and it looks hilarious. Sex Tape stars Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) and Cameron Diaz (There’s Something About Mary, Charlie’s Angels). When their relationship falls into a rut after a decade of marriage, they refer to the Joy of Sex book and decide to make a video. It’s sounds like a great idea, until their private porno is accidentally released via iCloud. Watch the trailer below…

WILL CAROL AND TYREESE SAVE THEM ALL?

10154241_905915556101270_1672373254_nSeason 4 of The Walking Dead is in the bag and what a ride it was. The prison looked to be salvation, but the Governor destroyed this apocalyptic utopia. Rick’s ride was explained in the season finale; he became a farmer to save his son and then became a killing machine again to save his son. Personally, I like the jugular-chomping Rick better.

Carol was banished, and now she may be Rick’s last hope at Terminus. Our friends are locked in a boxcar (by a bunch of cannibals?), but Carol and Tyreese have yet to arrive. I predict that mismatched duo will some how save the day and free Rick and company.

There is a lot to look forward to and a long summer before Season 5 begins. By that time, baseball will almost be over, my Con Ed bills will soar and I’ll be at the beach wearing my Speedo!

So let’s say good-bye to some of our Dead friends who did not make out of season 4 alive: Karen and David, we hardly knew you, but you were important to plot twists that played out during the season.

We didn’t like Martinez because he was the Governor’s head henchman, but his death at the hands of The Governor was particularly brutal. As he was being fed to a merry band of zombies, I felt bad for him.

Hershel, I miss you already. So does the show, but thankfully they brought you back via flashbacks for the finale. Perhaps, we’ll see more Hershel flashbacks next year.

The Governor – Die, bastard die! He was beaten by Rick, stabbed by Michonne and shot in the head by his girlfriend, excuse me, his ex-girlfriend. And it still didn’t feel like a good enough death for that evil man.

971017_906047199421439_1262258843_nMika and Lizzie, one of the season’s most poignant and controversial scenes. It was symbolic of just how low the zombie apocalypse has taken us. A little girl has no understanding of death and she kills her innocent little sister without remorse, yet screams in agony when a zombie is killed.

And Joe… I’ve included Joe on this list because of the awesome way Rick killed him. I didn’t see it coming (either did Joe). I actually jumped off the couch and cheered! And for those who know me, jumping is not in my repertoire!

Of course, lest we forget the legions of zombies who perished during this season. For without them there would be no zombie apocalypse! And I’ve done my research, I can’t wait for Season frigging 5!

Jeff Baskin is currently writing a vampire novel. Don’t miss his column every Dead Wednesday all season long. Follow him on Twitter: @1Brooklynwriter Photos courtesy of Gene Page/AMC. 

TERMINUS… SAFE HAVEN OR TRAP?

1969298_897847086908117_302073968_nThis past Sunday, The Walking Dead offered up one of the most heartfelt TV moments since Kim Kardashian married Kris Humphries.

Maggie running into Glenn’s arms was a beautiful moment that had my eyes watering, and if not for the fact that I’m a tough guy from Brooklyn, I may have actually have shed a tear. I mean, the dude was so close to death. Zombies were bearing down on him, but Glenn would not leave Tara to the horde. And out of nowhere came a fuselage of bullets to shred the walkers to bits. It was Maggie to Glenn’s rescue. It was very romantic.

And you know, with death all around me, my baby sister missing and no sure future, I like to play “Don’t fall off the Rail” too. What a cute moment, Michonne and Carl played while Rick watched. I wanted to knock Carl off the rail myself. But he did share the candy bar and Rick did smile. I think it was Rick’s first smile since him and Shane were cops talking about relationships in their cruiser in Season 1.

1977416_900335063325986_570352269_nIf I learned anything this week, it’s don’t mess with Daryl. Len tried and got an arrow through his eye. As for me, I claim this cup of coffee. I claim this donut. I claim this show. Claim! We also learned that Daryl’s new group knows what Rick looks like and is after revenge. It should be an incredible showdown next week when they inevitably meet up in Terminus.

And speaking of Terminus, frigging creepy. It’s a trap! Come on! Don’t go in! There are chains on the fences, but they’re not locked. No sentry. No people milling about. Get out!  And then there’s Mary at the grill, offering to fix them a plate. Really Mary, where’d that steak come from? And I did my research, the head half of the rabbit is tastier than the ass end.

Jeff Baskin is currently writing a vampire novel. Don’t miss his column every Dead Wednesday all season long. Follow him on Twitter: @1Brooklynwriter Photos courtesy of Gene Page/AMC. 

OUT OF THIS WORLD

I have not missed an episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey since this series began. The show is hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and it is executive produced by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad).

Where similar shows fall short while attempting to explain the mysteries of the universe, this is precisely where Cosmos excels. By utilizing high-tech animation, forgotten history and new science, this series not only helps viewers to understand these vast concepts, but it also brings them down to a more human level.

LOOK AT THE FLOWERS, LIZZY

1185365_894818680544291_1696808590_nOh yeah I did! I predicted something and I was friggin right! I might as well be a writer for The Walking Dead because on October 22 of last year I wrote:

Okay Zombieheads, who is feeding the rats to the walkers? Is it Little Lizzy who names zombies and seems to miss the newly re-killed Nick more than her own father? My money is on it being her. As her sister, Mika said, “She’s not weak, she’s just messed up.”

Enough of that self-congratulatory crap and back to the incredible episode of The Walking Dead this past Sunday.

What a week! We all knew that Little Lizzy was a little banged up. I mean what little girl wouldn’t be? She’s seen nothing but death and destruction and mayhem. She’s killed real people and she’s killed dead people. All this when she should have been more concerned about boys pulling on her hair. The chips were stacked against her, as she tumbled into the realm of fucked up. Killing her sweet sister to prove to Carol that she would come back as Mika, was the last straw.

As Carol and Tyreese ran to Lizzy and we see the blood on her hands and Mika’s bloodied corpse, we knew that Lizzy was a mad little girl who was a real danger to the small pecan-eating group.  “I was just about to stab Judith”, she said. Gives me the shivers!

So two huge things are yet to occur in this episode. What to do with Lizzy and is Carol going to tell Tyreese she killed Karen? Now the two ended up being connected because of the order they happened.

Without saying it, Tyreese and Carol decided that killing Lizzy was the only thing to do.  Tyreese offered to talk to her, but as Carol pointed out, it was too late for that. For their own safety and more importantly Judith’s safety, Lizzy had to be executed.

1544969_894648200561339_557065613_n“Look at the flowers.”(I’ll never look at flowers the same.) And with that line Carol kills Lizzy with a bullet to the head. Ouch!  But Carol did what needed to be done for the survival of the group.  And Tyrese watched and saw and realized what lengths Carol would go to protect those she loved.

And therein lies the importance of his witnessing Carol’s willingness to get her hands dirty.  The next scene, the two of them are sitting quietly over a puzzle as she confesses to killing Tyreese’s girlfriend, Karen. Tyreese, realizing she did it because she feared for the group’s safety and not any malice forgives her. He won’t forget, but he forgives. Now granted, he was clutching a handgun and Carol acquiesced to whatever justice Tyreese decided to dole out. So I did soil myself a bit as I yelled at the TV, but all ended well. Well, not well for our two little girls, Mika and Lizzy, but for everyone else.

And one more thing… I have done my research, and it’s a fact that crispy walkers do crackle on implosion.

Jeff Baskin is currently writing a vampire novel. Don’t miss his column every Dead Wednesday all season long. Follow him on Twitter: @1Brooklynwriter Photos courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.