Friday, January 27, 2012

Buying Guide to Hookahs For Beginners

Nargiile, Water pipe,  Shisha, or Hookah It goes by many different names, and is becoming more popular and well known through the world. Maybe you smoked at a friend’s house or a lounge.  All you know now is that you want one of your own. But where to start? Where should you buy one, what is the difference in types, how much money should you spend, what kind of tobacco should you get? All of these are reasonable questions, so I will break each area down.

Types of Hookahs: We are quick to judge a pipe based off of its price in the local smoke shop and the looks of it. That however, is the first big “no-no” when picking out your pipe.  While how a pipe looks can and will determine its value, it will not affect the life of the hookah or its performance. Here is a breakdown of common pipe types.

Egyptian: Egyptian pipes are some of the more common quality pipes. They are available in high quantity in both brand name and generic styles. Egyptian pipes are characterized by tall thin purge valves, and welded on hose ports. Modern Egyptian hookahs use standard female bowls. The wider the draw on an Egyptian hookah the better, allowing for a smooth easy pull. They are most commonly made from stainless steel, but can also come in tri-metal or quad-metal varieties including materials such as copper, brass, and nickel.  Popular and well-made brands include Khalil Mamoon,  Nammor, Farida and Temsaah. These can come with a variety of different hose types, and commonly include a standard glazed Egyptian clay bowl. They are also usually in once solid piece as opposed to some hookahs that screw together.

Chinese: One of the more controversial types of hookahs. Chinese hookahs are commonly modeled after Egyptian pipes, but many are generic, low quality pieces that do not smoke well and will rust in a short time frame. Many local smoke shops will carry these, so beware. They typically have a circular purge valves and screw on hose ports. They will have “open hearts” also known as “Open Chamber” stems, which can be a rust issue as well. Some will smoke better than others, but the main issue is quality and how long they will last before rusting. However, not all Chinese hookahs are bad pipes. MYA hookahs are Chinese and some of the best pipes available, ones that will last as long as any other and smoke like champs. They can come in all shapes and sizes, and are also liked because of their portability, as even larger models can be collapsed. They are almost always made out of stainless steel and have smaller diameter down stem then their Egyptian brethren.

Syrian: While the goal of an Egyptian hookah is to have an easy wide-open draw, it is the opposite for a Syrian. Quality Syrian pieces will have a small amount of pull to them with a narrow downs tem. Some smokers enjoy this feeling, as they know they are actually smoking. Syrian pipes can have either closed or open hearts/chambers, they have smaller hose ports and purge valves, and can be much more intricate in design than other styles of pipes. They can be a little harder or expensive to own, but are not too much of a challenge. They can be made from multiple different materials, but very commonly will be Brass. Popular brands to look for are Nour or Al Nawras.

Turkish: The closest you can come to a “professional” pipe in the west side of the world comes to the Turkish.  They are the “rarest” style of nargile in the west; just due to the lengths and costs it takes to bring them over. At this current time, there are no Northern American vendors that carry real Turkish hookahs. Turkish hookahs will be solid brass, and have very detailed designs either cast into them or engraved into them. Two big things to look for to determine if your Hookah is a real Turkish are the lack of a purge valve, and a female bowl port. Instead of the common “spike” design, there will be a circular whole that a bowl will rest in. These bowls are also not easily found in the US, and Turkish hookahs are the few that still use them. These bowls will also commonly be unglazed clay. Turkish hookahs also come with their own unique wind covers, as well as Turkish hoses, but more on that later. I earlier referred to them as “professional pipes” due to their cost, as well as the lack of purge valve. If you over heat your tobacco for too long, your entire session will be over, so you really need to know how to manage what you are smoking before you use a Turkish, or you will waste a lot of tobacco and time.  The most common brand of Turkish Hookah in the west is Elmas, meaning Diamond. Out of all the generic styles, you would also be the safest with a generic Turkish Hookah if you end up with one.


Egyptian: Khalil Mamoon, Nammor, Farida, Temsaah. Wide draw
Chinese: MYA. Anything else is a risk.
Syrian: Nour or Al Nawras. Narrow Draw
Turkish: Elmas, Narrow Draw, Turkish Hoses, Male Bowls No Purge Valve.

Where to Buy:

Like I touched on early most people will want to buy their hookah at a tobacco or head shop but usually this is a mistake. Most shops like these only sell Chinese or MYA hookahs. The other problem is even though MYA hookahs aren’t bad these shops will charge you an arm and a leg for them under the guise of “These are deluxe” or some similar tag line.
So where am I supposed to buy then? The best place to get all things hookah unless you are lucky and have a very good Arab market near you is the Internet. Personally I swear by They have one of the largest selections online and their customer support is top notch. They are also the creators of Nammor hookahs, which are some of the best “bang for your buck” hookahs you can get. For a beginner, I really recommend a Nammor package. You will get a quality hookah that smokes well, as well as a quality washable hose.

Other Sites:

Article By: Jimmy Bishop & Zach Marselle

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Retro Future: The Art of Syd Mead

This week I wanted to feature the futurist art of Syd Mead. You may know of his work without ever knowing his name, due to him being the creative genius behind the visuals of TRON. All of his work is soaked in nostalgia and beautiful retro futuristic concepts. If you want more of Mead there is a great Flickr with scans of his work which you can look at Here

If you really want get into the nostalgia zone, try listening to this while sifting through his artwork.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Album Review: Boys No Good - Never Felt Better

Remember that time you went to your first punk rock show and heard that very first power chord as it rang out, immediately making your ears hate you, and you knew you were in love? Well, that's what Florida's Boys No Good do with the release of their debut album 'Never Felt Better'.  Featuring current and ex members of Evergreen Terrace and Casey Jones, this Florida quintent is out to make us remember the days of having fun and piling on with all of your friends to sing along to every single word. Memorable verses, incredibly catchy choruses and just enough angst and bitterness to make Matt Skiba grin, Boys No Good stand head and shoulders above the rest of the Indianola Records roster. This record is, by far, my favorite release of 2011. With tales of overcoming the odds, coming out on top over those that have wronged you, and having fun with your friends, Boys No Good offer a song for just about everyone!

By: Jaysin Horror

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Look at The First Half of Season 2 of The Walking Dead

When the first season of The Walking Dead premiered I was so excited to finally have a zombie themed show on TV. The first season of The Walking Dead was a blood soaked film grain filled rip roaring good time. During this season all the characters were established well and we saw a good range of situations that would probably happen in a post apocalyptic Atlanta, Georgia. Over all the first season felt satisfying and was exactly what I thought the show would be.

So due to the great run on the first season The Walking Dead was renewed for a second season. With a plethora of great story lines in the graphic novel that the show is based on it seemed to there was no way AMC could lose. Well in some ways they didn’t The Walking Dead turned in some super high viewer counts but does that necessarily mean this was a good season or just that the hype was good? Well in my opinion it means the hype was good because the first half of season 2 has just been far to slow and boring.

When the second season kicked off everything looked good the group of survivors were on the road and headed out of Atlanta to continue to purse their hope of finding a safe zombie free place to live. Eventually on the highway they run into an area where there are to many abandoned cars to continue so they stop and see if they can collect any supplies. At this point im still on board and excited to see what the season has in store. So after floods of zombies come through the highway of abandoned cars the little girl of the group gets chased off and sheriff Rick has to go save her. At this point Rick loses the girl while protecting her. It is this fatal mistake that sends the first half of this season of the series down the drain. How could one little thing cause the season to be so bad? Well its because after this girl gets lost the writers cant seem to get over it and instead of the story progressing or letting us see more of post apocalyptic America we get stuck at a farm house just outside Atlanta and look for this girl for the rest of the season.

Now before you jump to conclusions and think I am someone who needs constant action to like a series I am not. Some of my favorite shows are not very fast paced. But what separates the slower shows that I love from this season of The Walking Dead is character development. If you are going to place your characters in a very boring environment then that time should be devoted to developing the characters and their bonds and connections with each other. This is where the writers of The Walking dead fail this season. While the characters are interacting they never give us a pay off worth dealing with such a dull first half of the season.

However things aren’t quite all bad the season has had some good moments like the relationship between Glen and the farmers daughter, and when Ricks son got shot that caused worth while and realist feeling interaction. And of coarse finding a barn full of walkers but these things still don’t make up for an over all boring season.

To me the first season was like being on a cruise ship and constantly seeing new things and new places but the first half of the second season is more like stopping at a crappy motel along the way to a really good vacation and deciding not to leave. I really hope things pick up when The Walking Dead comes back in February but it will take a lot to make up for such a slow first half of the season.

By Jimmy Bishop

(Article has been edited: I realize when I posted this from insomnia that it was not very well written or thought out and I made some major accuracy mistakes that I know better than to do. Sorry for the issue. Thanks for reading.)

Maybe this could be a good new direction.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Album Review: The Chariot - Long Live

If you ever find yourself in a pit and you see the guitarist crowd surf by and then notice the bassist is right next to you in the pit throwing his instrument to the rafters then it is safe to assume you are at a Chariot show. Known for their intense live performances and cult like following of devoted fans The Chariot has created a legacy on feedback and destruction. 

Well it’s been almost 3 years now since the release of Wars and Rumors of Wars in late 2009 and The Chariot is back with a vengeance on Long Live.

Long Live is a 10-track monster of a full length laden with distortion, feedback, and all out fun. If you haven’t heard of these guys before the best way to describe the sound would be orderly chaos. Every song on this album seems to be held together by a thin thread that’s fraying at the edges. Every track is like a wall of dissonance and feedback ordered into a rhythm revolving around Josh Scogans guttural and emotion filled screams. But make no mistake this is not simple music there are time signature changes left and right and some great off time stuff on tracks like "The Heavens."  While being straight up heavy Long Live has lots of great fun moments and even comical parts like the random sample in the end of "Calvin Makenzie." But make no mistake there is a lot of really great lyrical work on this album like

May the history book read of all of our names?
Be it blood, be it ink, but at least we were free
This is only but a fraction of what I've got to say
It must be said, it must be sad
If I leave this earth tonight may it be said that I spoke my peace
I spoke with the wrath of his grace
Calm rose: come violent wind
Oh we stand hand in hand and we walk without fear
This is a revolution” –The Chariot  Song: The City

The Chariot also really likes keeping songs feeling fresh through their tempo changes and by never letting a song settle into one riff for to long. Songs like "David De La Hoz" really exemplify this because of how many times they change riffs and by the slow section with Dan Smith from Listener rambling passionately over a drum driven build up that ends up turning into a breakdown filled with some of the dirtiest guitar and bass tones you will ever hear. Honestly the guys from The Chariot are masters at making ugly sound amazing. You could desecrate amps for hours, detune your equipment till they fell to pieces, and still never create sounds as dirty as what the guys from The Chariot have crafted on this piece of art.

Long Live is yet another beautiful piece of dissonance created by the might Chariot and is beyond deserving of a listen.

10 / 10

Review By: Jimmy Bishop

The Shape Of (Horror)Punk To Come

A few years ago there was a band from New Jersey that went by the name of the Misfits. Maybe you've heard of them? From this tiny band spawned a small subgenre in the punk movement called 'Horror Punk'. Now, thirty years later, horrorpunk is still around with numerous bands, labels and 'zine's dedicated to the genre, but this is where my problem comes into play....most of these bands SUCK. Without calling any of them out, allow me to explain....
Had you asked me as recently as a year ago who the best horror band was, other than the Misfits, I would have undoubtedly nominated Arizona's own Calabrese, and up until this year when Bluefield, WV act Blitzkid released their new album 'Apparitional' I wouldn't have even given it a second thought. And the reason behind that is simple... Calabrese write good, catchy songs. They put a lot of money into the production of their albums. Their artwork is done by professionals, not kids using clip art in 'Baby's First Photoshop' classes. They sink money back into their band, promoting it, putting out new merch all the time, always doing things to stay in the minds of their audience, and they've spared almost no expense in doing so. And THIS is my problem. A lot of other horror bands wanna try and ride the wave that the Misfits have started, and that bands like Calabrese and Blitzkid are currently making. They make use of campy stage names, over-the-top gore in pictures or 'album art', and basically just try to out 'Halloween' each other giving no REAL thought to anything they're doing. Apparently at some point in time they forgot that they have to write songs that people want to listen to. I know it's supposed to be punk rock, but that doesn't mean you have to play the same three chords in the same progression in EVERY song. More importantly I can't tell you the number of horror bands that I've listened to that sound like they recorded their album in a closet, or on a stereo in the basement where they practice. Music muddled and barely audible...cymbals overpowering everything else whenever hit....vocals entirely too loud for a singer who can't hold a tune....seriously horrible lyrics that aren't even thought out, much less interesting or entertaining. How many songs can you write from one collection of Edgar Allen Poe's writings? Or how many obscure 80's B-movie references can you make in a feeble attempt to give yourself some extra credibility?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not hating on these people entirely. I applaud the effort and attempts at continuing a genre that is often overlooked and not taken seriously. However, we, the ones participating in the scene, are just as much to blame for this. Why would anyone want to spend money to buy your record when it sounds like it was recorded on a cassette tape from a boombox and the artwork looks like something done by Uncle Jimmy's 8 year old son? Stop putting out an album of 13 songs that sound like shit, and instead put out a 5 song EP that sounds great! Instead of getting your artwork done by Uncle Jimmy's kid, hire a professional. Really spend some time to hone your craft and make everything look and sound its best! If you put your absolute best effort forward, and really take your time in writing good,catchy songs, and take your time preparing the album and accompanying merch, people will respond in kind. However, if you continue to dilute the scene with halfassed recordings, and hastily assembled releases, everyone will continue to ignore you, and not take you seriously. Stop scene suicide, before we really ARE dead.

By Jaysin Horror

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Album Review: Structures - Divided By

While listening to Structures’ debut LP Divided By, I was reminded of a review of Super 8 by Internet film critic The Nostalgia Chick. She didn’t like the film very much, and as she and her friend were leaving the theatre, he asked her, “What do you like? Do you like anything?” Her reply: “I don’t get paid to like shit! I get paid to bitch about shit, that’s what I’m doing.”

That’s a more extreme version of my philosophy on reviewing. After all, I am a professional (albeit in the sense that other people pay me to write these things). I don’t necessarily bitch for bitching’s sake, but when I’m listening to an album I try to remain as detached from the material as possible, to determine whether or not it’s good, bad, or ugly based on its own merits. 

Not so with this one. Because as much as I tried to distance myself from the hype – both leading up to and continuing after its release – it’s everything I want in a Canadian progressive hardcore outfit’s debut LP and more. 
It’s got plenty of time signature switches, infectious djent grooves, and enough breakdowns and blast beats to keep me warm at night. It runs the gamut from crushingly heavy to soaringly melodic, often in the span of the same song. It’s got tight production from the Machine Shop’s Will Putney, it’s fast (at a mere 32-minute running time), and, most importantly, it’s fun.

Serious fun. While some young bands struggle with the balance between technical proficiency, production values, and, well, enjoying themselves, these five kids from Toronto – “kids” is not a misnomer, as they’re all, according to their Facebook page, between nineteen and twenty years old – have it all figured out. 

Musically, everything is in top gear here, from Spyros Georgiou and Brendon Padjasek’s shredding guitar work to Andrew McEnaney’s bull-in-a-china-shop drumming. These guys are great at what they do, but they’re not bogged down by taking that too seriously. For every impeccably timed riff, there’s a rousing set of gang vocals to go with it. (“Our lives are nothing but a means to an end!” goes the first line of “Encounters,” which is easily in my personal top three.)

It’s difficult enough to find the right words when I don’t like something, but when I enjoy a record as much as I enjoyed this one, I’ve found it’s even harder to remain neutral. My one hope for Structures, in what will surely be a long and productive run for them, is that they don’t lose sight of the energy and spirit that makes this debut so damn good. While “spirit” may not be the right word, on multiple listens, it’s always the first one that comes to mind.

SCORE: 9.5/10

Review by: Julia Celtnieks