Best Halloween Rock and Roll Songs

2 Oct

The best Halloween rock songs pay homage to the fun darkness of the holiday while creating an atmosphere that conjures elements of both traditional and modern interpretations of monsters, slashers, graveyards, and hitting your neighbors up for candy–whatever that may mean to you.  What you don’t want is Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s lame Monster Mash looping in endless auditory torture.   Instead, let the rollicking music and lyrics of the following songs provide an otherworldly backdrop for your Halloween festivities.

Pet SemataryThe Ramones
A song written for the movie version of Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary.”  No, you can’t live your life again, even if you’re just a dead dog or cat.  Bad things will happen.  You can trust horror master King and the Ramones on that one.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead: Bauhaus
This two-chord gem is heavy on atmosphere and plays like the electrified chant of a hopped-up vampire cult.  An homage to the silver screen’s finest Dracula, it is creepy and fast and rocks with a chorus of:  Undead, Undead, Undead.

Goo Goo MuckGreen FuzCan Your Pussy Do the Dog?The Cramps
The Cramps, the unofficial official band of Halloween, rate three tunes.  While multiple songs by one artist on a playlist generally indicates a lack of imagination, The Hangover must make an exception for The Cramps and their surf-punk-rockabilly sound.  With humor and horror, these tunes would get the zombies of the Walking Dead to do the pogo. 

Werewolves Of LondonWarren Zevon
A Halloween-perfect romp with werewolves, pina coladas at Trader Vic’s, perfect hair, and a little old lady getting mutilated late last night.  Gory fun.  Ah-wooooo!

Pretend We’re DeadL7
By tying a bit of straight-forward feminist populism to traditional Halloween elements, L7 has fun and makes a statement at the same time.  The dose of reality offered by the lyrics is bitter chocolate to the bouncing chorus.   

Season Of The WitchDonovan
A natural choice for the holiday, this early piece of psychedelia is spare and moody with haunting vocals and a chilling guitar that winds its way through the melody.  A feeling of unease permeates the song.

Midnight Rambler: The Rolling Stones
The Stones provide a blues backdrop to the traditional dark side of the holiday with a gritty piece that includes allusions to the Boston Strangler and images of Jack the Ripper.  (This epic 1969 live version provides maximum effect.)

The Killing MoonEcho and the Bunnymen
This is a masterpiece of atmosphere with themes of fate and loss.  The song is performed with grace and gravity.  The lyrics and vocals drip with hurt as the music churns on.

After DarkTito & the Tarantulas
From the stylized crime and vampire film “From Dusk Till Dawn,” Tito Larriva and his band provide a haunting Latin-influenced backdrop to the dangers of the night.  Halloween doesn’t get any hotter than the dance that Salma Hayek performs to this song in the film.

SpellboundSiouxsie and the Banshees
The psychedelic punk rocker is a roller coaster ride in both sound and meaning.  The lyrics have laughter cracking through the walls and the singer spinning out of control.   Fear abounds as the music swirls.  This song’s otherworldly credibility was substantiated when the song was chosen to play over the closing credits of HBO’s Trueblood (season four, episode four) “Spellbound” episode.

Spirit In The Night: Bruce Springsteen
An early Springsteen classic on letting go of our pedestrian existences, if only for a few hours of the night..  This all happens at Greasy Lake, on the “dark side of Route 88″ with Crazy Janie, Hazy Davy, and Killer Joe, not to mention lonely and gypsy angels.  Sure sounds like Halloween.

FrankensteinThe Edgar Winter Group
One of rock’s most well-known instrumentals, it is big, powerful, and fun–somewhat like the monster itself.  But that’s not where its title comes from.  The song earned its name during production and editing, in which recording tape was pieced together with legendary difficulty in the studio.

Party Time45 Grave
This was the featured song on 1985′s “Return of the Living Dead” by one the first bands to combine punk rock and horror movie themes.  Lead singer Dinah Cancer’s screeching vocals and the band’s deep-throated guitars get this song up and going. 

God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II Kiss
Perhaps no other band has spawned as many Halloween costumes as Kiss.  For that reason alone, Kiss deserves a song on the list.  From children of the ’70′s to those walking the streets today, the signature back and white theatrical makeup has shaken down countless households for Milky Ways and Three Musketeers.  Bonus factor:  This arena rocker is bound to confuse any Christian zealots who have a problem with either Halloween itself or any of the “evil” traditions that it is based on.

More Shameless Literary Self-Promotion

2 May

 Once again, there’s nothing more off-putting than the shameless self-promotion that permeates American society like a besotted rug three days after a keg party. That being said, the Hangover would like to announce that its editor, Albert Waitt, has a new short story currently being published by Stymie, A Journal of Sport and Literature.  The piece is available (free of charge–woo hoo!!) on the magazine’s web site:   http://www.stymiemag.com/2011/05/new-fiction-hard-enough.html

Even at less than 500 words, Mr. Waitt’s story, “Hard Enough,” could be thought of as a subversive companion to the phenomenal ”Friday Night Lights” television series.  As usual,  any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is purely coincidental.

William and Kate, A Royal Headache

27 Apr

 This weekend the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton will command enormous attention here in the United States.  The Hangover asks, “Why?”

 It’s easy to understand why the entirety of the United Kingdom will be enthralled by the proceedings.  After all, this is their heritage, from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table to Queen Victoria to Roger the Shrubber.  But even the most dim-witted of Americans must realize that the revolution that formed our country was an attempt to rid us of fops like King George and the Royal Family.  Despite saying goodbye to all that back in 1783 and then again in 1812, modern Americans seem smitten with English Royalty—this despite two hundred-plus years of “All men are created equal.”

When Prince Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981, United States media coverage would have suggested it was the third biggest event of the last century, following only the moon landing and OJ and Al Cowlings in the white Bronco.  Americans continued to adore Diana, even after she became, in the words of Mojo Nixon, a “drunk-divorced floozie.”  (Before you take offense, consider what you would call your neighbor’s ex-wife if she ran off with your town’s handsome local hero and sped around night-clubbing, drinking, and snorting blow.  “Your Highness” isn’t it; well, not unless you’re fond of ironic puns.)

 In the coming days, America will be again drowned in Katrina-like coverage of the upcoming Royal wedding.  The Hangover wishes the happy couple well. 

But what does our fascination with the event tell us about ourselves?    

Is it that: 

 a)  We no longer need to value “all men being equal” now that just about every American can afford high definition television.

 b)  We’ve become so ingrained with fairy tales and Disney Princesses that we just want the chance to imagine ourselves in the role.  After all, it’s only a matter of time before one of these Royal Highnesses will sweep into our Burger King, pull us from the flame broiler, and whisk us away to a McMansion in the clouds.

 c)  Americans are sheep.  We (at least those with cable) would watch Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie read the Los Angeles phone book if Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, The New York Times, and the Today Show deemed that it was an “event.”

d)  The less relevant something is to the reality of our everyday lives, the more it interests Americans.  This would explain the nation palpatating over Bret Favre’s emailed junk, the Octo-mom, John and Kate, Michelle Bachmann, and those teenage girls having babies on MTV.

 e)  All of the above.

 Enjoy the festivities.  Maybe the Newlyweds will even be so kind as to hop into a white Bronco as they head to the reception.  Wouldn’t that be ecstasy?

The Soviet Republic of Michigan

10 Mar

With the imminent passage of Michigan’s “Local Government and School District Accountability Act,”(HB4214), Republicans will finally evolve beyond being the self-proclaimed champions of small government.  They will become the founders of no government.  Well, that isn’t quite right.  Dictatorship is still government.  It’s just not a preferable model, especially for residents of the United States, in general, and Michigan, in particular.  But let us not get tied down in nationalistic sentimentality.

Michigan’s new law would allow the governor dictator “to be able to declare “financial emergency” in towns or school districts and appoint someone to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services.”  When it comes to the bottom line solvency of a state, the democratic principles that this country was founded on must be ignored.  Those who abuse power should be punished.  It’s common knowledge that the overpaid teachers, firemen, sanitation workers, and police of Michigan have ruined the state by causing the collapse of the American Auto industry, encouraging the building of wide expanses of slums in Detroit, and by shipping off manufacturing jobs to Mexico, Vietnam,  India, and anywhere else workers can be paid in pennies instead of dollars.  They might also be responsible for Tiger’s third baseman Miguel Cabrera being a drunk. The Republicans of Michigan couldn’t let them get away with it.  The Hangover applauds the iron-fisted efforts of the legislative storm troopers.

Perhaps we could even apply for one of these Emergency Overlord positions.  However, being that The Hangover is not named Stalin, Khrushchev, Hitler, Goering, or Brezhnev, the chances of landing such a position are not favorable.  But thanks to our beloved “Freedom of Speech,” the governor dictator won’t be able to stop me from complaining about it—at least for now.

Reports state that protestors were chanting, "Impeach the Nerd." The Dictator of Michigan might not appreciate that.

The Hangover’s 2010 Person of the Year: Theo Epstein

22 Dec

The Hangover’s 2010 Person of the Year is Theo Epstein, General Manager of the Boston Red Sox.  It might seem odd for the Hangover to tout the GM of a baseball team when so many are doing so much in the world.  But Epstein did something that few others on the national stage have the intestinal fortitude (in the words of Gorilla Monsoon) to do:  Form a philosophy based on a set of beliefs and then stick to it, even when it is painful and unpopular to do so.    

When Epstein took over as GM of the Red Sox in 2003, he instituted an organizational approach based on player development, which could also be supplemented by key free agent acquisitions.   Prospects could be used as trade bait or to strengthen the major league team.   This strategy, Epstein maintained, would keep the Sox in contention most years.  It worked out okay in 2004, when the Sox won the World Series.  It also worked in 2007, when they won it again.

However, in 2006, Epstein briefly left the Red Sox because of interference from certain Sox higher-ups (read:  Larry Luchino) who wanted baseball decisions made with marketing and “buzz” impact in mind.  Only when owner John Henry worked things out so that Epstein could run the Sox his way, without interference, did Epstein come back to the team. Imagine that, a man with principles and integrity.  Many of The Hangover’s younger readers might not have heard of such a thing.

Which brings us 2010.  On the field, the year was a disaster for the Red Sox.  Injuries ravaged the team.  Important pitchers had sub-par seasons.  Some nights half of the lineup looked like they’d been called up from AA Portland.  Many pundits screamed that Epstein was short-changing Sox fans by playing young, unproven players and not going out and finding “major league” replacements.  Of course, they failed to realize that trading prospects for what would be overpriced “Band Aids” might hamstring the team for years to come.

By sticking to his philosophy, in the 2010 off-season Epstein was able to retool his team into one that is younger, more powerful, faster, better in the bullpen, and better defensively.  Sure, 2010 hurt; however, 2011 should be great (The Hangover is predicting an ’84 Tigers-type season).  But as we all know, (cliché alert) the games are played on the field, and (cliché alert) the games aren’t won on paper.  At least these moves should have the Sox challenging well into the future.  One can’t ask for more than that—unless, of course, you’re one of those living-in-Mom’s-basement, pre-2004 win-it-all-or-else fanatics.  If that’s the case, have another PBR and call WEEI. 

What sets Theo apart from just about every other public figure this year is that despite hardship, bad publicity, and public outcry, he stayed true to his vision.  He was willing to endure the slings and arrows of The Knights of the Keyboard, various talking heads, and countless knuckle-headed zealots.  This allowed him to place his organization on a course for long term success.  Has anyone in Washington heard of such a thing? 

Let’s compare Theo to some other public figures in 2010: 

President Obama sells out the public option of his health care plan before he even brings it to Congress.  His health care makeover creates more business for insurance companies, while claiming health care “should be a right for every American.”   The Hangover fails to see how that jibes. 

Obama then agrees to a tax cut (extending the Bush tax cuts) for the wealthiest 5% of Americans, despite saying, “I’m still opposed to it.”  The Hangover’s glad he’s not running the Sox.  Admittedly, it’s a compromise with Republicans so that unemployment benefits can be extended for two million other Americans.  Of course, Obama could have taken the fight to the airwaves and the American people.  Perhaps a populist outcry could have broken Republican opposition.  Coincidentally, it’s the five percent getting the break who contribute the most to presidential and congressional campaigns. 

Let’s not forget the Republicans and Tea-Partiers, who are intent on doing two things:  cutting the deficit and lowering taxes.  Enough said.

 President Obama recently stated: 

“We’ve got to make some difficult choices ahead when it comes to tackling the deficit. In some ways, this [tax cut deal/"compromise"] was easier than some of the tougher choices we’re going to have to make next year.”

No kidding, and with the integrity that Washington’s show this year, good luck with that.

Perhaps someone could invite The Hangover’s 2010 person of the year, Theo Epstein, to our nation’s capitol.  He might be able tell our leaders that it is important to form a set of values and beliefs based on thoughtful consideration, intellect, and logic.  Then he could reiterate the importance of maintaining that philosophy, even if it might not be popular to do so.  Perhaps he could introduce them to “long term planning” and “responsibility.”  If he shows them his shiny World Series rings, they might even listen. 

Then again, Theo Epstein’s biggest worry isn’t about getting re-elected.  He’s only trying to do what he knows is right.  And in 2010, that’s a singular quality.

Theo Epstein with the 2007 World Series trophy. Perhaps if our leaders in Washington knew they could get things like trophies as a reward, they might show some interest in long term planning.

Short Stories, Long Payoffs II

9 Feb

The Hangover is pleased to announce a new addition to its fiction section, Fisher of Men by Joe Ricker.   Ricker’s story is a glimpse at the damaged underbelly of American society.    You might have passed the characters of Fisher of Men on the street; you were glad you kept walking. 

Esquire referred to Ricker as “a man of letters who’s gentle in the way that only the toughest hard-asses can be.”   If you are a fan of Tarantino films, Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, or film noir, it is a piece you won’t want to miss.  Check it out here.

Stick a fork in (the) US, Democracy is Cooked

22 Jan

With the Supreme Court ruling that the government cannot regulate or limit political spending by corporations, a bullet has been put through the head of a suffering democracy.   It was a mercy killing.  For years now, Americans have been pathetically clinging to the idea that their votes meant something.  Well, they don’t have to worry about that anymore.  Thanks to the Supreme Court, it’s now all special interests, all the time.  

It would be a mistake, however, to say that Americans’ votes will be worthless.  In a political version of American Idol, we will be given the honor of deciding which corporate-sponsored politician will be able to become a highly respected, suit-and-tie-wearing marionette.  And then we will live happily ever after, basking in the illusion of democracy. 

In the decision’s simplest terms, Exxon, Citibank, Pfizer, General Electric, etc..,. will now be able to gush money toward any candidate they feel deserving, meaning one who will support their interests.  Sure, you may be outraged that a Canadian can pay $5 for medication that costs you $40.  You might even be so incensed that you exercise your right as an American citizen and call your Senator, urging them to support lower cost prescription drugs.  But who do you think they are going to listen to:  you or the lobbyist from Johnson and Johnson who just dropped $500,000 into the making of a campaign advertisement supporting that Senator? Good luck with that.

If you want to see how this money-in-politics dynamic works on a small scale, read what The Hangover learned while talking to Susan Collins’ office.  Or if you would really like to be educated on the topic, check out Who Rules America?by G. William Domhoff.

It was Thomas Jefferson who said:  

“The end of democracy, and the defeat of the American revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of the lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”

Consider the revolution over.

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