Saturday, March 21, 2009

All this spring makes me feel like partying

Wow, looks like I'm doing a real bang-up job of that whole not skipping days in the Bonnaroo countdown thing. I'm gonna have to start doing what I should have been doing all along, which is writing like 12 of these at a time and just letting them post, automated style. I kind of enjoy adding artists based on what I'm feeling at the moment, or relevant stories, but that's obviously not going to make for a very effective countdown. I'll find the balance. For now, it's the weekend, the weather is gorgeous and snow-free, and the fam is headed into town for baby bro's big 16th birthday celebration. All this awesomeness makes me wanna party.

(Cue Bonnaroo artist Paul Oakenfold... uuntz uuntz uuntz uuntz)

I kinda feel like partying right now.

As you may already be aware, Paul Oakenfold is a legendary DJ/remixer. He has sold millions of albums and hosted epic shows all over the world, from Ibiza to the Great Wall of China. You've heard more of his work than you probably even realize. If you don't know who he is, I really don't know what to tell you. Go to his official site or, I don't know, just put on the freakin radio, you're bound to hear some Oakenfold at some point.

Oakenfold's Bonnaroo set is destined to be a late night banger. With 80,000 screaming hippies, fist-pumpers and rednecks, it's gonna be some kind of rowdy. For now there are still 81 days until we find out if I packed my Party Boy outfit with my 'Roo gear. And if that image offends you, I'll apologize, but I won't take off my glasses. They're effin famous.

And that's how you party.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ticketmaster hates Phish fans [Another Epic Fail]

Well, it happened. Luckily, nobody but a couple of fackers and, according to the stats, no less than seven of their lovable lady friends noticed it, but yesterday was the first flat tire along the Schiff Happens road to Bonnaroo. Yes, friends, I skipped a day on the Bonnaroo countdown.

I have no excuse for this egregious error, but here are some potentially reasonable explanations as to why this happened:
  1. I have an actual job with actual work to do that doesn't involve sarcastic riffs on Philly sucking, the biggest loser in the history of reality television, or mustaches.
  2. I spent a few hours back at the doctor's office, including a subway voyage from work to the Upper East Side that was a pile of fail at every turn for absolutely no reason. On the plus side, I received a clean bill of health and was able to conclude my 24 hour Holter experiment, which ended with the same nurse who had hooked me up to the device on Tuesday violently ripping electrodes off of my torso and saying, "I told you it was gonna hurt." Of course, she saved the lone electrode that was deeply embedded in chest hair (the rest were on the sides of my abdomen) for last, building the nervous anticipation for my unplanned partial chest waxing. I may or may not have exclaimed "IAMSPARTACUS!" at the moment of detachment.
  3. I participated in the latest chapter of "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People," authored by the friendly scalpers at Ticketmaster. I smell a story....
Around 8:30 last night, Ticketmaster released a bunch of 4-day passes for Phish's just-announced late July/early August run at Morrison, Colorado's renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre. It will be Phish's first shows at Red Rocks since their infamous 1996 visit, and tickets don't go on sale to the general public until next Thursday (Umm, I mean next Friday. Yes... next Friday...). The pre-sale lottery registration isn't even complete yet, so this gives you an idea of just how random it was that these tickets -- and 4-day passes for the entire event, no less -- would have been released at 8:29 last night. I found out about this the same way I find out about anything worth finding out about -- Twitter (shameless follow me plug).

As soon as I saw this was happening, I went into frenzy mode. I @replied to a Twitter user called @imtrappedintime, the first person I saw tweet about the secretly released tickets. Feeling like I was working within an extremely limited time window, I eschewed the pho
ne and instead instant messaged anyone I could find online who might care. I navigated the Ticketmaster site and, to my amazement, broke through to an order page. I actually backed out, with tickets in hand, out of sheer disbelief. I was able to get through a second time (nothing short of a miracle if you recall what happened the last time Phish tickets went on sale), and was staring at a 4-day, General Admission pass to what will no doubt be the jewel of the late summer tour. At this point, I am simultaneously having two separate IM conversations that both look something like this:
ZOMGPHISHPASSESONSALEWTF?!?! What do we do? Do we buy them? Are we even going to go? Is this real? WTF is going on? Should I click submit? I'm gonna click submit. Did you submit? What do I do what do I do WHATDOIDO I'MFREAKINOUT!!!
I don't know what came over me, but once my UVA fraternity buddy said he had submitted his request, I had to do it. Spontaneous $200 purchases for events that are months away and will be taking place across the country generally do not show up anywhere in the Schiff Happens playbook. It's just not something I do. But I did it. And then I waited....

I waited instead of celebrating, mostly because even after I saw that my order had gone through, I found it impossible to believe that any of what had just transpired was real. How had it happened? Was there a friendly fan working for Ticketmaster? Was it a planned move by the band to thwart second-party scalpers (this was a prevailing rumor immediately after the tickets became unavailable again)? Was it simply a glitch that would inevitably be heartbreakingly corrected? There was no way to know for sure, and thus no way to be anything but cautiously optimistic. At least not for a couple of minutes, until, sure enough, I got the confirmation email. Then the payment hold on my online checking account statement. Holy shit, it was really happening. I scored the motherlovin golden ticket!

And then, a few short hours later, I met Slugworth in a back alley, and he buttfucked that golden ticket right out of my hands. In an epic case of, "I never should have gotten my hopes up because it was always too good to be true," Ticketmaster declared that the tickets had been released in error, and that all orders would be canceled.

Now, Ticketmaster is apparently within their rights to do this in the event of this kind of unintended premature sale, as their terms of service (which I am quite aware that I agreed to simply by clicking "Submit Purchase") state. However, in light of the aforementioned LiveNation disaster, the controversy surrounding the Ticketmaster/LiveNation merger, and recent condemnation of their shady practices from in
fluential artists like Trent Reznor and Bruce Springsteen (throw a fist!), I can't help but think of all the great PR Ticketmaster would have received if they had simply decided to let the purchases stand. They could have said, "We effed ourselves a little bit, but scores of loyal fans got tickets, and that's ultimately what Ticketmaster is here to provide." Instead, they bent us all over and stole our Everlasting Gobstoppers. Again. As usual.

It stings to have the Golden Ticket in hand momentarily only to see it ripped away, but in the end, I'm no worse off right now than I was when I woke up yesterday. I've put in my official lottery request, and I'll be damned if I'm not due to win one of these things. I'm remaining optimistic, but my experience last night taught me that I'll always have to be prepared to be let down as long as Ticketmaster/LiveNation is the only way for me to procure the tickets necessary to go see the live music that I love so much.

The point, dear reader, is that I got wrapped up in other things and lost sight of my goal -- those Bonnaroo festival gates, miles from sight, inviting me to join the summer's biggest party. However, there's no reason to fret. We've still got our spot in line and will continue to count it down from here on out. In light of this most recent Ticketmaster disaster, I think it's only right that we pick up the countdown with a little bit of Bonnaroo artist Nine Inch Nails. Between Mr. Reznor's aforementioned tirade against Ticketmaster, and the fact that several of Nine Inch Nails' albums -- The Downward Spiral, Further Down the Spiral, Pretty Hate Machine -- could be used to describe the company, it just makes sense. I've always been fascinated by NIN but a little bit too terrified to fully dive into their catalog, so I look forward to freaking the living piss out of myself as I prepare myself for their set at the 'Roo just 83 short days from today.*

UPDATE: Phish have issued their official response. Nothing really surprising there. The bigger update is that Ticketmaster sent me and the rest of the melancholoy Phishheads a letter explaining the situation, which included the following conciliatory paragraph:
In addition, we’d like to show our sincere regret for this error by providing you with a gift certificate in the amount of $50.00 that is redeemable for any purchase for tickets to qualifying events on or through our call centers as long as your order was in accordance with our standard order guidelines. You should receive this gift certificate in the next two weeks.
We are sorry that we were not able to provide you with the tickets you ordered and hope that we will have the chance to serve you better in the future. We encourage you to visit Ticketmaster at the scheduled onsale for Phish at Red Rocks currently scheduled for Thursday March 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm MT.
So some small bit of good has come out of this... I guess. "We set you up for heartbreak -- oops, our bad -- but please enjoy this 50 dollars, which you can attempt to use next week as you inevitably get shut out of the same tickets you already had in your hand because we've sold them all to scalpers."

Fuckmylife Ticketmaster.

*If you don't want your precious childhood memories corrupted forever, or if you hate to laugh, then don't watch Kermit the Frog's rendition of "Hurt."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The great tradition of Yankee Staches continues!

I can't believe I was beaten at my own game by a bunch of dudes who spend their weekends chasing beat-up redneck wino tail and tormenting old ladies. Nevertheless, the most pinstriped player in Yankees history has apparently taken on the proud and storied role of "Yankee Player with a Sweet Stache."

So now when CC Sabathia gets called out of the dugout to tip his cap to the crowd, is that Lip Curtain Call? Long live the Yankee Stache!

Seriously can't believe you Fackers scooped me on a Yankee mustache story. I must be slipping.

CC Sastachia [Drunken defacers of property, or as they prefer to be known, Fack Youk]

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I went to the doctor and came home wired to blow

I went to the Doctor today. Just a checkup, and so far everything is looking good. Of course, I do have to go back for a follow-up tomorrow, because what would a good checkup be if it weren't a 2 day production?

The reason I have to go back is because I'm wearing an incredibly silly piece of equipment called an ambulatory electrocardiography device. For those of you who don't habla Espanol, that's doctor for "Holter monitor." I currently look like the Matrix just gave birth to a suicide bomber. In fact, my Doctor's only instructions were, "Don't get it wet, and don't go near any airports." Yikes. I have to assume there is precedent for both.

The dumbest part about this scenario is that there's nothing wrong with me. The Doc actually marveled at the health of my heart -- apparently a seated heart rate of 47 is Lance Armstrong outstanding -- and asked if I run marathons. Life ain't a track meet, Doc, you know this. "But Schiff," you might be saying, "if you're perfectly healthy, why are you strapped to a half dozen electrodes monitoring your heart's every flit and flutter?" Why, what a verbosely poignant question of you to ask. Allow me to explain.

The reason I am subjecting myself to this 24-hour human lab test is because way back in the fall of 2008 I was battling random bouts of lightheadedness that would come and go without warning or accompanying systems. I took all the requisite test at my hometown doctor in Jersey and of course came through with flying colors. I'm the marathon man, remember? However, in the spirit of being thorough, my doctor suggested that I wear one of these things for 24 hours, just to see if anything comes up. I sat on that suggestion for the next 5 months, until the Doctor today gave me his glowing review of my heart. "Interesting to hear you say that, because as a matter of fact, just a few months ago I was told that my heart needs to be monitored for 24 straight hours with an ungainly belt," I replied. "Well then, let's get you strapped in!" said Herr Doctor. You know what happened after that.

The thing that I find funny about all this is that while I know I'm in fine shape, because I have the Holter monitor on, I feel like I should be in pain. As though if I'm not in extreme discomfort, I'm wearing this thing all for nothing. Or because I, a fully healthy individual, am walking around looking like a human extension cord, some crusty old geezer with a legitimate arrhythmia is not receiving the sufficient care he needs. This of course makes no sense, but in my twisted mind it stands to reason that if I'm recording every heartbeat for 24 hours, it should be because I'm experiencing some discomfort worse than the tugging of the electrodes on my chest hair (not that this isn't excessively annoying).

One final note on the Holter monitor. After the nurse got me all outfitted, she handed me a little pamphlet with a chart and told me to jot down every single thing I do during the next 24 hours in detail. Here is a direct quote from the instructions:

"For anything you do during this procedure, sitting, eating, taking medication, walking, strenuous exercise, smoking, bowel movements, urinating, sexual intercourse, etc. . ."

Apparently a Holter monitor is also the most fun medical device ever invented. Considering that smoking, shitting, and sexing were all listed among the things you must record in detail if you do them while wearing the Holter, it seems logical to me that these activities and others like them are not discouraged at all, but rather quite noteworthy. And it is in that spirit that I will take to the streets tonight and pretend to give a shit about St. Patrick's Day with thousands of my best fake-Irish friends.

Speaking of which, we're gonna need a little drinking music. The Ting Tings aren't quite Irish, but they're from the UK, they're on Jimmy Fallon tonight and -- would you look at that -- they're on the bill for Bonnaroo 2009. You knew them before you knew you knew them. If you don't believe me, watch this iPod commercial (which probably burned a hole in your ears for months last year), then feast your ears on three of their bouncy pop singles that you probably know already without even realizing it. 85 days til the 'Roo!

Ting Tings

Monday, March 16, 2009

Walking in a central park [fresh air]

Unless you've been suffering from short-term memory loss, you'll recall that I took myself on a walk around central park yesterday to awaken myself from hibernation a little bit. Upon emerging from my den, I immediately found myself involved in my first attempt at amateur bird-watching. I followed this little rascal down a path and got as close as I could to his perch.

Not a spectacular pic by any means, but not bad for a first attempt, I think.

I got to cross one more item off the Murray Hewitt Bandshell tour of New York City when I stopped to watch some kids lining up soccer shots at a goalie waiting on the stage of the Naumberg Bandshell. Scenes at Naumburg Bandshell were featured in Hair, I'm Not Rappaport, Breakfast at Tiffanys and Mighty Aphrodite. Are you listening, Jemaine?

This guy came over and jumped in for just one shot, and he made it count.

I believe this move is from the original Street Fighter arcade game.

Venturing on, I happened past this disturbing chalk drawing of some sort of squid-like creature that belongs the credits of Superbad.

If you look closely you'll see the phrase, "OH HAI!" beside the creature, which actually makes this monstrosity the elusive Giant LOLsquid.

funny pictures of cats with captions

As I came around a bend in the path, the mellow, acoustic ambiance of Bon Iver quickly gave way to Central Park Roller Soul Train. This part of the walking tour is best accompanied by a the mashup mastery of Bonnaroo artist Girl Talk. And there's your countdown, kids -- 86 days! Cheeky bastard.

Ironically, it takes years of practice to master this incredibly useless skill. But whatever keeps you dancin' man.

At the end of my trek I ultimately snapped what were probably the best pictures of the outing.

Congratulations, you've made it through Monday. The week is officially underway, which means the weekend can't be far off. Godspeed.

Monday Power Drive: Live Green Day Bootlegs

Because every Monday inevitably requires a rockin power drive to push you through at some point, I had to share this awesome Green Day live bootleg, courtesy of I make sure to rock out to a little Green Day at some point every day, but even if you don't enjoy freaking out passers-by and fellow subway riders with angry scowls and wild headbanging while doing your best Billy Joe impression, it's still quite the joyride to hear them tear through a set of their power chord-driven, hard-charging millenial youth anthems.

Some time, long ago, when Blink-182 announced their reunion and Seth Green fans everywhere rejoiced, it was speculated that they'd be opening for Green Day on tour this summer. While it's probably too much to ask that both get added to the Bonnaroo bill (although I'll continue to hold out hope that at least one honors my request), the possibility of jumping up and down while pumping fists to Green Day under a summer sunset like I'm 13 again is more than sufficient consolation. Green Day's new album, "21st Century Breakdown," is due out May 15, and the title track has already leaked and subsequently been pulled off of countless blogs by Warner Brothers. This concert bootleg is my attempt at an apology for not giving you guys a chance to hear said track as soon as I did. I enjoyed it, but if you didn't get a chance to listen to it, please don't take my word for it, as Rolling Stone and many others will undoubtedly do a better job describing it than I can. For chrissakes, I'm a sarcastic amateur blogger, not a professional film and television actor.

Rock on, Schiff Happens. More music later as we continue the march... of war! to Bonnaroo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Like a groundhog coming out of hibernation [bonnaroo countdown]

Today was what March in New York is supposed to feel like. Balmy, but not cold, bluish, but not cloudless sky. A perfect day to begin to emerge from the long, frigid odyssey that is winter in the City with a brisk Sunday stroll through Central Park. My music of choice for the occasion was Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago -- a fitting choice, given that it was composed during a three month hibernation in a remote cabin in Wisconsin.

Bon Iver is one of many new artists in this year's Bonnaroo lineup that I have heard great things about but haven't really gotten into yet. The abundance of artists fitting into this category is one of the things about the festy that I'm most excited about.

I'll be interested to see how he brings his sound to the stage, but for now I can definitely endorse it for people- and amateur bird-watching walks at the first real hint of spring.

Bon Iver -- For Emma, Forever Ago

Unrelated completely -- watching Flight of the Conchords makes me really hope that they end up on the Bonnaroo ticket as a comedy act. It makes too much sense for it not to happen. If they're already scheduled to play elsewhere that weekend, go ahead and let me know, but I don't believe they are.