Saturday, November 20, 2010

Helping out Clark Brooks

One of more interesting local bloggers I have met in the past year is Clark Brooks. Clark is big on the Tampa blog scene. Not only does he know everyone, but he also writes for the SB Nation Tampa sports blog.

In the last month however, Clark has been taking some time off from his personal blog to write his first novel. He asked other local bloggers to volunteer their services to keep his blog fresh.

Yesterday was my day in the sun.

I wrote about one of my biggest complaints: my hatred of a certain type of "freetionary".

Please go check it out.

Guest Blogger: Jordi Scrubbings - Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle of Consciousness

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Lonely Condom

Here is an editorial I wrote in the FSView and Florida Flambeau in May 2003, just before I graduated from college. My editor loved it and thought it was one of the most original pieces he had ever read. Responses varied from people that "got it" and thought it was hilarious, to people who said I was pathetic.

Four years ago, like many incoming Florida State students, I stood in line outside the FSU bookstore, waiting patiently to get my FSU ID card. After what seemed like hours, I finally got my picture taken and was handed my brand new, hi-tech ID card.

As I proudly left the ID Card Center, I slipped my new card into my wallet. There it joined the other inhabitants of my small, black leather billfold – my driver’s license, military ID card, ATM card, a couple of dollars, and a recently placed Trojan condom, which I thought wouldn’t be a bad idea to have on me. After all, Florida State University was just named the number one party school in the nation and its student body was, and still is, over 50-something percent female. It couldn’t hurt to be prepared.

In the days and weeks that followed, the condom made a home in my wallet. It befriended already established residents such as the ATM card, who every time it left brought back with it money – those transient presidential portraits who never seemed to stay more than a day or two. Money surely could never be called a “wallet fixture,” a title the condom hoped it too would never have.

When was its day in the sun, the condom quickly came to ask. There were nights, Fridays and Saturdays in particular, when it would get its hopes up. It would watch as the ATM card would get money before going to the club, the driver’s license was used to get in the establishment and the money would leave and never return once inside the club. The condom knew its role was in the closing act of a fortunate night that never seemed to arrive, the final runner in a relay race that never seemed to reach its last lap. Patiently, it awaited its baton, its imaginary arms outstretched.

Bad luck seemed to plague the provalactic. Its mere existence was cursed. Months turned to years as the condom recalled legends of unfortunate “rubbers,” as they were called in the early days, which had “dried up” and had to be discarded before ever being used. Its lack of use was not from lack of trying, the condom was told. But after the first dozen or so wrong phone numbers and several mismanaged dates, the condom started to count down the days to its expiration, like an inmate on death row awaiting execution.

Why was it here and not in the wallet of a more socially fortunate soul, the condom wondered. Others formed in Trojan factory, those with whom the condom had an almost brother-like bond, had long served their purpose, protecting their masters and dying on the frontline with honor and dignity. The condom tried hard not shed a tear of despair.

The only source of pride the condom had was in an unmistakable ring it was leaving on the outside of the wallet. A ring that if the condom was used quickly it would have never had the opportunity to make. A consolation prize in the losing game that was the condom’s depressing existence.

On May 2nd, 2003, the condom joined me as I walked across the graduation stage. With one flip of a tassel, I became an alumnus and the condom, with its four-year birthday quickly approaching, was now an institution in my wallet. It had seen many changes sweep the wallet landscape and survived them all. My driver’s license had been replaced twice, ATM cards had changed banks, military ID card expired and even my shiny new FSU ID card had fallen apart, only to be replaced with a newer, more hi-tech card.

Thank goodness the condom has two more years left until its expiration. Two more years of keeping hope alive.

Picture from this Sexual Health site.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sevendust in Tallahassee in 2003

Here is a preview article I wrote for the FSView and Florida Flambeau about a Sevendust show in Tallahassee in 2003.

On Wednesday, September 10th, Tallahassee will again play host to the hard rock/ heavy metal band Sevendust. The Atlanta band, which last played Tallahassee in April 2000, will be performing at the Late Night Library in a show aptly titled “An Evening with Sevendust.”

Known for their extensive touring, the Late Night Library show is among the many on Sevendust’s second 2003 tour. This tour, which featured opening acts Element Eighty and Tallahassee’s own Presence on earlier dates, started in August and is set to conclude on September 25 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Besides continuing to bring their music to their fans, Sevendust is using the tour to promote their new album “Seasons,” due to be released on October 7. The first single from Seasons, “Enemy,” has been receiving considerable airplay on rock radio stations throughout the country.

This year’s tours have revealed a new side of Sevendust, as approximately half the shows have been performed acoustically, according to The band, which has opened for heavy metal legends Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, has opted to try a more mellow “unplugged” sound in 2003.

“Doing acoustic sets was always tough for us,” drummer Morgan Rose said in a interview. “But then we started screwing around with some of the songs and changing the beats a bit and reinventing things and that turned out really cool. We were invited to do [an acoustic] set in Orlando, and we did it, and the vibe was great. It was so weird. Here's a band that usually tries to destroy everything in sight for 90 minutes, and we're just sitting up there on stools for an hour and playing.”

These acoustic shows do not feature an opening act, according to, instead fans will be able to hear the new album, Seasons, in its entirety prior to the performance.

This new calmer facet of Sevendust is a departure from the usual hard rock/ heavy metal repertoire their fans have grown to expect. With the commercial success of Sevendust’s first acoustic song, “Angel’s Son,” a tribute to former Snot lead singer Lynn Strait, the band has continued to experiment with the unplugged sound, putting more acoustic sounds on their latest album, “Animosity” (2002), than any of their previous releases.

Despite “mellowing out” on several songs, the band has continued to be one of the most well-known and respected modern hard rock bands and continues to perform with bands such as Godsmack and Puddle of Mudd.

Originally called Rumblefish and then Crawlspace, Sevendust has been known has one of the best and most frequent performing bands in the genre since their first tours in 1996. Even then, before crowds totaling fewer than 100, lead singer Lajon Witherspoon developed a habit of speaking personally with the crowd and has often insisted fans in front of the stage form as big a mosh pit as allowed. Their dedication to the road and constant crowd involvement helped the band’s first album, the self-titled “Sevendust,” sell more than 500,000 copies (Certified Gold) and their second album, “Home” (1999), to debut at 19 on the Top 200 chart, according to a promotional card distributed by the band in 1999. Animosity was also awarded Gold status by the Recording Industry Association of America.

After concluding the acoustic dates on their current tour, Sevendust is planning to continue their trek around the nation with Staind and LoPro, according to

“An Evening with Sevendust” at the Late Night Library is an all-ages show. Tickets are $15 each and are available at CD Warehouse locations throughout Tallahassee. Doors open at 8 p.m. For more on the show, contact the Late Night Library at 224-2429.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sevendust and the HardDrive Live Tour Tampa, 11/9/2010

Continuing my concert ways yet again. This time with a show combining the locality of the Duck Down Records show of a month ago with the rock of the Berzerkus Tour show of two weeks ago.

Back when I was in college, I was really up on my rock radio bands and songs. Unfortunately, I'm not up on it much anymore. So although I was at Ritz Ybor primarily to see Sevendust, I thought it was a good idea to check out some of the other bands in the HardDrive Live Tour. Overall, I was impressed.

Aranda - I was expecting the first band to be a new group that would do little more than warm the crowd up. I was wrong. Aranda came to play. They had a classic rock vibe, which really didn't go with the rest of the show, but was very catchy. Although I wasn't really into them at first, they covered Led Zeppelin's Dazed and Confused, which is one of my favorite Zeppelin songs. And they did it well. After Dazed and Confused, the focus of the band shifted to the guitar player, who started pulling out solos and performance tricks, such as taking his shoe off and using it as a slide. Absolutely impressive. I might have to check out their albums.

Overall grade: B+

(Here is a video of Aranda covering Zeppelin in Chicago.)

Since October - Out of the five bands, Since October was the most disappointing. They looked incredibly generic, with a dred-locked lead singer and a bald drummer. I thought that fad in band composition went out of style in the mid-2000s. Then after about three songs that sounded like Korn outtakes, the lead guitarist's rig went out. Ok, that can happen. But then the band left the stage for over five minutes. Totally inexcusable. Does their drummer or bassist not know how to solo? Play some bass riffs to keep the crowd's attention. Something. Anything.

Overall grade: D

Anew Revolution - These guys impressed me as well. They were loud and had great stage presence. Their songs were typical modern heavy rock - nothing out of the ordinary - but they were good. I'd even heard a few of their songs on satellite radio. During their performance, the lead singer did something I've only seen one other time. He stood on the shoulders of the crowd and sang a verse. The only other person I have ever seen do that is Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Overall Grade: B

10 Years - According to their Wiki page and website, 10 Years have been around for a while. Until Tuesday night, I had never heard of them. I did recognize a few of their songs however. Sound-wise, they sounded a little like the Deftones, a little like Finger Eleven, and a bit like Staind in their lyrical tone.

Overall Grade: B

(I think that's why as I get older I've gotten more and more bummed out on "new rock". Everything I hear, it seems like I've heard before. I'm hard pressed to find many differences between songs made in 2010 and songs written in 2000. Outside of rap-rock and small pockets of classic-rock influenced bands, most of this decade's rock sounds mostly the same to me. I don't know whether to blame this on my music ear or a growing corporate influence towards conformity. Maybe a little of both.)

Sevendust - This was my seventh time seeing Sevendust. I've been a fan of theirs since I saw them tour in support of their first album back in 1996 or 1997. I swear it was 1996, but they didn't put out their first album, which I bought the day before the show, until '97.

Anyway, they were my first concert. I saw them again in 1999 at the Orange Bowl, 2000 at Floyds in Tallahassee, 2001 in Orlando, 2004 twice at Late Night Library in Tallahassee (once acoustic), and now 2010. And they are still kicking ass.

During the show Sevendust's set list was comprised of a few songs off the new record, Cold Day Memory, a few songs off their second, Home, their third, Animosity, and even the song "Black" off their self-titled debut album. And of course, they played "Angel's Son" from the Strait Up album. I was really impressed with how extensive their show has become.

Sevendust also brought out the best in the crowd as well. Although I stood in the back of the venue for the first few bands, I went closer to the stage for Sevendust. There were people jumping, yelling, flailing, and quite a few folks throwing down in a decent sized mosh pit.

Sevendust definitely gets an A.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writing about Tallahassee's Haunted House

While "googling" my name today, I found an article on a Tallahassee haunted house that I wrote back in 2002 while I was with the FSView and Florida Flambeau. Considering the FSView doesn't have an archive of their old articles, finding something I wrote online is a very cool find.

Check it out:

The Mystery Playhouse of Terror

I kinda wish I found this a few days ago, I would have included it in the Halloween link dump.

(Pic from the Terror of Tallahassee Haunted House web site.)

The Mystery Playhouse of Terror

Those desiring a good scare can check out the haunted house on North Monroe

The Mystery Playhouse of Terror
Those desiring a good scare can check out the haunted house on North Monroe
Mike Lortz
Issue date: 10/31/02 Section: Lifestyles, FSView

The Mystery Playhouse of Terror frightens people for charity. Photo by: Katherine Ruddy

The long lost art of the haunted house is alive and well in Tallahassee. The Mystery Playhouse of Terror, located in the old Brooklyn Pasta Factory at 2576 North Monroe St., is designed to bring a bit of fright into this year's Halloween.

Conceived and designed by Kurt Kuersteiner, an adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College, the Mystery Playhouse of Terror has been in operation since 1999.

"I went to work in Harrisburg, Penn. and there were a ton of haunted houses up there, and attendance was great, but (the houses) weren't as good as I thought they could be," Kuersteiner said. "So when I came back home, I figured I'd bring the concept here but do it a lot better."

The Mystery Playhouse of Terror may just be better as it features a wide array of scares. There are areas such as Hell's Kitchen, Dr. Frankenstein's Lab, an electrocution chamber, a black magic show, and the "Hell-e-vator," a 13-floor drop to the depths of terror inspired by a freight elevator in the FSU Chemistry Department.

Although most of the characters are original, there are appearances by Dracula's bride, Beetlejuice, and the usual mix of ghouls, zombies and un-or-near dead that come alive during the Halloween season.

Although the former restaurant is supposedly haunted in its own right, with several fires having broken out and people claiming to hear strange sounds and unknown voices, over the years Kuersteiner and his small crew have transformed the over 6,000 square-foot area into a house of horrors, sparing few expenses.

"We've done four years of three months a year hard labor and spent close to $40,000, most of which I've gotten back," Kuersteiner said. "Some people spend their money having big parties; we spend our money doing this."

The Mystery Playhouse of Terror not only makes money for its organizers; it also benefits the local community. Twenty percent of all ticket sales on a given night are given to the organization that assists in the performances for the night.

This year, several groups, such as V89 Student Radio, Kappa Kappa Gamma and the Tallahassee Film Society are helping out. The FSU College Republicans and College Democrats also put aside their political differences to assist and put a bipartisan scare in Tallahassee.

"Like most people, I admire the work these local groups do and want to see them succeed," Kuersteiner said. "But it's always easier to contribute money when they give you something fun in return."

The volunteers do a lot of the work but most believe it is worth it.

"It's really fun, a bit tedious at times, but we're doing it for charity," said sophomore Tracy Arkin, member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

When volunteers arrive at the Mystery Playhouse of Terror, they are assigned performance roles throughout the house. This often results in them getting dressed and made up, using props and getting used to performing.

"I get to be the girl that gets cut in half," Arkin said. "During the volunteering part, the magician picks me and he cuts me in half and then he leaves me there to die."

Unfortunately, this is the last year for the Mystery Playhouse of Terror. The building, owned by Sparky Sparkman, a former accounting professor at FSU, is being sold.

Kuersteiner commented on hearing the news of the impending sale.

"I am disappointed, but I can't be disappointed at him (Sparkman) because he allowed us to have it for four years," Kuersteiner said. "It's a sweet regret."

But the volunteers are happy to have had the opportunity while it lasted.

"I'm sure they will be moving on to bigger and better things," Arkin said.

So for a real scare this Halloween, visit the Mystery Playhouse of Terror.

"It may be our last year, but it will also be our best," Kuersteiner said.