Monday, December 15, 2008

Gift Giving, By Rochelle

Well, I just paid the weekly bills and figured out what I have left over for gift
buying... not pretty. I truly dread this time of year. When I say dread I mean
hate. Before you start blaming it on my Jewish roots let me tell you nobody does
Christmas up more than my mother and sister. They are maniacs. Despite what they
say every year about "cutting back" and "money is tight" they still do it up big
time and seem to enjoy every minute of it. They are 100% Jewish so please don't go
blaming my Scroogeness on my religion.

I just do not believe in charging way beyond what I can affford to pay (I know, so
un-American of me) and I have always hated spending hours shopping and I have people
to buy for that I have no clue what to buy them. I don't find it fun finding clever
things for those "hard to buy for " people -- I find it annoying as hell. How about
we simply don't exchange gifts? How about you donate some money to the Humane
Society in my name and I willl donate to your favorite charity in your name? I
really don't want you to stress over buying me a gift either.

I don't mind indulging in gifts for my kids and husband but to be honest they need
to pick out their own clothes so that is out and mostly they want expensive things
like Nanos and cameras and GPS for the car. It was much more fun when they were
younger and I could surprise them with fake Barbie dolls from the dollar store. The
things i could do with $20 was simply amazing.

Anyway, I do love the time spent with my family because they are the funniest
people I know and we crack each other up. I love visiting my neighbors and other
friends on Christmas Eve. I love watching old (not remakes) Christmas movies. So I
guess I don't hate this time of year but I do hate the gift thing. It truly
depresses me. There is no meaning behind it so don't start spouting that crap to me.
People just do it out of habit and exercise no self control. Can't deal... Sorry.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What is Christmas Really About? By Jackie

As Christmas draws near, people everywhere are scrambling to buy buy buy. The thought of presents underneath the tree has become more important than just spending quality time with the ones you love. As much as I love Christmas for the gifts, I have found myself thinking more about how much I love just hanging out at home and chillin with the fam. I can honestly say that this Christmas I don't care that much about getting everything I want. I don't really need anything. Yeah, money is always nice to have, but I just want to go home and watch some Christmas movies.

Today in my last class of Issues in Advertising my professor showed us a piece from a movie called, "What Would Jesus Buy?". It really freaked me out. I laughed at a few parts, but only because of how ridiculous people have gotten when it comes to spending and buying like crazy near the holidays. I think everyone should definitely watch this movie, or at least this clip we watched in class. Maybe it will make everyone think a little bit differently around this time of the year, and every month after.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Buntology in Boston (featuring Velvet Jones)

Angela and I ventured somewhat outside our element - well, at least our zip code - this weekend for former Westfield student and Greek goddess Natalia ("Tals") Araszkiewicz' birthday. Tals' sister, Karolina, welcomed most of the Buntology crew into her Brighton apt for a Saturday of celebration in Faneuil Hall. (Rhymes with "Daniel," for those of you on the wrong side of the country.)

Ivan, Xtina, Ldav and I scooted up to Brighton late Friday afternoon. There was a bit of a snag at the toll plaza - cars everywhere, people being morons. I was very very bitchy about it, but I hate when other people are driving and I was sitting in the middle in the back. The exact opposite of driving. Sorry, Ivan. But we got through that OK.

To keep the morale up during the long drive we created a song in honor of the birthday girl. We gave Lauren one line because she was a little nervous, then all of us yelled the last couple. Here's some variation of our rhyme.

Yo what up Tals, you the shit
/ we came down here so we could kick it
Happy early birthday to you / from me and the rest of our crew
Yo I came here all the way from N.A.
/ just to wish you a happy birthday
You 24 / and lookin so fly

so let's get drunk and fuckin hiiiigh woooo!!!

When we got there (and got a few beers down the hatch) we called Natalia into Karolina's kitchen to give her a private show, but everyone heard it and made us do an encore. We really nailed it the second time around. Amy-Lou Lagerstrom, another former Westodian and friend of Buntology, did the beat. ("N.A." is the the location of Buntology headquarters, North Adams.)

Our crew piled into cabs and headed off to Faneuil Hall. Hennessy's had two or three floors (at least two; I thought I heard three but I only went on two of 'em) and a ton of good-lookin' bouncers. We danced upstairs, had some drinks, blah blah blah ...

Eventually, we migrated downstairs, where we found the band Velvet Jones to be engaging and fun! (I heard them playing "Dammit" and freaked the f*ck out. - Angela) Angela and I quickly began to mix partying with business - who were these guys? There's nothing cooler than when a band will let you have fun and not be standoffish. I want my musicians to get down with me. These fellas - Rob, the singer, Ren, the guitarist, Marc, the bassist, and drummer Mike - were a blast. They let Angie, Xtina and I slither and stumble all around on their stage, croon into the mic, and pretty much act like the rock stars we thought we were after six or seven $5 Bud Lights. Thanks for the beer Mike!

Not only did these guys sing and play well, they chose fun songs that were a blast to jump around to. And most, most importantly, they played them loudly enough that you couldn't tell how horrendously we (me) were screwing up the lyrics. Which is good, because I was screeeammming "Mr. Jones," "Inside Out," god only knows what other pop shit. No offense guys. And you know the Buntology crew was there for every song.

And if Jackie had been there ... God help us. Jackie would have had a stroke.

I also had a serious and moving moment with Rob.* I can't fully put it in to words, but the final song, "Date Rape," when the lights came on and the bar was shutting down ... well, have a look.

*That picture was actually taken from about halfway through the first set when they were having a serious and moving moment during the song "Mr. Jones."

** Oh, good. I'd hate to think we were having a deeply touching singalong to "Date Rape."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lights out, bitches

So I used to work with this down-ass editor at The Berkshire Eagle named Matt Martinelli. Last winter, he conceived of the idea that we should all turn our lights off to save energy. I KNOW, right? Ridiculous. Conserving energy.

The idea was that businesses would turn off their lights during peak sunlight hours - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - every day, thus utilizing energy and saving money. Companies save cash and resources, we save the planet. Everyone wins! I thought it was pretty damn good idea.

Cut to a year later. Matt's got a nonprofit called Lights Out, Green In, of which he's executive director. He also has a wayyy better gig than working at The Eagle - he's now living in Boston and working at the Boston Herald. We miss you, Mateo!

My ex-boyfriend and friend (thank god because I would die without his support in the newsroom) Chris Carlson is also on the board of LOGI. He was a founding member. I gotta give these guys props, because when they're mad famous in a few years, we'll be able to say we gave them press in the beginning.

So don't be an id - support them and
support your planet. Buntology does!

LOGI also helps provide fluorescent light bulbs to low-income folks. That way, poor people can also help save the planet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ivan's "Guitar Hero World Tour" Review

The new "Guitar Hero: World Tour" by Neversoft and Activision came out last month. It’s been a while since its release, but I finally got a lot of time to play it during this short little vacation from school.

Some of the new features of this music-playing based game include a larger guitar controller, the ability to open-strum the guitar, new drum equipment and tracks, and a mic track for vocals. A new feature in the game for playing the guitar is the ability to play notes while holding and maintaining another note.  A feature for playing bass tracks include a straight line that appears on the screen indicating that the player should strum the controller without hitting any fret buttons. 

Also, what I think is the greatest feature in the game is the new “Music Studio” in which one can create his or her own custom music tracks.  Some people, for example my roommate J., work hard and practice countless hours learning to read and play instruments.  With the “Music Studio” one can easily just make their own song.  You can create custom tracks for lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums.  Then you can upload your tracks and share them with others.  I am still trying to figure this one out myself, and if I can seriously get good at the “Music Studio” thing then maybe I will come out with my own album myself. So be on the look out for that!  

Now to the game’s soundtrack. The game includes many great songs to play. Since I am not going to list off every song, I am only going to name a few bands that I personally like to play: At theDrive-In, Billy Idol, Blink 182, The Doors, Interpol, Jimi Hendrix, Modest Mouse, Motorhead, Muse, No Doubt, Steve Miller Band, System of a Down, and many more.  

Overall this game is great!  I’ve also started playing multiplayer with my friends Danny Sullivan and (Matt) Minski, so I gotten a chance to play the bass, as well as the guitar, and they are both extremely fun.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Adams: Cooler than North Adams?

... Yes. Here's the scoop, readers.

Angela and Jackie and I found ourselves locked out of a favorite Pittsfield dive bar Friday night. It was 12:45; what to do? So I rang up a coworker from my day job, The Berkshire Eagle, and friend of Buntology Mike Foster. Mike is a very down guy.

We found ourselves at the Grille, a little bar on Summer Street in Adams. The beers were cheap and the boys were cool - why didn't we know about this place before? One of Mike's friends, Al Taylor, told us his band,
The Damaged, was playing a show at Cafe Latino the following night. When Ange found out it was a punk kind of band, she was down. And when I found out my favorite editor at The Eagle, Kevin, was in the band, I was down as well. (Jack was going to Boston.)

Cafe Latino is a hip restaurant / bar located in Building 11 of Mass MoCA, a world-famous contemporary art museum down the street from our house. No, seriously. Seriously it's world-famous and seriously it's down the street from our house. And we are ids because we almost never go there.

Alicia and I got there for the beginning of the show at 10 p.m. with Newcastles and Sam Adams hidden in our purse. (Sorry, the drinks there were absurdly expensive, and we're in a recession.) The Sam Adams ended up being a poor choice because they're so dark and hard to chug in a bathroom. The Newcastles went down smooth as honey, though.

The first band on the bill (whose name escapes me) was fine. Slap on a leather jacket and play three chords as fast as you can and sure you sound "punk," but song quality was lacking. The second band on the bill was The Damaged and they were legit as hell. They had great energy, well-structured catchy-ass songs and a loyal fan base.

Yeah they did - the band guys and their fans are all from North County, which means they would prettyyy much die/kill for each other. Kevin and his brother, Colin, the lead singer of The Damaged, are from Adams. So is Mike Foster. Those guys are tiiiight.

I found myself not wanting to leave to go pee (I was slightly intoxicated) because I didn't want to miss any of the set.
About 2/3rds of the way through the show the band decided to make up a song on the spot. They asked the audience to give them three letters from A-F to make up the chord structure and then they asked for a topic to which I replied "smokin' weed!" Fo' sho'.

I find it interesting that Angela uses the phrase "replied." She didn't "reply"; she screamed "SMOKING WEEEEEEED at the top of her lungs. At my editor's band.

They played a few more songs and ended their set, despite the crowd chanting for more. The third "headlining" band came on shortly after and nobody cared. Legit, there was nobody watching save for me and this sleazy "lemme be yo manager" type dude.

After the show, Alicia and I talked to the band and got some free swag!

Kev hooked us up with T-shirts and CDs and, my favorite, guitar picks. I was trying pretty hard not to act like a fan girl, but c'mon - these guys were too good. Kevin was a fanastic guitar player. Before, I kind of figured he would be OK. Half the guys I work with play guitar and all of them say they're good. Whatever whatever. But I was surprised and delighted to find out Kevin really IS good! And his band is mad cool. We partied a little bit with Al Friday / Saturday and had a blast. Ange and I are definitely gonna creep around and go to their next show. Sorry Kevin / Al. We're groupies now.

Hell yes. Basically we are huge groupies.

Buntologically Informed