Rush Drummer Neil Peart Passes Away at Age 67

Rock and Roll lost a legend this past week when drummer Neil Peart of Rush died at age 67 from brain cancer. Peart joined band members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson in 1974 when he replaced original drummer John Rutsey who left the band following the release of the first album. Neil Peart recorded eighteen studio albums with Lee and Lifeson over a forty-four year history with the band, and following fourteen years of debate from 1998-2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Rush bandmates in December of 2012. Oddly, the debate was by no means related to their popularity nor record sales but said to be due to their genre classification as a progressive rock band, go figya.

Neil Peart was a master of his trade, and an orchestrator of drums and percussion. His colossal drum kits included a wide variety of percussion instruments beyond standard drums which he tastefully injected into his drum parts both in the studio as well as live on stage. Having seen Rush in concert, I can say that his drum solos were by far some of the most amazing displays of modern drumming that I have ever seen. Peart is said to have been influenced by such rock and roll drummer legends as Keith Moon of The Who, Ginger Baker of Cream, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and studio legend Carmine Appice who has played for everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Rod Stewart.

Peart was also Rush’s primary lyricist having wrote the lyrics to songs which have accounted for some twenty-four gold and fourteen platinum records throughout Rush’s four-decade history. He has also been referred to as one of rock and roll’s most accomplished lyricists. If anyone has ever read the lyrics to Rush’s songs, they are at times extraordinarily complex and well thought out. Having played in bands which have covered Rush’s material if conquering the drum parts weren’t hard enough for the some of the drummer’s I have played with, watching singers attempt the lyrical phrasing of their songs was even more entertaining. Particularly the song The Spirit of Radio from the 1980 Permanent Waves album.

Neil Peart fought off glioblastoma multiforme also known as GBM. GBM is a malignant tumor which grows on the brain and it is the most aggressive and deadliest form of cancer. GBM is not one of the curable forms of cancer. When a patient is diagnosed with glioblastoma, they are generally given a three to twelve-month window to extend life if chemotherapy treatments are successful. Unfortunately, there are an extremely low percentage of patients who survive longer than three years following diagnosis. Neil Peart survived GBM for three and half years but sadly passed away on Tuesday January 7, 2020 in Santa Monica California.

(Shown Above) One of my favorite Neil Peart Drum Kits from the 2015 R40 Tour. We do not own the rights to this picture and image may be subject to copyright laws. Image credits belong to Andrew Olson http://andrewolson.com/ and it was originally taken by Joe Sokohl @mojoguzzi in Bristow VA.

Stephen Johns Returned to the Stars Lineup Saturday

About a week ago, I wrote a short post about a hockey player in the Dallas Stars organization by the name of Stephen Johns who was finally cleared to return to the lineup to play hockey again following a twenty-two month recovery from a head injury Johns suffered as the result of a hit he took from Matt Duchene of the Col0rado Avalanche back in 2017.

In my post It’s A Long Road Back I briefly spoke about the seriousness of head trauma and how from my own experiences with my son I was thrilled to see Stephen Johns finally making his return to the sport. Needless to say hockey is my sport and head injuries are a fact of life within the sport itself. Johns played his first game on Saturday night for the Stars’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars, and in his first game back scored a goal and three assists on home ice against the Toronto Marlies to contribute to a 5-3 Stars victory.

All things considered this was some incredible news because although his return had been long awaited, the Stars organization seemingly handled his return cautiously and rightfully so. Concussion symptoms following a head injury have an indefinite recovery time. Players who experience symptoms referred to as post-concussion syndrome resulting from head trauma have to take things day by day and that is quite imaginably very frustrating. It’s great to see him back and I’m looking forward to his eventual recall to the big team.

Who Would Have Ever Thought Carvana Could Be For Real?

Who would have ever thought that something like Carvana could someday be for real? There are very few things in this world that I find more annoying than going to a car dealership to buy a new or used vehicle.

Recently my youngest son, the last of my kids to start driving, started talking to me about buying his first car. While I was truly thrilled that he was finally ready to do so, at the same time my blood pressure went soaring at the thought of going from car dealership to car dealership searching for a good buy. Since my kids know me so well before the first words could come out of my mouth, he swiftly stopped me and said one word, “Carvana”.

To be quite honest my first thought was that he was insane. Naturally, I was skeptical but who in today’s world isn’t when it comes to buying, selling, or trading automobiles. Of all my kids he is my technology extremist and quite frankly when he tells me about things that he would like to do, it is either far too incomprehensible, or it just sounds so outlandish that most of the time I pay no attention. In this case I had to do some quick investigation because just the proposition of not having to deal with some pushy-ass lying car salesman was worth the research time. Much to my surprise Carvana was for real.

There really is no better way to describe the process beyond saying that it was genuinely seamless. Having never left the house let alone the couch, within a matter of minutes he had a pre-approval, a budget to work with, and a plethora of cars to choose from. Once he selected a vehicle from the inventory we looked at the Carfax, he made his choice of vehicle, and the website redirected him to the final credit approval stage. From what I could see it was nothing out of the ordinary. It was basically a standard credit app just as if you were in person at a regular car dealership. They asked a few questions relating to his income and he provided them with some minor documentation (most recent paystub) to prove his income. Then he securely uploaded a snapshot of his personal ID (driver’s license) and within minutes of receiving a final approval, he had his choice of delivery date and method i.e.; the Carvana ATM or a door to door delivery.

He chose the door to door delivery and from what I am to understand it went quite smoothly. He said the delivery driver telephoned him a few minutes before he arrived and upon arrival let my son visually inspect the car before taking it for a fifteen-minute test drive. When he returned from test driving it, he said the driver went over the seven-day return policy, the final purchase details, and what to do if he is unhappy with the car after grace period ends. He also explained how Carvana manages the Department of Motor Vehicles paperwork and how he will receive his license plates if he keeps the car. Once all that was complete, he said that he presented the driver with his insurance information and signed off on the paperwork and it was a done deal.

He bought a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta and although he did not do the vehicle ATM thing, he said that the experience was extremely pleasing. In addition, he told me that Carvana gave him a brand new in the package sunscreen for the dashboard and a lighter plug-in car vacuum, plus a tote bag full of little gifts which included a drink cup, the tokens that he would have used if he did the ATM delivery, vent clip air fresheners, a miniature Carvana shelf display car, cookie cutters, a silly-selfie pair of sunglasses, etc. It seems as though there are so many positives to purchasing a car this way that Carvana’s slogan of “The New Way To Buy A Car” truly depicts what it actually is. Kudos to them!

Igor Shesterkin's NHL Debut was a Win, Win

Last night’s NHL debut of New York Rangers’ elite goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin was a win, win in my opinion. While it didn’t take long for the young netminder to get a taste of the sometimes woeful Ranger defense, I thought he settled in nicely and made some good saves when they needed him to. True, he gave up two early goals but one would be hard pressed to think that this young man did not have a few opening night jitters to shake off too.

One of the highlights came early in the first period when Shesterkin made a flyball like outlet pass from just above his goal crease right to the tape of forward Kaapo Kakko who took the pass and broke straight into the Colorado Avalanche zone. Whether you watched on television or in person at Madison Square Garden, you could hear the “ooh’s and ahh’s” plain as could be, and the smile response from Rangers coach David Quinn that followed was a memorable moment for fans who have waited to see this young man play at the NHL level.

I also admire the fact that the New York Rangers organization decided to give this young goaltender his debut appearance on home ice against the leagues leading offense in the Colorado Avalanche. The 5-3 Ranger victory was the icing on the cake and quite imaginably it left a sweet taste in the mouths of all involved in bringing him to America and the New York Rangers. Looking forward to his next start and watching him fill up the highlight reels with all that he seemingly has to offer.

It’s A Long Road Back

www.defendingbigd.com/2020/1/8/21056912/dallas-stars-stephen-johns-texas-conditioning-assignment-health-post-traumatic-headaches

Head injuries in professional sports are no joking matter. In contact sports such as football or hockey they are at times simply an inevitable part of the game.

My oldest son having played both football and hockey at the scholastic level not too long ago, head injuries were once a major concern for us. To this day I often ponder if academic sports take this issue serious enough. He suffered at least one documented concussion playing HS football and possibly one other that we know of while playing travel youth hockey at the bantam level.

Parents of all young athletes should try to keep up on this topic as much as possible without becoming completely neurotic about it. Take equipment purchases seriously and never undercut helmet expenses. The technology has greatly improved in the past decade and the potential danger of head trauma can never be taken too lightly.

The Stars are one my favorite pro teams and this is good news to anyone who follows the team or the sport in general.

Our Knotfest Roadshow 2019 Experience

My passion for music is as extensive as it is devout and my taste in music genre is equally as broad. The way I view music is that there really is no good or bad since like art I rate music by how it moves me. A big part of it for me has to do with the presentation because when I am listening to music I try to envision what the artist is attempting to express, thus the expression in itself can have no real good or bad valuation but rather more of a level of impact since it is genuinely a matter of interpretation.

When I go to see a live show it’s really about whether or not the physical performance is aesthetically pleasing. The Knotfest Roadshow 2019 was the perfect comeback show for me and the Austin 360 Amphitheater, which is now the Germania Insurance Amphitheater, at Circuit of the Americas complex in Austin Texas was a great venue to go see an outdoor show.

Slipknot

Slipknot did not disappoint; they were everything that I had expected them to be and since I had already known much of the new album’s material, the set list was very familiar. The latest album We Are Not Your Kind track for track is likely what one might expect from Slipknot. In your face guitar riffs, vocals shifting from melodic voicing to out and out aggression, and pounding rhythms from Alessandro Ventruella on bass and the insane percussion section. Bottom line is that like many other Slipknot albums they leave little if anything on the table for debate. They played all the fan favorites one might expect them to i.e.; Sic, Wait and Bleed, Psychosocial, Duality, Spit it Out, Vermillion, and from the newest album both Unsainted and Solway Firth were epic. The stage show was truly a spectacle to see and from my viewpoint it was a 5 star performance. Here is Slipknot’s setlist.fm from that day.

Gojira

Gojira was the band that beyond Slipknot I most wanted to see heading into this show. Before going to the Knotfest Roadshow 2019 show I had really done some homework on these guys because I had read that some industry journals were referring to them as the metal band of the decade and that was intriguing. I knew of them but had not really delved into their music till we purchased the tickets. Their performance from the Pol’and’ Rock Festival which I attached the link here to truly gained my attention. Mainly because the musicianship within this group is phenomenal. Thinking back to their set in Austin I wished they had played “Only Pain” but I was thrilled to see them perform two of my other faves in “Stranded” and “Flying Whales” and they were spot on. I would see them again in a heartbeat for sure, here is Gojira’s setlist.fm from that day.

Behemoth

Of the four performances on the bill that day Behemoth was the biggest surprise for me because having not been to a live festival type show in some twenty-three years, I was shocked that for an opening act they had such a big sound and they made quite the impact on both me and my son. From the opening number “Wolves Ov Siberia” off the I Loved You At Your Darkest album I thought they had an incredibly in-your-face sound. I can imagine how much more impacting both their set and their sound might have been if we were seeing them indoors or even later in the show after nightfall. They are an extreme metal band, thus lights, makeup, costumes, and stage appearance would have been truly amazing after dark. I would definitely see them again as well. Here is Behemoth’s setlist.fm from that show.

Volbeat
Pictures of Volbeat by Tyler J. Hicks

Normally I would have put these short reviews in order of their appearance on the bill, but then again sometimes its fun to save the best for last. In this case it is neither of the two. Plain and simple I didn’t enjoy Volbeat. Even though I thought they were terrible, by far that does not mean that it was not a good performance because for those that do like them it was probably epic. I will give them this, a lot of people at the show that day seemed to be into them and they appeared to know the material. I saw people around us singing along during their set which honestly left me scratching my head as a lifelong fan of the metal genre. Guitarist Rob Caggiano is from our neck of the woods in New York, and when we lived there we were roughly ten minutes from his studio in upstate NY. I have been a long time fan of his playing thus I’m still perplexed as to the musical connection here. Nonetheless here is Volbeat’s setlist.fm that day.

It was typically hot day in Texas and it was funny that Nergal of Behemoth made mention of that. My son has some great clips of the show on his You Tube channel at Arch Knight. You can find me tweeting about sports on Twitter at Puck2theHead @thenotablymisc1 or checkout my music playlists on You Tube at my channel: TheRemarkablyMiscellaneous

The NHL Winter Classic 2020

Yesterday’s NHL Winter Classic 2020 from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas was an amazing way to start off the new decade as a Stars fan. The game itself as well as the coverage of the event on a whole was thrilling to see. Naturally seeing the Dallas Stars come away with a 4-2 victory over the rival Nashville Predators in the end made it that much sweeter, especially after the Stars were down 2-0 in the early part of the game. My compliments to all the folks who put an effort into making it happen, I never thought an outdoor game in such a genuinely warm environment could work but it did and it was an enjoyable way to spend the first day of the new year.

Of course I spent a large portion of the game tweeting and to no surprise at all took a lump or two over a tweet that I think was misunderstood, but it was my fault because I think after looking back on it that I probably could have worded it better than I did. The sport of Hockey is an emotional one, and at times we as fans walk a fine line in wanting to see our favorite team win, but I don’t think that there is a single person out there including myself that wants to see a player get injured trying to win a game.

I should probably clarify what I tweeted out because by far I do not condone what the Dallas Stars’ Corey Perry did when he delivered a head shot hit on the Predators Ryan Ellis and I think he was remorseful for doing so. It was definitely an on-the-edge of your seat moment in the opening minutes of the game and the reactions from the fans on Twitter including myself went on for hours even after the game ended. Sadly both players inevitably missed the rest of the game as the Predators Ryan Ellis did not return after the being helped off, and Corey Perry was assessed a major penalty and thrown out of the game.

Again, Hockey is an intense sport and at times whether you are a fan watching the game or a professional player participating in the game, emotions can sometimes get the better of you. I would like to personally apologize to the all the folks on Twitter who might have seen my tweet and maybe even may have raised an eyebrow at what I said, but in my defense it was purely a reactionary response to Ryan Ellis’ hit on New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich which was equally debated over social media following that game. Having watched both games on live television I learned something from this and that is that the NHL must figure out a better way to set a precedence in how they not only deal with a repeat offender, but what criteria goes into determining the repercussions for players who partake in such tactics. At first thought I was thinking that maybe reviewing these plays on the spot when they happen could work because Ellis’ hit on Buchnevich definitely warranted a major penalty, an ejection from that game, and a league suspension as well, but that would likely slow down the game and leave far too many incidences requiring in-game reviews.

At the time Corey Perry’s hit on Ryan Ellis seemed like poetic justice considering how I felt after watching him get away with hit on Buchnevich, but by far there is no question that he did not have to face the consequences Perry did because for Perry just the shame of being thrown out of a game like the nationally televised Winter Classic seemed far more punishing in itself and the Nashville Predators not only got the five man advantage but they also scored two power play goals on the penalty assessed to Dallas for Corey Perry’s actions. All Ryan Ellis got following his hit on Rangers Pavel Buchnevich was a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing and very lame review of the hit by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety official George Parros.

It is baffling at times but onward we go because the second half of the season is upon us and today the Dallas Stars are 23-14-4 and sitting in third place in the Western Conference’s Central Division eight points ahead of the same division rival Nashville Predators they faced in the game yesterday. Next time something like that happens I will take a moment to think before hitting the send button on a tweet of such a sensitive nature.

Appreciating Music As An Art Form

Author Georgia Cates in her book Beauty from Pain said that “Music is what feelings sound like out loud…” (Cates, 2013), that is profound on so many levels. American poet and writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) said that “music is the universal language of mankind” and while the list of insightful descriptions of music is likely endless, so too can one’s taste in musical styles.

While music as an art form must remain infinite in its diversity to be able to appeal to a broader audience, equally with music genres from Alternative to Zydeco and all types of variety in between, one might argue that there is something in music for everyone.

With respect to taste in music genre and so many parameters to consider, no specific genre could ever solely satisfy my musical palate exclusively. Music has had significance in my life from the very first time I picked up a guitar around twelve years old to how I listen to music now as an adult.

Expressing my appreciation for music in words is very difficult since on any given night if inspired to immerse myself in music I might listen to one or more genres of music but then later physically play music from a distinctively different genre in the same evening.

When it comes to music an art form and the appreciation thereof, it is more about preference rather than good or bad as a valuation. Music is about aesthetics and presentation, thus while a person may have a particular preference in musical style or genre, it seems unreasonable to think that subjectivity can ever be a compliment to appreciating music on the whole as an art form.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws 2019.

1968: One of the Most Historical Years in History

The world was changing in 1968 and it was quite possibly one of the most unforgettable years in American history because so many significant things took place that year. At the forefront of this commencing decade both the Vietnam War and The Civil Rights Movement were at full mast. 1968 was the year of the Tet Offensive in North Vietnam which saw an escalation of the American involvement in this tragic war while back home in the United States the public opinion of the war was changing from support for the war to anti-war protest.

It was on April 4, 1968 that following years of civil rights activism James Earl Ray murdered the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee. Then following Dr. King’s death a few months later in August of that same year, that two black athletes staged a silent demonstration at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City by raising their fists during the national anthem in support of the Black Power Movement that was taking place at the time in America.

1968 was also the year that American television viewers saw its first interracial kiss between a white man and a black woman when Star Trek’s Captain Kirk (William Shatner) smooched the USS Enterprise’s African-American Sergeant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), and it was televised in living rooms across America in Technicolor as television technology was continuing to advance the transition from black-and-white to full color. In addition, the American media continued to expand itself as 1968 was also the year that the legendary informational news show 60 Minutes took to the air for the first time on CBS.

In June of 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles California, and later that same year in August of 1968, the Republican National Convention (RNC) nominated Richard M. Nixon to run as the republican candidate in the upcoming November election against democratic incumbent then President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the end Nixon would win the presidency with Spiro Agnew on the ticket as his Vice President, but later resigned in 1974 to avoid an impeachment following The Watergate Scandal.

Many other interesting things took place in 1968; NASA orbited the moon with the Apollo 8 Mission that made astronauts Jim Lovell, Bill Anders, and Frank Borman the first human beings to set foot on the moon. Boeing introduced the first 747 passenger plane, toy maker Mattel introduced Hot Wheels Collectible Cars, and The Beatles introduced Apple Records. Later that year The Beatles released the White Album in America, while overseas in England the renowned Yardbirds appeared for the first time as what later became better known as the legendary band Led Zeppelin and Andy Warhol died.

In 1968 a gallon of gasoline was around thirty-four cents, a gallon of milk was just over one dollar, and a postage stamp was six cents. A new house cost just over $26,000.00 and the cost of a new car was right around $2,400.00. The Zodiac Killer was still on the loose somewhere in California and never found. It was the same year that the Broadway Show Hair opened for the first time and a little bit further down on Broadway the newly relocated Madison Square Garden also opened its doors to the public for the first time.

In sports, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Oakland Raiders at the Orange Bowl in Miami Florida to win Super Bowl II in 1968, the Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven game set to win the World Series of 68, the Montreal Canadiens swept the St. Louis Blues in four games to win the Stanley Cup in hockey, and the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games to win their tenth championship in twelve years in basketball. Bobby Unser won the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Speedway, and Cale Yarborough won the Daytona 500. Billie Jean King won the women’s singles tennis championship and John Newcombe won in the men’s doubles at Wimbledon, while in golf Arnold Palmer lost the PGA championship by one stroke to Julius Boros in San Antonio Texas that year.

Significantly my birth year is a shared one with such famous entertainment personalities as Will Smith, LL Cool J, Owen Wilson, Celine Dion, Rachel Ray, Lucy Liu, and Lisa Marie Presley. In addition, with other such iconic public personalities as sportscaster Kenny Albert, Baseball hall of famer Mike Piazza and also former MLB player Gary Sheffield, movie personality Daniel Craig who is currently Agent 007 from the James Bond Movie Series which ironically is one of my all-time favorite film series’ and Ziggy Marley who is the son of the late great music personality Bob Marley. Although the above may appear to be completely random and miscellaneous, for me it is all truly remarkable.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws 2019.

Poem: Soulmates Journey

A short poem from my collection of creative writing works.

Soulmates are born as one but journey through life as two, they think alike and breathe alike at distances farther than the sun.
Soulmates share a spirit and soul, a certain type of presence, and a never ending flow. They share an extra special relationship that allows each of them to grow.

Soulmates can cast a single shadow that may reflect as one, but they also possess a unique connection that can never be undone.

Written By Michael Kruzynski

All written works are the sole property of the author(s) of this website and may be subject to copyright laws 2019. Photo taken by Tyler J. Hicks, September 2013.

Poem: This Place Inside

A short poem from my collection of creative writing works.

There’s a place inside a mind that
if one could see one would find,
this place in a heart that

sometimes brands a yearning to depart
There’s a voice in a head that

if one could hear the things it has said,
about this place inside a soul

that yearns to achieve its goal
It’s a place inside where demons hide,

and when one nears the end
they infallibly collide.

Written by Michael Kruzynski

All written works are the sole property of the author(s) of this website and may be subject to copyright laws 2019. Photo taken by Mike Kruzynski May 2012. Editing and overlay design by Tyler J. Hicks.

Poem: Lust

A short poem from my collection of creative writing works.

When a heart starts to darken and may be in two
like a wretch veiled in shame in regressive review,
when a spirit becomes broken and afflicted by pain
it may shed all its fear with unbecoming disdain,
and when a conscience ignores the illuminated brain
it may be the mind casting aside an endearing restrain,
when a toiling member seeks beckoning trust
then lust leaves the soul in reviling disgust

Written by Michael Kruzynski

All written works are the sole property of the author(s) of this website and may be subject to copyright law 2019. Photo by Mike Kruzynski November 2019.