When I was in a London club a while back, I heard this haunting tune called "Velvet" and was compelled to ask who was singing it. Turns out it was the Norweigian pop trio a-ha (yes, those "Take on Me" guys from the 80's pop scene). I was a bit stunned, because I had no idea that they were still around, let alone turning out new material. Apparently, they are still fairly popular throughout Europe, but have disappeared from the US because they don't have a record contract here. Anyway, I added the album Minor Earth, Major Sky to my Amazon wish list and promtly forgot about it. Fast forward a year later, and it shows up in my post box. Turns out when you create a wish list on Amazon, it's publically viewable so people can purchase stuff you want and have it sent to you as a gift (marketing geniuses, those Amazon guys!). And my friend Dave did just that... because I once created a few themes for his amazing Web Photo Album program. Turns out it's one of the best CDs I've heard in a while now, with a-ha managing to overcome their pop roots with these beautifully haunting pop ballads that you just can't get out of your head! I just ran up a $150 bill at Amazon purchasing more of their CDs, and a live performance DVD... thanks a lot Dave!
The rumors have been mounting for months that Apple would be creating it's own online music service, and now it seems the day has finally arrived (as announced in an invitation sent to the press). Apple claims the news will be "music to your ears," and I remain hopeful that it's true... nobody could be happier than me if Mac users finally have a way to purchase music online. The big question on everybody's mind is "what will the selection be like?" Are we getting entire back-catalogs, or just current hits? Because I don't really care about buying current, easy-to-find music online... convenient as that may be.
No, what I want is to be able to purchase obscure music that you just can't get without purchasing pricy imports or dropping a small fortune on eBay. As a for instance: not so long ago I was wanting to purchase the long-out-of-print album "Living In The Background" by Baltimora (which most people might recognize for the "Tarzan Boy" hit from the 80's). Problem is, I couldn't find it anywhere to purchase it. I eventually bid on a copy that was being sold on eBay, but dropped out when it got to $40, which was $35 more than I wanted to pay in the first place. Frustrated that I had done everything I could resonably do to purchase a copy legally, I eventually started up LimeWire and managed to get a few of the tracks illegally. What I don't understand is why the record companies make it so damn difficult in the first place to purchase music you want!! If you have to go to eBay, neither the record company nor the artist is making money. Selling digitally is the perfect solution... resonably priced music for the masses, without the expense of having to print out-of-date CDs that aren't going to get big sales anyway.
Here's hoping that Apple gets it right.
As mentioned in a previous post, my buddy Dave has unknowingly given me an a-ha addiction that doesn't show any signs of letting up! One of my favorite new a-ha merchandise purchases has got to be their Live at Vallhall DVD filmed in the trio's home town of Oslo, Norway. The entire concert is a treat, focusing mainly on the excellent material from their Minor Earth, Major Sky album, but the nifty bonus was the video for one of my favorite tracks, Velvet, which features the band playing the entire video DEAD! Brilliant, brilliant stuff... and just reinforces what a shame it is that the band does not have a record label in the US. If you were a fan of a-ha in the 80's (or just appreciate beautiful music), you owe it to yourself to check out their work (even if you have to buy it as a pricey import!).
Okay then, the day Mac fanatics have been waiting for has arrived... Apple's music store has finally debuted! Is it all I had hoped for? Yes and no. I mean, I've already dropped $50 on music, so they must be doing something right!
PROS: Catalog is fairly deep and growing daily (according to Steve Jobs). Very, very easy to shop (too easy!) and beautiful to look at. Nice feature update to iTunes. ACC encoding supported on the iPod (finally!). Exclusive Apple tracks by top artists like U2, Eminem, and more. Price is fairly reasonable (99 cents per song, $9.99 per album).
CONS: Catalog limited to US releases from what I can tell... all of the domestic releases by a-ha are there, but none of their later releases are there. And there's no International section to purchase tunes from Germany, Japan, etc. Many albums are not complete, but seem to be missing tracks for some reason (Bananarama has ONE track from ONE album as the entirety of their listing??). Albums that ARE complete on the service, are not sold as complete albums (like John Mayer's Room for Squares). Several of the artists I was wanting to purchase are not there yet (Baltimora, Paul Oakenfold, and about 10 others).
Overall, a good effort on Apple's part. I enjoy the service immensely, and look forward to buying more music in the future (assuming the stuff I am looking for ever makes it to their service!). If you are a Mac user, you owe it to yourself to check this out... Windows users have to wait a while, because Apple won't release iTunes/Apple Music for those poor unfortunate souls until the end of the year.
1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? After all these years, I still love Depeche Mode's music above all others. Why? At a time when I was going through a very difficult period, DM's music made my life a little better.
2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? There are so many... most of them country, but I think Garth Brooks is at the top of the list. Why? I hate that twangy crap, and Garth Brooks' popularity made life unbearable for several years a while back.
3. If your favorite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person? I have seen Depeche Mode in concert a few times, but don't know any of them personally, so I couldn't say.
4. Have you been to any concerts? Many. If yes, who put on the best show? Unquestionably the best concert I have ever seen was Depeche Mode's 101 tour. It was amazing in every way, and sounded better live than most bands sound in a studio. Fortunately, they released the concert on video AND released the soundtrack, so I can re-live the experience whenever I want.
5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from dowloading free music? I feel that artists deserve to be paid for their work. If they can't make a living at it, then how will they be able to make more music? But the RIAA is full of crap for going after music traders... it's the wrong approach, and they should solve the problem by offering a better solution than stealing. I try to own all the music I listen to, but sometimes it is just not possible, so I find a source to download it. For instance, if I want the album "Living in the Background" by Baltimora, but there is no way to buy it... it's long out of print, and I can't even order it. All I can do is pay $100 to somebody on eBay (of which -$0- goes to the artist) which is absurd (especially since they probably just ripped an MP3 from it before they sold it anyway!). If record companies made their entire libraries available for digital download at a reasonable price, I think that music theft would drop dramatically. But, being the greedy, controlling, bastards they are... they'd rather have the RIAA do their dirty work and go after people who don't really have much choice than to steal tunes they can't buy.
Today deluded Windows users got a taste of Apple goodness when iTunes was released for the Wintel monopoly. It actually works really well and, in a surprise move, has complete functional parity with the Macintosh version. You can shop the Music Store, use AAC encoding, share your music over a network with "Rendezvous" technology, and even mix Macs and PCs in your shared computer list for purchased music on either platform... pretty cool. And if that wasn't enough, Apple has struck up a deal with Audible.com to sell audio books and will be giving away 100 million free songs in a cross-promotional deal with Pepsi come February (sounds like a great way to sell more iPods!).
Every time I hear Chris Martin's longing vocals for the Coldplay song The Scientist on the radio, I don't know quite how I'm supposed to feel. It's an achingly beautiful song that conjures all kinds of emotional imagery, even though the lyrics alone don't seem to make much sense to me. I probably most closely identify the tune with feelings of heartbreak... not from something in my past, but for a heartbreak yet to come (which seems oddly appropriate, if you've seen the video). It would bum me out completely if it weren't such a great song.
"Nobody said it was easy. Oh it's such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be so hard. I'm going back to the start."
I had a lot of work to catch up on tonight because I didn't put in as many hours as I should have over the weekend. As always, I have the television on as background noise, which helps me ignore the distractions that come from apartment living. Anyway, I was working along when all of a sudden I hear Pictures of You by The Cure playing... I look up and see that it's a commercial for HP's new ink-jet printers... one of the rare times that the music being played actually fits the product being sold.
Flash forward. It's now after midnight, and I can't get that song out of my head. The Cure was never one of my favorite 80's bands but there were a few songs by them that I really liked... Pictures of You being my favorite. Knowing that I'm never going to be able to sleep until I hear the complete song, I grab my Apple PowerBook, go to the iTunes Music Store, then buy the song and listen to it three times so I can get it out of my system and get some sleep.
It suddenly occurs to me that this kind of instant gratification is exactly what the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) doesn't seem to understand. If the iTunes Music Store did not have the song I wanted, I would have started up LimeWire and downloaded it for free... NOT because I wanted to steal music (I absolutely do not), but because I've been given no choice in the matter. I live in a rural community where we don't have a Tower Records open 24 hours to go by a CD (not that I would have at 12:30am). Far better to offer entire music catalogs online for purchase than holding out in the hopes that online music will disappear.
Not totally sure who this photo should be attributed to? The band, probably.
Oh well. Luckily I could buy what I wanted and get a nice reminder of the 80's music I love without breaking the law and invoking bad karma! If you have iTunes (it's free!), and want a great song that typifies the sound of the 80's, go grab a copy of Pictures of You, which is well worth the 99¢ price tag.
In the past, I've blogged about what a cool and amazing thing that the iTunes Music Store is. But now that the magic is wearing off, shopping for music there is just pissing me off. After buying a few iTunes by The Cure off their "Greatest Hits" collection, and really getting hooked, I decided to dig through all my old CDs (in storage) and rip their hallmark album, Disintegration, to my iPod for my upcoming month of travel. Well, after finally finding it, I notice that there is a huge gouge on the back of the CD that not even toothpaste will fix, rendering the thing unplayable.
Oh well, I can just buy it again from the iTunes Music Store, right?
Uhhh... wrong. I get the dreaded "partial album" listing yet again. WTF? What could possibly be the logic of not offering the entire album? I can't imagine that this is the doing of The Cure frontman Robert Smith, who constructs his albums like poetry. Hacking Disintegration to pieces like this is tantamount to destroying the mood of the work as a whole, and what artist wants that? So it's got to be the record company. For some insane reason they don't want to sell you the entire album online. But why? Did they whore out the publication rights to line their pockets or something? Is this supposed to encourage me to run out and buy the CD instead?
Well congratulations to whatever dumbass record exec made this decision... I'm just going to download one of the billion copies floating around the internet for FREE!! What a load of crap. The sooner this antiquated music industry we have in place falls apart, and record companies die a horrible death, the better. What's the best way to encourage music theft? Don't give people a way to buy it online.
So now I finally know how tough life can be outside the USA:
The above is what I get when I attempt to load up the iTunes Music Store from Korea. Fortunately, I do have a US billing address, so it's all good for me... but what a bummer this must be for a good chunk of foreign Mac users around the globe!
Alrighty then. Apple's "New Music Tuesdays" mailing was delivered to my in-box, causing me to cruise by the iTunes Music Store to see what's new. While scrolling through the storefront offerings, I see four babes on the cover of a newly added selection and am instantly intrigued:
The name of the group is "Bond" and they play classical music to modern-day dance beats that's amazing, amazing stuff. I instantly bought both albums and am hooked. A little research has turned up that the group is alternately praised and condemned within classical music circles. Praised because they are exposing a new generation of listeners to classical compositions, and condemned for the pop-stylings that they infuse into these classical works.
All I know is that they are damn hot and know their way around a violin and cello.
For the most part, I think music videos suck ass. 90% of them are formulaic and blur together into a wash of boring images that don't enhance the song at all, 9% of the remainder are only good because they have hot babes in them, and only the final 1% seem to have any kind of vision. But every once in a while, an amazing video comes along that makes you glad you bothered to watch... the first one I remember doing that was a-ha's landmark video for Take On Me. Others have come and gone, but now I've run across this really cool retro video for Junior Senior's Move Your Feet.
The above screenshots don't really do the video justice, because it's the movement that makes it so cool... kind of like an old Atari 2600 video game or something. Worth a YouTube search to take a look.
I rarely have the time to just sit down and watch television and, on those rare occasions that I do, I usually end up watching only those shows that I have my Tivo record. But today was a little different. I had so much work to catch up on that I didn't want to risk being distracted by something "good" so I just parked the television on VH1 and left it there.
My plans for non-distracting television were dashed when the Bands Reunited: A Flock of Seagulls episode came on. I already had it recorded on my Tivo DVR, but became instantly captivated and couldn't help but watch. Something about seeing people who have long since put their mega-star life behind them and moved on... only to be mercilessly ambushed with the prospect of a reunion with their old band mates... it's just compelling television.
Since I am a huge fan of AFOS... this episode was fantastic for numerous reasons (not the least of which is hearing them play again!). The stories behind the rise and fall of the group is just the icing on the cake.
But then VH1 continued on with more Bands Reunited episodes, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Klymaxx... each with loads of drama involved in getting the bands back together again. This is a really cool series that will captivate you, even if you don't like the bands they feature.
Now if only VH1 would provide an RSS feed for the companion blog to their other amazing show Best Week Ever, I would be really happy.
Okay. I am officially addicted to VH1's new Bands Reunited show. The only problem is that it's not enough... I want MORE. I want to see Flock of Seagulls and Berlin's entire reunited concert! Not just the few songs they put at the end of the show, but the entire concert!! And what about a tour? I'd pay serious money to see some of these bands play. But even that is not enough... I want more bands to be reunited!
The original Depeche Mode... the original New Order... the original Thompson Twins... Breathe... Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark... Information Society... Johnny Hates Jazz.. The Kane Gang... The Psychedelic Furs... Talk Talk... When in Rome... THE SMITHS! Ack! So many cool bands from the 80's that I'd give anything to see back together, even if for just one night. The possibilities are endless, and just thinking about it makes me sick with anticipation over what new shows VH1 might dredge up for the next batch of episodes.
Ooooh... Romeo Void and The Alarm are just around the corner...
Continuing on with my infatuation with VH1's Bands Reunited, I just watched the last episode of the series for another old-time favorite group, The Alarm, and found it to be one of the best yet (unlike the episode for Squeeze, which was not only boring but disappointing as well). Oh how I hope that VH1 continues on with another season. Sure it won't be quite the same surprise when old band-mates are ambushed (since everybody knows about the show now), but there are so many bands out there left to be reunited...
So I'm working away when I get an e-mail from a friend who reminded me of something that made me feel like listening to music by the Pet Shop Boys (no, I don't know why). I own a lot of their stuff, but have some gaping holes in my collection that need filling, so it's off to the iTunes Music Store I go. My first purchase is their album Release, which I never got around to buying (despite having guitar work by Johhny Marr!). So far so good. But then I decide to pick up the Further Listening... albums which feature remixes and additional material to some of their most popular works...
... and oh crap, we've entered the dreaded PARTIAL ALBUM ZONE.
What the f#@%??
It seems that more and more often when I want to pick up something from iTMS, I can only get parts of it. This is utter crap! I can only guess that some of the songs on these albums are covers of other people's songs or written by somebody who won't hand over the rights to sell the song online. Whatever. I guess I will buy what I can and then try borrow the albums from friends so that I can steal the rest. Do I feel bad about having to steal music? Not in the least. Not even the tiniest bit. Because, obviously, I would gladly purchase the songs online if I were able to. I am not going to purchase half the stuff online, then pay for that exact same material again (assuming I somehow manage to find the CDs available for purchase in the first place, since some of them are out of print).
Yes, I sympathize with artists who are getting a raw deal because music companies are taking most of the profits of online sales. But you sleep in the bed you make, and I'm not going to cry over a contract that somebody else was foolish enough to sign. Musicians need to wake up, drop f#@%king recording companies altogether, take control of their own music, sell their own product directly using iTMS and other online/CD distribution methods, and then keep all the profits for their labors (which they deserve). So what if their sales drop, they would probably make more money in the long run because nobody would be taking the majority of the profits they would be earning. It's only a matter of time before our antiquated recording industry dies off, and if it means I'll be able to purchase entire albums online, I won't be sorry when they are gone.
And in the "color me surprised department," I am really into the Pet Shop Boys album I just bought called Release. It's a radical departure from their usual synth-pop stuff and has some really nifty slow tunes on it... my favorites being Home and Dry, E-Mail, and The Night I Fell in Love. As expected, Johnny Marr adds sublime texture with his masterful guitar accompaniment (making me miss The Smiths and Electronic all the more). I guess it's time I look into Johnny Marr and the Healers which, alas, is not available for purchase from the iTunes Music Store. What a surprise.
Wow! I just got an e-mail from a guy who saw my blog entry from yesterday and asked if that was a copy of Depeche Mode's 101 Tour DVD behind my head. Sure enough, it is! I have no idea how he managed to pick that out of the background of my apartment, since it's barely visible (should I be worried about that kind of scrutiny?). Depeche Mode is one of my all-time favorite bands, and their Music for the Masses tour (which was featured in the concert film 101) was the single best live show I've ever been to in my entire life. What I remember most about that concert is that I went with a friend (not a big DM fan) who was blown away by the experience. The concert opens with a little concerto called Pimpf where the entire audience was chanting and had their arms waving toward the stage... he thought we had wandered into a cult instead of a concert!
To answer another question... the photo was taken by my new (and broken) camera, which I set on top of a stack of boxes, and then set for a 15 second delay. I too was astounded that I managed such a feat of dexterity so early in the morning.
Why is Blogography grey today? Glad you asked! I've decided to join in with the others over at Grey Tuesday in protesting the recording industry's ever increasing restrictions on artistic expression. A while back DJ Danger Mouse did something very curious... he blended tracks from Jay-Z's Black Album with samples lifted from The Beatles' White Album and created something wonderful and new called, you guessed it, The Grey Album.
This was no easy task, as the original works are completely different in style, tempo, feeling, and philosophy. But the result is pretty amazing. Unfortunately the dumbass party poopers at EMI records (who co-own a huge chunk of The Beatles' music catalog along with Michael Jackson) have issued cease and desist letters to anybody distributing The Grey Album... even if they aren't charging for it.
What totally blows about all this is that up-and-coming DJs wanting to break into the business have historically done exactly this type of thing in order to hone their mixing talents and work on their DJ skills. What's the harm in it? Does EMI honestly think that an album that has sampled tracks from The Beatles will cut into Beatles' album sales? I mean, money is all they care about (anybody believing that EMI is somehow trying to "preserve the integrity" of The Beatles' music is deluding themselves), and it's kind of stupid to think that sales of The White Album are going to plummet because of this. Hell, they may very well rack up new sales from an audience that has never even heard it before!
Being an artist is an exercise in creativity that requires drawing inspiration from the world around you. Forbidding an artist to explore that creativity will not only hurt the future of the music, but ultimately the consumers who want to listen to it as well.
When you see something that says "Click here to see the best video you ever seen in your whole life" - you would pretty much be compelled to click on it wouldn't you? Especially after reading about the "artist" Pleasureman Gunther who "is from Sweden but he feels like a European" and "wants to change the worlds look at the sexual way of thinking, so he has started a new trend to sexualise it more in the world. A Gunthertrend. He has only started his mission to go out in the world and spread the message of Love."
And, if you like your video filled with sexual innuendo and plastered with Swedish women bouncing around and pleasuring each other to a disco beat... well, then this may very well be "the best video you ever seen in your whole life." For me it's either this one or the video for a-ha's Take on Me.
Do you play any musical instruments or have any musical talents? I played sax and clarinet in school band, but that's long-forgotten and I couldn't play a note now if I tried. I am finding a small amount of imitation musical talent playing with Apple's Garage Band software though. Whose musical talent would you most like to have? It's a toss-up between the vocal talent of Chris Martin from Coldplay or the song-writing ability of Martin Gore from Depeche Mode.
What was the last musical event you attended? Not counting the performance of a street musician in New York a few weeks back, I'd have to say it would be when I took my mother to see The Lion King in London's West End for Mother's Day in 2002. I haven't been to a proper concert in ages.
Give it up... to which musician would you most like to have an "all access pass" for the night? Gwen Stefani or any of the ladies from The Corrs (though I'm a bit partial to Sharon)...
FQ DARE: Reveal a musical artist or group that you are embarrassed to like. My musical tastes are pretty eclectic, but the most embarrassing would have to be the A*Teens. It's bubble-gum pop of the absolute most vapid, yet I find myself listening to them entirely too often recently.
FQ CHALLENGE: Mention the above artist or group in a comment you leave on some other blog, then provide the permalink URL where we can find it! (No fair lying about how much you think they suck and no cheating by leaving the comment on somebody else's FridayQ entry!). Extra creativity points for somehow working them into a completely unrelated conversation. How in the heck do you work A*Teens into any conversation? Somehow I managed it over at chaotic intransient prose bursts in this entry: http://blog.kung-foo.tv/archives/001009.php.
Take up the challenge yourself at the FridayQ!
The inspiration for today's FridayQ was driven by The Corrs new album release Borrowed Heaven (along with my infatuation with Sharon Corr, who I just learned has the same birthday as I do!). Problem is that even though the album was released a few days ago, it's not yet available on the iTunes Music Store (here's hoping it shows up on the next "New Music Tuesday"). All you can get now is the first single release: Summer Sunshine in about a dozen remixes.
Looking around the Net I also found the their new video which, unfortunately, is just as lame as their others. In this one, they are tearing down an old house. Even more inexplicable is the young couple who run from room to room and make out until one of the Corr siblings come in and demolishes everything? What in the heck does that have to do with "Summer Sunshine" or the lyrics to the song? Why can't The Corrs find a video director that knows how to visualize their material and keep them from looking stupid? Having the band wander around like zombies in the background while Andrea sings is not compelling television (heck, they all play their own music... you should show that in the background).
In more ironic news, The Corrs are going to be performing at the beautiful Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery just over 2 hours away... but I will be in Europe on the day of the concert. To make matters worse, I can't see them in Europe either, because they leave for North America the day I arrive!
Fate, apparently, is not on my side today. I think I should wear my lucky boxers to compensate... what else can go wrong on a day you are wearing lucky underwear?
UPDATE: ARRGH! The boxers didn't help. I just got an e-mail informing me that the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America Rally for 2004 is happening just three hours away in Spokane... right on the day I leave for Milwaukee! That's just cruel.
A good chunk of my day was spent listening to my entire catalog of Depeche Mode music while I worked. Naturally, this just left wanting more, but there is no more to be had because the members of the band are "on a break" and "pursuing solo projects." I wonder when they're going to get tired of that nonsense and give everybody what we really want... a new Depeche Mode album! And is it too much to ask that Alan Wilder come back to the group?
As an aside, How do you create a song as perfect as Higher Love off of the Songs of Faith and Devotion album? Is it just luck, or is it a "sell-your-soul-to-the-devil" type of thing?
In other music-related ranting, I noticed that there are a few more storefronts on the iTunes Music Store...
Interesting to note that while you can only purchase a few songs off The Cure's Disintigration album here in the U.S.A., if you live in the U.K. you can purchase the entire thing. That sucks ass! Once again I am put into a situation whereas the only option for me downloading the album is either A) go to a sharing network and steal it, or B) have a friend in the U.K. purchase it for me, then strip out the copy protection so I can play it.
Both options are illegal.
But I don't really give a crap.
I mean, I want to buy it... I want to do the right thing. But for some insanely stupid reason I can't, so screw 'em. I refuse to hunt down the CD and contribute another piece of plastic to the garbage dump because music publishing rights are so f#@%ed up that I can only get a partial album. I buy my music online now, and the music industry can either keep up, or be left behind... there are too many other options out there for me to care.
Or I suppose I could just move to Europe so I can buy the music I want.
Very cool news... Depeche Mode is releasing a double DVD set from their Devotional tour. Since I was out of the country when the tour was playing, and Depeche Mode is the best live performance band on the face of the planet, this is a must-have item for me. If you're a fan, you can read more about the release here.
The only downside is having to wait until September to get my hands on it.
While working at home, I usually have VH1-Classic running in the background so I can listen to all that old 80's music I just can't seem to leave behind. Most of the time, I barely realize it's there, unless some song catches my attention that I need to buy from the iTunes Music Store. Well, if it is available from the iTunes Music Store! All too often I find that an artist I want is plagued by having only "partial albums" for sale. Then I have to decide whether I want the music bad enough to buy it on CD, or just forget it.
Usually I just forget it.
Anyway, I really took notice when a commercial for a new season of Bands Reunited came up. Woo hoo! I've blogged about this excellent show a few times before, and have been looking forward to this. Here's the line-up this time around:
Only five episodes? Bummer. I hope they're good ones.
It would seem that the ongoing hotbed of controversy that's centered around the music industry is not going to disappear anytime soon. Music labels don't want people to be able to enjoy music unless it's in a way they make a lot of money. The RIAA wants to keep the music industry in the dark ages so that they are still relevant. Recording artists want to service their fans and make a living by getting paid for their work. Microsoft wants to completely control the digitial music industry and have no competition whatsoever for their WMA format (no more of that MP3 and Apple ACC nonsense!). Everybody is fighting each other and it's really sad because the actual music is becoming secondary to the battle.
Apparently there is no middle ground here and that sucks because all we music fans want is to be able to listen to the music we love in a way that's convenient for us.
Scrobbler: I finally got around to setting up an account on AudioScrobbler. Problem is that I listen to very different music on my iPod than at work (which is where my account is watching). Something tells me that blasting Nine Inch Nails from my office would not be appreciated by my co-workers, so I stick to mostly 80's Synth-Pop. If you want to see what embarrassing tunes are currently keeping me company, here's a link to my AudioScrobbler list.
Artist: A brilliant take on digital music downloads was just posted at ScottAndrew.com. Scott rightly points out that if musical artists concentrated on keeping their fans happy (rather than focusing all their energy on stopping theft of their music) that the fans will in-turn will support the artist. For me at least, this is a completely true statement. On my iPod there is exactly one song out of 4200 that I don't own... Tarzan Boy by Baltimora. I would gladly purchase the song if I could, but the CD is long out of print and all my efforts to buy a reasonably-priced copy have met with failure. I was left with no choice but to find a copy online and "steal" it. If music companies would get off their asses and put their entire catalogs on the iTunes Music Store, there would be no reason for me to steal. I support the artists I like because I want them to keep making music. It's inconceivable to me that a group I love would come out with new CD and I would steal from them. I would hope that I'm not unique that way, and I don't think I am considering that Britney Spears just bought a new seven million dollar honeymoon home.
Ballmer: Everybody's favorite dancing monkey-boy, Steve Ballmer, decided to take the typical approach of trashing competing products because Microsoft can't come up with something better. This lovely Ballmer quote was offered up to the London press yesterday: "We’ve had Digital Rights Management in Windows for years. The most common format of music on an (Apple) iPod is 'stolen'." Given the ludicrous nature of this statement (uhhh... Microsoft Media players don't have stolen music on them?) I have to ask the question: "are executives at Microsoft exempt from drug testing?" And, if "Apple is doing such a crappy job of advancing the legal purchase of digital music, then why is Microsoft trying their best to clone the iTunes Music Store with their shitty MSN Music Store?" For the sake of MS shareholders, Ballmer should just shut up entirely since he seems incapable of making anything but dumbass comments. Of course, he wouldn't have to talk trash if Microsoft would ever come out with something good enough to speak for itself, so maybe this kind of distraction is essential to the company's success?
Time for me to wrap things up... it's New Music Tuesdays at the iTunes Music Store, and it looks like there's new R.E.M. and Fatboy Slim to go buy!
This morning I went to burn a CD of the work I completed last night only to find that I didn't have enough disk space. Since I had just flushed all of my completed projects before my trip to Korea, I couldn't figure it out. What could be taking up all that space? Ultimately, I found out it was a couple of episodes of Cupid (the best television show ever made) which I had digitized for the trip (when are they going to release this show on DVD?).
Anyway, it wasn't the missing hard disk space that turned out to be the biggest surprise... along the way I discovered several musical scores I had written in Garage Band quite a long time ago. For anybody not familiar with this miraculous program by Apple, it's part of their $49 "iLife Suite" which allows you to create amazing music with absolutely no musical talent. Just use the music loops provided, arrange them as you wish, edit and adjust volumes, then mix and enjoy listening to the results. If you actually have musical talent, you can compose music with guitars, keyboards, drums, or any other MIDI compliant instrument. It's all very, very cool.
In fact, I suggest going to your local Apple Store right now and asking for a Garage Band demo. Just play around with it for a few minutes and don't be surprised if you end up buying a new Macintosh (if you don't already have one) just to be able to goof around with this one program.
But I digress.
As I listened to the tracks I created... everything from synth-pop tunes to beautiful mandolin-infused melodies... I realized something was missing. Sure they were all terrific songs that are fun to listen to, but there's an element absent from my compositions that kept them from greatness. Something profound and haunting that was needed to elevate my works from the mundane to immortality. But what was it? After a second listen, it suddenly occurred to me:
Where's the cowbell? I NEED MORE COWBELL!
YEAH BABY! Now we are rockin' the house! Nothing like a little cowbell cranked up to 11 to make even the worst songs worth listening to. So now I am adding cowbell to all my tracks and loving it! I hope that Apple comes out with a Jam Pack extension that contains nothing but funky cowbell riffs. Because, in a world of confusion and uncertain times, a little cowbell is all we need to feel good again.
A while back I posted about the upcoming DVD release of Devotional, a Depeche Mode concert film by Anton Corbijn. Well, it's just arrived and was totally worth the wait. If you are even a marginal DM fan, this is a must-have item if there ever was one (and there isn't even any cowbell in it!). Depeche Mode is the best band I've ever seen in concert, and this performance piece showcases exactly why I'm utterly shattered that I missed the Devotional Tour when it came to Seattle on July 11, 1993.
Understandably, most of their earlier works are left behind in favor of the more mature sound that began with Music for the Masses and was refined in Songs of Faith and Devotion. This may disappoint some, but we have their 101 tour for People Are People and many others, so I'm okay with it. Probably the biggest selling point of Devotional for true fans is that it was the last time Alan Wilder would tour with the group. It's such a shame, because we get Alan playing drums(!) as well as keyboards this time around.
In addition to the live performance DVD, there's also a supplemental disc in the box. This second DVD has the freaky-ass video projections used by director Corbijn in the tour, even freakier Corbijn music videos, an MTV Rockumentary, and other assorted tidbits. Truthfully, I'd rather have skipped the supplement and paid less money for the concert footage, but I guess you can't have everything. In the end, it doesn't really matter, because the live stuff is worth the cost of admission alone.
Times like this have me longing for the band to get back together for another album. Putting aside their solo projects, it's been three long years since their somewhat disappointing Exciter release and we fans are needing a fix. I suppose I could attempt to make due with the upcoming Remixes 81-04 CD... but don't get me started on the awful Marilyn Manson cover of Personal Jesus. Because when it comes to Depeche Mode, accept no substitutes.
My favorite band of all time, Depeche Mode, has announced that they will be meeting next month in California to discuss recording a new album in January!! I have been hoping/dreaming/obsessing over a reunion for quite a long time now, and couldn't be more happy about the news. Is it too much to hope that they will be touring to support the album as well? Any chance that Alan Wilder will be coming back? How will the band's solo projects over the past three years affect the new material? Gah! I'm going a little insane here.
Now I want to watch Devotional all over again.
I worship Steve Jobs (head of both Apple Computer and Pixar). Everything he touches turns to gold, and he has this magnetic personality when you meet him that is so powerful you have to do a heterosexuality-check once you leave his presence just to be sure you are in love with him for the right reasons. At least, guys do. Well, I do. I don't know about any other guys. Maybe it's a genetic defect in my DNA or something.
Anyway, given my love of all things Steve Jobs, it pains me to say that I totally disagree with his view that there should be no video iPod. He says something like "who would want to watch video on such a tiny screen?" to which I have to answer... "me." And probably a lot of other people too.
Sure I can watch DVDs on my PowerBook or a portable DVD player... but, by the same token, I can also listen to music on my PowerBook or a portable CD player. The thing that's so remarkable about the iPod is the stylish way that you can access digital content for music in such a compact, easy-to-manage device. Why wouldn't I want to do the same thing with video content? No need to boot up the PowerBook (especially, heaven forbid, if I am flying coach) in order to have something to watch - just turn on your Video iPod which you've synced with your TiVo, and you can take the latest round of television shows and movies with you in a convenient, pocket-PDA-sized, easy-to use player.
Ever since I started flying Alaska Airlines and renting their DigePlayer, I'm enraptured at the thought of being able to sync content with my TiVo and catch up with all the TV shows I like on the go. I think about it A LOT. On my long, long, flight home last night I thought about it while sketching on my PowerBook.
Inspired by the iPod Mini, this is what it looks like on the front, featuring a hi-res, 4-1/2 inch diagonal widescreen display (click on image to see the full-size version)...
It would flip open to display the controls if you should need to access them. Volume (and everything else) can be controlled from the click-wheel, just like an iPod, but an infinity scroll-wheel on the side allows easy volume control without having to flip open the panel. I also dropped in a small speaker for those times you might want to share the experience... it doesn't have to be anything great, just good enough to hear what's going on (click on image to see the full-size version)...
Of course, you can still play music in either of the above configurations, but a second "regular-sized" iPod display would be included, so you could turn the unit over to easily control it when listening to music without having to flip it open (click on image to see the full-size version)...
Naturally, you could store and view your photos, just like an iPod Photo, and it would also inherit the "video-out" port so you could look at your photos or watch video content on a television. Next-generation Video iPods could have "video-in" ports for recording video as well (although I still think some kind of sync feature like we have now with iTunes is a better option).
With all due respect to Mr. Jobs, I think this would be an insanely great product. I would sell my liver to buy one, and would freak with joy to be able to have an elegant Apple-designed product instead of the clunky alternative digital video players that are out there now.
Come on Steve... prove to me that my love for you is not in vain and make me a Video iPod!
About a month ago, the cups on my faithful Sony earbuds came off and all my attempts to procure a new pair met with failure. Apparently I was going to need to buy an entirely new set, but never actually got around to ordering them. Instead I used the dreadful Apple earbuds that came with my iPod. Since they are not in-ear, noisy airplanes and airports ruin any enjoyment you might get out of listening to music so, after my last trip, I decided to bite the bullet and get a new set.
But which ones?
I have a friend who is a true audiophile, so I asked him which ones I should get. He instantly said "oh, get a set of Sure E5's... I love them." And so off I went.
Only to find out that they cost $625.
"ARE YOU f#@%ING INSANE?!? WHY WOULD I PAY MORE FOR EARBUDS THAN I DID FOR THE IPOD?!?" I screamed, after calling him back. Well, he had a laundry list of very excellent reasons that $625 was well spent, but I sure as heck wasn't going to spend that much... I was thinking more like $20! This made him laugh out loud for about an hour, after which he informed me that the earphones I use are arguably more important than the iPod itself, particularly for use while traveling on airplanes.
"Well, maybe I would go up to $100 if you are certain that it would be money well spent..." I replied. He said I could probably get a decent pair of "Ety's" for that much and, indeed, they would be well-worth the cost.
So I reluctantly ordered up a pair of Etymotic 6i's, which are specially made for the iPod, and a "bargain" at $149.
And two days later, I have my earphones. Anxious to know how super-terrific all my music is going to sound now, I rip open the package and plug them right in.
And they suck ass. Hard. The sound is tinny, weak, and generally bass-free. So, naturally, I call up my friend to start ragging on his moronic suggestion... only to find out I am the moron. Unlike other earphones, these are meant to be worn like hearing aids, and have to be shoved way into your ear (as shown in the instruction booklet I never bothered to read)...
And oh what a difference a good set of headphones make (when used properly). Suddenly the bass is back in full-force. Sound is so bright and clear that I nearly have an orgasm when Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence starts playing. My nether-regions are still tingling.
My only complaint is that the "white" color they use to match the iPod is not "white" at all (more like a dirty cream or something). I seriously don't give a crap what color the cords are on my iPod, but if you're going to advertise them as "a perfect match for the iPod," then you should at least get the color right.
If $150 sounds this amazing... I have to wonder what in the heck do you get for the $625 price tag?
White: Snow has finally come, and this time it looks like it may stick around for a while. Hopefully at least long enough that we don't have a drought next summer. It seems that we get less and less snow every year, and it comes later and later. When I was a kid, the snow was so deep here we could tunnel under it. When my mom was young, it was so deep here they could jump off the roof into it. Now we're lucky to get 12 inches. Yes, global warming must be a myth.
Filibuster: I just passed episode 2.17 - The Stackhouse Filibuster - in my continuing marathon of West Wing episodes. I think this is my favorite so far. I don't remember seeing it when it was originally broadcast, so it was an even bigger treat. The look on the senator's face when he was near exhaustion and was asked to yield the floor for a question... well, it was television magic.
Henley: You can't buy any Don Henley on the iTunes Music Store! I find it kind of strange, however, that you can buy a huge chunk of the Eagles' stuff there. What's up with that? Even worse, two of the Eagles collections are dreaded "partial albums" and it gets stranger when you see how they've screwed up The Very Best of the Eagles... they chopped three songs out of "disc 2" (The Long Run, In The City, and Those Shoes) and then smooshed everything else together into two 15-track "discs" so it's impossible for a customer to figure out which tracks they will be missing if they purchase it (unless they are already familiar with the album, as I am). Now, I don't blame Apple, because they don't create the content... that's done by the record companies. But whoever is responsible needs to know that proper track numbering is important to maintain (especially when they've decided to not upload the entire album).
Memory: Earlier today I forgot which Metro station was the stop to visit Notre Dame in Paris. And I really hate it when I forget simple things like that. All I knew was that it started with a "C" and was probably something like "Citrus" or "Citron" or something. To Google it would be cheating, so I decided to forget about it and it would come to me. But it didn't. And so just now I decided to bite the bullet, only to find out that the answer was the "Cité" Metro stop. Argh.
It's another meme from Neil! And this one has a potential embarrassment factor of 9.9! What could it be? Why, it's the Music Shuffle Meme!
The rules are rather straightforward, kind of scary, and basically ask you to put iTunes (or whatever music software you use) on shuffle, then reveal the first ten songs that show up... without skipping any of them! I have some hugely humiliating music lurking in the 4667 songs I've got on my PowerBook, so this could be devastating (though, about 1000 of them have only 1 star and won't be played). To add some fun and excitement to the meme, I am going to just hit "play" and write about each of the titles as it plays...
And there you have it, for better or worse (and yes, it could have been much worse). This was a pretty great idea for a meme I must say!
My new iPod Shuffle arrived, but I didn't had time to open it up and play with it until today. In a word: it's brilliant!
Don't get me wrong, I love my original iPod (and really love the 40 gigabytes of storage) but, as small as it is, the thing can still be a little cumbersome to travel with. Usually what I end up doing is selecting a playlist, putting it on shuffle, and then dropping it in my pocket. But then you have a heavy pocket and must be careful that you don't let it fall out when you bend over, as that could be an expensive mistake.
iPod Shuffle, on the other hand, is so light-weight as to be almost unnoticeable. It comes with a lanyard that makes walking around with it safe, comfortable, and effortless.
Some people will undoubtedly bitch about the lack of a display but, since I only use the display to select a playlist on my iPod original, I don't really care (besides, that would just add size and weight). The gigabyte of memory only has room for a single playlist anyway, so I already know what I'm getting when I turn it on. Selecting a new playlist is as easy as plugging your iPod Shuffle back into your computer and dragging a different one over. There's also a cool "auto-fill" feature which will randomly grab selections from your library until the memory is full. This is a great way to re-discover songs you may have forgotten or don't play very often.
There is one downside, however: Apple decided to use a USB 2.0 connector instead of FireWire (which is what they used on all previous iPods). This wouldn't bother me except that Apple only recently began supporting USB 2.0, so not a single machine I own has it. This sucks ass, because transferring a gigabyte over USB 1.0 is slow. Really slow. Oh well, it does give the unit enough time to recharge.
Anyway, I am totally loving the iPod Shuffle. Especially since the iTunes Music Store just released Erasure's excellent new album Nightbird and Billy Idol's new pre-release single called Scream. Apple rules.
UPDATE: Now that's cool... I just noticed the shuffle/cycle settings are dynamic! All my playlists are in order by artist, so if I am listening on the "shuffle" setting, come across a song from The Cure, then decide I want to hear more from The Cure, all I have to do is switch to the "cycle" setting and play their remaining songs in order. Then I can go back to "shuffle" again with a flick of a switch! It's the attention to little details like this that makes me such an Apple whore.
What can I say? For two days I have worn my iPod Shuffle constantly, removing it only to shower and sleep (though last night I fell asleep while listening to it, so I guess I'm wearing it even then). It's so small and light that I don't even know it's there. It's so easy to operate that I find myself wearing it underneath my sweatshirt or over-shirt and just operating it through the fabric. It's almost become another appendage, and the ability to listen to music at a second's notice wherever and whenever I feel like it is nothing less than magic.
In many ways I feel that iPod Shuffle fulfills on the promise of the original iPod: it has firmly integrated music into my everyday life. I work with it. I paint with it. I cook with it. I eat with it. I brush my teeth with it. I walk to the post office with it... I live with it.
In fact, I find myself enamored with it so much that my original 40 gigabyte iPod has just been demoted to a spare hard drive. The iPod Shuffle is a much better fit for how I want to experience to my music. As I type this I am listening to Along Comes a Woman by Chicago, a song I haven't listened to in ages... all thanks to the "random auto-fill" feature that appears in iTunes when I plug iPod Shuffle into my laptop. Gotta love that little thrill you get from rediscovering an old song you've forgotten about.
Ooh! There it goes again... Drive by The Cars just came on!
The Texpatriate has tagged me! Now I've got "Karla's Bitch" spray-painted on my forehead. Oh... wait a second... it's not a graffiti tag, it's a meme tag. Well, that's okay too. Here we go:
Total amount of music files on your computer? According to iTunes, I am currently at 4628 songs. And I'm pretty sure all of them are legal except one: Tarzan Boy, by Baltimora. It's not available digitally at the iTunes Music Store, and I can't find the CD Living in the Background to purchase the song because it's out of print. Since Steve Jobs has stated that he would gladly offer every song ever released on the iTMS, I can only guess that it's the record labels that are the hold-up. Illegal downloading was my only option.
The last CD you bought was... Well, I don't really buy CD's anymore, I purchase all my music from iTunes Music Store so I don't have a piece of plastic to throw out. The last albums I bought from iTMS would be Green Day's excellent American Idiot, and Nightbird by Erasure. Too many terrific 80's synth-pop melodies on that one! I Broke it All in Two and Breathe are absolutely beautiful songs...
What was the last song you listened to before reading this message? Hmmm... last night before I went to bed I was listening to my iPod Shuffle while reading. I think the song would be Closer by Nine Inch Nails.
Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you. All my music means a lot to me. It is so very hard to narrow down thousands of favorites to just five... I wouldn't even know where to begin. Since Valentine's Day has just passed, let's talk about love: Don't Answer Me by the Alan Parson's Project (a concert I went to with my best friend who has since departed this mortal plane). Every Breath You Take by The Police (17 years old in a New Orlean's hotel). If You Were Here by the Thompson Twins (first love). Barrel of a Gun by Depeche Mode (love gone very wrong). And Rebel Yell by Billy Idol (the words pretty much speak for themselves).
What 3 people are you going to pass this baton to and why? Gee, there was a "Music Shuffle Meme" not so long ago that gave me an idea of what people are listening to, so I should probably try to find some people who I don't think answered it? I'll pick Ben's Blab, because he recently had an entry about a music playlist but failed to indicate any of the songs or what music he likes. Geekable, because Jeff has incredible taste in music (though I don't think that he "does" memes... a pity). And My So-Called Strife (Kirkkitsch is forever recommending movies, but I have no idea what music he listens to... though I don't think he "does" memes either).
Is that it? Okay then.
After going through a mile of bubble-wrap to get all of the fabulous Blogiversary 2 prizes packed up (just waiting for the T-shirts!) I thought I would update my Mac G4 Cube to Tiger and watch a little TiVo and a couple of NetFlix DVDs.
First up was Shaolin Soccer, which kicks so much ass that you almost need a new genre of film to describe its ass-kicking proficiency. If you've ever wanted to know what would happen if a soccer game took place in The Matrix, then this film is your answer. Really cheesy dialogue also makes this one of the funniest films I've seen in a while. The DVD had both the shitty, butchered "American" version and the vastly superior "Chinese" original (with English subtitles).
Next was Erasure: Hits!, filled with incredibly bad videos that are so gay that even gay people must think "wow, those are some pretty gay videos!" I am really schizophrenic when it comes to the music I listen to. At home, in my car, and on my iPod are groups like Radiohead, System of a Down, Depeche Mode, Oasis, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and Pearl Jam. While at work, I am strictly synth-pop with groups like Erasure, New Order, Thompson Twins, Pet Shop Boys, and Moby (which is why my AudioScrobbler profile looks the way it does). Of all of them, Erasure is easily the undisputed queen of bubblegum synth.
Sadly, not a single video in the entire Erasure canon is worth a crap (the low point is when both Andy and Vince are dressed in full drag as very ugly women singing Abba's "Take a Chance on Me"). It's really too bad given they are capable of such beautiful music... "You Surround Me," "Joan," "A Little Respect," "I Broke it All in Two" and so many more. Why can't their videos be as lyrical and beautiful as the songs they depict? Sad.
Lasty, I watched the two-part Enterprise episode: In A Mirror Darkly. It's where we get to have the boring Enterprise characters all evil and interesting (finally) because they're in the Star Trek "Mirror Universe." It's fun to see Archer gone all insane... but even more fun to see Hoshi as a power-crazed whore in a belly-shirt who will sleep with anybody to advance her career. Delicious. I also found it a bit touching to see T'Pol and the other aliens attempt a coup against the evil humans, knowing they would fail completely in order to maintain continuity with future Star Trek series. If the show were this good for the past four years, I might have actually bothered to watch it (and so would everybody else, which means UPN wouldn't have had to cancel it).
Which begs the question... why is it that Trek producers just don't understand what Star Trek fans want to see? We want action! LOTS AND LOTS of ACTION! Don't have characters sit around in decontamination chambers and talk for an hour straight... blow some shit up! The reason Captain Kirk was so cool was because in any given situation he would either fight with somebody, shoot somebody, or have sex with somebody. THAT'S IT!! That's all he did, and we loved it! But now all we get for action is people sitting around the bridge saying stupid shit like "let's re-route the EPS conduits" and then pressing a bunch of buttons so they could go back to boring talk again. Stupid. I have every last episode of the original Star Trek on DVD and watch them all the time. I don't own any of the other series, and usually won't be bothered to watch them for free on television either. Why? Because when I tune in to Star Trek I want to actually be entertained (and there wasn't much of that to be found in anything that followed the originals, except the movies #2, #4, #6, and #8). Please, if there is a god of science fiction television, let Paramount fire the dumbasses who have been running Star Trek into the ground for the past 20 years and get somebody who will actually entertain us with the next series.
And now for a few more MacOS X Tiger observations in an extended entry.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Avast ye bloggers! I'm a pirate! And it's not even "Talk Like a Pirate Day" yet.
After monkeys and ninjas, I'd say my third most abnormal infatuation would have to be pirates. And I can tell you exactly when the obsession started: when I went to Disneyland and went on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride as a wee lad. I could never get pirates out of my blood after that, mainly because pirate life looked a heck of a lot more fun than mine did at the time.
But now-a-days the word "pirate" is getting an entirely different meaning... people who appropriated work from others without paying for it. Usually this means people who illegally download music, but it's getting popular for movies and television downloads as well. One thing that hasn't changed: piracy is still viewed as a very bad thing.
Which I think is a load of crap.
Pirates of old attacked ships at sea, killed everybody, and plundered the treasure for their pirate's booty. So when the asshats at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) calls me a "pirate," I'm offended because I'm not nearly that cool.
All I did was grab some music that I can't buy here because it's either owned by a foreign label, or out of print. I was forced into piracy because evil record labels can't get their shit together and release ALL of their music for sale digitally. This is so stupid because the cost is minimal, and CDs are a complete dead-end. What choice do I have? Pay $50 to somebody on eBay who is probably selling it after having burned it to their iPod anyway? The artist isn't seeing a dime of that money... so what's the point in paying such an obscene sum?
Look, I'd gladly buy the shit if I could, but record labels and some narrow-minded artists won't let me purchase it. How is this my fault? The RIAA can kiss my ass. Until you give me a way to buy something legally, stop being a bunch of whiny dumbasses, and work on solving the problem... not adding to it by attacking people who would be your customers if your would let them be.
And now I wait for Sid Meier's Pirates game to be released for Xbox this summer. REAL pirates kick ass!
I gave up on MTV ages ago. That's because somewhere along the way they seemed to forget that the "M" in "MTV" stood for "music" and abandoned the idea of actually playing music. Instead you have a lot of dumbass crap that has nothing to do with music at all. A simple and brilliant idea has been destroyed utterly.
But I made an exception yesterday, because I wanted to see the Live 8 concert. So I had TiVo record the entire thing... the plan being that I could sit down this morning and skip to all the bands I wanted to see.
Leave it to the insanely stupid, greedy ass-hats at MTV to totally rape a benefit show.
NOTE TO THE STUPID f#@%S IN CHARGE OF MTV "MUSIC" TELEVISION: Live 8 is a benefit concert to raise awareness of the plight of poverty-sricken countries within the African continent. And, while applaud you taking time to air educational segments to show people the horrors of what is going on there, YOUR VIEWERS TUNE IN TO A "CONCERT" FOR THE MUSIC!!! So when you continuously interrupt performances so no-talent idiots can provide useless commentary and introduce yet another commercial... RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A SONG... that makes you THE STUPIDEST f#@%ING IDIOTS ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET!!
I kept skipping forward past the endless commercials to try to actually find "music" in the broadcast, but it was a rare event. Apparently MTV could give a shit about what's going on in Africa, and saw this as nothing more than a money-making opportunity from continuous advertising revenue. "Oh look! It's Maroon 5!" But then they interrupt for a commercial and so that some dumb bitch can wander through the audience asking people "what have you learned here today?"
Well I've learned that MTV sucks ass on a level of ass-sucking I never thought was obtainable. What a bunch of moronic pricks. I eventually gave up trying to even watch... there was just no point in it.
f#@% MTV. If I lived in New York, I'd be protesting in front of your Times Square studio.
Protesting or fire-bombing... one or the other.
UPDATE: Okay then, I'm not the only one who thinks MTV sucks.
When I decided to shut down the FridayQ, I really didn't think twice about it. I was looking to cut back on my extraneous activities, and felt it was the logical choice since memes have been kind of dying off anyway. To be honest, I didn't think anybody would care, because so few people were participating at the end.
The problem is that the FridayQ was always written weeks in advance. So the smarter thing to do would have been to hold off until after I had run out of material, THEN close it down. Oh well. What's done is done.
Today's FridayQ was going to be about things you enjoy and you don't know why. I concocted it after channel-surfing one day and realizing that, despite the fact that I LOATHE country music, I am a huge fan of Shania Twain. Honestly... I can't stand whiny, twangy country-western. I very nearly gouged my ears out during the height of Garth Brook's popularity. Billy Ray Cyrus singing "Achy Breaky Heart" was enough to send me into epileptic fits. Yet I love me the Shania Twain...
Sure she's brutally hot, but that's only half the package. She's remarkably talented as well. And, for reasons I can't guess, I am totally into her music. And not just her more pop-oriented stuff either... all of it, including the country classics.
I try not to worry about it, but am deathly afraid that it will spread and I'm going to end up buying the latest Willie Nelson or Alan Jackson CD. After that, it's a frightfully short jump to mainlining crap by Clay Aiken and Justin Guarini... at which point I would have to kill myself.
Life was so much simpler before American Idol came along.
Meanwhile, on Rock Star: INXS... In a moment of utter obviousness, Jordis was the one selected to reprise her stunning performance of The Man Who Sold the World from last night's show. I've saved it on my TiVo, and must have listened to it a dozen times now. It's as if I've never heard the song before (even though both the original Bowie version and Nirvana cover were both great). Once Jordis Unga sang it, she owned it for me.
I'd buy the song, but the only place you can get it from is the suck-ass MSN Music store. No surprise, since MSN is sponsoring the show... but still. I can only hope that either A) Somebody wakes up and decides to release the song on the worlds most popular online service, namely the iTunes Music Store. Or, B) If they don't, somebody with access to the MSN Music store will strip the lame-ass DRM from the track and put it someplace where I can get it as an MP3.
And, before the assclowns at the RIAA decide to come down on me for saying that, it's not STEALING if you won't let me BUY IT! Seriously, Mac users can't access MSN Music, so don't bust my balls with your stupid shit for having to resort to less desirable methods of obtaining the music I want.
I know this sounds horrible... but I find myself secretly hoping that Jordis DOESN'T get chosen to front INXS. After what I've seen, it's almost as if they would hold her back. I want her to go out on her own, find her own voice, and release music that she's passionate about, as opposed to singing things INXS wants her to. The idea of an entire album of music as great as The Man Who Sold the World gives me chills.
That being said, Brandon really should have been the one booted off the island. Is it just me, or does he have -zero- melody in his voice? Perhaps with further coaching, he can improve, but right now it's almost painful.
UPDATE: Well... I step away from my Mac for an hour, and no less than a dozen people are emailing me with offers to help out. I'm ever so grateful to you all. It would seem Jordis has many, many fans. Heaven only knows what she'll bring next week.
I swear, Rock Star: INXS keeps getting better and better every week. Tonight's episode was amazing from start to finish, with some stunning covers of classic (and not-so-classic) songs that had me wondering why anybody would ever watch that lame American Idol crap ever again. While some performances were definitely weaker than others, each one was worth a listen. Jordis, as usual, was great... with a soulful rendition of Knockin' on Heaven's Door. I also enjoyed MiG's sweet take on Baby I Love Your Ways and Marty channeling Curt Cobain singing Britney with Hit Me Baby One More Time.
It's interesting to extrapolate fan favorites by looking at the number of comments on each performer's most recent blog entry. As of this writing, the totals are as follows:
It would seem that J.D. is currently favored, which is really too bad considering he is such an ass. Then we drop to Jordis, which is not surprising, as she's amazing. After MiG and Marty, everybody else is kind of trailing, with Jessica and Deanna at the bottom of the heap. I still maintain that J.D. or MiG will take the prize. Personally, I think that MiG is their best bet because not only is he a fellow Aussie, but he actually seems like a very talented guy that works well with a band. J.D. is a loner who wants it his way or no way, and INXS would be walking away with a loaded cannon if they were to choose him. Jordis is simply too talented to win.
Regardless, both J.D. and Jordis will absolutely end up with recording contracts, so it's not like they will be suffering if MiG gets the gig. Truthfully, they are probably both better off if they don't win.
I certainly hope that whoever is in charge here is smart enough to release a "best of" CD after the show ends, featuring some of the amazing performances we've heard along the way. There are quite a few songs that I definitely wouldn't mind hearing again.
Other than guessing who will win, one question remains: what band is going to step up for season 2 of Rock Star?
I am hopelessly addicted to Rock Star: INXS in that I've watched the entire show from last night five times now. When you add that to the number of times I've watched the other episodes I've saved on TiVo, you might think that it's the only show on TV. It's like getting a new CD every week with music you can't get out of your head. Man I hope that they release the entire series on DVD and put the songs up for sale on the iTunes Music Store.
When you add that to my near-constant playing of the new Depeche Mode single "Precious"... it's been a good week for music.
The current meme-du-jur running around the blogosphere is "What's in YOUR Start Menu." Luckily, I don't have a Start Menu because I don't do Microsoft Windows. But I will share what's on my Mac PowerBook's Dock:
What's in YOUR Dock?
Interesting trivia about the above Blogography entry: This is not the entry I had originally written for today. I had started with a rant about something that made me so angry that I simply couldn't finish it. All I wanted to do was scream and type curse words. Eventually, I decided to stop writing and sleep on it. I'll be angry tomorrow.
But slightly less angry than I am right now.
UPDATE: Tonight's elimination round on Rock Star: INXS was way harsh... the bait-and-switch that Burke pulled between Ty and Suzie was just cruel. It is really beneath the show, and I hope that they cut out this crap and have a little respect for the performers from now on. Lame!
Much to my shock and delight, the iPod nano I ordered arrived today!
I've only had it for two hours, but it is already one of my most favorite gadgets ever. It has the functionality of a full-sized iPod, but the portability and unobtrusiveness of the iPod shuffle. It is, without a doubt, the finest MP3 player I have yet owned or played with, and once again catapults Apple to the top... nothing else can touch it. It is a stunning display of both design and functionality that has me wishing that Apple would move into other markets. What I wouldn't give to have an iToaster.
The sound quality is stunning... about on par with my iPod shuffle, and slightly superior to my 2G full-size iPod. Unlike the competition I've tested, the volume gets plenty loud as well. The only downfall is that Apple continues to include these suck-ass earphones. I mean, for what they are, they sound okay... but the only way to go is to use in-ear phones. Fortunately, I've got a great pair that really maximize the quality that iPod is capable of.
The display, despite its tiny size, is remarkably crisp, clear, and easy to read. This means that the teeny, tiny little picture of the album artwork is recognizable enough to be useful. Also, the miniscule cards are readily discernible in the included Solitaire game, and the world clock (something I will use OFTEN) is just beautifully rendered. I don't know how they managed it, but the iPod nano is also capable of displaying your photographs, and easily syncs with iPhoto to make it happen. Another nicety is that it will sync with your address book and iCal calendar as well, so it is quickly becoming part-PDA as well as music device.
The iPod nano includes aforementioned crappy earphones, a dock adaptor (THAT DOESN'T FIT MY DOCK!!), a USB-2 connection cable, and a CD with drivers and outdated iTunes software. No FireWire cable is included, which sucks so much ass that I don't even know where to begin... FireWire is a standard that Apple championed, yet they f#@% over the Mac faithful by tossing USB-2 in the box? WTF? Only the most recent rounds of Macs even support USB-2! This means I have to transfer songs over painfully slow USB-1 on my Titanium PowerBook (which is where all my music is). The included adaptor looks like it is supposed to convert my old full-size iPod dock (which has FireWire) to work with nano, but it doesn't fit right... maybe my dock is too old? Oh well, if you just jam it in the dock without the adaptor, it works just fine, which is all I care about (you can, of course, use the cable alone as well). Still, lack of FireWire support out of the box is a notable f#@%-up in an otherwise miraculously perfect product... especially if you don't have a previous model to "steal" from. Okay, this f#@%ING SUCKS... the iPod nano doesn't support FireWire AT ALL! Even if you use an older cable with a FireWire connector. When you plug it in, it comes right up and tells you so. You can still use the dock... with a USB cable... but FireWire is entirely forbidden. This is STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!! If Steve Jobs was here, I would bitch-slap the shit out of him for such a dumbass move. First Apple puts FireWire on everything, then stops supporting it? Thanks a lot f#@%ers. Shit like this is what turns faithful Apple whores into vengeful Apple haters. I am very, VERY pissed. F#@% APPLE... F#@% THEM UP THEIR STUPID ASSES!!!
I've seen some people complain that there isn't enough storage, which is crazy given the size of this thing. 1000 songs at a time is more than enough for me, and I've got a full-sized iPod If I ever want to carry my entire library around. I suppose the extra space would be nice for photos, but I don't think people will be using iPod nano as a substitute for a photo album considering there's no video-out and the small screen makes sharing difficult.
SURPRISES: The iPod nano comes with a stopwatch (with lap timer!), which I didn't see in any of the press materials. The small click-wheel is even more comfortable than the larger wheel on my full-size iPod. The calendar is actually worth using.
DISAPPOINTMENTS: Other than the missing FireWire support, there's only one other quibble... lack of a lanyard so you can wear the thing. Sure there's a "combo" model coming out that integrates headphones into the lanyard, but they're the same crappy earphones Apple is using already. I want a lanyard that lets me use my own earphones. No doubt there will be one soon, but this is a good reason to hang on to your iPod shuffle until something is released.
All in all this is a mind-blowing product. If you don't own an iPod, there are no more excuses, because the iPod nano is practically perfect IF YOU HAVE USB-2. If you already do own an iPod, then this is probably an excuse to upgrade IF YOU HAVE USB-2. Highest possible recommendation IF YOU HAVE USB-2.
It seems like only yesterday I was whining because Depeche Mode was coming to Seattle and I was going to be out of the State.
Well, okay, it wasn't yesterday... it was actually two weeks ago. But still, I was positively crushed that I wouldn't be able to see my most favoritist band ever in concert. It never even occurred to me that I might be able to catch them in a city other than Seattle, until Kevin had left a comment asking about attending his local concert in Chicago. As it turns out, I was going to be in Milwaukee then... just a measly two hours away. Sweet! Looks like I'll be playing the angel after all.
And, thanks to a special promotion that iTunes was running, I was able to score us pre-sale tickets that aren't too bad. The only painful part of the entire ordeal was paying the $9.95 PER TICKET service fee that the TicketMaster bastards charge on top. Yeesh. Do I get lubricant with that?
It's nice to have something to look forward to.
So what I am doing up way too late tonight... errr... early this morning?...
On the way back from China, United had a pretty good music selection going on, so I was listening to their inflight despite having my iPod fully loaded. One of the channels was playing some really amazing music with interviews from the artist, and so I check with the iTunes Music Store when I got home and, sure enough, Conjure One's Extraordinary Ways was available for purchase. If you are looking for some haunting melodies to mellow out with, then I suggest taking a quick listen. As for myself, I'm completely addicted...
Of the tracks listed, Endless Dream and Extraordinary Ways are favorites. There's also an official web site.
Left a cold and wet Venice only to arrive in a warmer, yet far wetter Rome.
This is making me really, really thankful that I had spots of fantastic weather when I did. If the entire vacation had been under this weather, I would be really depressed. As it is, I'm more sad about it coming to an end than I am over the weather. After five hours on a train, all I had the energy for was to walk to the Hard Rock for dinner, then drag my soggy ass back to the hotel. After a few hours out in the rain, I'm really ready for bed.
But I can't go to bed, because I've got five days of blog entries to upload.
I haven't decided what I'm going to do tomorrow. I'm sure it will involve being wet.
Two big releases happened whilst I was in the northern environs of Italia... first, Depeche Mode's latest album, Playing the Angel hit on Tuesday. Next, Apple released some new computers and an utterly brilliant piece of software called Aperture on Wednesday.
Sadly, Depeche Mode's latest was a bit of a disappointment after the initial beauty of the single release Precious (not to mention the long, long wait since the last album). I like half the tracks well enough... but it seems more of an experiment than a refined work. Dave Gahan's voice is amazing as always, it's the musical accompaniment that's lacking. I don't know if Martin Gore is in a phase where everything has to be disjointed, raw, gritty, and stuck in a feedback loop... but it does not "feel" like a Depeche Mode album, and that's a bitter pill to swallow after the long months of anticipation. Some pretty major DM fans are referring to it as "noise" instead of music. While I wouldn't go that far, I can definitely see where they're coming from.
Apple Computer's Aperture, on the other hand, is an absolutely astounding software release that is going to entirely change how I work with digital photos. I cannot wait to get my hands on it, and will probably never shoot in JPEG mode again. If you're a professional photographer, here's a link you really need to follow.
Time for bed.
I am now officially totally psyched over the prospect of seeing Depeche Mode's "Playing the Angel" tour in a mere ELEVEN DAYS! The reviews have been fantastic, and I have yet to read anything but raves. If only I could have gone to the Seattle show on the 16th as well. Oh well. The fact that I am getting to see DM at all is practically a miracle, so I shouldn't be complaining.
The set looks to be a perfect blend of old and new (though it seems odd that Master and Servant isn't in there somewhere, because it is amazing when performed live)... A Pain That I'm Used To, John The Revelator, A Question Of Time, Policy Of Truth, Precious, Walking In My Shoes, Suffer Well, Damaged People, Home, I Want It All, The Sinner In Me, I Feel You, Behind The Wheel, World In My Eyes. Personal Jesus, Enjoy The Silence; ENCORE: Somebody, Just Can't Get Enough, Everything Counts; ENCORE 2: Never Let Me Down Again, Goodnight Lovers.
Sweet! I love that they're keeping Just Can't Get Enough and Everything Counts paired up in an encore, just like their "Music for the Masses" tour, which was killer.
Speaking of Depeche Mode, pop quiz hot shot...
You've just rocked out at a Depeche Mode concert in Chicago after working in Wisconsin for four days. Do you...
A) Go back to your hotel and sleep-in until 8:30 before hopping a plane home. Then skip going into work so you can spend the afternoon unpacking, resting, and reflecting upon what an awesome show you got to see the night before.
B) Go back to your hotel room for a 4-hour nap, then hop a plane to L.A. so you can go to a meeting the next morning. Spend two days in L.A. both dazed and deaf... hoping nobody important notices.
I thought the answer was "A" but apparently I'm wrong. The proper response is "B" -- yes, "B" is the correct answer.
Fortunately, I don't usually get more than four hours sleep anyway, so that's not an issue. It's more the fact that I have to hang at the airport for 90 minutes, then take a 4-1/2 hour flight after having only 4 hours of sleep that's the scary bit.
But who cares! I get to see Depeche Mode in ELEVEN DAYS!!
Whoo! Dig that freaky futuristic stage. It's like out of The Jetsons or something.
Eleven days and counting...
I am growing increasingly frustrated with the iTunes Music Store. It is not living up to its potential (despite current success) and is destined for ultimate failure in today's global marketplace.
And, by "global marketplace" I am actually talking about "stealing music globally".
Most people probably expect me to go on an anti-DRM rant right now, because everybody and their dog are blogging about how much they hate Digital Rights Management, but I am not going to be one of those people.
Yes, I loathe the fact that the music I buy has DRM. Yes, I wish it didn't. Yes, I am frustrated by the restrictions it puts on what I can do with music that I legally purchase.
But I am realistic.
There is no way... NO WAY... that DRM is going away any time soon. Dumbass music company labels still have a stranglehold on music distribution and will not allow it. And when I hear people saying "well, if we just don't buy any music that has DRM, labels will stop using it" - I want to laugh my ass off. DRM is how these companies plan on maintaining their power in the digital age. Until these antiquated and idiotic bastions of a bygone era are kicked to the f#@%ing curb so that artists can control their OWN distribution... DRM is here to stay.
And don't think that I don't dream every night for all those powerful recording labels to finally DIE DIE DIE!!!!
And here's why...
I WANT TO BUY THE NEW F#@%ING A-HA ALBUM: ANALOGUE!!
I mean, SHIT... COME ON!! IT WAS RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 14th for iTunes users in the UK!! Yet the only way I can get it here in the States is to purchase a $30 CD import.
Well, f#@% that.
Universal Music can kiss my ass.
Am I the only one who finds it ironic that a company calling itself "UNIVERSAL Music" doesn't release their shit UNIVERSALLY?
And yet I continue to see articles from "industry insiders" who are concerned that Apple has too much power in the music industry today. I find this funny because, to me at least, Apple doesn't have ENOUGH power over the music industry today. If they did, a-ha's entire music catalog would be available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store right now... no matter what country you live in. Such brilliant works as Lifelines and Major Earth, Minor Sky (the full album, not an EP) could be bought immediately, from the convenience of your own home, with the click of a mouse, for 99¢ a track.
So look, I will begrudgingly put up with the whole DRM fiasco that is forced upon me... yes, I am willing to be punished for legally buying my music... BUT AT LEAST LET ME F#@%ING BUY THE MUSIC I WANT TO BUY!
One day music company labels will be replaced by musician artist investors. These investors' sole function will be to support artists who do not have their own financing in return for a fair cut of any profits generated. They will not control or restrict an artist's distribution... on the contrary, they will do everything possible to encourage an expanding world market for the artist so that they can maximize their investment.
But people are going to have to stop buying CDs and Cassettes and Records first. Because the only way for instantaneous global distribution to happen is when everybody is buying their music digitally. Whether this be with iTunes, Napster, or even the artist's own web site... with or without DRM... the choice should be made by the people making the music, not some dumbass whose only thought is how to squeeze every last penny they can out of a "product" based on lucrative distribution licensing agreements.
Granted, this is an extremely simplistic scenario. There are numerous factors that have to be addressed (promotion is a biggie) that I haven't even touched on, but it's a start.
It also explains why I will be ignoring everybody screaming for me to boycott digital DRM music. I will continue to buy my music from the iTunes Music Store (when it's available) or steal it (until it IS available) and never purchase another f#@%ing CD ever again. I want no part of the blood that was spilled in order to get that toxic piece of plastic into my hands.
And once the almighty music labels are removed from the picture because they no longer control the music, something tells me that the artists making the decisions will be less likely to treat their fans like criminals (well, except for Metallica). DRM will, hopefully, implode as a result of cheap music being readily available and artists taking control of their own destiny (along with the profits their destiny generates). And if Apple or Napster won't let the artists sell their music without DRM, there are plenty of other places that will.
In the meanwhile, I will be waiting for the next "New Music Tuesday" email from Apple... hoping against hope that the music I am wanting to buy will actually be for sale.
I confess that I am a geeky nerd.
But you probably already knew that.
My geeky nerdiness is multifaceted in that I am part sci-fi dweeb (thanks to Star Trek) and part comic book dork (thanks to Batman). And, in-between all of that, is a love of Japanimation, Macintosh, Curious George, video games, and blogging. All I need is an inflatable plastic girlfriend, and I think I'm set...
But no matter how much of a geeky nerd I am, there's always somebody who's a step ahead of me.
Like Bill Gates, for instance.
Bill is the ultimate geeky nerd, and the fact that he has billions of dollars makes him a geeky nerd to be reckoned with (not to mention exceedingly generous, since he's giving away huge amounts of money to charitable causes). Here's a dweeb who has amassed a fortune of such huge proportions that there is literally nothing he can't do...
...except get a handle on cool new trends.
He was late to graphical interfaces. He was late to the internet. He was late to video... He's always one step behind what all the cool kids are doing, and the list goes on and on. If it doesn't involve Windows or MS Office, he's out of the loop.
As a current example, here's an excerpt from an interview he gave over at Engadget regarding the new Microsoft/MTV online music store called (=snicker=) URGE:
Bill Gates: "With music, having MTV as a partner is a great thing. We think they can get the word out, do some neat things. We're also doing a lot in Messenger to make it so you can share playlists, so you can listen to different things. The next version of Messenger has music as one of the big breakthrough scenarios."
Yeah. Right. Except partnering with MTV for music expertise is laughable and so very, very lame.You can't even FIND music on MTV anymore. In checking their schedule just now, I see a show called Next, followed by three episodes of Real World/Road Rules Challenge, followed by There & Back, followed by My Own, followed by another episode of Next, followed by Room Raiders, followed by Punk'd, and topped off by SIX episodes of Viva La Bam.
These are all reality-based television shows.
WHERE IS THE F#@%ING MUSIC?!?
Teaming up with MTV for music is like teaming up with McDonalds for tacos, and I just don't get it. Sure if this were 1984, partnering with MTV would be totally sweet. But in 2006 it's just sad. Once again, Bill is behind the curve. Apple is flying high with iTunes, so now Microsoft has to do yet another "me too" by making their own music store (apparently MSN Music didn't work out?)... except they team up with a has-been and give it a lamer name like "URGE" (which could only be more lame if they called it "EXTREME URGE" or some crap like that).
When is Microsoft going to stop being the bloated whore of the tech industry so they can be lean, hungry, and bleeding edge? When is Bill Gates going to understand that these sloppy-seconds "partnerships" are just not relevant when we're talking about a ship that's already sailed. I'm tired of Bill being late to the dock, then renting a little rowboat thinking that he'll be able to catch up... all the while screaming to the media about how Microsoft is doing all this cool shit that, in reality, is only cool to him.
Total crap like "URGE" is a waste of money and makes us geeky nerds look bad. Even worse, it stifles REAL innovation by distracting attention from things that actually ARE bleeding edge and cool.
BILL... YOU HAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!! MICROSOFT IS ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST COMPANIES ON EARTH!! You don't NEED venture capital to finance something new... YOU'VE GOT MONEY COMING OUT YOUR ASS! STOP DICKING AROUND AND GET TO WORK!!
Build a flying car. Come up with wireless electrical power. Figure out a way to keep Golden Grahams from going soggy in milk... I don't really care... just do something NEW with your money for a change. Reclaim the geeky nerd you used to be and stop trying to play catch-up with the crap we've already got (seriously, "URGE"? WTF?!?). If you can't make it BETTER, it's just a waste of everybody's time.
In conclusion... wouldn't it be cool if McDonalds really did sell tacos?
McTaco they could call it!
BLOGOGRAPHY FLASHBACK ENTRY: DaveXP
BLOGDATE: March 6, 2005
In which Dave finally figures out a way of fixing all the bugs in Windows XP.
Click here to go back in time...
I had to work every waking minute today. No blog for you!
Well, okay... maybe a little blog for you since Veronica Mars is yet another rerun tonight.
Time for Dave's Entertainment Minute...
Scrubbed! Holy crap! Scrubs used to be one of the most brilliant shows on television. A show you could count on for smart comedy tempered with poignant moments of human drama. But then the new season happened, and all of a sudden it sucks ass... hard. Gone are the wonderful story threads that weave together beautifully every episode. Instead it's just a patchwork mess of sloppy gags that aren't even funny. The back-to-back episodes I just watched off the TiVo were a complete embarrassment to this once-great show. Please, just cancel it now while people still have good Scrubs memories.
Carter! Little Aaron Carter has just released Come Get It: The Very Best of Aaron Carter, which is a greatest hits collection for an artist who has no actual hits. Ordinarily, I wouldn't care. But I ran across the user comments on the iTunes Music Store and laughed my ass off. Over 300 reviews that include such gems as "If crap had a soundtrack, it would be this" and "A disgrace to music. William Hung is 10 times better than Aaron" and "There is no God" and "The Geneva Convention considers it a war crime to listen to this album". I wish I had the guts to actually buy it.
Oh! By some miracle, the self-congratulating Golden Globes wank-fest actually gave out an award that was deserved... the brutally hot Sandra Oh won Best Supporting Actress for her work on Grey's Anatomy. Sweet.
Super! The more information that gets released from the upcoming Superman Returns motion picture, the more anxious I am to see it. While I love the original Superman and Superman II films, the idea of seeing a Superman treatment with modern special effects is just too good. And now I have to wonder... they've finally got momentum going with DC Comics two most notable franchises... Superman and Batman. Who do I have to blow in order to make every comic book lover's dream come true: a Superman & Batman movie? And once Joss Whedon gets his Wonder Woman flick off the ground, how cool would a Superman & Wonder Woman movie be?
Underwhelm! The original Underworld movie was laughably bad. But what's even worse is that I will be lining up at the theater to see the sequel: Underworld Evolution for the sole purpose of seeing Kate Beckinsale run around in tight latex blowing shit up. High entertainment value with no actual entertainment... it's a conundrum of movie physics that compels me.
Not! Ouch. After airing only a single episode, Heather Graham's new sitcom Emily's Reasons Why Not has been canned, and all production has stopped. Given the millions of dollars that ABC pumped into advertising the show, I am experiencing a moment of perverse pleasure. This is the crappy network who cancelled the greatest show ever to air on television (Jeremy Piven's Cupid) after doing everything they could to sabotage it. Suck it ABC dumbasses! You so totally deserve it.
Back to work I go.
Last night while I was waiting for a surprisingly tame episode of Veronica Mars, I saw a new commercial for a product called Herpecin. In case you hadn't guessed, Herpecin is used for treating any herpes infections that happen to find their way onto your face. And, while I appreciate that when you get oral herpes there is a product to take care of it...
Dude! Seriously. Who in the heck wants to walk into the drugstore and ask the sales clerk: "Where can I find the Herpecin?"
Worst. Product. Name. Ever.
But it did get me thinking about what would happen if this trend escalates...
Unfortunately, as wonderful as modern medicine is... THERE IS STILL NO CURE FOR DUMBASS!!
Some stupid f#@%er is suing Apple Computer because listening to an iPod at full volume can cause hearing loss.
WELL NO SHIT YOU MORON!
Here's another newsflash for you... CUTTING YOURSELF WITH A KNIFE CAN CAUSE BLOOD LOSS!!
Who are these ignorant douchebags that are incapable of comprehending the obvious? The iPod NEEDS to have high volumes because NOT ALL MUSIC IS RECORDED AT THE SAME LEVEL! Some music is recorded softer than others. Many audiobooks certainly are. Some of the podcasts I've listened to are barely audible, even at full volume. On top of all that, some people are hard of hearing and need higher volume levels in order to hear anything in the first place. It's up to the individual to determine what volume level is appropriate for them and, if they are too f#@%ing stupid to figure it out, then they shouldn't be allowed to buy an iPod in the first place.
Seriously. This has got to stop.
Whenever a lawyer files such a stupid lawsuit, they should be immediately shot and then lit on fire. Or maybe bludgeoned with metal pipe and forced to choke on their own vomit. Or something involving a hack-saw and flesh-eating parasites. I dunno. All I do know is that this shit HAS GOT TO STOP!
What really chaps my ass is that these greedy turds are filing the lawsuit under the pretense of public safety, but the truth is that they WANT TO GET PAID. LAWYERS WANT MONEY!! Never mind that people have been using headphones for decades, all of a sudden everybody is too stupid and irresponsible to know that loud music can damage your hearing. WTF?!?
At some point people have to be responsible for their own stupidity rather than forcing everybody else to do it for them. That USED to be the American Way. But NOW the American Way is to sue everybody you can. Is this really what everybody wants for this country? Nobody wins but the blood-sucking bastard lawyers.
Anyway, one last thing... do you like potato chips? If you do, you'll want to read the rest of today's extended entry. If you don't like potato chips, then FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE DON'T CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Courtesy of being tagged by Kachina over at A Whiter Shade of Pale comes this meme asking you to list your top ten favorite love songs. I think it was originally meant for Valentine's Day, but is only just now making its way here. This meme is more difficult for me than most, because most of my adventures in love have ended up being the absolute worst times in my life. It would be all too easy to pick the most depressing songs I could find and shove them in a list, but that's kind of like cheating, and so I'll put a little more work into it.
So as not to offend the meme-hating masses, my answers are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
As a Certified Apple Whore™, I become automatically enchanted with absolutely everything Apple does. Historically, this kind of blind devotion has been repaid, because everything they do is new, unique, classy, and better than most of the other crap in the market.
So when I had read that Apple was having some kind of media event today so they could unleash some cool new toys, I was understandably excited. Well, both excited and terrified, because Apple gear is usually pretty expensive, and I don't have extra cash laying around.
Turns out I needn't have worried. All the hype was for an upgraded Mac Mini computer and something called the iPod Hi-Fi.
The new iPod Hi-Fi has cool potential, EXCEPT IT'S NOT AN IPOD!! It's just speakers for your iPod. In fact, without an iPod plugged in, it doesn't do anything at all. So why call it an iPod when it's not and confuse everybody?? Beats the heck out of me...
It would be different if it had a massive hard drive inside and could act as a wireless repository hub for your music, video, and data... but it doesn't. It's a boom box accessory with a remote control. I might be at least a little excited if Bose hadn't already come up with a more elegant-looking solution that costs $50 less and doesn't have your iPod awkwardly sticking out the top. It's called the Bose SoundDock...
So when Apple asks "who better to design the ultimate stereo system for iPod than the folks who designed iPod itself?" I'm guessing the answer is Bose, who has a heck of a lot more experience designing small-footprint sound systems than Apple does.
Kind of sad really. I wanted my big-screen video iPod.
I first saw this meme at Chronic Listaholic, and misunderstood it to be that you have to answer every question using only the title of songs by The Eagles. Now I see that Kevin over at Kapgar has done it, and apparently you get to choose the band you want to answer with.
Now that I can do...
Choose a band/artist and answer ONLY in titles of their songs...
Based solely on question #5, I'm going to have to go with Depeche Mode. I should try it again with either a-ha or Erasure, because they both have some songs that are perfect for this kind of thing.
1. Are you male or female?
"Somebody"? (see, if I was going with Erasure, I could have answered "Boy"!).
2. Describe yourself:
"People are People" (hey, I should have said "Sweetest Perfection"!).
3. How do some people feel about you:
"Just Can't Get Enough" (because can you ever really have enough Dave?).
4. How do you feel about yourself:
"Dangerous" (I could be dangerous if I wanted to).
5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend:
For the last one it would have to be "Now This is Fun".
For the one before that, "A Pain That I'm Used To"".
For the one before that, "Lie to Me".
For the one before that, "Barrel of a Gun".
(Thankfully, I don't have to answer "Shake the Disease"!)
6. Describe your current significant other:
7. Describe where you want to be:
"Behind the Wheel" (I was going to say "In Your Room" but thought that might scare you).
8. Describe how you live:
"It Doesn't Matter" (because so few things in life actually do).
9. Describe how you love:
"I Feel You" (or, on occasion, "Strangelove").
10. What would you ask for if you had just one wish:
"Never Let Me Down Again" ("Policy of Truth" would also be nice).
11. Share a few words of wisdom:
Either "Nothing's Impossible" or "Everything Counts".
12. Now say goodbye:
"Leave in Silence".
Funny, I just went back to Chronic Listaholic so I could link to SJ for starting this, and see that she had asked to see me answer with Depeche Mode songs in the comments. Cue Twilight Zone theme here.
♫ With a rebel yell, she cried "more, more, more!" ♫
As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a woman totally rocking out in her car. She was thrashing around in a frenzy as she sang along with the radio, and looked like she might be going into an epileptic seizure.
I stared at her for a minute trying to figure out what song could possibly be causing her to freak out, and then tried to take a guess based on those songs that I like to thrash to...
Dave's Top-5 List of Head-Bangin' Tunes
Turns out it was none of them. It was Betty Davis Eyes by Kim Karnes. Except it sounded really, really terrible. After I was done shopping and came back the parking lot, she had started all over again, and that's when I realized that it wasn't Kim Karnes on the radio... the woman was practicing karaoke tunes off a CD. Badly.
Heaven help those poor souls she would be "entertaining" on karaoke night.
Speaking of entertainment, my TiVo has been slowly dying. The hard drive has been squealing like crazy and stuttering from time to time. Since you can't buy a new dual-tuner TiVo for DirecTV anymore (dumbasses), I had no choice but to try and repair it. After an hour of internet research, I stumbled across a company called WeaKnees. They offer brand new hard drives for TiVos that have already been pre-loaded with the TiVo software! All you have to do is open up your TiVo, rip out the old drive, then pop in a new drive with the tools and instructions provided.
The entire process took under 10 minutes, and my TiVo is good as new... in fact, it's better than new because I ordered a faster, bigger 160 GB drive to replace my crappy old 40 GB one. As a side-benefit, the new drive is whisper-quiet, which is sweet. If you are looking to upgrade your TiVo with more space, or need to replace an old hard drive in your TiVo unit, I highly recommend WeaKnees (all warnings about possibly ruining your TiVo considered).
♫ She's ferocious, and she knows just what it takes to make a pro blush.
All the boys think she's a spy, she's got Bette Davis eyes! ♫
Oh great, now I can't get that song out of me head.
TODAYS'S PRIZES: $200 worth of music (and stuff)!
SORRY! THIS DRAWING IS NOW CLOSED! No new entries are being accepted.
Coming up with a music prize is a very difficult thing to do. First of all, everybody has wildly different tastes. It's impossible to come up with a single solution that's going to make everybody happy. Second of all, if somebody likes a band, they're bound to have all their stuff already. So the challenge is to come up with something that isn't going to be too out of the mainstream, yet unique enough that people don't already own it. In the end, I simply selected stuff I like that I think can appeal to the widest audience without being too generic. Instructions for entering are in an extended entry.
And just in case the dumbasses at the RIAA are listening, these are all brand new CDs... I don't steal music...
How could I possibly create any prize without including a rockin' Blogography T-shirt from the Artificial Duck Store? Lovingly silk-screened by hand on high-quality Hanes Beefy-T shirts, these Blogography-inspired masterpieces are comfortable, durable, and are guaranteed to make you the coolest cat in even the hottest clubs... Liz & Dave not included! (Value: $14.95 to $16.95)
Minor Earth, Major Sky, by a-ha
Anybody who thinks that 80's pop band "a-ha" peaked with their hit Take on Me has absolutely no idea how wrong they are. The band went on to create some stunning albums that were never released in the USA because executives at record labels are dumbasses. Minor Earth, Major Sky is a mature, mellow work tempered with pop sensibility that results in some truly great songs. I get chills whenever such beautiful works as To Let You Win and I Wish I Cared get rotated into my shuffle play. But, to be completely honest, there's not a bad song in the bunch, and I never tire of listening to ANY of it. Who cares if it's a $25 import? Worth every penny! Since I can't give you a link to something THAT DOESN'T EXIST (at least for the American iTunes Music Store), I've put up a small MP3 snippet to whet your appetite: LetYouWin.mp3. (Value $25.49)
Lifelines, by a-ha
This follow-up to Minor Earth, Major Sky would be perfect if not for one of the stupidest songs ever: Oranges on Apple Trees. If you can ignore this one blight on an otherwise superb CD, you're in for a treat. Time & Again is probably one of the most amazing songs I've ever heard, and Turn Down The Lights features a duet with Anneli Drekker that is so achingly beautiful that it sends a chill though me just thinking about it. Again, I would love to point USA readers to a link so you could buy it from the iTMS, but it's not there. Instead, I'm posting small snippets so you can hear a bit of what you're missing: TimeAndAgain.mp3 and TurnDownLights.mp3. (Value $15.49)
The Shore, by The Shore
When I decided to do a "music day" for Blogiversary III, my first idea was to contact the management for The Shore and see if I could get a deal on 50 copies of their debut CD for prizes. But I didn't have enough time, and so I had to be content with including a copy of this brilliant work in the "LISTEN with DAVE" Grand Prize. Seriously though, I have no idea why this band isn't a mega-huge, chart-topping smash. They have a "classic rock" vibe to their music, and seem to be very much influenced by more modern bands like Coldplay and Oasis. I'd try to pick a favorite track but, with the exception of "Firefly" which is kind of a mess, I love them all equally. Even if you don't win this prize package, you should do yourself a favor and check out The Shore. If you are an iTunes user, here's a link for The Shote on the iTMS. (Value $11.99)
Title of Record, by Filter
As any fan of Nine Inch Nails can tell you, there ain't no substitute for the real thing. Unfortunately, this leaves us high and dry while waiting for "major" new releases (it took SIX YEARS between The Fragile and With Teeth!). The auxiliary releases around each new album help, but it's the cohesive albums I like best. In some respects, this doesn't bother me, because I'd rather have a few awesome albums and a single here and there instead of frequent releases of crap. But it is a bit frustrating, and I'm always looking for something to fill the void. Of all the wannabes, Filter is my favorite (possibly because member Richard Patrick is a former member of the touring band). This second album is more of a departure from the Nine Inch Nails sound than the first, but the remaining influences are great. For those looking for lighter fare, Title of Record has a couple of mellow tracks (including the haunting Take a Picture). If you have iTunes, have a listen at the iTMS. (Value $11.99)
Ultra, by Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode is one of those bands that I love so deeply that I fully admit to being biased toward liking most anything they do. But when it comes to Ultra, I don't have to put blinders on to appreciate it. This is, simply put, one of the best albums ever made, yet is somehow completely overlooked (even by Depeche Mode fans). Surprisingly, all this magic happened without musical genius Alan Wilder, who left DM after their mega-smash Violator album. Ultra is a very deep experience that is much darker and intense than previous efforts. My favorite song is probably Insight, but I loathe to choose just one. If you are an iTunes user, here's a link to this album on the iTMS. (Value $11.99)
Dive, by Sarah Brightman
Whenever Celine Dion is praised for her vocal stylings, I laugh my ass off thinking of how she positively pales in comparison to Sara Brightman. Sure Celine was pretty good back before she started whoring herself out in Vegas, but she hasn't really broken any new ground in over a decade. Sarah Brightman, on the other hand, is a stage performer who is legendary for belting out sensual vocals in such plays as "The Phantom of the Opera", yet has an eerie ability to subdue herself to an almost ethereal presence when required. It doesn't hurt that she's scorching hot on top of it all. Dive (released in 1993) is a successful attempt to cross over into more pop-oriented themes, and remains a favorite of mine when I want to mellow out. If you've got iTunes, here's a link to the album on the iTMS (if you go, be sure to check out her cover of Queen's Who Wants to Live Forever and, for a really good laugh, take a listen to her version of Don't Cry Argentina and marvel how Madonna ever had the balls to even attempt it). (Value $11.99)
Greatest Hits, by the Psychedelic Furs
This is one of those "one hit wonders" who never achieved wide-spread success outside of one major hit (Pretty in Pink). This is quite a shame, because there was some great stuff in their back-catalog, and they then went on to do some even more brilliant music. My iPod has such minor hits as Love My Way, Heaven, The Ghost In You, Heartbreak Beat, and Until She Comes in heavy rotation, and dearly wish that The Furs would come out with a new album. (Value $11.99)
And, just in case you aren't lucky enough to nab the "big prize", there's two other chances to win...
TWO $40 "LISTEN WITH DAVE" RUNNER-UP PRIZES INCLUDE...
How could I possibly create any prize without including a rockin' Blogography T-shirt from the Artificial Duck Store? Lovingly silk-screened by hand on high-quality Hanes Beefy-T shirts, these Blogography-inspired masterpieces are comfortable, durable, and are guaranteed to make you the coolest cat in even the hottest clubs... Dave not included! (Value: $14.95 to $16.95)
Minor Earth, Major Sky, by a-ha
Anybody who thinks that 80's pop band "a-ha" peaked with their hit Take on Me has absolutely no idea how wrong they are. The band went on to create some stunning albums that were never released in the USA because executives at record labels are dumbasses. Minor Earth, Major Sky is a mature work tempered with pop sensibility that results in some truly great songs. I get chills whenever such beautiful works as To Let You Win and I Wish I Cared get rotated into my shuffle play. But, to be completely honest, there's not a bad song in the bunch, and I never tire of listening to ANY of it. Who cares if it's a $25 import? Worth every penny! Since I can't give you a link to something THAT DOESN'T EXIST (at least for the American iTunes Music Store), I've put up a few MP3 snippets to whet your appetite: ToLetYouWin.mp3 and IWishICared.mp3. (Value $25.49)
And there you have it, enough music to put a dent in your iPod! Better get that entry in quickly...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
I feel so violated! I just rode twenty-seven floors with a couple who were going at it in the elevator. Without sounding like a total prude... ew! Surely they realize that nobody wants to see that? I mean, if I were trapped in the elevator with two lesbian porn stars, maybe... but this dopey guy and his skank-ho girlfriend? No thanks. Some people should be banned from displays of public affection (and, unless you actually ARE a lesbian porn star, this means you).
Tonight's dinner was at one of the best Thai restaurants outside of Thailand... Vong's Thai Kitchen. They have a "Yellow Vegetable Pad Thai" to die for. Succulent, flaky noodles that aren't the least bit gummy! Here is what I got out of my Thai fortune cookie at the end...
If you cannot read my drunken photo, it says: "Everyone agrees you are the best". I never really doubted this, but it's nice to have proof in writing.
I woke up with mild pain in my back and only a little tenderness in my leg... so apparently I am going to survive getting run down in the street yesterday. This is a good thing, because it means I don't have to take pills (which I hate, because it makes me sleepy all day). It also meant that I got to bum around the candy expo here in Chicago. It's always a cool event, mainly because I love me the free samples of sugary treats! There were many wonders to behold, but two things stood out for me...
The first is CHOCOLATE PEEPS!! Yes, Peeps are now available cocoa flavored! I like Peeps, even though I can't eat them (marshmallow has gelatin, which is made from gross animal parts I refuse to stick in my mouth)...
Maybe it's just that I like saying "Peeps" a lot?
Next up was the PEZ booth. PEZ is a candy I love and actually DO eat. The big surprise was that they had the American Chopper guys from Orange County Choppers make them a cool bike...
And that's all she wrote. It has been a very long day.
BUT BEFORE I GO... in deference to Mistress Eve on this most auspicious date of 06-06-06, I am hereby recognizing "Day of Slayer" by rocking out to the ever-excellent death-metal classic album South of Heaven on my iPod (yes, I know you are supposed to blast without headphones, but they would most certainly kick me out of the hotel for that!). Slay on my Mistress of Metal!
♫ The root of all evil is the heart of a black soul... a force that has lived all eternity! ♫ A never ending search for a truth never told... the loss of all hope and your dignity! ♫
This morning there was a major panic attack when I couldn't find a clean pair of underwear. Eventually I did manage to find some in my flight carry-on bag but, as I was searching, it did get me to wondering what I would do if I couldn't find any. Wear a used pair... or go commando?? Fortunately, I didn't have to choose, but I really should make up my mind in case I'm ever faced with this problem again.
Underwear aside, there was big fun to be had today. I finally got the little buttons I ordered...
They turned out great (much better than this photo will attest), which was a pleasant surprise because some of the stuff I order from CafePress ends up looking like crap. But every button was beautiful, had bright colors, and looks professionally made, so I'm happy. Now all I have to do is wait until the weather turns cold so that I can pin them on my jacket. It'll be just like the 80's!
Speaking of orders, I am dangerously close to FINALLY filling all of the T-shirt orders from Blogiversary III week... I have a mere 64 left to go! Thanks to everybody for their patience, and everything should be shipped out by Monday.
Since it's Friday, I'll be picking up a meme from James to finish up the day. You are supposed to come up with eight random things about you which most people might not know...
Argh. I've been working all day and it's late. I think I'll go to bed and slip into a coma.
I really hate it when I get a song stuck in my head.
After seeing Clerks II it's the song Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus, which is a pretty messed up tune to have running through your mind all day long. If you don't recognize the name, you will probably still know of it as the song that "Buffalo Bill" dances to in Silence of the Lambs. Well, in Clerks II you get to see a flawless reenactment by Jason Mewes that's even more disturbing.
Well, not the dance itself... I mean, what guy hasn't put on makeup, dressed up in the skin of dead women, then danced around the house with his penis tucked between his legs? Yeah, we've all been there...
No. What's truly disturbing is that once you start thinking of Buffalo Bill, you think of the actor who portrayed him... Ted Levine. And then you have to freak over how he now plays Lt. Stottlemeyer on the television show Monk. For some reason I find this transition of characters to be very disturbing...
I mean, he's obviously a very talented actor to be able to play such diverse roles... but damn. I just can't stop imagining that after Stottlemeyer gets home from a busy day of solving crimes with Mr. Monk, he's dancing around like this just for kicks before bedtime.
And then the image won't leave my mind as I hear... ♬ "Goodbye horses. I'm flying, flying, flying over youuuu..." ♬
For anybody into self-torture, the beautiful Q Lazzarus version of Goodbye Horses isn't for sale on iTunes, but a pretty good cover by the band Psyche is. Listen at your peril.
As if that wasn't enough on my mind...
Coming 2008?!? What kind of tease is that? I have to wonder if J.J. Abrams is going to manage to screw up Star Trek as badly as he's trashed Lost and destroyed Alias. He always starts off so strong then crashes and burns. Please have somebody with enough sense to know this cut him loose when things start to slide on yet another good franchise before it goes bad.
Though he has a LONG ways to go before it gets as bad as the totally boring Star Trek: Enterprise and the utterly crappy Star Trek: Voyager.
Today started out as a pretty good day. I woke up with my intestines still on the inside (always a good sign) and the second season of Veronica Mars is due to drop on DVD. On top of that, I bought a fresh box of PopTarts that I'd be opening up for breakfast, so I was all set to face whatever life decided to throw at me.
At least I thought so until my phone rang...
DAVE: "No, I haven't seen Snakes on a Mutherf#@%ing Plane yet."
ROBERT: "DUDE! THE NEW PARIS HILTON ALBUM TOTALLY ROCKS!! A Depeche Mode fan like you should totally love it!"
ROBERT: "Dude, you've got to download Paris!"
DAVE: "Unless there's a new sex video I don't know about, there is no way I am downloading anything by Paris Hilton."
ROBERT: "Video? Hey, have you seen the new K-Fed video on YouTube? I hear he's touring with Depeche Mode next Spring."
DAVE: "Goodbye Robert."
My love of Depeche Mode catches me nothing but grief from my friends.
But it did get me thinking... apparently if you have shitloads of money (or are married to somebody with shitloads of money) that's all you need to get a record deal. No singing ability required. This must be a major consolation to bands who are struggling to get a deal based on actual musical talent.
And yet the RIAA still thinks that slumping music sales are entirely due to internet piracy. Go figure.
I wonder how come Bill Gates doesn't have a band?
I've done quite a bit of traveling over the years and find, for the most part, that people are pretty much the same wherever you go. Sure they may speak a different language or have different customs... but everybody everywhere breathes, eats, drinks, loves, hates, sleeps, and poops. Despite any differences you can call out, humans will always be more similar than they are different. The more places I go, the more I find this to be true. But still, it's the diversity that makes this world such an interesting place, and all those little differences keep traveling the globe so I can seek them out and experience them (see my map).
But every once in a while you come across a difference so baffling that you find it hard to wrap your head around.
I was flipping through television channels and landed on some kind of concert on BBC America. It was an extravagant affair with thousands of people packed in an arena. At first I thought it was a Madonna show, but I didn't recognize the song she was singing. Then they zoomed in for a close-up, and I had no idea who it was...
TiVo tells me it's Kylie Minogue.
And so I'm sitting there thinking "WTF? THE 'LOCO-MOTION GIRL' IS SELLING OUT ARENA SHOWS IN THE U.K.?!?"
I barely remember who she is, and go scrambling to her Wikipedia entry so I can find out what exactly I've been missing. Turns out that Kylie is a massive, massive pop star everywhere except in the US. After postponing this "Showgirl Tour" I'm watching for breast cancer treatment last year, she is resuming the tour this year in November. It's an admirable story, but the real shocker was to come...
Kylie sold out her two January 2007 shows at London's Wembley Arena in six minutes.
SIX MINUTES? They kept adding dates until they had six in London and six in Manchester... all of which sold out immediately. In her native Australia, I'm guessing it's just as impressive. And yet here in The States, people barely know who she is. For some reason, I find this more shocking than even the wildest cultural differences I've encountered in foreign lands. I guess I've always assumed that pop trends like this were kind of universal. But Kylie, like soccer, has somehow escaped US attention.
I wish that were true for half the crap they play on the radio.
But still, Kylie's got some pretty good dance beats, is entertaining in concert, and actually seems to have some talent... kind of a shame that Kevin Federline and Paris Hilton can sell records here but she can't.
I do not like to shop. Therefore, I do not like the mall. And, let's face it, once you've been to Mall of America, all other malls kind of pale in comparison anyway. But I had time to kill while I was waiting for work yesterday, so off to the mall it was.
Which was a mistake.
Because mobile phone carrier competition has reached such absurd levels that salesmen are happy to chase you down the mall screaming "HEY BUDDY! HEY! WHAT CELL PHONE DO YOU HAVE? NEED A BETTER PHONE?" Having been through this before, I know better than to answer, and try my best to run away before I get the urge to take their phone and kick it up their ass.
Anyway. Since I didn't go to the mall to buy anything, I instead do what I usually do... I observe.
Eventually I ended up walking into a jewelry store so I could try to figure out what typeface they used on their signs. While I was there, I overheard some poor bastard trying to buy an engagement ring. From appearances, this was a hard-working, blue-collar gentleman who didn't know anything about jewelry, but did know that he loves a woman enough to want to marry her. He loves her so much that he is willing to sacrifice a massive chunk of his precious income so she can have something pretty to show her friends. He looks at a ring and thinks not about all the things he has to give up in order to buy it, but what he will gain because of it. It's hopelessly romantic and incredibly sad at the same time.
It reminded me of when Liz over at Everyday Goddess wrote about letting go of the engagement ring, and I have to wonder how it came to be that proving the depth of your love is intrinsically linked to how much money you can spend. Then I take the time to actually read the signs I was looking at, and everything becomes clear. It's shame. Jewelry manufacturers shame you into it. If you love somebody, you prove it by buying gold and diamonds... love alone isn't enough. Suddenly I don't see the romance in it at all, and am just sad.
It all balances out though, because as I was leaving the mall, I saw this little gem of a wall calendar...
What's interesting here is that all of the photos are older shots where she was brutally hot... none of the newer, anorexic, meth-addict-looking photos are included...
Toxic taco photos stolen from Avitable.
And with Lindsay flashing her coochie everywhere she goes, I have to think that this calendar would be a serious disappointment to its intended audience of horny 12-year-old boys who have become fans of something other than her movies and music.
Music that makes. Me. Want. To. Scream. (In an extended entry, that is)...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
As a Certified Apple Whore, I bought a first-generation iPod the minute it became available. I then went on to buy an assortment of other iPod models because Apple owns my ass. I have not, however, purchased a video iPod because the screen is too small for extended viewing. Until they manage to make a model with a larger screen, I'll just have to make due with my iPod nano, iPod Shuffle, and third-generation iPod.
But now Microsoft has come along with a media player of their own called "Zune" which features a larger screen and other toys that the iPod lacks...
It will come as a surprise to nobody that I will not be buying one of these. The REASON I will not be buying one, however, probably will be surprising...
So what is it? What possible reason is keeping me from buying a Zune? If you care, the answer is in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
This morning a piece of spam somehow managed to get past both my spam service and my local spam filter. This happens every once in a while, but usually not when it has a subject line that reads "Make your penis the happiest penis in the world with Penis Adam & Eve Penis Pump!" I guess that the overuse of the word "penis" must have crashed the system or something.
I don't know which is worse... that spam is intruding on my inbox, or that my penis may be unhappy because I haven't purchased him a penis pump. And since my penis and I stopped speaking months ago, I don't really know how to inquire about that...
But I can't think about my penis just now, because I just retrieved a very disturbing voicemail from my parole officer today.
Apparently, I have 24 hours of community service left to turn in or else I won't be released from probation, and she's going to recommend that my term be extended six months to a year! This upsets me quite a lot because I've been so busy lately, and haven't had time to put in any community service hours. She then goes on to tell me "you need to call me TOMORROW, Jose, or else we won't have time to resolve this before your court date."
My name isn't Jose. It's Dave.
And then I remember that I don't have a parole officer, nor am I under a community service order. I've never been caught for any of my crimes.
I guess I should call Jose's parole officer tomorrow and tell her that she left a message at the wrong number or else Jose is going to be in trouble... errr... going to be in more trouble.
In better news today (not involving my penis or a parole officer) my copy of Depeche Mode's Touring the Angel: Live in Milan arrived. I managed to snag the digipack version which includes a DVD of the concert, CD of selected tracks, and a bonus DVD for $8.79 at Half.com, a total bargain! I then did what I always do when I get a new Depeche Mode DVD... I watched ALL of my DM concert videos in sequence so I can listen to how their performance changes over the years. Touring the Angel is pretty darn good (I went and saw it live in Chicago with Kapgar last year), but not quite as good as 101 and Devotional which are tied for my all-time favorite.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to sit down and have a talk with my penis before retiring for the evening.
Okay. For everybody who became gravely concerned about Jose from yesterday's entry, I called back his parole officer and let her know that she had left her message at the wrong number. She promised to get ahold of him at school, so I think everything will be okay. Who you should really be concerned about is me, because I still consider it to be a small miracle that I didn't have an immediate nervous breakdown after receiving a voicemail that started out with "this is your parole officer..." Given the state of my memory lately, I fully admit that it took a minute before I realized that it was a wrong number call. Time to start taking ginkgo biloba, I guess.
After a long absence, I've finally manage to get Audio Scrobbler installed on my new Mac Pro and Powerbook. For those not in the know, this is a piece of software that connects you with the wonderful Last.fm music site over the internet. This allows you to keep track of your music listening habits, find other users with music tastes similar to yours, discover new artists with music recommendations and much, much more. It is an amazing service that's totally FREE to use, or you can choose to pay a measly $3 a month for a bunch of cool extra features.
Just for fun, I've created a new "Last.fm Group" for Blogography readers so, if you use the service, feel free to join up...
To see my Last.fm Music Profile, you can click here.
To see the Blogography Last.fm Group, you can click here.
I really should be afraid of flying.
Sometimes I have to hop on a plane just as something terrible is going on in the world. Last August, for instance, I was boarding a plane on my way to Asia just as Hurricane Katrina had been elevated to a category 5 storm and was preparing to ravage Louisiana. As we took off, I had no idea if New Orleans would even exist by the time I landed.
Things like this have happened more times than I care to remember, but only once have I been shaken up worse than the Asia trip. And, believe it or not, I owe it to The Pet Shop Boys for reminding me about it this past week.
At their concert last Sunday, they performed one of their lesser-known songs titled Dreaming of the Queen. It's a kind of disturbing lament about lost love and death during the height of the AIDS epidemic. For the show, however, it took on a very different meaning as they sang it in front of a screen showing nothing but Princess Diana's funeral procession in a continuous loop...
It was a somber and respectful affair, which Pet Shop performed with hats removed and everything.
And it reminded me of a trip to Orlando I was taking on the day it had been reported that the Princess of Wales had been in a car accident in Paris. I boarded the plane hearing only conflicting reports and not knowing whether she was dead or alive.
Until I landed, of course, because the airport was filled with the sad news that Diana had not survived.
But it didn't really sink in until I was at Disney's United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot the next day. Since the attraction is literally built and staffed to be a piece of the UK, it was almost like being there. The British workers were devastated. There were flowers everywhere. Pictures of Lady Di were displayed in all the shops. The park was crowded but nobody was speaking. Even kids who are usually running around going nuts were quiet and restrained.
It was a profoundly sad experience visiting the "Happiest Place on Earth" yet being surrounded with sorrow.
And while it may have paled in comparison with the outpouring of grief back in the "real" UK, it was nevertheless an event that's difficult to forget. Especially when you relive it at a Pet Shop Boys concert and are haunted by it ever since.
Tonight I started working on the opening for the animated music video I'm making. It forced me to answer some serious questions that had never occurred to me before. Like what does the house look like where Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey live?
Ahhhh... so that's what it looks like...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Ack. I'm so tired that I barely made it through tonight's Veronica Mars. It didn't help that it was a fairly unspectacular episode... at least by Veronica Mars standards. Logan's big secret was kind of lame, and the entire "forbidden romance" crap with Keith was just laughable. All in all, it felt very much like a "filler" show to me until the whole "campus rapist" stuff is resolved. They need to bring back Wallace, Mac, and Weevil... it's not the same without them.
Microsoft released their ridiculously-name "ZUNE" media player today... along with the news that they are paying over $1 per player sold to Universal Music Group. Apparently Universal is extorting the money to compensate for music piracy on the internet...
"...these devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it," UMG chairman/CEO Doug Morris says. "So it's time to get paid for it."
Oh really? JUST repositories for stolen music? I'm guessing "these devices" include iPods.
So did you just call me a thief?
Well frak you Mr. Morris. With the exception of two songs that I haven't been able to find for sale anywhere, I BUY all my music. That's TWO songs out of 5697. And when you say "it's time to get paid for it" are you talking about your greedy-ass music label or the artists who are being ripped off?
And it's not as if companies like Universal are helping solve the music piracy problem. The internet allows instant distribution of music world-wide, and yet Universal doesn't bother to distribute their artists "universally." Take the Norwegian group "a-ha" for instance. They signed on with Universal in May of 2004. In a press release, it was said that "Universal International are looking to fully exploit a-ha's latent potential in markets such as the USA and the United Kingdom." Well, their latest album Analogue was released just over a year ago... YET YOU STILL CAN'T BUY THE CD IN THE USA UNLESS YOU PAY $30 FOR A PRICEY IMPORT! And can you buy it at the iTunes Music Store in the US? No. No you cannot. Universal hasn't made it available there either.
So basically you are left with two choices: paying triple the cost of a domestic album... or pirating it. Well thanks a frakkin' heap Universal Music, you've pretty much GUARANTEED people are going to steal that album. Dumbasses. How hard is it to rip a CD and scan in the cover art for uploading to iTunes? I mean, if it's too hard to do yourself, I suppose you could always download Analogue off of BitTorrent or something.
Since I love a-ha, I paid the $30... but I was not at all happy about being ripped off like that.
And you're calling ME a thief.
What an asshole.
Wow, it's only 10:08pm? I haven't gone to bed that early in years...
So there I was killing time while waiting for Veronica Mars when The Daily Show comes on. I totally love The Daily Show and quickly became engrossed in the "fake news" of the day. Then the guest for the evening shows up and its Tom Waits. I've heard of him before, but don't know that I'm familiar with any of his music. I think there was a time I had him confused with Paul Young or something, but other than that I have no idea.
Waits is being interviewed and seems a decent guy and everything, when John Stewart announces there's going to be a song. "Oh goodie" I say to myself, "he's supposed to be good."
Worst. Singer. Ever.
Seriously, it was so bad that at first I thought it was some kind of joke. I kept waiting for John Stewart to pop up and they'd have a laugh. But Jon Stewart never came. The tragically bad "song" just went on and on. It sounded kind of like a dry heave taking place during a case of chronic diarrhea. If it weren't for Veronica Mars later that night, I probably would have tried to microwave my head in hopes that dying would somehow erase the memory of the horror.
And yet there are people who pay to listen to this stuff?
If you're one of them, I apologize and everything, but holy crap.
Of course it's not like I could do any better. I am a lethally bad singer myself. But at least I realize this and don't inflict my damage on others (unless its karaoke night and I'm really drunk)...
Okay, that's a lie.
There are also those few songs that come on the radio which compel you to sing along, but I don't really have any control over that. Who does? Songs like Bon Jovi's Living on A Prayer. Or Billy Idol's Rebel Yell. Or AC/DC's Back In Black. Or even something totally inexplicable, like Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams. It's this last one that caused one of my most embarrassing moments ever. There are many, but this is one of those that you keep replaying in your head while saying to yourself "WHY? OH LORD WHY?!?"
It was four years ago and I had just returned from a trip abroad. I don't really get jet-lag anymore, but I was incredibly tired. Since I had to be in San Francisco the next morning, I didn't bother flying home, but instead decided to stay at a hotel at Seattle's airport. This was when the iPod had just been released, and I had made a habit of listening to my brand new toy as I fell asleep. This was kind of lame, because I only had a few old CDs from my car ripped into it, but it was something new and I was having fun with it. A scant four hours later, I wake up and rush to the airport. Since this was a just 6-months or so after 9/11, security was ridiculous, and I had to be there something like 3 hours before take-off.
And so I make it to my gate. With nothing better to do, I take out my iPod so I can look all cool listening to those same old crappy albums... and proceed to fall asleep.
It's then that I have one of those delirious moments where you wake up without really waking up... all the while thinking that I'm still back in my hotel room because I'm completely mentally drained. Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams has started to play and, for reasons totally unknown, I start to sing along.
In an airport waiting area full of people.
People I have to get on a plane with for a few hours.
And it was HALL & OATES!! Not something cool like AC/DC... but HALL AND FRICKIN' OATES!
It was right in the middle of one of those "You Hoo... Hoo Hoo Hoooooo" moments when I realized where I was and what I was doing. "Mortified" doesn't even begin to cover how I was feeling.
But, as bad as it probably was, I'm pretty sure I must have sounded better than Tom Waits did tonight on The Daily Show.
How can I be so exhausted yet not be able to sleep?
I went to bed at 9:30 and was relieved that I might actually catch up on some much-needed shuteye. But then I woke up at midnight, and haven't been able to get back to sleep all night. Insomnia sucks ass, but it did give me time to write the final Bullet Sunday of 2006... BLOGOGRAPHY'S BEST OF THE YEAR LIST!
• Best New Television Show... For nine glorious weeks, Project Catwalk featured Elizabeth Hurley being Elizabeth Hurley which makes it one of the greatest shows ever. At least it was, until this tragic event occurred.
• Best Returning Television Show... How does one choose between Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica? (if you are a guy, trust me... you want to follow those links!).
• Best Guest Appearance on a Television Show...
Betty White in "Peterotica" from The Family Guy.
• Best Movie... This is a tough call, but I was taken completely by surprise at how much I loved Little Miss Sunshine. A close second is The Prestige, which haunted me for weeks.
• Best Bad Movie Hype... I went to Brokeback Mountain because of all the hype and was so bored that I consider this to be one of the worst films ever. I prefer my remake, Bareback Monkey. "I wish I could quit you, Captain Crunch!"
• Best Video Game... Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy. I only wish I had time to play it.
• Best Funny... I never claimed that Blogography was a humor blog but, when I set my mind to it, this can be the funniest blog ever.
• Best Poetry... I hate to be tooting my own horn here, but my Seven Odes From My Day-Trip To Chicago kick ass! I should totally write a book of poetry!
• Best Charitable Cause... There is nothing more important right now than immortalizing my greatness. Give generously to the Dave Monument Fund.
• Best Explanation of Why I Am The Way I Am...
Yes, the world really does revolve around me.
• Best Reason to Have a Blog... Davecago was one of the year's biggest highlights for me.
• Best Shock... Randomly running into fellow blogger Timothy while in New York City just before he's off to Uganda. What are the odds? Considering he previously lived in American Samoa before moving to Africa, he would be voted the Blogger I'm Least Likely To Ever Meet, yet there he was in the middle of one of the biggest cities on earth.
• Best Non-Government Holiday... Yeah, it would be pretty hard to top Day of Slayer! (and getting to meet Mistress Eve and Dave3 a month later was icing on the cake).
• Best Garfield Strip in 25 Years... Well, it's not like Jim Davis was ever going to get around to doing it. You may think I'm joking here, but I'm totally not.
• Best Bad Influence... Bad Monkey really is bad... he's teaching kids to smoke cigarettes and then getting them into trouble at school.
• Best Blog Fan... Turns out that I'm not good-looking, not funny, and not nice, and somebody was kind enough to point it out to me.
• Best Identity Theft... And here I only thought I was joking about people wanting to be me...
Who could possibly want to be me with hair like this?
• Best Bad Robert Story... Well, of those stories I was actually able to share without getting sued, I guess it would have to be Bad Robert's Blue Balls.
• Best Advice... How to make your blog be like every other blog (though some people hated me for this one).
• Best Way To Hide a Fart... Who knew a pack of gum would make the best odor eliminator ever?
• Best Lie... Bob is a psychopath.
• Best Lesson Learned... One thing at a time.
• Best Blogography Entry... How can I choose when they're all so good? I've narrowed it down to these ten...
• Best Reader... It's totally you! How could it be anybody but you? Thanks for stopping by, and we'll see you next year.
Bullet Sunday on April 1st? Hmmm... since Blogography is foolish 365 days a year, there doesn't seem to be much point in an April Fool's Day here.
• Happy Baker... As I sit here after a long day of work, my bread-making machine has just kicked into "baking" mode after having spent the past three hours mixing, rising, and blending the dough. As it bakes, the bread is smelling like paradise wrapped in an orgasm. I hope I can restrain the urge to stick my head in the machine before it's done.
• Super-Less... As I wrote back in December, the Superman Movie Ultimate Collector Set I bought arrived with one duplicate DVD and one missing DVD. As I also wrote, the bastards at Warner Home Video wouldn't just let me swap the duplicate... I had to return the entire set and re-order it. Well, guess what? The set has entirely sold out, and there doesn't seem to be plans to produce more of them. So now I can't order it unless I pay huge money for a second-market copy. Great. I should have just kept the bad set and purchased the one movie I was missing, which would have been infinitely cheaper than buying it now. Warner Home Video fuckers. Your customer service sucks ass, and thanks for screwing me for something that was your mistake.
• Contract-Free... Based on the rumors that Apple was coming out with a mobile phone, I didn't renew my contract with Verizon when it came due last summer. Back in January, I was rewarded when the iPhone was unveiled at MacWorld for a June release. While I wait for iPhone, Verizon is doing their best to get me to sign a new contract. At first it was just reminders. Then it was an analysis of my calling plan and offers to save money if I signed a new contract. Then it was special offers for high-end phone rebates if I signed. Now I've received an offer for a free month of service and a sweet new phone... if I sign a 2-year contract. It seems the longer I wait, the better the offers get. Well, since Verizon stupidly passed on the iPhone when they had the chance, none of this is enough to win me back. I guess the moral of the story is... unless you are needing a new phone immediately after your contract ends, you might want to wait a few months before re-signing to see what extras your carrier will offer to keep you.
• Suffer Well... I don't normally add outside content to my blog, preferring to make everything here myself. But last week I discovered something so amazing, that I just can't resist. As a side-promotion for their album Playing the Angel, Depeche Mode recreated one of their songs, Suffer Well, for a video game extension to The Sims 2 called "Open for Business." Believe it or not, the track is sung in "Simlish," which is the official nonsensical "language" of the game's characters. That alone would be great, but the video that goes along with the song is just amazing. This is an embedded YouTube movie, which may require you to click out of a feed-reader, if you are using one. To download the video direct from Depeche Mode's site, here's that link.
• Vista Activation... Unlike Apple, Microsoft does not make the hardware on which their Windows Vista OS runs. Because of this, it is understandable that they would want to stop piracy of their software, because that's all they have to make their money. But I am here to tell you... if you ever run into a problem with your Vista installation and end up needing a new activation key, you're f#@%ed. Friday morning I booted into Vista to check a website error, and received a nasty black screen telling me that a critical component of the OS was missing. Nothing I did could solve the problem, so I ended up reformatting the partition and completely reinstalling Vista. This resulted in me not being able to "activate" Vista again, because it was telling me the activation key was already in use. I couldn't use telephone re-activation for some reason, so I ended up calling support. After three telephone transfers, numerous conversations, and being put on hold a half-dozen times, I finally got my new key. Total time: FIFTY-EIGHT MINUTES! That's right, an HOUR gone from my life. In the meanwhile, Vista activation has been cracked, so the only people suffering here are NOT software pirates, but legal Microsoft customers. Shouldn't it be the other way around? As if I didn't hate Windows Vista enough already... sheesh.
• You Can Dance... Courtesy of Frances Danger, I've put a music-type meme in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Make a joyful noise for Bullet Sunday has risen!
• Easter... I gave up celebrating Easter around the same time I gave up being Catholic (almost 20 years ago now!) but still love the holiday for one very good reason: the candy. I absolutely love Easter candy. From having my teeth shiver as I bite into the sweetness that is a Cadbury Chocolate Cream Egg... to getting some of my favorite candies in egg shapes and pastel colors... Easter is a candy-lover's dream come true. In many ways, I'm thinking it even eclipses Halloween in terms of confectionary importance to me now...
Nothing wrong with getting a little tail on Easter.
Which is probably why I'm choosing to celebrate the holiday by lapsing into a chocolate coma.
• Voicemail... ABC Television has an amazing new video player on their site which, get this, IS MACINTOSH COMPATIBLE!! As if that weren't cool enough, you can watch full episodes of sweet ABC shows like Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy. But here's the best thing... they have an original online series called Voicemail that's priceless...
Mike is a character that just about any guy can relate to at some point in their lives.
For best effect, you'll want to go to ABC.com and choose their New Video Player. But you can also access the webisodes in the old Flash player format from the Voicemail web site (which is also funny). This is one of those rare online series that is actually worth your valuable time. I hope they sell the episodes at iTunes after the first "season" is over, because I would gladly pay money to have this show saved on iTunes for a rainy day when I need a laugh.
Of course, this being ABC, they will undoubtedly cancel it half-way through the current season and we'll never see it again. It's what they do.
• Three... There is no bullet point three. Move along.
• Flash!... Ever since seeing Blades of Glory, I've had Queen's brilliant Flash Gordon Theme playing in my head. Depiste the poor reviews, I always liked the 1980 Flash Gordon film... largely due to the funky visuals, excellent film score by Queen, and the sweet hotness of Melody Anderson. I bought the soundtrack album long ago on vinyl (long since lost) but lucky for me it's available at the iTunes Music store. Sweet! I also note that one of my favorite videos, Radio Ga Ga, is also available. The song has never been one of my favorites, but the epic dream-like quality of the video is a winner...
Freddie looking fierce, fabulous, and very gay wearing leather pants, feathers, and a sash.
• Extracurricular... Why is it that every time I turn around, there's another teacher being busted for sleeping with their under-aged students? And, even more importantly, why wasn't this part of the educational curriculum when I was in school? Granted, there were very few of my teachers I would have wanted to sleep with, but I can think of one or two that I'd have gladly let tutor me in some after-school sessions. Just think of the embarrassment that could have been avoided in fumbling to remove that first bra had a teacher been kind enough to show me how it's done! That being said, you would think that the penalty for violating the trust of parents who put their kids in a teacher's care like this would be death. Of course, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that somebody finds underage girls and boys to be sexually attractive, so maybe I'm just biased.
And, on that note, I must now have jellybeans. JELLYBEANS I SAY!!
During the height of Garth Brook's popularity throughout the 1990's, I was nearly suicidal. I 100% loathed his "music" and, since it was absolutely everywhere all the time, there was no escape from it. When he dropped off the face of the earth in 2002, nobody was more thrilled than I. To this day, one of my greatest fears is that Garth Brooks will come out of retirement and stage a massive comeback, dooming me to once again be inundated with his crap.
In the meanwhile, I continue to be haunted...
After a week of 100° heat and clear skies, the valley was unexpectedly overcast this morning. Then, around 10:30, booming thunder filled the skies and we were in the middle of a downpour. As I was working away at my desk, two women walked by my window screaming the lyrics to The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks. And, while I did take some small satisfaction in that they were getting drenched by the rain, this horrifying ordeal has me wanting to drink copious amounts of alcohol until I pass out.
Alas, I can't get drunk because I have too much work to do and, unfortunately, it's all rather complex and cannot be tended to while wasted.
Or can it?
I am pretty amazing at my job... perhaps I can do it while drunk?
I dunno. I suppose it depends on whether or not every Garth Brooks fan on the planet decides to send me fun hatemail and leave insightful comments like "GARTH BROOKS IS THE BESTEST SINGER EVER, SO GO F#@% YOURSELF, A$$HOLE!!" just because I dare use my blog to state my opinion on musical talent (or lack thereof).
Hey. The rain has stopped. Must be time to listen to some Chris Gaines!
Bwah ha ha haaaa!
It's the Hannah Montana Singing Pen!
One of my favorite purchases in recent memory. Perhaps even more so than my iPhone?
In addition to being able to write and draw with it, you can rock out at any time...
If only everything sang Hannah Montana songs when you pressed a button on it. I could really go for my refrigerator singing "Best of Both Worlds" when I grab a glass of milk.
Today as I was driving home, a car went screaming past me into the left-turn lane. It then proceeded to blow through a red light at top speed. Unfortunately for them, a police car was first in line at the opposite side of the light. It took the cop all of two seconds to flip his lights on and go tearing after the reckless driver.
As I sat there waiting for the light to change, I started wondering what was so urgent that this person would risk not only getting a ticket, but also getting in an accident and potentially killing somebody.
Here's what I came up with...
That last one got me wondering... how long will it be before musical artists tell record labels to go fuck themselves and take control over their own property?
I only ask, because I am sick and tired of music labels having a choke-hold on who gets to buy an artist's work. When I can't buy a song because a record label is too stupid, lazy, cheap, or unmotivated to make it available to me, something is wrong. In this day and age of digital music distribution, I should be able to buy any piece of music I want. I shouldn't be denied because the artist doesn't have a distributor in my country for the song. I shouldn't be denied because the song is old and out of print. I shouldn't be denied because the artist's label has decided there's no audience for the song where I live.
And yet, that's where we're at.
And it makes zero sense.
Sure musical artists need an investment to promote their work... but that should come in the form of a partner, not a music label overlord who takes ownership and control. The business model has got to change.
Because when you make it so that I can't BUY your music, I'm going to find another way. Hopefully legally, but you know...
Have you ever had an experience so utterly bizarre and disturbing that you just can't find words to adequately describe it?
That pretty much sums up the Etta James concert I attended with Ms. Sizzle this evening. Though, before I get to the bizarre and disturbing part, I should preface this entry by saying I GOT TO SEE THE LEGENDARY MISS ETTA JAMES IN CONCERT!!! To say I am a fan is a bit of an understatement. I've loved her forever, but it was after having heard Etta sing her signature song "At Last" on the movie soundtrack for Pleasantville, I became mildly obsessed. I started tracking down what music of hers I could find, and even ended up with some stuff on vinyl. Of course, now-a-days you can get pretty much everything from the iTunes Music Store, but back then it was a little more challenging.
But oh so worth it.
Etta James has a voice that's as big as a house and fills your soul. Truly a legend.
Fast forward to a month ago when Sizzle announces on Twitter that Miss James is coming to Seattle. Having never seen her perform live, I ask Sizz if she wants some company, and she manages to snag us third-row seats for the event. It doesn't get much sweeter than that!
Now, before I get to why I'm having a difficult time writing about it, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Etta James can still blow the doors off a concert hall. At eighty-one years old, that's a pretty impressive feat. She may enter the stage on a scooter and have to sit down to perform, but you'd never know it to listen to her. After all these years, she's just as amazing as you could hope for.
This had to be the single most sexually-charged, balls-nasty, horrifyingly inappropriate concert I have ever been to.
And I've seen Madonna.
For the first song, which I believe was a stirring rendition of "Tell Mama," (but could be wrong because I am still traumatized), Etta... performed(?)... some kind of sex act on stage. It was hilarious, and the crowd was going nuts while she was making sexually-suggestive hand gestures, making kissie-face noises, flicking her tongue at the crowd, licking up the microphone, getting up and shaking her ass, fondling her breasts, and rubbing her crotch. Sizzle and I were dying, because it was as if Etta was making a joke about being 81 years old and still singing a song that was so sexually charged. It was all brilliant and very, very funny. And Etta sounded amazing.
Wiping the tears from our eyes, we applauded her "act" and waited for the second song to begin. I'm thinking it was the senses-shattering "I'd Rather Go Blind" (but, again, I'm still in a state of shock and could be wrong).
The inappropriate crotch rubbing, tongue flicking, and breast fondling continued in earnest.
On pretty much every song in her hour-long performance.
Things went from being a hysterical parody to just... wrong.
And then came the "fuck Beyonce" rant, where Etta just went off the rails about being able to kick Beyonce's ass... presumably because Beyonce sang her song, "At Last," at Obama's inauguration. This came as a total surprise, because I had read that Etta liked Beyonce's rendition, and said she was proud to have had her sing the song. And being that Beyonce credits Etta James as an influence, and worships the ground she walks on, it was all very... puzzling. I didn't quite understand what was going on.
I still don't.
What kills me is that Etta James is still amazing. Even at 81 and singing from a scooter, her voice will slay you. She doesn't need to do the whole scary sex-act car-wreck thing. It's just a distraction from an incredible performance, and is a disservice to both herself and the audience.
Do I regret going?
Hell no! I GOT TO SEE THE LEGENDARY MISS ETTA JAMES IN CONCERT!!!
But something tells me the image of her "performance" will haunt my nightmares for a while yet...
How is it that I know the words to songs I absolutely loathe?
I hate... fucking HATE... the song "Leader of the Band" by Dan Fogelberg. Every time I hear the stupid sentimental crap being blasted in an elevator or at a grocery store (like this morning), I want to rip my ears off with a pair of pliers. But, even worse than having to listen to it, is the fact that I somehow KNOW ALL THE WORDS TO THE SONG! How the heck did THAT happen? It makes me want to bleach my brain so I can get rid of the lyrics and replace them with something more useful... like a recipe for making toast.
Speaking of toast...
It surprised me greatly when some people didn't "get" the "Dave Spice" reference in yesterday's entry.
How soon they forget.
Singer Geri Halliwell is world-famous for being "Ginger Spice" of The Spice Girls. By far her most famous outfit from those days was her "Union Jack" mini dress and super-elevated red boots. The looks was so iconic that it pretty much became a symbol of the entire group...
The dress itself has an interesting history. Geri made it from a flag with help from her half-sister for the 1997 Brit Awards. Around a year after leaving The Spice Girls in 1999, Geri held a charity auction at Sotheby's to benefit a children's cancer charity. The Union Jack dress was the top item of the auction, bringing in $69,340. Geri hand-delivered it to the winner, Peter Morton of The Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas (where it is still displayed). When The Spice Girls reformed in 2007, rumor has it that she tried to borrow the dress back for the tour, but ended up using a newly-made glitzed-up version instead (because the old dress would have had to been altered).
Whatever... I think that Lil' Dave wears it better.
After finally getting my billing straightened out with Apple's iTunes Store, I decided to bite the bullet and "upgrade" my music library purchases to DRM-free, high-quality audio files. I would have done it earlier, but I was waiting for Apple to get ALL their music converted so I could upgrade everything at once.
As I was watching $170 worth of fresh audio files being downloaded, I realized two things... 1) Apple was not upgrading ALL my music even though they claim that all music in their store is now "iTunes Plus" files... and 2) I bought more music videos than I had thought. I own eight of them. This was surprising, because just about every music video you could want is available for free on YouTube. Why would I buy them? Let's take a look, shall we?
The Scientist by Coldplay
On top of being an achingly beautiful song, The Scientist has to be one of the most beautiful music videos ever made. From the first frame where we're zooming out of Chris Martin's freakishly-blue eyes, the video plays out backwards telling a story of tragedy and loss that you don't fully comprehend until the very end (Note To Self: Never unfasten your seatbelt in a moving car). Rumor has it that Martin spent over a month learning to sing the song backwards for the video. The hard work was totally worth it...
Phantom Limb by The Shins
Easily one of my favorite songs of all time, I envision something entirely different every time I listen to Phantom Limb because the lyrics are so messed up (songwriter James Mercer claims it's about two young lesbians, but who can really know for sure?). In any event, the video for the song is pure genius, having the members of the band pop up in the best school play ever...
Take On Me by a-ha
Widely regarded as one of the best music videos ever made, Take On Me was pure genius at a time when music videos were creatively bankrupt. Featuring beautiful rotoscoping animation in a fantastic sketchbook style, every scene is captivating yet doesn't really distract from the song at all. What most people don't know is that the story in this video was continued in a-ha's next video The Sun Always Shines on TV, though not in a way many people would expect. What most people ALSO don't know is that a-ha has some fantastic follow-up albums that weren't released in the US (but well-worth tracking down as an import)....
My five remaining video purchases are continued in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
I've made plans to spend Independence Day at my sister's house, which is all kinds of awesome because there's no place I'd rather be on a holiday weekend. Jägermeister is sure to be involved.
And, as if that's not good enough, a group of us have decided to go see Duran Duran on the 5th. I am a long-time fan of the band and love both their old and new music, so this is like taking an already awesome weekend and wrapping it in greatness. The tickets are way-expensive... $50 for general admission with no seating... but you do what you gotta do. Duran Duran is one of the few great 80's bands I haven't seen live, so I'll bite the bullet and pay the price. And be happy to do it.
At least I was happy to do it before I go to the TicketMaster website and find out that they are adding a "convenience fee" of $9.85 PER TICKET to the already expensive $49.50 cost.
Now, don't get me wrong. If TicketMaster needs to add some money to cover the cost of their labor and expenses (like web site development and such), I'm all for that. BUT $9.85 PER TICKET?!? That is not a "fee" at all... it's fucking robbery. There is no reason on earth that they should need to charge this kind of money. Unless they are greedy assholes, which would explain everything.
But that's not the best part. After all that, they tack on an ADDITIONAL $2.50 for the privilege of DOWNLOADING your tickets. Never mind that you just got fucking gouged for $9.85 PER TICKET in bullshit fees, but now in order to get those tickets you have to pay even more money.
Googling "I Hate TicketMaster" gives you about 137,000 results.
If you Google "Fuck TicketMaster" you get about 342,000 results.
Googling "TicketMaster Assholes" returns about 98,500 results.
And Googling "TicketMaster Sucks" has about 190,000 results.
Which begs the question... why in the hell do bands continue to use these scammer dickwads to sell their concert tickets? Surely they have a choice? Don't they give a shit about their fans? Why in the hell hasn't some other company who believes in fairness in ticketing fees stepped up to offer an alternative?
Because Googling even something as relatively obscure as "TicketMaster Can Suck My Dick" results in about 16,200 results.
Which is ironic considering that this would actually be fair compensation for their outrageous charges.
Even though this is my blog and I should be able to write about whatever the hell I want, there are times that I don't write what's on my mind because people will just think I'm being a whiny little bitch. And they'd be mostly right. But who really wants to have people call them a whiny little bitch when they're being a whiny little bitch? Not me.
But today is Saturday, the first day of a three day holiday weekend, and hardly anybody will be reading my blog anyway, so here's me whining: This past Wednesday, Matt & Kim were playing in Seattle and I couldn't go! WAH!! To understand the depth of this tragedy, you have to understand just how much I love Matt & Kim...
On New Years Day 2007, I decided to go through the pile of mail that had been stacking up over the past month. In amongst the crap was a padded envelope from my friend Meagan containing a three CD's with a note on top. "Merry Christmas!" it said. "Except you don't celebrate Christmas, but that shouldn't stop you from getting awesome presents." One of the CD's was the self-titled debut album by Brooklyn grunge-punk-pop duo Matt & Kim. From the very first track, I was mesmerized. Here was a band that was playing their guts out in a way that I hadn't heard since the punk rock movement in the late 70's and early 80's. Just listening to them made me feel like I was discovering music again for the first time. In the years that followed, I could always count on Matt & Kim to cheer me up on even my worst days.
Their follow-up album, Grand, released this January, was even more amazing than the first. Somehow the band has managed to keep it's raw and amateurish flavor, but come up with a sound that's a little more polished and accessible. I've played the single Daylight so many times that it's melded with my soul...
I mean, just look at them! They love playing so much that they can't keep the smiles off their faces. Their enthusiasm is so contagious that it permeates their music and makes every song feel like nobody has ever done this before. And every time I see a photo from one of their concerts or a video from a live gig... believe you me, I want to see them live so badly it hurts...
I've come very close to seeing them nearly a half-dozen times. It's not hard, because they spend most of their lives touring. They're everywhere. And yet... I keep missing their shows. A friend called me Tuesday and said I should come to Seattle because they were playing Wednesday night, but I couldn't go. I've felt sick ever since. I can't get over it. I can't let it go. Missed opportunities. It's the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing to go through my mind when my head hits the pillow at night. Right now typing this entry I can barely keep from screaming as loud as I can until I pass out. Tonight they're playing in one of my favorite cities... Cologne Germany... and I'm not there. On Monday they're playing in Paris and I want to meet Laurence there and see it. On Tuesday they land in Amsterdam and I want to be there with The DutchBitch. On Thursday they're playing in Stockholm and I want to call up Göran, hop on a plane, and go. On Saturday, they're invading Oslo and I want to jet over, grab Karla, and see it. On June 1st, they're in London, and I want nothing more than to call up everybody I know in the city, cash in some frequent flier miles, and have a party at their show...
But here I sit.
And then this morning I noticed that they dropped an amazing new video for Lessons Learned back in April...
I hate it when I allow something stupid like missing a concert to ruin my life like this.
And yet, I just can't help it...
And lastly, words of profound wisdom from Matt...
"True success is health insurance."
If that doesn't sum up life in these United States of America, I don't know what does.
Free "Daylight" MP3 + Remixes from Green Label Sound.
Matt & Kim music at the iTunes Music Store.
Michael Jackson has died. I was not a big fan.
It's not that his music (hee!) was bad or that his songs sucked... it's just that (hoooo!) he felt the need to (shimone!) inject stupid-ass (hee-heeeeeee!) grunts, groans, squeals, screeches, yells, and (WOOOOOoo HOO!) "shimones"... whatever the fuck that was... into every (unnnh!) fucking (heeeee!) song. I absolutely (wheee-HEEEE!) HATED that shit. It was impossible for me to (shimone!) get into the song with all those (hoooo! shimone! hee heeeeee! unnnhhh!) interruptions.
But the guy was Captain Eo, and I suppose that counts for something.
I thought Captain Eo was totally awesome when visiting Disneyland in the late 80's...
During the height of Michael's big trial, I was commissioned to do a drawing of him for an online magazine, which was a difficult assignment. At the time, Michael was looking his freakiest...
But the Disney whore in me wanted to remember him looking like this...
And that's how I'll always try to remember him now.
Sadly eclipsed by the Michael Jackson news has been the death of another icon from my puberty... Farrah Fawcett...
Yes. Bad Monkey is a big fan from way back. Some of my readers, however? Not so much.
Meanwhile, Betty White is still alive. And still awesome.
Duran Duran is one of the few of my favorite 80's bands that I haven't seen live. So when my sister told me they'd be playing at Marymoor Park on Independence Day weekend, it was an opportunity too good to pass up (even if you do get gouged by TicketMeister). It was particularly decent of her to go, because she's not the big Duran Duran fan that I am.
Now, for whatever reason, I was not expecting much out of the concert. Perhaps it's because Duran Duran's sound always seems so polished that I just assumed it all came from the studio.
I could not have been more wrong.
Simon Le Bon and company tore through 19 of their biggest hits in one of the best live performances I have ever seen. They over-delivered with a flawless set that gave the crowd exactly what they wanted to hear. It made me curse all the times I passed at seeing them in concert before, and has me looking forward to the next time they come to town.
Ooh... and I shot my very first video on my new iPhone! Sound is kind of blown out (I don't think the iPhone microphone expects the audio source to be so loud) but the quality is still pretty good video-wise. Unfortunately, they compress the hell out of things when you upload it to Mobile.Me or YouTube. Doesn't look too horrible if you play it small though...
All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend.
I've gone through the set-list song-by-song in an extended entry, if you're so inclined.
UPDATE: The YouTube version has finished processing, so I swapped it for the QuickTime version since people were having problems with it. Also, there are a number of much better iPhone videos posted to YouTube of the concert.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Saw an absolutely incredible performance by Depeche Mode tonight in Salt Lake City with Marty and WarpedGirl16...
For a spoiler-filled set list and some additional photos, you can get all that in an extended entry.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
It's 9-9-09 and a lot of things seemed to happen today. The two most significant, at least to me, were the release of the remastered Beatles albums on CD and Apple's release of iTunes 9 and its accompanying iPhone update.
"Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
I'm a big Beatles fan. And when the rumor went out that their albums were going to be remastered, I was thrilled. Mostly because I assumed they'd finally be made available for purchase on iTunes. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. It's going to happen eventually (at least according to Yoko Ono), just not today.
That being said, I wish I had a couple hundred dollars burning a hole in my pocket so I could pick up the Beatles Mono Gift Box Set...
The first albums were recorded in mono and designed to be heard that way. Having listened to many of the original LP records, they definitely seem to have a brighter, crisper sound than the murky stereo mixes they put on CD. But, alas, I just paid to have my blog templates updated, so the money isn't available. Hopefully when the songs make it to iTunes, you'll be able to buy the mono versions there.
"Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
I'm a big Apple Computer fan. They rarely fuck up and, compared to the heinous shit that Microsoft releases, Apple is a dream come true. But when Apple does fuck up... they REALLY fuck up spectacularly. As an example: the steaming pile of shit known as MobileMe which is not just bad... it's Microsoft bad. The fact that they haven't fixed MobileMe is embarrassing on any number of levels, especially considering that they continue to charge $99 a year for the service.
But today Apple totally outdid themselves.
The new iTunes 9 and iPhone update are beyond Microsoft bad.
I'd feel embarrassed for Apple, but I'm just too angry. After wasting loads of my time, losing my data, and turning my phone into a brick... well... let's just say Windows Vista now has some company as MY MOST HATED SOFTWARE EVER! If you care to read all about my woes, I've put a profanity-laden rant in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Last week I skipped Bullet Sunday because I was traveling but, lucky for me, Hilly-Sue was kind enough to pick up my slack! This week the bullets are back in Seattle, and so am I...
• Finale! Now that it's all over, I have to say that the cruise to Alaska was pretty darn special. Despite some dreary weather in spots, things couldn't have gone better, and the shore excursions were all beyond amazing experiences. If you're looking for a little adventure in your life, you could do a lot worse than exploring the Inside Passage. I booked through Jester's new company, Cruise Avenue, and am grateful for all his advice in getting me the perfect vacation. Might want to see those glaciers now while you still can...
• Pandemonium! Just got back from the Pet Shop Boys' "Pandemonium" tour stop in Seattle. It seems like it was just yesterday I went to their first-ever concert here in the city, and now they're back for round two! As expected, the show was amazing. I really like their new album, Yes, and they did a good job of mixing the new material with their classic hits...
For my fellow Pet Shop fans, the set-list went something like this... Heart, Did You See Me Coming?, Pandemonium/Can You Forgive Her?, Love Etc., Integral/Building a Wall, Go West, Two Divided By Zero/Why Don't We Live Together?, Always On My Mind, New York City Boy, Closer to heaven/Left to my Own Devices, Do I Have To?, King's Cross, The Way It Used To Be, Jealousy, Suburbia, All Over The World, Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is), Discoteca/Domino Dancing/Viva La Vida (COLDPLAY?!?), It's A Sin, Being Boring (encore), West End Girls (encore). A pretty sweet set... despite the sound at The Moore Theater being really uneven, and the sound-mix for the show being pretty bad in parts (Neil's vocals during King's Cross were obliterated). Still... well worth attending!
• Pet Shop Pics! I was too busy enjoying the show to be much of a photographer, but still managed to grab a few shots when I thought of it. From the looks of things, Neil and Chris have taken the "Cubism" theme of their previous tour and amped it up to the n-th degree, appearing as cube-heads with cube-head dancers and backup singers. As always, it was a pretty impressive production... even when restrained to the small stage of The Moore...
• Dee-Jay? I have been to clubs where very talented individuals have crafted amazing mixes of a wide variety of music in clever and interesting ways. These DJ's deserve their title, and work hard to craft an exciting experience for their audience. On the OTHER end of the spectrum, you have people who just take a string of dance remixes with the EXACT SAME throbbing disco beat... smash them together one after another... and call themselves a DJ. Now, it's probably me... I'm just somebody who doesn't "get" it... but who the fuck cares? Apparently, the Pet Shop Boys do, because THAT'S who they had as their opening act... a disco DJ with one throbbing beat after another. I honestly couldn't tell where one song starts and the other begins. It's just a blur of bass and synthesizers (but mostly bass). Yeah, I'm sure this "music" is just awesome to somebody who can appreciate it (or is high on crystal meth)... but I thought it sucked copious amounts of ass. After 45 minutes of this redundant shit, I was ready to jump off the balcony. The only thing I can think of to explain it is that the Pet Shop Boys wanted to bore the shit out of people before they take the stage so they appear that much better. Which is crazy. They don't need it. Things don't get much better than the Pet Shop Boys live.
• Progress? They keep plugging away at Seattle's Hard Rock Cafe. Now they've got actual signs up to let people know what's coming (but who knows when?)...
• Blue! Man, what a beautiful day in Seattle I came back to from rainy Alaska!
And thus ends my week of vacation big happy fun time. Back to the daily grind...
Tomorrow I'm on vacation for ten days so, naturally, today was packed full of last-minute work projects and a non-stop parade of drama. Work I can handle... but the drama?
Well, the drama has nothing to do with me. Yet people somehow think that it should.
So I'm ignoring the outside world for a while, and focusing on more important things. Like Miley Cyrus using her entire sixteen years of life experience to advise kids as to how they should live their lives...
"I'm telling kids, don't go on the internet. It's dangerous, it's not fun, it wastes your life, and you should be outside playing sports or something. I just think it's kind of lame. I feel like I hang out with my friends and they're so busy taking pictures of what they're doing and putting them on Facebook that they're not really enjoying what they're doing. You're going to look back and have a million pictures, but you're not going to be in any of them. Because you're not having fun, you're too busy clicking away. So I think just enjoy the moment you're in, and stop telling people about it. Just enjoy it."
Wow. Where was this sage advice seven years ago when I started blogging?
The thing that's so odd is that kids pretty much live online now. American teenagers now-a-days haven't really known of a world without the internet. And, thanks to devices like the iPhone, they're beginning to not know of a world without constant access to the internet. They're online Twittering and Facebooking constantly, and when they're not doing that, they're texting each other non-stop. Sure it's excessive, but these are the times we live in, and that's the way society seems to want to interact. So, while I applaud Miley for encouraging kids to step away from the computer once in a while, I think it's unrealistic to tell them "Don't go on the internet." Ever. That's who they are now.
Besides, it would be pretty hard for them to buy tickets at Ticketmaster.com for Miley's concerts... or spend their time hanging around her two websites MileyCyrus.com and MileyWorld.com... or sign up for her email newsletter... or visit her official YouTube Channel... or shop at her official Amazon Shop... or connect with her on her official Facebook fan page... or view her musical endeavors on her official iLike Artist Page... or buy her music from her page at the iTunes Music Store... or even become a friend at her official MySpace Page.
So, basically, Miley tells her fans not to do the internet drug, but then pushes them all kinds of internet crack to feed their habit.
Maybe her millions of dollars puts her in a class above being a hypocritical douchebag, but this is still a disappointment.
Especially to a huge Hannah Montana fan like me...
Isn't it terrible when our media heroes turn out to be sanctimonious wankers after all?
Oops! I almost forgot about Bullet Sunday! It's been a very busy weekend.
• Volcanic? The eruption of Mt. Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland and subsequent blanketing of all Europe with ash has disrupted air travel on a massive scale... including mine. Everybody's schedule has been hopelessly screwed and their travel plans postponed indefinitely since nobody knows when the eruption will subside. Worst case scenario has the action intensifying, causing the nearby Katia volcano to erupt as well. If that happens, planes will make their decision to fly from day to day based on weather patterns, and nobody will be able to plan for anything. At the very worst, travel could be mostly trains and ships around Europe for a long while. On the other hand, this could all blow over tomorrow.
But no matter what happens, I am saddened by people saying things like "I hate Iceland" and "Iceland just ruined my vacation" or whatever. Even if the country of Iceland didn't exist, that volcano would still be there. So hate on the volcano, not the country it happens to be erupting on. It's no more Iceland's fault now than it was Washington State's fault when Mt. St. Helens erupted. I've been lucky enough to have visited Reykjavik, and found everybody there to be friendly and kind to visitors. Certainly they're not deserving of such ill-will for something that's not their fault. Besides, karma dictates it could be your country next.
• Good Beaver? Ever wonder what Lil' Dave would look like if I were Canadian? Wonder no longer...
Yes, things are gearing up for TequilaCon 2010 quite nicely. Just six more days...
• Airfix? For well over a decade I've been combing the internet looking for information on an artist named "Satori" who was responsible for some of my favorite album covers in the 80s. I first noticed them for the Thompson Twins' Into The Gap album, where they turned the band's logo into a map...
And of course there was that beautifully haunting cover for Dead or Alive's Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know with Pete Burns staring at you with those black-on-black eyes...
And of course there were those genius covers for a little band called Def Lepard...
This week "Satori" came up in an email conversation, and I Googled them just to see if anything new had popped up. Turns out that there has been something new... "Satori" was just a studio name for Andie Airfix. Not only does Andie now have a personal site where you can purchase some of his amazing work, BUT HE HAS AN AWESOME BLOG called "B*b G#ld*f Stole My Sunglasses?"
No joke... if you have even a passing interest in 80's music (or graphic design), you must visit Andie's blog. It's filled with genius stories featuring Grace Jones, Thompson Twins, Pete Burns, Def Lepard and more. I've read through his every entry twice and will undoubtedly read them all again. Great stuff.
Meh. I suppose I should probably try and get some sleep now. Who knows... one of these nights I might actually get lucky.
I've had several perfect days in New York City. It's not terribly difficult, because the entire world is at your feet the moment you arrive. But, in all the years I've been coming here, this is going to be the day to top.
It started with an evacuation at Times Square.
It ended with an amazing dream concert I've waited half a lifetime to see.
That concert would be a-ha's Ending on a High Note farewell tour. For better or worse, a-ha will forever be known as the "Take on Me Guys" here because they're pretty much a one-hit-wonder in the USA. Probably because most of their follow-up albums were never released here, which is a damn shame because they had some amazing music in the years that followed.
The show was, as expected, flawless. Morton Harket's stunning vocals were as good as ever as they tore through a catalog of the band's hits. Sure there were some tracks I wanted to hear that were left out, but if they had put in everything I wanted the concert would have lasted five hours.
Still, it was a brilliant performance, and made me sadder than ever that the band is breaking up...
Good bye and thanks, guys.
That's the last of my favorite 80's bands that I needed to see in concert*, so I guess my life is complete now.
Going back to the beginning, my day started in Times Square... just as they decided to evacuate it. A cooler was left at West 46th Street, and the police (wisely) decided it's better to be safe than sorry...
Things ended up being a false alarm, but it's comforting to know that the NYPD is taking no chances. I must have gotten a dozen tweets, emails, and texts from people saying things like "ARE YOU CRAZY?" and "BET YOU WISH YOU WEREN'T IN NEW YORK NOW!" or whatever. I ended up ignoring all of them because (no offense) I just don't give a crap. Travel is ALWAYS dangerous... and, yes, New York is probably more dangerous than other places I could go just this moment. But that's not going to stop me from coming back. If my options are to stop traveling to amazing places like this... or to sit in my house for the rest of my life and fret about how dangerous the world is... I'll take my chances out in the world. Because I'd rather die doing what I want to do than doing nothing at all.
Anyway, the weather was absolutely fantastic, so I scuttled my plans to visit galleries all afternoon and decided to instead just
What a great tour! Starting in the upper-left, that would be Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, The New York Times, FAO Schwartz, Apple Store Fifth Avenue, Madison Square Garden, New Yorker Hotel, Shake Shack, Flatiron Building, Central Park Carousel, Bethesda Terrace Landscape, The Loeb Boathouse, Bow Bridge, The High Line, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, and Yankee Stadium. Whew... that's a lot of New York City! And I actually walked most of that, only taking the subway four times when the walk would have killed me...
The final stop of my Gowalla Tour... the Shake Shack!
The last cool thing of my day was after I had dinner following the a-ha concert. Dozens of police cars and motorcycles lined up to zoom through Times Square. It was darn impressive, and a great way to end my evening...
And tomorrow is another day.
*Unless New Order decides to get back together and tour, in which case I have one more band to go.
Bullet Sunday from Chicago! It's a good place to be!
• Lost. When the television phenomena known as Lost debuted, I was a serious fan. I obsessed over the show and was lauding it as "genius" with each new incredible revelation and juicy mystery. It was everything I loved about television come to life. But then, somewhere in the middle of Season 2, I slowly began to realize that the the show was all smoke and mirrors with no substance whatsoever. It was nothing but mystery on top of mystery, and the writers were quickly building a house of bullshit from which the show would never escape. They just kept piling on "cool stuff" until NO resolution would ever be worth it. So I gave up the show. Every once in a while I'd tune in because people would tell me how awesome it was getting, but all I ever saw was more shit being dropped on a big box of bullshit...
And so tonight, after a lovely dinner out in the 'burbs, I got back to my hotel where the final episode of Lost was nearly over. So I decided to watch. I decided that if I liked what I saw, I'd admit I was wrong all along and go back and watch everything I missed.
Except I wasn't wrong. In my humble opinion, it was the single biggest wimpy cop-out bullshit of an ending the writers could have possibly come up with. It just validated my belief that they really didn't know what the hell they were doing, which is why they kept adding "cool shit" to distract everybody and keep the audience watching. That would have been fine, except you have to be able to really deliver at the end. And they didn't. So when I hear how show-runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse imply that they knew what was going on all along, I think they're either A) LYING, and just slapped on some lame shit that "explains" nothing and everything at the same time... or, B) THE WORST WRITERS EVER that they think THIS was a worthy end to a six-year investment of people's time. I'm not saying that every detail had to be wrapped up and explained at the end, I'm just saying that, ultimately, the end has to be a satisfying conclusion to everything leading up to it, and I didn't see that.
Whatever the case, I thank heavens I never wasted any more time with the show than I did.
And yet, if there are fans who loved the show and felt the ending was perfect... more power to you! Not everybody has to like the same things, and so congratulations on getting what you wanted out of Lost.
• Grey's. If there's one guilty pleasure of mine to be found on television that's NOT Lost, it would be Grey's Anatomy. Overall, despite some very notable set-backs and other stupidity (e.g. Dead Denny), I find it to be highly entertaining. Somehow, the writers are always managing to come up with these clever twists and interesting stories that keeps moving everything forward.
Except for the season finale last week, which was a total load of crap. What kills me is that the premise was outstanding. Genius, even. But then the writers got lazy and stupid and just decided to fill time with scene after scene of characters going into needless fits of hysteria. It was enough to make me want to bitch-slap half the cast through my television. Maybe two hours was too much time to fill... I just don't know... but by the time they finally got to the end, I was to the point where I never wanted to watch the show ever again. Not exactly the best way to wrap-up a season.
• Kinda. This afternoon I was lucky enough to have RW (of 1 Step Beyond fame) invite me out for his own recipe "Kinda Mediterranean Pizza" with him and Mrs. RW...
Just as he claimed when he published the recipe, it was fucking delicious. I think the secret must be his homemade Carrettiera Sauce, because it adds a lot of flavor while managing to keep things light and fresh (which makes me wonder how many other ways it could be used). Most definitely worth your time to make... especially since he has a step-by-step guide free for the taking.
You'd think that hanging out drinking beer and talking with friends on a beautiful Chicago day would be enough... but RW had to go and make awesome pizza too. The bastard. How can I in good conscience order out from Dominoes when I have friends over? I can't! From now on I'm going to have to go to the extra effort to buy frozen pizza and pretend like I made it! Thanks a heap, RW!
• Interview. Many thanks to Troy of Blue Goo Ate My Mom fame for giving me a heads-up to the great interview with a-ha posted over at CBC's Q Uncut. It's well worth a listen, even if you never heard of the band after Take on Me disappeared from the airwaves. They went on to a lot of great music, and the interview helps North Americans get "caught up" with all the things we missed...
Though Minor Earth Major Sky is probably my favorite a-ha album, their latest (and last) album Foot of the Mountain is exceptional, and harkens back to the sound that made them famous. Sadly, stupid-ass record labels have tied up the distribution rights so you can't buy the album in the USA unless you pay for an import, but a good (but incomplete) "singles" collection is for sale on iTunes.
And now, I suppose it's time to get some work done. What else is there to do on a Sunday night?
In my never-ending quest to see all my favorite 80's bands in concert, I headed over to Seattle this morning so my sister and I could see The Psychedelic Furs playing at the Showbox SoDo. The Furs were responsible for transitioning me out of my "punk" phase, and led me to a life-long love of the new wave music scene which has lasted until this day.
As expected, the show was phenomenal, even though they didn't play my favorite song (Until She Comes) and the Showbox SoDo is not one of my least favorite venues. Still, with 30+ years of material to draw from, Richard Butler tore through their setlist with an energy and enthusiasm that was contagious, and belied his 54 years...
Probably best-known for their hit Pretty in Pink, The Furs have a fantastic catalog of music that's well-worth checking out if that's the only song you know them by. Their 2001 "Greatest Hits" album is a good place to start (iTunes Link), and at $7.99 for 17 tracks, it's quite a bargain.
This afternoon I headed over to the coast because my sister's friend had scored tickets to the Natalie Merchant concert at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. As a long-time fan of both her solo career and her work with 10,000 Maniacs, this was a fantastic opportunity... especially considering that she hadn't released a new album in the past seven years.
Natalie's new CD, Leave Your Sleep is a very interesting experiment into converting poetry about childhood from 19th and 20th century writers into music. And while some songs definitely succeed more than others, the sheer variety of musical styles and subjects are both mind-boggling and beautiful. First she's singing about how one explains war to a child, and then the next song she's singing about crazy-ass flavors available at a fantastical ice cream shop. It's a very interesting work, and is pure Natalie Merchant from start to finish...
And while Natalie's performance was beautiful, as expected, the concert itself did have some problems. Previously when attending a show at Chateua Ste. Michelle, I sat in the seated area, which is just like any other concert you might attend. This time we sat behind the seating area where people spread blankets and watch the concert picnic style... enjoying bottles of wine and dinner while they watch. Unfortunately, the more informal "seating" in the picnic area encourages people to goof around and let their kids run ape-shit, blocking your view... but, even worse, people won't shut the hell up while you're trying to listen to the music. At one point I was really enjoying the witty and complex lyrics to Bleezer's Ice-Cream when some drunken douchebag started screaming at everybody to get up and dance, ruining the moment completely. After that some bitch behind us started going on and on and on about selling her house, which pretty much ruined the next two songs. It was so discouraging, we actually packed up our crap and left a little early because there was little point in staying if people were just going to talk the whole damn time.
But Natalie tried to maintain good humor throughout, often talking to audience members who walked in late by updating them as to what songs they missed: "...Ooooh... then I sang Gold Rush Brides... I'll bet you're really sorry you missed that one!" and "That hot dog looks delicious. I'll bet it goes great with the wine!"
Overall, a great night... just not as good as it could have been had people shut the fuck up and minded their kids.
Annnnd... Apple had another one of their "Special Events" today.
As usual, it was filled with cool stuff and left me wanting to have Steve Jobs' baby. Again.
The "big news" of the day was the revamp of the iPod line. The tiny iPod Shuffle (my favorite of all the iPods) took a disastrous turn during the last revision when they took away the navigation button. This time, they wisely brought the buttons back, but kept the sweet "VoiceOver" technology which uses a robot voice to compensate for the lack of display...
I'd buy one, but I already have the original iPod Shuffle. Still, the new colors are nice...
And, in even cooler news, Apple revised the iPod nano. My first-generation iPod nano powers my car stereo... I ditched it when I got my first iPod Shuffle because the size was better. Except the new fifth-generation nano is only a little bigger than my existing Shuffle. It's tiny! But, despite the size, Apple managed to fit a multi-touch screen interface, which is damn cool...
I must have one. And have one I shall. I'll just slip my iPod Shuffle into my next AnySoldier.com care package so it doesn't go to waste.
Apple also revised the iPod Touch, but I have an iPhone so I didn't pay attention. I did perk up again when they introduced the new Apple TV though...
They took out the hard drive, which makes the unit absolutely perfect. I never bought the original Apple TV precisely because of the hard drive... no matter how big of one they put in the thing, it will never be big enough. As your media collection grows, the hard drive eventually fills up. My media belongs on an expandable network drive system, not locked away inside a television box. So now I'm actually going to consider buying Apple TV. It's the simplest possible way to stream all my videos, photos, and music to my television (including NetFlix streams!) and the $99 price feels right.
His Holiness Steve Jobs also teased us with a sneak peek at new stuff coming up for the iPad, including PRINTING, which is a much-needed feature for the device. It's also getting all the sweet new iOS 4 iPhone goodies like multitasking and a unified in-box for Mail.
BUT, the thing that fascinated me most to come from the "Special Event" was the revisions to Apple's venerable iTunes. That I'll save for tomorrow...
Yesterday I waxed poetic about Apple's "Special Event" where they unleashed a bunch of new iPods, revised Apple TV, and teased us with new features coming soon for iPhone and iPad. It was all very cool, and renewed my Mac Whore certification (along with my undying love for Steve Jobs).
But His Holiness Jobs did not stop there. He also introduced a new version 10 of iTunes... Apple's venerable media player. Many of the changes I approve, some I don't, and much of it has me feeling indifferent. Let's take a look, shall we?
The first thing you notice is that the icon has changed. The old icon had a CD on it, which doesn't make much sense considering that online downloads are eclipsing CD sales. Pretty soon, people won't even know what the heck a CD is (much like the 8-track tape and cassette). And, while I approve of iTunes getting a new icon, I have to say what they come up with sucks ass...
We finally get an opportunity to move past the gum-drop gloss of the original Apple "Aqua" interface, and you drop the ball by giving us a glowy blue blob that harkens back to design of of years past? What happened to the new "brushed aluminum" look you've been cultivating? That's pretty classy...
It also matches the visual elements of iTunes' interface, and is inline with the DVD Player, but whatever.
The interior of iTunes, oddly enough, is where they are getting rid of the glowy mess and going for a refined, more classy look. Where there's color, it's bright but not offensively so...
In still other places, the color has been eliminated completely. The small sidebar icons are now exclusively monotone. This is a little bit stupid, because color really helps to differentiate things when the images are so very small. Now they all kind of run together...
Usability is getting a modest boost in some areas. My favorite being the album artwork popping up in List View if you have more than five songs on that album. Like Steve says, there's room, so why not? Visual information helps you find what you're looking for faster...
And Apple is also helping add some nice vertical space by shifting the Window controls to a smaller, vertical format. A very good thing, even if it is inconsistent when every other window interface...
Enough about looks, what's new in features? Well... there's finally the ability to rent television shows for 99¢ each. In many cases, that's half the cost of buying the same shows in HD, but you can only watch them once.
And the BIG announcement? It's PING!
What's Ping? It's a "social networking feature" that allows you to follow artists and friends to see what they're playing so you can discover new music. Sound familiar? It should... that's what Last.fm does! I've been using Last.fm for years, sending my awesome musical tastes to the site via an iTunes plugin. I've made some great friends there, and discovered a lot of new music that I love. A part of me really, really wishes that Apple would have simply partnered with Last.fm... or even bought them out... rather than try to reinvent the wheel. Poorly, as it turns out.
First of all, since the service is new, the number of artists participating in it is limited. The "recommended to follow" people they keep giving me is nobody I'm interested in (except perhaps Linkin Park, who I did enjoy back in the day)...
And it only goes downhill from there. When it comes to people, the important thing about music is (surprise) THE MUSIC THEY LIKE. Unfortunately, Apple has limited the music you get to like to the music they sell. This is sublimely stupid. Like the Beatles? Tough shit. They don't exist. Love some local indie band? Too bad. Unless they sell their music on iTunes, they don't exist. One of my favorite bands is a-ha... they only partly exists. Some of their albums can be Pinged... but a majority of them can't be. Scoundrel Days? Nope. Minor Earth, Major Sky? Nope. Analogue? Nope. Their final album, Foot of the Mountain? Nope. The new Deluxe Edition release of Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days? Nope. Nope. Much of their live stuff? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Since Ping is supposed to be all about your music, you'd think you'd at least be able to talk about albums you like... even when they're not for sale at iTunes, right? Nope. If Apple doesn't sell it, it doesn't exist, because the like/post feature is tied to the iTunes Store, not your library...
What the fuck?
Apple can brand this as "social networking" all they want, but it's total bullshit. It's a MARKETING TOOL! Apple is getting you to sell music from their store to your friends... AND NOTHING ELSE!! This is beyond FAIL! It's beyond EPIC FAIL! I don't even know a word that describes just how massive a FAIL! that Ping is.
I'll just come out and say it: I fucking HATE Ping. Apple does not get to decide which music exists and which music doesn't. The fact that they feel otherwise is a very, very scary prospect. And a bad business decision. People are going to notice what they're doing here. It's things like this that made Microsoft so roundly hated, and Apple has got to fix it fast. Because it's a short leap from hating Ping to hating Apple. Especially when it comes to something like music, which people get passionate about.
Apple says that they love music. If that's true, let people share ALL their music... not just the music that record labels allow Apple to sell. Otherwise, you aren't loving music at all... just the money it can generate. And while every company is out to make money, they shouldn't be out to become draconian evil bastards who dictate the music people are allowed to share and discuss.
UPDATE: Chris Carlozzi has created a few replacement icons for iTunes 10 which are much, much better than what Apple slapped on it...
You can get the icons for Mac here. And you'll need to download CandyBar to install them.
Yeah, it's pretty frickin' amazing and was well worth the wait. I'd blog more about it, but I'm too busy listening to it. Get your own copy at the iTunes Store!
Welcome to an ALL-REVIEW EDITION of Bullet Sunday!
• SIDEWALKS! I still haven't come down off the high I got from Matt and Kim's second album masterpiece, Grand, so when I heard they were dropping their third album, Sidewalks, I was skeptical. How could they possible come up with anything even near as awesome? Well, they're Matt and Kim, so how could it not be awesome? I love it, and have been listening to Sidewalks constantly. Here's a short video talking about the album with a sweet taste of the awesome first track...
The only song I don't much care for is Northeast, which deviates from the happy funtime sound that makes me love the band so much. The other nine tracks are gold, however, with my clear favorites being Block After Block, Cameras, AM/FM Sound, and Good for Great. My only criticism of Sidewalks would be that it seems over-produced compared to what's come before. The charm of Matt and Kim's music has always been the raw, unpolished, basement sound that lets their indie roots shine through. But everything here is polished so heavily that no rough edges show, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Kim's wild, unapologetic brashness when banging on the drums is kinda... muted... this time around. And while the complexity they've layered into their latest songs adds a welcome maturity to their sound, I'd hate for them to eventually be buried by it.
SIDEWALKS RATING: B (Recommended).
• THE WALKING DEAD! Comic book adaptations for television have historically been hit-or-miss, with even the most successful translations feeling like something is lacking. So imagine my surprise when one of my favorite comic books ever, The Walking Dead, actually managed to elevate the source material so high that it exceeds my impossibly high expectations. In some ways, it's even better than the comic book upon which it's based...
Shocking, I know. But no more shocking than a comic book where no character is sacred and anybody can die at any minute. What's truly shocking is the production values on the series. AMC is putting some serious cash into all aspects of the program, and it shows. The special effects and location shooting are brilliant. The zombies are works of art and not the schlocky B-movie retreads I was expecting. And the acting is top-notch, with Andrew Lincoln's flawless performance as Rick Grimes adding a sense of danger and realism that's almost too good to be true...
Genius television on every level, and already renewed for a second season!
COMIC RATING: A+ (Highly Recommended).
TV SHOW RATING: A (Highly Recommended).
• EARTH! As a huge fan of The Daily Show, I was quick to snap up their humorous primer on all things USA called America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. Even though The Daily Show is a comedy program, it still manages to have an intelligent discussion of news and politics between the funny. With America (The Book), they poke fun at the country by reducing our culture and history down to a ridiculous grade-school textbook filled with witty essays that illuminate while they amuse. It was a terrific book, which compelled me to pick up the follow-up tome, Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race...
It's reminiscent of America (The Book), but on a global scale. Except this time they dismissed with the essays and went with page after page of easy jokes and witty one-liners slapped on wacky infographics and amusing photos. While still funny and moderately insightful, it doesn't leave the reader with much to think about (which seems to be the point). So while I definitely enjoyed Earth (The Book) it was kind of a step-down from their previous effort.
AMERICA (THE BOOK) RATING: A (Highly Recommended).
EARTH (THE BOOK) RATING: B (Recommended).
• BLU-RAY COLLECTIONS! I've been opposed to wasting my money on re-purchasing videos on Blu-Ray that I already own on DVD unless there's a very good reason for doing so. Unfortunately, two new sets have dropped which left me with no choice, because they both contain some of my favorite films of all time PLUS very good reasons for buying them...
Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy. I am convinced that all three of these films are some of the most brilliant and inventive movies to ever grace the silver screen... and it's all because of the details. The original Back to the Future not only had a great story, but showed the consequences of time travel with numerous small details that geeks like myself go crazy over (such as when Marty destroyed one of Old Man Peabody's trees in 1955, causing the "Twin Pines Mall" in 1985 to transform into "Lone Pine Mall"). Then we got Back to the Future II, which managed to create an all-new story WITHIN the original film all while giving us a fantastical look at the future. Sheer genius. Back to the Future III was a bit more mundane, trading the future for the Old West, but managed to wrap-up the trilogy in a way that was satisfying and respectful to those that came before. This new Blu-Ray set has an incredible transfer to hi-def that's a marked improvement over the old DVD versions. Despite having been filmed in the 80's, everything looks crisp and new, and there's tons of extras that any BTTF fan will love (some of which I have never seen before). An added bonus... digital copies of all three films is included, so you can transfer everything to your iPod, which is awesome. Two down-sides. 1) The packaging can make releasing the discs a real challenge. You pull down on the disc to unhook it, but sometimes it doesn't work like it should, and I worried that I'd snap the thing in half. 2) The menu system is FUCKING STUPID! Maybe it's just my player, but every damn time I view something, the menu won't come back and I have to eject the disc, then wait the five minutes it takes for the menu to load again. A serious flaw that drops my rating... I'll take functionality over design any day.
BACK TO THE FUTURE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY RATING: B+ (Highly Recommended).
Alien Anthology The issue here is picture quality. The Alien films are fairly dark, which is a real problem for DVD/TV. You can get some nasty compression artifacts and murky shadows that obliterate details and kill the spooky atmosphere that makes the movies work so well. Thankfully, the new Blu-Ray Hi-Def transfer is fantastic. The picture is probably better now than it ever was, which makes me wish they'd re-release the films in digital theaters. In any event, the original Ridley Scott Alien film was a masterpiece blend of science fiction and horror that can still scare the crap out of me even today. It was followed by Aliens, where James Cameron did the impossible by grafting a high-octane "space marine" action flick onto the original sci-fi/horror concept... and actually made it work. David Fincher's Alien3 was a disastrous disservice to the story from Aliens, but a pretty good film when looked at independently. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Alien: Resurrection has some amazing visual sequences that are tied together by a rather weak story which revives Sigourney Weaver's deceased character in a way that never really worked for me. And even though I hated the freaky-ass mutant alien that provided the "villain" for the fourth installment, I think I enjoyed the film overall. Everything is brought together beautifully with a shitload of awesome extras that will take me days to get through. The packaging (again) is a bit odd (WTF-?), but workable. For any fan of any of the films, Alien Anthology is a must-have.
ALIEN ANTHOLOGY RATING: A (Highly Recommended).
And now I'm out of money, so that will have to be enough unabashed consumerism for the day.
It's a blah blah blah kind of week. Thankfully it's Bullet Sunday with some good things to the rescue!
• Music! One of those shows that I wish I could quit, but can never seem to stop watching is Grey's Anatomy. They just keep doing things to keep it interesting, and the stories are (usually) pretty good. But the best thing about the show is the music, and I've lost count of the number of great songs I've found from watching Grey's. This week it was Mackintosh Braun (a band I had never heard of before) and their song Could it Be. Turns out the entire album is great, and now I'm a fan...
Well done Shonda Rhimes and the rest of the people responsible for Grey's Anatomy not sucking too badly. Now please fix Christina and move past the whole "hospital shooting" crap which has been lingering for far too long.
• Pooh! This caught be completely by surprise... Disney is coming out with a new Pooh movie on July 15, 2011 called (appropriately enough) Winnie the Pooh!...
Beautiful! Thank heavens they didn't feel the need to recreate the look of the series in 3-D or use computer animation or some other stupid shit like that. The Keane song is perfect, and just the icing on the cake. I hate seeing movies in theaters any more because people are assholes, but I'll make an exception for this.
• Veterans! Thanks once again to Applebee's for treating veterans to a free meal on Veteran's Day this week. It seems as though they were making money hand-over-fist from all the people who were there with veterans that were not veterans (like me!), so I can only hope that it's a win-win event for them.
• High! I've mentioned plenty of time that I have a paralyzing fear of heights, and always have to psych myself up when traveling because all the good touristy stuff seems to be up high. Recently I watched a television program about the "Grand Canyon SkyWalk" which goes beyond scary for somebody like me...
Photo from the official Grand Canyon Skywalk Site.
While searching for a photo on the internet which shows the glass floor, I came across this shot...
Shiiiiiiit! Photo from GloboTreks.
The GloboTreks article is called "7 of the Most Impressive Skywalks in the World", and I've only seen one of them in person: the Sears Tower "Ledge" in Chicago...
Yes, it's just as scary as you'd think it would be.
They might as well call this list "7 Places Guaranteed to Make Dave2 Crap His Pants"... because, damn... just look at some of these terrifying things. Of course, if I should ever visit any of these instruments of torture, I'd definitely force myself to experience them. I always do. But I'm sure my "experience" would consist of me crawling on my hands and knees while crying for my mommy. After crapping my pants. Because, damn...
• TV on DVD! Tonight I found out that one of those long-forgotten television shows I've been begging to come out on DVD, Palace Guard, actually DID get released on DVD back in July! Apparently all nine episodes are included on some kind of massive 10-disc retrospective called Prime Time Crime: The Stephen J. Cannell Collection. It seemed a total bargain at just $22, so I scraped together the money and ordered it immediately. I previously described the show thusly...
The best role of D.W. Moffett's versatile career, and a show that I find impossible to understand how it failed... The Palace Guard certainly seemed like a crowd pleaser, and was mindless fun in a way people usually respond to. PLOT: Moffett is a career jewel thief who is caught and imprisoned. As a part of his parole, he gets a job as a security expert in a megalith hotel chain. A Moonlighting-like twist is thrown in when he starts to fall for his boss (Marcy Walker) who pretends to despise him but, of course, is falling for him as well.
I can't wait to watch the show again and see if it holds up as well as I remember it. If only television studios would get off their asses and release some of my other favorites (even selling them on iTunes so they don't have to go to the expense of pressing DVDs would be great)...
Now it's back to blah blah blah...
As predicted by just about everybody, The Beatles have finally come to Apple's iTunes Music Store. Yes, at long last, one of the greatest bands of all time (if not the greatest) has their music for sale by the world's largest music retailer.
As a huge Beatles fan, this is the moment I've been waiting for. When I first "discovered" The Beatles (thanks to my Beatle-loving uncle), I ended up buying all their albums... but on compact cassette tape. Any audiophile reading this blog just started laughing their ass off, but I'm from the cassette generation, and that's just how we bought music back in the day. Not to mention the fact that a Walkman was far easier to carry around than a phonograph and a stack of records...
I had super-awesome yellow Walkman Sports cassette player like this. (Photo by Stephen McFall).
Laugh all you want but, in my defense, at least it wasn't 8-track.
Since you can't rip a tape into an MP3 file without some trickery, I borrowed CDs of all The Beatles albums that I owned on cassette and ripped them to iTunes that way. Technically, I did already own the music, so I didn't consider it to be stealing (so go fuck yourself, RIAA). The problem is that I eventually threw out the cassettes (no way to play them!), and I always felt funny that I couldn't point to the music on my shelf and say "yes, I own them."
Hence, the reason I've been waiting for The Beatles to be sold on iTunes... I want to be "legal" in the eyes of the law. And here was my chance, because I had a $75 cash rebate card burning a hole in my pocket!
But let's back up for a minute...
Last year, every Beatles fan's dream came true when beautiful remastered boxed sets were released of the entire Beatles catalog. Of particular interest to me was the limited edition Mono Box Set. In my humble opinion, mono is the only way to listen to most the first ten Beatles albums* because they were designed to be listened to that way by The Fab Four Themselves. The stereo versions were nothing more than a cobbled-together afterthought that usually sounded hollow and freakishly incoherent in my headphones. Some of the albums are so badly separated into stereo (even on the remasters) that they don't even seem like the same songs. My guess is that stereo was kind of a novelty back in the beginning, so they separated the recording as harshly as possible into distinct left and right channels with no middle in an attempt to make you really notice the technology. Well, you do... and it's overbearing in places... so I don't like it and would rather listen to those gorgeously crisp and brilliant mono tracks the way that God (and The Beatles) intended.
The Limited Edition Mono Box Set looked fantastic, but it was selling for $250 (at discount!) and I couldn't afford it, as much as I was dying to own it...
At the time of release, I said "Hopefully when the songs make it to iTunes, you'll be able to buy the mono versions there."
Which brings us to today...
Much to my profound disappointment, all the tracks in the iTunes Store are from the stereo remasters, which are exactly the versions I don't want. This shocked the hell out of me, because it was my understanding that Steve Jobs Himself is a massively huge Beatles fan, and I assumed he would be a stickler for at least offering the true fan's preferred mono versions of the songs. But, alas, they are nowhere to be found.
Assuming that the Limited Edition Mono Box Set would have long-since sold out and only be available on eBay for thousands of dollars, I went to Amazon and nearly wet myself. Not only was the Mono Set still available, the price had actually dropped to $129.99! This was mind-boggling. That's almost 60% less than the original retail price of $300!
Without hesitation, I bought the set.
On the down-side, I won't be getting all the cool iTunes LP extras that you get when you buy from Apple... and I have to spend hours ripping the CDs... and I still have to buy the three remaining stereo albums not in the set (which I will be getting from iTunes)... but, on the up-side, I'm getting the actual music I've been dying for. At last. No thanks to Apple.
And, where The Beatles are concerned, it's their music that's important.
* The possible exception being "The White Album" which sounds amazing in stereo.
2010 -> AUDIO -> VIDEO -> DAVE
All things considered, 2010 was a bitchin' year for 80's music whores like myself because OMD, a-ha, and Duran Duran all came out with awesome new albums. Then 80's throwback Goldfrapp dropped an album straight out of Xanadu. Two of my indie favorites, The Weepies and Matt & Kim came out with some great new stuff. And I discovered an amazing band (new to me!), Mackintosh Braun, thanks to Grey's Anatomy (of all places). As if that wasn't enough, Daft Punk managed to put out a soundtrack for TRON that didn't suck. It all added up to a lot of music purchases for me this year.
Here is a list of my favorite albums from 2010:
#1 History of Modern by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
As a long-time fan of OMD who was overwhelmingly underwhelmed by their "last" album back in 1996 (titled Universal), I was almost dreading the announcement that a new album was coming out. The last thing I wanted after 14 years was another disappointment. But a part of me was hopeful, and that hope was rewarded in spades with History of Modern. Easily one of their best albums, it's a return to glorious form for original members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys. Each song feels like a love-letter to their fans and serves as a reminder as to just how good OMD's music is. I love every track save one (the badly misplaced New Holy Ground) and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, as it changes with each listen. Right now I'm in love with Green and History of Modern, Pt. 2, both complex and haunting tracks that stick in your head. Last week it was Sometimes and Sister Marie Says. All I can do is hope that they tour the USA and bless us with an equally-awesome follow-up album in 2012.
#2 Sidewalks by Matt and Kim.
When I first heard Matt and Kim's debut album, I remarked that it was if I had discovered music again for the first time. Then they broke into mainstream with their brilliant follow-up, Grand, and my love for Matt and Kim was sealed. They have a... joy... for music that you just can't find anywhere else. When I heard they were coming out with something new, Sidewalks, I was prepared to be blown away once again. Oddly enough, that didn't happen. The once raw and unrefined sound that made Matt and Kim be Matt and Kim had been replaced with something more polished which had worn away all the rough edges I came to love in their sound. Kim's wildly unapologetic brashness when banging on those drums had been subdued to levels so small that it was almost as if her kit had been put on half-mute or something. And so I spent the first week being mildly disappointed. But I never stopped listening. I played it again and again and again. And fell in love with Matt and Kim all over again. From the minute I hear the opening bars of Block After Block, I'm hooked. This is an amazing album in its own right, even if it deviates from the Matt and Kim sound I had grown accustomed to. For their next effort, I'm hoping they take a half-step backwards while they're moving forward.
#3 Foot of the Mountain by a-ha.
For reasons I cannot understand, a-ha is relegated to one-hit-wonder status here in the USA (they're the Take On Me guys!), even though they went on to create some of the most amazing music I've ever heard. So when the boys announced they'd be breaking up after their Foot of the Mountain album and tour, I was more than a little upset. The first thing I did was get my hands on the CD as an import since a-ha doesn't get their stuff released here in the US. The next thing I did was buy a flight to New York and tickets to their farewell show. All I can say is that if the band simply had to retire, they couldn't have picked a better album or tour to go out on. Much like OMD's effort, Foot of the Mountain is a true return to the sound that made everybody fall in love with a-ha. With the exception of the mind-bogglingly bad final song Start the Simulator (WTF?!?), every track is gold. My favorite song is Mother Nature Go to Heaven which has the band firing on all cylinders... Morten Harket's haunting vocals being lovingly tempered with Magne Furuholmen's keyboards and Pål Waaktaar's guitar and lyrics. It's everything I love about the band summed up in 4 minutes, 9 seconds. Add the beautiful title track and seven other amazing songs and you're left with my third favorite album of 2010, but it's probably the one I'll remember the most since it's their last.
#4 Where We Are by Mackintosh Braun.
This album came out of nowhere from a band I had never heard of. I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy and, not for the first time, found myself Googling to find out what the awesome song was that was playing. Turns out it was Could it Be by Mackintosh Braun. A quick trip to the iTunes Store and I was running through the tracks like mad, floored by the dreamy sound that was oozing out of my speakers. I bought the album without hesitation, and it's been in heavy rotation ever since. The following week, Grey's featured another track Made For Us, which is yet another winner. Hell, every track is a winner. My favorite is Familiar which is not only plays like something out of a dream, but has a stunning musical progression that builds and falls like waves cresting in your mind. I kept hoping that I'd get tired of Where We Are so I'd be moved to purchase their debut album The Sound from 2007. Mostly because I wanted to appreciate each work separately. But I never got tired of it, and ended up buying The Sound anyway. It's a less mature album (and surprisingly simple in parts), but still an enchanting listen. Where We Are one-ups it, and I expect great things from the band in the future.
#5 All You Need is Now by Duran Duran
Back in 1985 Arcadia dropped "the best album Duran Duran never made" with So Red the Rose... 25 years later, Duran Duran is back, and managed to come up with a last-minute 2010 miracle: All You Need is Now... easily their best effort in 17 years. With this release Duran Duran is back in full-form, giving us a great title track plus gems like Leave the Light On and Being Followed. It's no Rio or Seven and the Ragged Tiger, but it made this fan very happy that it wasn't another Liberty or Thank You either.
(Honorable Mention) Tron: Legacy (Soundtrack) by Daft Punk.
While electronica house music has never been a favorite genre, it would be hard to ignore the works of the French duo Daft Punk. They're crossover success on YouTube with Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger made them an overnight sensation back in 2007. Even so, I had serious reservations about them doing the soundtrack for Tron: Legacy. The last thing I wanted was some house dance music fucking up an otherwise amazing film. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. From the moment the first track Derezzed was leaked, I knew in my gut that Daft Punk was a truly inspired choice to score the movie. Turns out that was only the tip of the iceberg, and the entire album was filled with mind-bending electronica that listens like nuclear-infused ear candy. While I may not listen to it often, Tron: Legacy makes my "honorable mention" for having the good sense not to fuck up the movie it supports (any problems that movie had were not due to the soundtrack).
It's not over yet! Albums 6-10 are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
2010 -> AUDIO -> VIDEO -> DAVEAnd now, at long last, comes that one entry for people who are curious as to what I've been up to, but only like to read one blog post a year. All-in-all, it was not a terrible end to the decade. Picking and choosing all the good stuff that happened in 2010 (out of a blog that is already picking and choosing all the good stuff) kind of makes me think it was a great year. Alas, I know better, as there were boatloads of crap I had to deal with that never end up at Blogography. Oh well. It's okay to pretend, isn't it?
• Realized the right tool for the job won't actually get me a free date with Elizabeth Hurley.
• Opened my big mouth and got the entire wine-connoisseur world pissed at me.
• AND NOW, FROM THE BLOGGER WHO BROUGHT YOU PENIS SALAD...
• Found out that somebody stole my monkey.
• Found a vagina on the sidewalk.
• Discovered that Canadians are responsible for the pussification of America, and showed them how REAL AMERICANS GET SHIT DONE!!
• Seattle FINALLY got a Hard Rock Cafe, and I got my 125th visit.
• Released my medical findings on a cure for the common cold to Twitter (and so much more).
• That Crasher Squirrel has been showing up everywhere...
• Just like Lindsay Lohan's cootchie...
• Took my annual Birthday Vacation and ended up in Dutchyland, and Brussels, and Bucharest, and Transylvania, and Prague.
• Explained why Roger Ebert is WRONG about video games not being art.
• Attended THE blogging event of the year... TEQUILACON 2010 VANCOUVER!
• Went to New York for a-ha's farewell tour and to hang out with awesome people while Betty White made her Emmy-winning SNL appearance.
• Got the tackiest phone call ever.
• Took a dump on Lost and then went out for pizza with RW, which ended up having far-reaching consequences you'll find out about later this year.
• Summed up my position on the BP oil spill.
• Saw the Worst. Movie. Ever.
• WAY TO GO BLACKHAWKS!!
• Had more fun than should legally be allowed at Bitchsterdam 2!
• Rush Limbaugh is a vile piece of shit.
• Saw one of the best episodes of television ever (thank you Steven Moffat, The BBC, and Dr. Who!). I can honestly say that I think this is the only time I cried in all of 2010.
• Sarah Palin is a fucking idiot.
• Went on a tour of the USA with stops in Hollywood, San Diego for Comic Con, and Atlanta for Watermelon Beer, and Tulsa, and Kansas, and Chicago.
• Explained to haters who don't like being referred to as a hater that they kind are.
• Paid a visit to mah Hilly-Sue and FooDiddy in Sacramento.
• Got a visit from Muskrat and Whit in Seattle.
• Was inspired beyond my ability to express by the final words of a legend.
• Took a Mediterranean vacation and saw such remarkable places as Barcelona, and Malta, and Tunisia, and The Amalfi Coast, and Rome, and Portofino, and Corsica, and Monaco. As if all that wasn't enough, I got to have breakfast with Mickey Mouse!
• Remembered The Golden Rule and became the biggest evil dumbass inhuman monster of them all.
• Nearly crapped myself watching a television show.
• Partied down in rural Wisconsin... a good place to be!
• Got all poitical for a minute.
• Wore purple for a very important cause...
• Went to Albuquerque to gamble away my money at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino there.
• Found out my iPhone can take some pretty decent photos if I bother to stop and look around because there's an app for that...
• Went back to Atlanta, this time for Pumpkin Beer and good friends... then a tour of THE WALKING DEAD!
• Took a look at porn and handjobs in the interest of airport security.
• Want to know where to go on vacation? Here are some of my suggestions!.
• "Take your stupid war and go fuck yourself with it."
• Took some pictures in the snow.
• Took on stupid bitches and the law, and went ape-shit over net-neutrality, and was shocked as hell by a moment of lucidity from Pat Robertson.
And that was pretty much what happened with me in 2010. How about you?
Hope your 2011 is a good one, and thanks for reading!
At 2:30am I ended up playing chauffeur to the hospital ER. While I was waiting, I saw a guy walk in holding one of his fingers that had gotten cut off. Holy crap. I could so not work the reception desk at an ER. I do not do well when people show up holding body parts. Or The bubonic plague.
• Debloggered. I've been noticing for quite a while now the long, slow, steady decline in blogging. It's a little depressing, but I didn't know how depressing until I was bored in the hospital waiting room and decided to edit my feed reader. It turns out twenty-eight of my feeds ended up getting deleted because they haven't been updated in over six months. Twenty-eight! I can't be sure, but I probably deleted close to that many a year ago. A few of the deleted bloggers I keep in touch with via Twitter or Facebook, so I guess that's okay. But there are others who apparently dropped off the face of the earth. A few left with a sad "this is my last entry" post, whereas others just... stopped.
A classic example is an expatriate who decided to move to Korea for a year so he could experience life in another country before getting his PhD. I found his blog during my third trip to Korea when I was Googling for... something... and kept reading because he was an interesting guy living an interesting life who had similar thoughts and hobbies (comic books!) to mine. Eventually he fell in love with a Korean girl, got married, ended up staying in Korea five years, got accepted at a school back in the USA, moved into a new apartment here with his wife, and then the entries just... stopped. It's so strange to have been a part of somebody's life for years and then =BLAM!= you have no idea what happened to them or how they're doing. I ended up doing some Google-stalking, found the guy on Twitter, then sent a request... but since I never commented on his blog, he doesn't know me and will probably ignore it.
It's the same story for a few other blogs I once followed. You get caught up in somebody's life, feel like you know them, then one day they're gone and you're left wondering. Now, granted, it's not like a blogger owes anybody anything. If they decide that blogging is no longer something they want to do, then that's all there is to it. But, even so, it's a little bit cruel. And a little bit curious. I wonder how many people would notice (or even care) if tomorrow I just... stopped?
• Fosterized. Last summer a song called Pumped Up Kicks by an unknown band called "Foster The People" was creeping through the blogosphere, infecting people wherever it landed. The song was contagious in a way that's truly rare... slamming through a catchy beat and even catchier nonsense lyrics that still haunt me months later. The odd thing being that the band was practically invisible, and finding any new material past their one song was nigh impossible. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only did they finally release a video for Pumped Up Kicks, they also unleashed an EP with three songs on iTunes (including Houdini, which has become permanently implanted in my head). Apparently an album is on the way. I'm hoping it sucks, because I don't know how I will be able to function with more than three awesome Foster The People songs constantly looping through my head...
• Branded. And so Russell Brand hosted Saturday Night Live last night. Compared to most recent episodes, it wasn't bad. But with the exception of Brand's monologue, Jay Pharoah's flawless Eminem impersonation, and a faux ad-spot for an offensively British movie called Don' You Go Rounin' Roun to Re Ro, it just wasn't that funny to me. By the time we got to the heinous A Spot of Tea sketch, I wanted to impale myself on my remote just to end the suffering. Surely even the people involved can't think this crap is in any way funny? Here's hoping Miley Cyrus manages to somehow have a good show in two weeks despite all evidence pointing to doom. Wow. If Hannah Montana can't make for a good episode of SNL they might as well hang it up.
• Weathered. Well, poop...
• Microsofnokia. Nokia, once the final word in mobile phones, has been sliding into irrelevance for years. First Blackberry skewered them in the business market. Then iPhone and Android served them their head in the personal smartphone market. In every way that matters Nokia was dying a slow death, never to be heard of again.
And then... Stephen Elop, a former Microsof employee (and Microsoft's eight largest shareholder), became CEO of Nokia. After a brutally honest critique of Nokia's complete lack of ability to compete in the market, Elop announced that Nokia was dumping pretty much everything and hitching its wagon to the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 train. It was spectacularly brilliant and evil. For all intents and purposes, Nokia was now a hardware division of Microsoft. For which Microsoft paid nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero dollars. When I first mentioned this, people called me a wingnut Microsoft-hating conspiracy theorist. And now another former Microsoft employee of sixteen years, Chris Weber, has just been installed as CEO of Nokia USA.
Get out your tinfoil hat!
I'd congratulate Microsoft for dropping to an entirely new level of evil, but I don't think this is going to make much difference. All they've done is ensure that what few manufacturers were making Windows Phone 7 handsets will now be embracing Android 100%. Good thing Microsoft has a lot of money, because that's about the only thing that's keeping them in the smartphone game. Alas, the same can't be said for Nokia. Since Microsoft has no financial interest in the company, they also have no risk. If this massive gamble doesn't pay off, Nokia is done for.
And let's not fool ourselves here, Nokia is done for.
UPDATE: Or billions. Whatever... this doesn't end well.
And on that sad note, I suppose I should try to get some work done before this weekend is over.
If only I could wake up...
For a day that had so many things going oh so terribly wrong, something unexpected happened to make all the suffering worthwhile.I've blogged before about my love of all things Matt & Kim. They are far and away one of my favorite bands, and I have been trying for years to see them in concert. Because if there's one thing that Matt & Kim are known for beyond the awesome music they make, it's their live performances. If you weren't a fan before seeing them play, you would most certainly be one after. They have a joy and passion for playing music that makes their shows an experience to be savored...
But, alas, it has not yet come to pass. Every time they've played in Seattle, I'm away. Any time I'm in a city other than Seattle, it seems as though I've just missed them. And any time I've made plans to see them, life gets in the way. I've purchased tickets to see them perform three times (once in Seattle, once in Austin, and again in New York)... but every time I was diverted and couldn't make it.
Either somebody up there really doesn't want me to see Matt & Kim, or I'm just horribly unlucky.
Lil' Whall PC has no sympathy for Lil' Dave Mac's pain. And people wonder why I hate Windows!
So you can imagine my non-surprise when I went through their brand new Sidewalks tour schedule and saw that no dates for Seattle were listed. But then something caught my eye. There were still some dates left in their current European tour. Including March 23 in London...
Which happens to be the day I have an overnight layover at London's Heathrow Airport on my way back home.
And so now, after years of chasing them all over the USA trying to catch them live, I have a ticket to see Matt & Kim in the UK because I just happen to be in the neighborhood.
I wonder what's going to go wrong this time?
Show canceled? Trip canceled? Weather delay? Public transportation strike? Venue closing? AIRPLANE EXPLODING?
I guess we'll see. Maybe this is finally my moment. But if something does go wrong, I'm pretty sure I'll be blaming Matt & Kim. Surely after years of effort on my part, it can't be my fault that things are going so terribly wrong.
As I've said a couple of times now, I have no use for an iPad. My iPhone and MacBook do everything I need, and an iPad would just be one more thing to carry. Sure I bought one. I kinda had to. I'm an iOS developer and needed to update app graphics for some of my clients so they work on iPad. But after I was done, I gave it to my mom. She loves it. For her, it is truly a "Magical and Revolutionary New Device," just as Apple said.
I recently started composing music again.
I used to write quite a bit of music when I was in video production. It saved me lots of time over collaborating with a REAL musician, which meant I could move on to my next project faster. Alas, eventually digital editing tools came along that made my kind of video work redundant. I stopped doing video projects, which meant I stopped making music as well.
But recently I got bit by the music bug again, and have been using Apple's "SoundTrack" and "Garage Band" apps to bang out some tunes on my Mac with an old keyboard I have. It's far from an ideal solution. I have to "fake" instruments like guitars, drums, brass, and woodwinds by "playing" them on the keyboard or using pre-made loops because I can't play them very well in real life. I can play keyboard decently. Electronic drums I'm okay at. I have played bass guitar a few times and can manage. Barely. Sax and clarinet I used to play well, but suck at now. Given my menial musical talent, I don't have much choice but to faux compose on a computer. But I manage and it works.And then I saw Apple's "iPad2 Event" and nearly crapped my pants.
They demoed the new iPad Garage Band app, and it's jaw-dropping amazing. I'd go so far as to say "fucking astounding," but I don't want to oversell things here.
Except it really is fucking astounding...
For $4.99 (FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS!) you get such a jaw-dropping array of musical tools with such unprecedented interactivity and functionality that you would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on real life instruments and gear to even get even close to what Apple is offering. But they don't stop there. For instruments you might not play very well, they include "smart instruments" which assist you in working with them. PLUS an amp with stompboxes (for incorporating real guitars) AND a frickin' eight-track recording studio...
The most amazing part is how much thought went into it. It's like Garage Band was designed by actual musicians who would know what's needed to make an app like this useful. Like using the iPad's accelerometer to sense how hard you're tapping a piano key or a drum. Like using iPad's multi-touch surface to do things you couldn't even do with a real instrument. Like including properties of actual instruments so their virtual counterparts play as expected (chord dampening!).
For the music hobbyist who wants access to a "home studio" full of instruments and multi-track recording equipment (like me!) the iPad is more than a frickin' bargain... It's almost free. $500 for the hardware plus $5 for a crap-load of exceptional instruments AND a recording studio? I mean, holy shit. How can I NOT want an iPad now?
It's like the Mac version is just a clutzy imitator, and THIS is was what Garage Band was meant to be all along.
Of course, me talking about it can't possibly explain just how wonderful the app is. If you're an amateur musician... or even somebody who just likes the idea of giving music a try, you owe it to yourself to watch the Apple keynote video here (the Garage Band stuff starts
As for the iPad2 itself? It's nice. It finally includes the front-facing FaceTime camera THAT IT SHOULD HAVE HAD ALL ALONG. There's other good new stuff too, and the bump in speed and graphics will make more complex apps function better (as well as opening the door for even more incredible stuff in the future). But the miraculous thing about the iPad is not its specs. It's the extraordinary experience of using one that gives Apple the edge. This is something that competitors simply don't seem to understand. It doesn't matter if you have a tablet with a faster processor or more memory or more ports than iPad... you're not going to make a superior experience to iPad in hardware alone. It's the tight integration of hardware to software when married to truly brilliant apps like GarageBand that makes an iPad an iPad.
It's almost frightening to think of where Apple maight take us next.
I'm covered in sweat and hoarse from screaming... that's how you know it was a great show!
Yes. That's me. Drinking Champaign with MATT AND KIM!
When I arrived at London's Restless Garage, I though my biggest surprise of the night would be when my friend and fellow Hard Rock Cafe aficionado Perry showed up with his girlfriend Sarah to the concert.
That was just the beginning.
The concert, as expected, was amazing. Matt & Kim so clearly love music and love their fans. They give absolutely everything they have to their performance, and this lets you appreciate their songs on an entirely new level...
Matt takes it down a notch...
That's Kim dancing ON the crowd!
And there's Matt crowd-surfing!
After trying to catch them in concert for literally years across the USA, I finally managed it by accident while on a Layover in London. How fucking crazy is life?
Apparently not crazy enough.
Because Matt & Kim's manager stumbled across my blog and sympathized with my numerous failed efforts to see the band live. Being the incredibly kind and generous human being he is, he arranged for a back-stage pass, for which I will be forever grateful. Because meeting Matt & Kim is kind of one of those life-defining moments...
My musical tastes are firmly planted in the 1980's. But when I first heard Matt & Kim's stuff, I fell in love with music all over again. They have a passion that you just don't see much anymore, and it comes across in every song they make. Seeing them perform those songs live lets you feel it.
After the show, Matt & Kim jumped into the audience and made their way around the show floor, saying hello to everybody. Kim stayed and signed autographs and had pictures taken until they literally kicked everybody out of the club. They just love their fans.
But the icing on the cake is that they are truly grateful for their success. They love what they do, and realize that it's their fans that make it all possible. When I was back-stage waiting to say hello, Matt & Kim were talking with various people that were there. And the topic of their conversation wasn't what a great show they gave... or how hard they rock... or how awesome they are... it was all about their fans. They went on and on with how thrilled they were that the London audience was so welcoming and so hyped to see them. They loved that everybody was having a great time. They were genuinely humbled that people showed up to watch them play. They said again and again how great it was to have such enthusiastic fans. If I wasn't already a massive fan of the band, I would have become one right there just listening to them... even if I hated their music.
And then I got to meet them, which is about the greatest thing ever.
Then the night was over, and Matt & Kim were off to Paris so they could thrill their fans in the City of Lights.
I wanted so badly to hop on a train and meet them there.
But, alas, I am flying back home today, so I had to pull myself away... content knowing that I had just met one of my favorite bands of all time.
Thanks to Matt, Kim, Kevin, Perry, and Sarah for the best birthday ever!
Last night I saw an amazing show by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at The Music Box L.A.
All the expense and trouble of getting here melted away as the band slammed through a sensational set list of their incredible music. And, because I had bought a "VIP Package," I got to attend a soundcheck and meet the band before the show even started. This was an incredible experience, and made a great thing even better...
The soundcheck ended up being fantastic, but the concert itself was amazing. One of my favorite new bands, Mackintosh Braun, opened up for them, which was like extra frosting on your cake.
I thought it would be impossible for any band to even get close to the energy from the Matt & Kim show I attended last week in London, but Andy, Paul, and Co. played their guts out for an enthusiastic crowd that absolutely loved their performance...
When I met the band, I gave them crap for not playing Seattle. They said that they had been asked to tour the States again, and Seattle would definitely be included next time. Which is like chocolate pudding on top of your extra frosting on top of your cake. I can hardly wait!
Since this was the final show on their tour, Andy took a minute to send out some thank you's. One of them was to their record label, Bright Antenna, for sponsoring this tour in the first place. Apparently no concert promoter would back OMD because they didn't think people would show up. Of course, the band went on to not only sell-out every single show, but they even added an extra one. Which also sold out...
Congrats to Andy, Paul, Martin, and Malcolm on a great album, a great tour, and for having such great fans.
And now it's time for how I got here...
Along with Depeche Mode and the Thompson Twins, the holy trinity of my favorite 80's bands is completed by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (more often known as "OMD"). Other bands like a-ha, Pet Shop Boys, and Duran Duran came along to snag my attention, but my DM, TT, and OMD came first.
As a massively huge fan of their work, I was thrilled when OMD released a new album last year, History of Modern, that was as good as anything they've ever done. It ended up being my pick for "Album of the Year," so you can imagine my delight when I found out that they were touring the USA in March.
Except there was no stop in Seattle, and I was gone for a big chunk of the shows because I was in London and Venice. A part of me was gutted that I'd miss the tour, but a part of me was also relieved because I'd be flat-broke when I got back from Europe.
And then they added an extra Los Angeles date six days after I returned from London.
I was sorely tempted but, the cost of the flight, hotel, food, and tickets was more than I could spend, and I've already seen OMD live several times.
But then Mackintosh Braun announced they would be the opening act.
Keep in mind, THIS is what my favorite albums list looks like for 2010...
With Mackintosh Braun added to the ticket, there was no way I could miss this show. I had just seen Matt & Kim. I had flown to New York for a-ha's farewell tour. The chance to see tracks from four out of five of my favorite albums of 2010 performed live was too much.
And so I decided to throw responsibility to the wind, spend a chunk of money I don't have, and fly to L.A. for one night only for an opportunity to listen to some great music. And since I was already going for broke, I went ahead and got the VIP deal. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.
What was especially cool was that Ian and Ben (Mackintock Braun) hung around in the lobby after the show so I could tell them that they were the reason I flew to the show. They were genuinely grateful, and a couple of really nice guys. If you haven't listened to their stuff, I highly recommend it.
And so now I fly home. Poor, but happy.
Which is as it really should be, I suppose.
I've been fact-checked!
First thing this morning I got an email from Bad Robert calling "bullshit" on the meme I filled out on Saturday. Question #55 was "WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING CD ON THE SHELF?" I answered with this: "I don't have CDs anymore, they've all been ripped into iTunes. I'm not really embarrassed by any of it."
Bad Robert had this to say...
"Dude! You still listen to the Millionaires! You're not even a little embarrassed by that?"
To which I could only answer "Oh gawd... you're right!"
The Millionaires is a girl-band duo (formerly a trio) that sings mostly about drinking, doing drugs, and having sex with every guy they meet. So... basically they're drunken sluts who kinda sing. And it IS embarrassing that I would be into listening to that crap, but I just can't help myself. I mean, it's pretty much just catchy beats with filthy lyrics, but it's fun. One of their least offensive videos (which is still a little offensive) is Stay The Night...
Yes. Yes, I know.
But if you want to know what the Millionaires are really about, you need to listen to Party Like a Millionaire, which is probably offensive and most definitely not safe for work...
Their parents must be so proud.
And yes, I am embarrassed to have Millionaires in my music collection. So thanks, Bad Robert! Oh well. If you want to experience the full horror, here's their MySpace.
You. Are. Welcome.
Today I had to run to the craft shop to buy some posterboard. Well, they call it posterboard, but it's really just big wimpy sheets of paper now-a-days. It stopped being "board" years ago.
As I was pulling into a parking space, I had to slam on the brakes. A woman in a giant pick-up truck was driving through her parking space to exit through the one I was entering. She waited a second, then honked her horn so I would move. But I just sat there. She can back out of her parking space just like everybody else has to.
This did not make her happy.
She started slamming her fists on her steering wheel and laying on the horn.
I just sat there. Fuck her.
She finally realized I wasn't going to move, so she started screaming at me with crap I couldn't hear because my stereo was on. After a minute went by she finally backed up, then went screeching out of the parking lot.
I guess she was in a hurry to go off and party like a Millionaire.
But seriously. What IS it with people?
All I wanted to do was park in an empty parking spot... none of this situation was my fault, and yet there she was acting like an asshole and blaming me for it. Well kiss my ass, I'm sick of this shit. Be a bitch on your own time and leave me out of it.
But the world is ending in five days, so there's that.
One thing I've been noticing lately is a lot of cars being pulled over by the police. In an age of labor cuts and dwindling budgets, it seems like even the cops are having to justify their jobs and increase revenue. This means a lot of tickets are probably being issued where they once were not. Because of this, I've been driving a lot more conservatively over the past year or so... but not everybody has gotten the message. When I was driving over to Seattle last week, I was twice passed by cars going way over the speed limit, only to catch up with them down the road after they had been pulled over.
Today it happened again. The police are not playing around. At least not in Washington State.
A part of me is happy about this, because there are people on the road who are downright dangerous and should be pulled over. But another part of me is concerned at the thought that the police may be going too far. If people are being pulled over for going 65 in a 60, for example, I don't consider this to be ticket-worthy. Even a temporary passing speed of 70 in a 60 should not be a ticketable offense if somebody is passing safely. Hopefully, things are not getting out of hand, because there's a fine line between "To serve and protect" and "To humiliate and harass."
Personally, I'd rather pay more taxes to the police so that they don't have ticket quotas and can focus on public safety and dangerous drivers... like the assholes who are slow-driving in the passing lane AND AREN'T PASSING ANYBODY! It may cost us more money, but at least it's not affecting our insurance rates, so we're saving in the long-run.
In the meanwhile... watch your speed, citizens!
Oh... for those of you who were asking which headphones I ended up with after my rant yesterday...
Blogography's Bose AE2 Audio Headphones Review
Bose is one of those companies that usually gets massacred at review sites because most everybody seems to think they are overpriced and have poor sound. This is kind of surprising because every time I've stopped at a Bose kiosk and given them a listen, I've been relatively impressed. No, they're not going to win in a contest against $1500 studio reference cans (obviously) but, for the most part, I think they're worth the money they charge.
I have four sets of earbuds, with my favorite being the Klipsch S4i. The problem is that earbuds become uncomfortable for me after a while, and I was wanting something that went over my ears like a traditional headset. Unfortunately, the three pairs I tried at the mid-low-end (JVC, Sony, and Skullcandy... each $50 or less) were not at all comfortable. It finally got to the point that I didn't even care about the sound, all I wanted was something that didn't squeeze my brain or dent the top of my head. A Google search for "most comfortable headphones" eventually led me to Bose. Target had a listening station and AE2's in stock for $20 off ($130 total). They were about $60 more than I wanted to spend, but oh well.
My thoughts on my new cans can be found in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
People can make fun of Amy Winehouse and mock her death as much as they want. It won't change the fact that she was a remarkable artist who created music that a great many people, including myself, really loved. A month ago I was lamenting that she hadn't come out with a new album in five years and was crossing my fingers that something would be released soon. Now, it saddens me greatly that anything we get... if anything at all... will be released posthumously.
I am not going to deny that she had serious problems and did some crazy shit. Amy was a very troubled and tortured person, and dealt with it the best way she knew how. Unfortunately that involved a lot of abusive behavior that would be tough for anybody to survive. But not one bit of it made me enjoy her music any less. Because no matter how out-of-control and batshit crazy she was in her personal life, in her songs she made perfect sense.
I'd say that I will miss her music, but the truth is her music isn't going anywhere. I just wish so badly she would have stuck around to make more of it. And, on that note, my favorite of so many favorites...
The rest of my day was $600 in repair costs for my car's brakes.
Hanging out with my sister on a flawless afternoon.
Meeting up with some remarkable Pacific Northwest bloggers.
Life is the bittersweet joy and hurt of it all. I am so incredibly blessed to have friends and family to make even my worst days good again.
Oh how I wish Amy Winehouse could have found the same.
It'll have to be a short Bullet Sunday today... I've got a big mess to clear up in my living room...
• Diiiiiiiieee! A new study shows that single people die younger than married people. The bottom-line being that I would live (on average, I guess) 8 to 17 years longer if I were to get hitched. I don't really know if I want to live 17 years longer on this sick sad world, but I suppose I should start investigating mail-order bride options just in case.
• Millionaires! Everybody's favorite drug-endorsing, alcohol-gorging, sex-addicted, party-obsessed melody-makers are back and asking for your help to finance their first album! That's right, Millionaires (one of those bands I hate to love) has opened up a project on Kickstarter to raise $10,000 in funding...
People can say what they like about the girls, but Millionaires know how to crank out addictive pop tunes that infest your brain unlike any other. There's just something inexplicably appealing about their unique blend of nasty-ass lyrics and thumping beats! Here's one of the least offensive songs from their last EP...
If you want to donate to the cause, visit their Kickstarter page! Thanks to Adam for the link.
• RIP HP Mobile! The big news in tech this week was Hewlett Packard killing off their "WebOS" products... namely their phones (like the Pre) and tablet (the "iPad killing" TouchPad).
Personally I don't give a crap. Nothing in these products was overwhelmingly more compelling than what you can get from an iPhone or iPad, so why bother? Why waste everybody's time? I want real competition for Apple so they are forced to keep innovating and moving forward... HP was obviously never serious about challenging iOS dominance, so good riddance.
Though it's kind of stupid to pay 1.2 BILLION DOLLARS for something you're going to piss away. And I feel really bad for the people at Palm who thought that getting bought out by HP was going to rescue all their hard work. I mean, hey... their commercials may have given me nightmares, but Palm was a decent company at one time. It's all a shame, but not surprising though. HP has a history of fucking things up.
• Comic Collector! At one time, Macintosh users who were comic book fans had a nifty solution for keeping track of their collection. It was called ComicBase, and made it a snap to catalog you comics. But then the people behind the program abandoned the Mac and went full-on Windows, which was pretty shitty to do to their fans, but I guess you go where the money is. For years, there hasn't been a really serious alternative if you're a Mac Whore. But all that changed with Colletorz.com decided to make their "Comic Collector" software available on the Mac...
I've had a few crashes from time to time... and adding a bar code scanner can cause a few problems... but, overall, I'm very happy with it. Finally Mac users have a serious comic book database utility which pulls from a vast repository of information and images. If you're a Mac or Windows user looking to keep track of your comics, you can download a free trial at their website.
And now? Time to throw away another couple bags of crap I've been collecting before bedtime. I feel my life getting less complicated already!
Well that was a great evening.
I have to say... Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, and the rest of Heart still got it. As does Def Leppard... which made last night's double-bill especially amazing...
As for today? BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, BABY!
It only got better from there.
Oog. Bullets will have to wait a day since there's only ten minutes left in my Sunday.
Just got back from Foster the People's sold-out gig in Seattle. I've been a fan ever since Pumped Up Kicks first starting going viral on YouTube. Of course, back then they were practically unknown, but that's far from the case now... heck, they were even on Saturday Night Live last night (with special guest Kenny G!).
The band puts on a really good live show, I just wish the venue had been better.
Oh well. I had a good time, so I guess that's what really matters.
Foster the People has teamed up with the Do Good Bus, which was parked out front.
Tomorrow it's back to reality after two-and-a-half weeks of big fun.
Wish me luck.
Sorry, but this is a geeky computer post most of you will probably want to skip.
And so Apple finally unleashed their iTunes Match service today. I say "finally" because we were told that it was going to be released on October 31st, but then it wasn't. I can only guess that it wasn't ready yet, and Apple wanted to take some extra time to make sure everything was working perfectly before launch.
Because, from my experience, iTunes Match is mostly crap. For now, anyways.
The idea is that you pay Apple $25 a year, and they manage all your music for you via iCloud. Songs in your iTunes library that Apple sells in the iTunes Store, regardless of how you acquired them, are immediately available online from Apple's servers. Also... no matter how poor quality your music files are, Apple automatically upgrades them to high-quality 256-kbps DRM-free files. You can then either A) Stream these files from iCloud over the internet to your computer or iOS device any time you want... or B) Download them to your computer or iOS device any time you want for offline listening.
If the song is not sold by Apple, it will be uploaded to iCloud so you can access the original file via streaming/downloading as stated above. It will not be upgraded in any way, however, because Apple doesn't have it for sale.
When it works... it's pretty special.
For example, I bought the CD Cruel Summer by "Ace of Base" years ago and ripped it into iTunes. Since the album is also sold by Apple, I am supposed to get the full benefit of iTunes Match. But not really...
Above you see iTunes Match in action. Or not.
The songs with NO cloud icon after them have been recognized by Apple as being sold in their store and I can stream or download them immediately to any device or computer I have registered with iCloud (but my original ripped file is left untouched on this computer). The songs with a dotted cloud icon after them are in-process and may or may not be recognized... if NOT recognized for some reason, they have to be uploaded. The songs with an exclamation(!) cloud icon after them have some kind of problem and return an undefined error when iTunes attempted to match/upload them...
What's the cause of the error? Who the fuck knows! This is APPLE we're talking about!
Usually re-processing them will work, but not always.
Anyway, to demonstrate how iTunes Match is supposed to work, I am going to delete the Ace of Base song Adventures in Paradise from my library (since it's one of just three measly songs iTunes Match has recognized off this album as being sold by Apple)...
Note that I am net telling Apple to delete the song from iCloud. I'm guessing that I would lose it permanently if I did this (assuming I hadn't backed it up). From what I can tell, ONLY songs you purchased directly from Apple are permanently available from iCloud (whether your membership is current or not).
After the song has been deleted, the file is no longer on my MacBook, but the song is still listed as being available. I can then click the standard little "Download from iCloud" icon to the right of the title and get it back. Here it is downloading to my MacBook (a little "progress pie chart" is on the left there)...
Now here's the cool part...
On the LEFT is the new high-quality Apple file I just downloaded. On the RIGHT is the original low quality file I dragged from the trash. iTunes Match is working as advertised. I just traded my old "low-res" music file for the fresh "hi-res" one that Apple sells in their store. Assumably, since the file was uploaded direct from the record label, it's the best possible version of the song available in a condensed digital format. To do any better than this I'd have to rip the file from CD in a "lossless" uncompressed format... but I don't have room on my MacBook for large files like that and, given that I'm not an audiophile, probably wouldn't notice the quality improvement anyway.
BUT... what if you don't want these audio files hogging up space on your hard drive? No problem! Apple allows you to "stream" songs to your computer for listening without downloading. KINDA. Technically the files are downloaded to your computer to a temporary buffer. This way, you can fast-forward, rewind, and skip around instantly... which is something you can't usually do with streaming music. As to how big this buffer is and how long it lasts, I have no clue. But it's a very nice way to handle streaming audio. To "stream" music that's not on your computer/device just click play or double-click the song anywhere except on the "Download from iCloud" icon.
So, yeah, when it works, Apple's new iTunes Match is pretty darn cool.
But, for a huge chunk of my library, it most definitely does NOT work...
And here's where it gets strange.
Just for kicks I deleted a song that I know Apple does not sell... The mono version of Baby's in Black from the album Beatles for Sale (2009 Mono Remaster). Apple only sells the Stereo version (which is not the version I want because true fans know that The Beatles only cared about the mono tracks on their early albums... stereo releases were considered a novelty at the time, and the band was rarely involved in making them).
After deletion, I immediately clicked the "Download from iCloud" button to get it back. Now, since Apple does not sell this song, I should have gotten the same mono version file I just uploaded. But, as you can probably guess, I didn't. I got back the stereo version that Apple sells... but they left the song label the same...
A quick look at the graphic equalizer confirms that this really is the STEREO version with two unique left and right channels...
Just to be sure, I also took the graphic equalizer to my original file so I could confirm is really is the MONO version with the same channels...
So, to sum up my iTunes Match experience...
Sometimes it works as advertised and it's all good. But an alarming number of times there are problems...
Needless to say, this is a bit frustrating. Whether or not Apple can fix this is anybody's guess but, for me at least, I just paid $25 for something which is fatally flawed.
What Apple has to do is find some way of letting customers manually correct the iTunes Match information. The problem is that I can't even figure out when Apple has made a match... or when there was no match and they had to upload my files (UPDATE: Actually, I can, see below). So even if I could correct the data, I wouldn't know which files needed it. Unless I delete each and every one and downloaded it back. Then matched files would be flagged as "Matched AAC Audio File."
In the meanwhile, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Like... what happens to all my downloaded "Match" files if I don't renew my membership? Do they evaporate? What happens when a record label jerks their music from Apple's store? Do you lose your music? And so on. And so on. Since this is only my first day with the service, maybe my questions will eventually be answered. But Apple is Apple, so I've resigned myself to the fact that they probably won't be.
As for iTunes Match?
The potential is there... but I can't recommend it. Yet.
Check back in a bit.
UPDATE: iTunes does have a column you can turn on which will show you the iTunes Match status of your music...
Still no way I can figure out why some tracks are recognized and others are not on the same frickin' album. You'd think that once Apple figured out I own the album, they'd recognize ALL the tracks. But, alas, no.
Finding this feature lead to my discovering something very interesting...
a-ha's amazing final album, Foot of the Mountain, was never released in the USA. I had to import the CD and rip it into iTunes. HOWEVER... iTunes Match totally recognized and matched it! Apparently, iTunes Match gives you access to ALL of Apple's music stores worldwide. This is very cool, but is it intentional? Time will tell.
UPDATE: One of the reasons I was so keen to sign up for iTunes Match was that I could finally get rid of all the DRM-Protected music I bought and replace it with fresh DRM-Free downloads. I had already upgraded most of my music to "DRM-Free iTunes Plus" but there were some songs that never wanted to upgrade for some reason. Such as the album Play by Moby. iTunes Match recognized all but one song (even though I bought it from Apple!), but I deleted them all anyway so I could test whether songs I uploaded were still intact when I downloaded them. Sadly, the answer is NO! Trying to download the DRM-Protected song I had uploaded fails completely...
Needless to say, this is a load of shit. I BOUGHT THIS SONG FROM APPLE AND YET APPLE CAN'T MATCH IT? WTF?!? Just goes to show... buying DRM crap will only end up punishing paying customers instead of the criminals it's supposed to.
UPDATE: And things just keep getting worse. Holy crap is iTunes Match a mess! Take a look at this...
This is an album I bought from Apple's iTunes Music Store. Note that all songs are recognized as having been purchased. Note also that the status of the songs in iTunes Match is "Matched" or "Purchased" or "Uploaded"... seemingly at random. ALL OFF THE SAME ALBUM! They should all be registering as "purchased" but are not. If Apple can't even get the stuff THEY SELL YOU right, how in the hell can they be trusted to figure everything else out? And who do I talk to about getting all this straightened out?
UPDATE:I was hoping that re-importing a CD directly into iTunes with Match enabled would make it so that the entire album was recognized instead of just random songs. No such luck. iTunes is apparently matching by digital fingerprinting... and doesn't have very accurate fingerprints from CD rips to match against. Crap. I can only hope that their service will get smarter in time.
UPDATE: Despite a few minor bugs (like skipping to the next track when the current song isn't buffering fast enough and iTunes runs out of data to play), I have officially deleted (almost) all my music files from my Home Mac, my Work Mac, and my MacBook Pro. The only files I keep are unmatched protected songs, which won't play from iCloud for some reason. Since I mostly only use these devices when I have internet, it seems crazy to waste the hard disk space when I can just stream everything. For plane rides sans WiFi or other situations where I don't have internet, I'll just listen to the music I've got loaded on my phone (which is always with me). I gotta say... if Apple could just do a better job of recognizing the 800+ songs that are currently "unMatched" in my library, this whole iCloud thing would be absolutely killer. Until that day, it's just merely awesome.
2011 was an interesting time for music. I swear that I spent more time rediscovering old stuff than trying anything new. When I did try something new, it was usually to get hooked on an awesome single only to be disappointed by the rest of the album (I'm looking at you, Grouplove!). This got really tiring after a while, but that's what happens when none of your favorite bands release an album that year! Still, there were some noticeable highlights on the album front, and I've got my top six right here...
#1 Torches by Foster The People.
It's odd when you've been following a band only to have them hit the big time. I remember heading to Seattle to see Mother Love Bone (which morphed into Pearl Jam) and Nirvana play before the whole "Grunge" scene exploded, and it was both wonderful and horrible at the same time. On one hand you're overjoyed that a band you like has found success... on the other hand, you have trouble finding tickets to see them perform! Foster the People kind of flew under the radar for a while, but I became a massive fan from the very first time I stumbled across them on the internet. And look where we are now. Sold out shows everywhere they go. In the end, I can't really blame people for loving the band, because the eclectic influences Mark Foster incorporates into his music makes everything sound so new and fresh. Their debut album incorporates the songs from their awesome EP and adds even more musical genius to make Torches my favorite album of 2012. Yeah, it's overplayed, but Pumped Up Kicks is such genius that it never gets old.
#2 Holy Ghost by Holy Ghost.
Holy Ghost hit my radar last year when they did a "Battle EP" vs. Friendly Fires. In my humble opinion, they won hands-down with their cover track Hold On despite my being a big fan of Friendly Fires. But who in the heck was "Holy Ghost?" I'd never even heard of them before. Then their self-titled debut was released and the only thing that mattered was that I know who they are now. This album is lethally infectious and jam-packed with catchy 80's-flavored pop singles that never leave your head. As if that weren't enough, they got Michael McDonald(!) to collaborate on one of the tracks! The only real criticism I have is that some of the songs have repetitive bits that can drive you crazy. Slow Motion is almost unlistenable it's so bad. Hold My Breath has fucking amazing music, but the ever-repeating "I took some money from the joint account" line is irritating as hell and makes little sense. But, that's Holy Ghost for you, for better or worse. Regardless, the minute I start up the album and hear that intro beat for Do It Again, I'm hooked all over again... which is why this is my #2 album for 2012.
#3 Wasting Light by The Foo Fighters.
My favorite FF album is their self-titled debut and I played the shit out of it back in 1995. Alan Wilder had just left my favorite band of all time (Depeche Mode) and it was the Foo Fighters who came to my rescue in a time of musical crisis. Seven albums later, along comes Wasting Light to remind everybody what a rock album sounds like. While not quite on the level as the more commercial tracks I love, it's nice to hear Grohl & Co. moving forward. Sure there's catchy favorites like Walk and Rope as you'd expect... but there's also raw, blistering tracks like White Limo to keep things interesting. I've come to assume consistently great work from the Foo Fighters, but it took something different to make me really appreciate them as a band all over again. In addition to amazing music, Foo Fighters have some of the best videos ever. The intro for Walk goes on a little too long, but I love it anyway because it sets up the song so wonderfully.
#4 Last Night on Earth by Noah & the Whale
I'll be straight with you, this album isn't going to set the world on fire. It's an acceptable blend of pop and folk that is a pleasant diversion from the standard radio fare, and that's about it. Except... some of the songs are so beautifully executed that I find myself playing Last Night on Earth far more than I normally would. When I was preparing this list I was plenty shocked at the play counts I'd racked up in iTunes. It's almost as if I play it non-stop, which I probably do when I'm working. Reason enough to have this as my #4 for 2011.
#5 Panic of Girls by Blondie
Their last album left me sick with disappointment, so I was reluctant to hop on the Blondie bandwagon again... but boy did they deliver with Panic of Girls! This is a terrific album and a decidedly more mature effort than their early works. I love that the sound for each track is subtly eclectic and interesting... but also so uniquely "Blondie" sounding. Nice to know that Deborah Harry can still belt out a song with the best of them... I'll take her over Adele any day of the week.
#6 Days by Real Estate
Bordering on "easy listening," this album filled with hazy dreamy drifting songs that sparkle just enough to keep you awake. That may sound like a bad thing, but there are times when I'm working or driving that this is exactly what I need in the background of my life.
And before I go...
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR!
The Murf by Rendezvous.
Though, quite honestly, this could very well be the best music video of the decade...
Amazing. Just amazing. I've watched it dozens of times and see something new each time. BOW DOWN BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY SQUID YOU WHALE-WORSHIPING BLASPHEMERS!
SINGLE OF THE YEAR!
Midnight City by M83.
This innovative musical dreamscape that combines a lot of distinctly different elements into a really sweet track had me really excited for the album it came from, Hurry Up We're Dreaming. Unfortunately, the other songs there didn't grab me enough for the album to make my list. Still, the video is pretty darn cool...
I could have just as easily dropped Tounge Tied by Grouplove here. Amazing single, not so amazing album.
And that about sums it up. I'd list my "Worst Albums of 2012," but I never really latched on to anything truly bad this year. I suppose I could ask "What happened to The Decemberists with their new album "The King is Dead?" What's with the twang? Have they gone country? Have they gone INSANE? A huge misstep that may have cost them a fan... but still, there were nice bits too, so it's not like I could even label it as one of the "worst" I had heard this year.
I guess Lady Gaga could get the honor since Born This Way was pretty shitty. It was supposed to be some kind of gay anthem, but she ended up mocking the people she professed to be helping by putting bones on her face and shoulders then giving birth to herself from a giant egg. Well, baby, nobody is fucking born THAT way. All you did was turn yourself into exactly the kind of freak that simple-minded morons already label the gays with, which means the people who could have been influenced by your music were turned away. If you truly wanted to make a difference, you should have put your "art" on the back burner and sang the songs in jeans and a T-shirt or something. But still, her heart was in the right place and I'm guessing she managed to touch those she intended to lift up with her music, so I guess it's not so terrible after all? I dunno.
Anyway... here's hoping that next year all my favorite bands are back with new material in 2012 so I'll have an easier time making my list next December.
It's Bullet Sunday and I'm so happy I could crap my pants!
• That Dog Won't Hunt! So Jon Huntsman, the only Republican candidate that I might have voted for, is dropping out of the race. And since the remaining candidates will be hard pressed to sway independent voters to their respective agendas, I guess that we're in for four more years of President Obama. Unless he punches Betty White in the face while wiping his ass with the American flag during a televised White House press conference or something.
Now, if you will excuse me, I shall now go and mourn the loss of what could have been our three First Daughters...
Sadly, Mitt Romney has no hot daughters (that he knows of, I'm sure). Though I'm starting to wonder if he'll even be a factor now that Stephen Colbert has entered the race in South Carolina and these wicked attack ads are airing...
Genius. And it's funny because it's true!
• It's a Fucking Frog! Just when I think that it's impossible for nature to shock me more than it already has... along comes The World's Tiniest Frog...
Photograph by Christopher Austin, Louisiana State University
How in the hell is this even possible? That's a DIME! And that's an actual frog sitting on top... not even half the size of the coin. How does its lungs function when they must barely be the size of the air molecules they breathe in? Unbelievable. And cute. Lookat da iddybitty froggy!
• ZOMFG it's Music! After one of my favorite bands, The Shins, kind of imploded... I worried that we'd never hear from them again. Shins mastermind James Mercer appeared to move on to a new collaboration called Broken Bells with DJ Danger Mouse, so I figured that was the end of it. But lo and behold this last week I got an iTunes pre-sale notice for a new band line-up and a new album called Port of Morrow...
My expectations are high. Fortunately, the preview track Simple Song didn't disappoint. Can't wait until I get to hear the rest of the album in March. You can pre-order your own copy at the iTunes Music Store here.
• Eggxactly Right! Because groceries are so stupid-expensive, I find myself buying foodstuffs not because I necessarily want them, but because they're on sale for cheap. Most of the time, this comes back to bite me in the ass, but every once in a while I stumble across something so delicious that I wonder how I ever survived without it. Such was the case with Crystal Farms' "Three Cheese Chef's Omlet" from the freezer case...
Holy cow. It's the perfect omelet. Light, fluffy, and loaded with quality, flavorful cheese... from a frickin' microwave! When served on buttered toast with a little ground pepper... it's a quick and easy breakfast that's so good. Which means that it's probably being discontinued and the reason it was on sale was because they were clearing out their inventory. Crap.
• Well I'll Be! And so Washington State is dangerously close to passing Marriage Equality legislation. Color me pleasantly surprised. Despite the fact that "The Coast" is decidedly liberal... the view from Redneckistan here on the other side of the mountains is often cloudy when it comes to gay marriage. Oh I'm sure there are many people here who have no problem with everybody getting their fair shot at happiness (as promised when our country was founded). And there's undoubtedly a growing number of people here who are tired of their gay friends and family being relegated to second class citizens. And it's certain that more and more heterosexual couples are realizing that same-sex marriage has
It just comes down to whether enough politicians will do the right thing and move forward in a way that an increasing majority of Americans want to have happen. Here's hoping.
And now I have to get back to work. And Dune, which is playing as background noise here in my living room. THE SPICE MUST FLOW!
I started today the same way I start every Martin Luther King Jr. Day... by listening to his brilliant and beautiful "I have a Dream" speech in its entirety. In my humble opinion, it's probably one of the best-known speeches that most people never bother to listen to. That's a real shame, because it's famous for a very good reason.
I spent the entirety of my day at work, so I don't have anything to blog about.
What I do have is this awesome video for one of my favorite songs from my second-favorite album of 2011... it's Wait & See by Holy Ghost!
What's so awesome about it is that band members Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel only make cameo appearances... they let their fathers be the stars of the video! That's right, they got their dads to stand in for them as aging pop stars who still act like they're in their twenties. Freakin' hilarious...
Always nice to see a music video that can surprise me.
I love the music of Etta James.
And even though the concert I attended with Ms. Sizzle ended up being one of the most bizarre events of my life, I feel incredibly blessed to have seen her perform live. Truly, there are few talents that can even approach that of Ms. James.
My favorite song of hers is the one she's most famous for. And while I could have easily tracked down something more obscure, I wouldn't have found anything more beautiful...
Rest in peace, Etta. Your amazing voice will live on forever.
There was a time that Whitney Houston's voice was widely regarded as being in a class untouchable by mere mortals. It was thus almost from the beginning.
Sure she had fun and poppy hits like How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance with Somebody... but they were nicely balanced by stunning R&B tracks like Saving All My Love for You and I Will Always Love You. The woman had pipes. The woman could sing.
And never was this more apparent than when she belted out The Star Spangled Banner at the 2001 Super Bowl with an unforgettable performance. The rumor that it was lip-synced did nothing to detract from the magic because Whitney nailed it. Our National Anthem is not an easy song to sing. On the contrary, it practically begs to be screwed up by anyone attempting it... live or otherwise. And even when singers get it right, it doesn't always sound that great. With Ms. Houston's talent, it was a different story entirely...
And today, at the age of 48, she's gone.
Whitney admitted to using drugs (but not crack, which she felt was "whack" because it was beneath her income level)... and odds are it was her drug use which contributed to her death. This is all kinds of tragic because a part of me always expected that she'd make some kind of come-back one of these days.
Alas it was not to be.
Perhaps not meant to be. All that's left now is a legacy. And a lesson.
Her voice may have been beyond the grasp of mere mortals but, in the end, it was wrapped in a body that was all too human. Hopefully her fellow humans will remember that at a time it would be all too easy to forget.
Put down those eclipse specs, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Goodbye. I was sad to learn that Robin Gibb passed away. Make fun of me all you want, but I always thought The BeeGees were musical geniuses. So many of their unique songs couldn't have been made by anybody else, and it's a testament to this talent that they were so successful for so long. And as if the idea of not getting any more BeeGees music wasn't bad enough, I'm betting we won't be seeing any more Barry Gibb Talk Show skits on Saturday Night Live either...
Rest in peace, Mr. Gibb, and thanks for the music.
• SNL. Surprisingly, Mick Jagger made for a funny guest-host on the season finale of Saturday Night Live. The episode itself was a farewell to Kristen Wiig and her seven seasons with the show. I had read somewhere that Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis were also leaving, but you'd never know it, because it wasn't even hinted at. What's most disappointing is that we didn't get a final "Two A-Holes..." sketch with Wiig and Sudeikis, which I was absolutely expecting. As close as we got was them dancing together while everybody sang their goodbyes...
Oh well. I suppose it could happen upon Kristen Wiig's inevitable return hosting engagement. Until then, I guess there's always Hulu clips...
• TED. Despite being almost painfully obvious, I've never heard this argument presented in such a compelling way...
Apparently there was some controversy over this clip. TED originally thought it too partisan to unleash upon an unsuspecting world... or something like that... but I'm not seeing it. Furthermore, how can you hope to solve a problem without approaching it from every conceivable angle? Even if Hanauer's belief is entirely wrong, discussing it may lead to worthwhile conversation. When you're desperate, nothing should be off the table, and I hope to see more of this kind of talk from all sides in the future.
• Avengers. I had purchased The Art of Marvel's Thor after seeing the movie. Production design on the Asgard sets and costumes were really well done, and I wanted to see how they were developed. The book was pretty amazing, which made me regret that I hadn't purchased the two Iron Man books. They were out of print and cost a fortune on the secondary market, so I gave up on getting them. Fast forward to the The Avengers, which was production design on an entirely new level, and I simply had to own The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. It did not disappoint. The book is a stunning chronicle of bringing the comic book to the big screen. Then I discovered something very cool... Marvel had assembled books for the previous four Avengers movies (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor) in a boxed set... The Art of Marvel Studios. SCORE! All the books are fantastic...
If you wanna take a look inside, JamesTalkALot has a video on YouTube for the Art of Marvel Studios set. He also has a separate video for The Art of Marvel's The Avengers. If you have even a passing interest in these movies, all the books are highly recommended.
Annnnnd... I'm spent. Did I black out some time this weekend? Because it doesn't really feel like I got a weekend at all. Such a bummer. I should probably get my crap together so I can go to work in the morning. If there's any justice, I'll black out again through the entire work week so I can have a real weekend.
Because I like learning new and interesting things, one of my favorite blogs in my feed reader is Today I Found Out. Every day they've got something cool or weird to share, but today's entry is beyond bizarre because it's packed with fascinating facts about... ants. These are some freaky-ass critters, yo, so prepare to get your mind blown and click on over.
And speaking of interesting facts... here's just another example of why scum-sucking record labels need to die a violent death. Thanks to Wikipedia I found out that the Beatles missed their chance to be immortalized on the two Voyager spacecraft...
Astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan had wanted Here Comes the Sun to be included on the Voyager Golden Record, copies of which were attached to both spacecraft of the Voyager program to provide any entity that recovered them a representative sample of human civilization. Although The Beatles favoured the idea, EMI refused to release the rights and when the probes were launched in 1977 the song was not included.
I can't help but think that V'ger wouldn't have been such a bastard in that Star Trek movie if he had Here Comes the Sun in his programming...
But, alas, V'Ger could not merge with The Creator of Here Comes the Sun because EMI didn't want to give up their song rights... IN FUCKING OUTER SPACE!
The stupid. It burns.
During the "Dot Com Explosion" of the late 90's I knew more than a few people who amassed considerable wealth in a very short amount of time. This did not include me, however, because I was becoming increasingly involved with the Buddhist studies I had stumbled upon a decade earlier. Material wealth was something that took a distant back seat to my spiritual wealth back then, so chasing the buckets of money was not a priority. Even so, it was an interesting period in my life precisely because of all the money that was to be had.
And the randomness of where the money went.
Some people I knew stumbled into shit-loads of money almost by accident, but were smart enough to turn it into a personal fortune while the gettin' was good.
One guy... a kid, really... was pulling down thousands of dollars a week just making simple banner ads in his spare time. He not only earned enough money to completely pay for his college tuition, but had enough left over to pay for a bug chunk of his sister's education as well.
Another guy got a full-time job with a massive salary working from home on a corporate website. This occupied so little of his time that he ended up getting two additional "full-time" work-at-home-jobs... all of which he held at the same time. After six months he had enough money saved up that he started his own business, which he ran successfully for nearly a year before selling it for a staggering amount of money. This would be a cool story in itself, but it's made all the more incredible when you know that he kept all three of his "full-time" jobs that whole time!
Still another guy made huge, huge money because he owned a "worthless" low-rent office building that his family had purchased decades earlier. He inherited it after his dad died and had tried to sell it several times without success... until the neighborhood became a hotspot for dot-com start-ups. Luckily for him, he quickly learned the value of what he had, and was able to milk it for incredible profits... before finally selling it to a big company that bought it only so they could tear it down and build their new headquarters on the land.
Money was raining down from the heavens at an incalculable rate, and a lot of people became incredibly wealthy chasing it.
But not everybody.
Some people, try as they might, could never manage to get their piece of the pie no matter how hard they tried. They would start up one failed business after another trying to figure out where the money was... but never managed to find it.
These were some of the most bitter, angry, resentful people I've ever met. And the most educational, as they clearly confirmed that my embracing anti-materialism was the right path to be on. This was never made more clear to me as when I joined a group of them at a housewarming party thrown by a guy who was making bajillions of dollars in dot-com cash. He proudly showed off his incredible new home, only to be cut-up from one end to the other the minute he left the room. At one point some guests were discussing the "horror story" that was the kitchen decor. I found this funny... and said so, which lead to this conversation...
"You actually like that ugly mess?"
"Well, it's not my taste, but he's clearly happy with it. Since he's the one that has to live with it, what should it matter to anybody else?"
"Because he has the money to hire a decent interior decorator and still chooses to have an ugly kitchen!"
This was good for a group-laugh, which was fascinating to me...
"Well, fortunately the only thing wrong with him is something that can be fixed by a coat of paint... we should all be so lucky."
The implication of that statement went right over their heads (thankfully), but stuck with me for a very long time. Even when I strayed off the path of anti-materialism because I realized that some "stuff" made my life much more fun. Like a
Eventually the dot-com bubble burst. Some people who made a lot of money ended up losing a lot more.
This, I'm sure, was a time of glee and much rejoicing by all the bitter, angry, resentful people who were so tortured by the monetary success that eluded them during those heady days. Finally, at long last, those who succeeded where they had failed were "getting what they deserved!"
The irony being that all the bitter, angry, resentful people were getting exactly what they deserved, even if they didn't realize it.
Which is why I am trying hard — so very hard — not to be bitter, angry, and resentful that Justin Bieber's new album, Believe, has just become the year's top-selling debut... despite being filled with songs that I loathe so badly that I can barely listen to 10 seconds of the 90-second preview snippets on the iTunes Store without gagging.
Fortunately, Matt & Kim, a band I love more than buckets of money, just released a new single to keep me on my path...
Life. Is. Good.
Much to my shock, The Local Strangers... a band I actually like, took the time to stop by my little corner of Redneckistan to play a show. Things like this doesn't happen here very often. Which is not to say that we don't have any good local bands or that no musicians ever come to Wenatchee, far from it, it's just that the stuff I like rarely stops by. I mean, I don't see Matt & Kim or Depeche Mode adding us to their tour plans or anything.
I first heard of The Local Strangers last year when I was working in Seattle. I was hanging out with some friends who decided they wanted to go out. I didn't, but they said there was a really good local band playing, so I had to ask "who are they?" One of my friends Googled the band and said it was Aubrey Zoli... and Matt Hart, who was from Chicago. This rang a bell, but I couldn't put my finger on it. And then something clicked... "Wait... Matt Hart from Chicago... as in Matt Hart from Cobalt and the Hired Guns, Matt Hart? Well this I gotta see."
Cobalt and the Hired Guns is a local Chicago band that a colleague introduced me to when I was working there a while back. He was a big fan, and I ended up catching their show twice. Cobalt is a great band that makes some really fun music (they have a new album out that's worth a listen!), and I became a fan as well.
Turns out it was indeed that Matt Hart, who was now in Seattle making incredible music with the beautiful voice of Aubrey Zoli as The Local Strangers. Who I got to see again tonight...
A really great show from an incredible live band.
Not so long ago, Ms. Sizzle made me aware of a Kickstarter campaign to fund The Local Strangers' first full-length album. I immediately signed on for a Lifetime Membership, and was thrilled when the campaign was successful. Then last night Aubrey and Matt announced a release date of November 9th for the album and I can't wait.
If you want to listen to what the band is all about for FREE, just go to their website and sign up for their email list so they can let you know when they're playing in your area... you'll then get a link to download their two EPs which is a terrific sampling of their music.
Needless to say, if they're performing near you, it's a show well worth checking out.
Stop your melting and embrace the heatwave... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Heat. I wasn't kidding. It was so hot today that the air conditioner couldn't keep up. Which means that even with the unit on MAX COOL and turned to COLDEST it was still like a sauna in my home all day. Even now the temperature is 100° outside... and it's 5:30 at night! Unless you live in the San Francisco Bay area, looks it's going to be another scorcher tomorrow...
Not a good day to be living in the pink.
• Landing. As I have written before, I have a terrible tendency to attribute human qualities to inanimate objects. Especially robots. It's always been a problem but, after watching WALL-E, I'm pretty much a hopeless case for looking a little robots as something more than "just machines." I was a wreck when I heard that the Mars Rover, Spirit was stuck and couldn't move around the Martian landscape any more. All I could picture was a little robot trapped and all alone far from home...
So, as you can well imagine, the impending "drop" of a new Mars Rover named Curiosity is making me pretty nervous. The landing procedure is scary as hell, and I'll be glued to my MacBook tonight to hear if he makes it so I'm not worrying all night...
Damn. Good luck to you, Curiosity!
UDATE: So happy to know he has landed safely and his cameras are operating! Here's hoping everything else is working properly and he can start rolling around Mars soon! WAY TO GO, NASA!
• Fairies. I hate television commercials. Hate them. 99% of the time they are stupid, loud, annoying, and disruptive pieces of crap that make me want to kick in my television screen. Which is why I don't usually watch live television... I record it on my DVR so I can fast-forward through them. But there are rare exceptions. Like Direct TV's series of "Football Fairies" commercials starring Deion Sanders and Eli Manning. Really smart, well-done, and funny as hell...
Genius. If all commercials were this entertaining, I wouldn't want to fast-forward through them. On top of that, this commercial makes me wish I could have Direct TV. I hope the agency that came up with this is getting some serious bank for their efforts.
• Album. The initial reviews for Linkin Park's fifth album, Living Things, weren't very positive, so I held off buying it until I had a chance to give it a listen. I was not a big fan of their previous effort, A Thousand Suns, which made me hesitant to rush out and buy something new...
And then I caught the video for BURN IT DOWN and liked what I heard...
Then I was finally compelled to buy it after previewing the tracks on iTunes Music Store. Turns out I really like it. It's kind of a return to classic Linkin Park via a new kind of 80's-influenced sound direction. If you're an LP fan scared off by the bad reviews, I recommend giving it a listen. Even though every track title is SHOUTING AT YOU IN ALL-CAPS, it's a really good album.
• New New 52. Last year DC Comics cancelled all of their comic books and rebooted their "Universe" to start over from scratch with the "New 52"... so named for the 52 comic titles they released at launch. Overall, I consider it to be a success. I'm still reading 18 of the titles, which is more comics than I've been reading in a long time. Eventually, some of the books were canceled due to low sales (including OMAC, which I loved) and replaced with new books. The two most interesting involve Earth-2, an old "alternate earth" concept that DC abandoned back in 1985...
Surprisingly, World's Finest and Earth-2 were immediately put on my "Top 10 Must-Reads" list... and World's Finest (Starring The Huntress and Power Girl) is vying for the #1 spot. It's just great comic book fun! I love the writing (by Paul Levitz), and it features two of my favorite artists, (George Peréz on the "current" story thread, and Kevin Maguire on the "flashback" story thread). If you're a fan of all those great comic team books from the 80's, before everything took a turn towards being all dark and all gritty and all confusing all the time...I highly recommend giving these two titles a look!
Annnnnd... it's 9:30pm and just one hour until Curiosity starts his seven-minute descent. Now I'm wondering if I can bear to listen to the broadcast...
It was a night of performance art tonight. Here are some of my favorites...
• Gabrielle Giffords "The Pledge of Allegiance" at the DNC. Tell me this isn't one of the most amazing things you've ever seen. The woman survives a frickin' assassination attempt... a gunshot to the head... says "fuck you" to the bullet, and is on-stage leading the DNC in the Pledge of Allegiance a year-and-a-half later. I don't care what your politics are, this kind of raw courage demands respect. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, making Gabrielle Giffords the performance to beat tonight.
• Pink "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" at the MTV VMAs. I have yet to see Pink in concert so every time I see one of her beautifully orchestrated live performances, I'm a little pissed-off. Tonight's VMA blow-out has her singing yet another amazing track from a string of amazing tracks... "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" and it was fantastic. Once I got past her dopey hair-do, Pink had me completely captivated as she did her whole "Cirque du Soleil" act better than Cirque du Soleil.
• President Obama "Acceptance Speech" at the DNC. My candidate for the upcoming election was Jon Huntsman. I thought he was smart in all the right ways, and the person most likely to bridge the icy divide between Republicans and Democrats to fix our fucked-up country. But Republicans seemed to truly hate the guy because he wasn't bat-shit-crazy-Right, and you can't get anywhere when your own party doesn't support you. So Huntsman was shoved off the stage and we got... Mitt Romney. Who has the personality of a wooden board wrapped in a wet blanket. He does not inspire me in the least, and I abhor most of his politics when it comes to personal liberties... an area TRUE Conservatives should be getting the fuck out of in the name of less-invasive government. Oh well. So Barack Obama it is then. His acceptance speech was good. Very good. And as the consummate politician, our president delivered it in a way Romney can only dream about. He makes me forget that he wasn't my first choice. He makes me forget that he did some things I am really upset about. He makes me remember that he is a good man, a true patriot, and a decent president who is doing his best to get us out of a horrible situation. And while Obama is not my dream candidate, his speech makes me feel better about voting for him in November, which is what it's really all about.
• Jennifer Granholm at the DNC. Talk about your rousing performances... Granholm descended on the DNC like a tsunami and belted out a speech that was so unabashedly pro-Obama that it made other speakers look like they lacked support for the president. And I'm including Barack Obama. She waxed so poetically about the president's auto-bailout that it almost made me forget that it was President Bush who got the ball rolling by approving monies that would keep our auto-makers in business until Obama got in office. Granted, this was probably at least partially inspired by the Obama transition team laying groundwork for the new president... but it's still a glaring omission in giving credit where credit is due. Whatever. Granholm was there to rally for the president, and she got the job done by delivering a wake-up to the convention that was a much-needed slap in the face.
• Taylor Swift "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" at the MTV VMAs. In stark contrast to some of her previous televised live performances which were, for lack of a better word, "bad"... Taylor had a terrific (and impossibly cute) performance of her latest hit that brought down the house.
• Zach Wahls at the DNC. Zach is a great kid with a great story and a speaking presence that is really going to take him places. When I first saw his speech in defense of marriage equality at the Iowa House of Representatives, I was blown away. The guy is 19, but connects with an audience like a seasoned pro. The only problem is that all his speeches and talk show appearances are starting to sound the exact same. He's got two moms. His family is as normal as any other. Yadda yadda yadda. I know that's why he was at the convention, but Zach needs to mix it up a bit. Still, he did a great job, and you really have to admire his tireless efforts to get people onboard the equality bandwagon.
• Eva Longoria at the DNC. Seriously... who knew?
Annnnnd... after traveling all day, it's time to unwind and prep for a busy day tomorrow.
Matt & Kim remain the best live show I've ever seen.
And though it would be hard to top seeing the band in London on my birthday last year... I had an absolute blast here in Atlanta tonight!
Totally worth flying across the country! If you ever have the opportunity to see Matt & Kim play live, it is something you absolutely cannot miss. It's like an amazing concert and a big party all rolled into one!
If not, you can still listen to their brand new album Lightning, which dropped just last week!
And... it's 1:40am. Guess I'd better at least attempt to get some sleep before flying out tomorrow morning.
Brace yourself for an October Surprise... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Elysium! Back in 2009, The Pet Shop Boys released Yes one of their best albums in decades (and contains one of my favorite tracks ever, The Way It Used To Be). Now they've released their 11th studio album, Elysium, and my expectations were very high. Probably too high. It's a good album that has more hits than misses, but the misses really grate on me. Ego Music and Your Early Stuff are about as tedious as music gets, and I can't fathom why they were included on the album when they'd barely be interesting enough for B-sides. What remains doesn't include any of the throbbing dance-pop that made PSB famous, but it does have some remarkable tracks. Far and away my favorite is Memory of the Future, which is an achingly beautiful song that hasn't left my head since I first heard it...
Overall Elysium is another really good album that presents the Pet Shop Boys in a softer, more thoughtful light. Well worth checking out.
• Elementary! As a bit of a Sherlock Holmes purist (the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories remain among my favorite fiction) I've been pleasantly surprised with how much I've been enjoying both the Robert Downey Jr. movies and the Benedict Cumberbatch BBC series. I anticipated not liking the Johnny Lee Miller American series which takes place in New York and has Watson played by Lucy Liu. But then I saw the premiere and was again pleasantly surprised...
No hat. No pipe. No magnifying glass. No problem.
But now after having seen three episodes I am definitely digging it. I was already a big fan of Miller and Liu, and they've got some good chemistry together. But, more important than anything else, the mystery stories have been really good. Elementary has quickly become my favorite new show of 2012, and is well worth checking out.
• Arrow. And speaking of television that's left me pleasantly surprised...
I guess the ladies will be tuning in...
Now, let's get something clear... this is not the Green Arrow we know from the comic book series. They have radically changed many of the fundamentals in an effort to make "good television." And have somehow succeeded. Millionaire playboy Oliver Queen is the lone survivor of a shipwreck who arrives at a mysterious island. While there, he crafts weapons to survive, and spends five years becoming the deadliest man alive with a bow and arrow. Eventually he returns home to "Starling City" to right some wrongs and free the city from the criminals who have taken over... dressed as Robin Hood. Anyway... the show is basically a Batman clone now, which is probably why I like it so much. Well worth checking out.
• Do Not Call. On Friday night I got a political action call from the National Rifle Association... an organization I used to respect, but have seen steadily degenerate into an organization resorting to fear-uncertainty-doubt to terrify people into doing their bidding. They send out scare tactic press releases against President Obama, even though he has repeatedly said he supports the 2nd Amendment and introduced no significant gun control legislation during his first term. But he said he supports keeping assault weapons off the street, so he's been branded anti-gun. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who actually DID introduce an extensive assault weapon ban when he was Governor of Massachusetts, gets endorsed by the NRA for president! They even go so far as to say he's the "only hope" for firearms freedom! If the NRA were truly an impartial organization fighting for the interest of gun owners, they should have informed their membership about both candidates. But it would seem they're so far in the pocket of the Republicans that Romney's gun-control past gets forgiven while Obama's gets him crucified because he's a Democrat. I guess that's politics for you. Or maybe I'm just pissed that somebody would dare call me during dinner.
• That Derek Zoolander is so Hot Right Now. Tonight's autism benefit show by Comedy Central... Night of Too Many Stars... opened with an appearance of one of my most guilty of guilty pleasures, Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander. Rumors of a movie sequel have been leaking for a while, and this appearance would seem to verify that it's happening. But the biggest question? When will we know if Will Ferrell will be reprising his role as one of the best movie villains of all time, Mugatu?
Zoolander without Mugatu wouldn't be much of a film. Hopefully Will Ferrell and everybody involved in the project agree.
And... time to retire early. I think my cold is finally breaking, and a couple extra hours rest might do the trick.
Time for my annual wrap-up of my favorite albums that were released this year.
As usual, a lot of my time spent listening to music was rediscovering old bands I hadn't heard in ages. I just can't seem to escape the 80's I guess. 2012 was a depressing year for live music... with the exception of Matt & Kim, I don't think I went to any concerts. Though The Local Strangers did come to Redneckistan, so there's that. Here's hoping I make more time for seeing the bands I like in 2013.
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 Elysium by Pet Shop Boys
When I first heard this album, I figured it would be lucky to break my top five. Sure it has some nice slow-pop magic by one of my favorite bands, but the lack of amazing dance-based tracks that they usually unleash left me cold. Even worse, I immediately dumped three songs that I didn't like even a little bit (Your Early Stuff, Ego Music, and Hold On). But then, inexplicably, I found myself listening to the remaining Elysium songs more and more. Often times without even realizing I was going there. And then I fell in love with the sublimely beautiful track Memory of the Future... and the rest followed...
Note: The above YouTube song is the original hauntingly beautiful album track... not the butchered pop trash remix they released as a single. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Yes, I still wish that three or four tracks were killed in favor of some dance tracks... but there's enough great stuff here to nab my #1 spot.
#2 E.P. 1 by Father Tiger
I used to restrain from putting EPs on my list because they're not a "real" album. But, for whatever reason this year, a good chunk of my favorite music was on EPs, so I just went with it. And, in the case of Father Tiger's EP, it came dangerously close to being my No. 1 album of 2012... despite having only four tracks. Which I can kind of explain like this... Vince Clarke, a founding member of my favorite band, Depeche Mode, quit to go on and form two new bands... Yazoo with Alison Moyet, then Erasure with Andy Bell. Both of which are total synth-pop genius that I love. And if somebody were to ask me to describe Father Tiger, I'd tell them that it's a cross between Yazoo and Erasure. I first became aware of them in August when they got some attention for a video they made that was composed from Instagram photos...
Then I kind of lost track of them until they released a video for On Christmas Day that got forwarded to me. It was kind of clever and funny, and sounded great, which got me interested in them all over again...
I ended up buying their EP and loved all four tracks... my favorite being Right Now, which will undoubtedly end up being played at weddings around the globe...
What I don't understand is why Father Tiger didn't pile more tracks on their EP. Their YouTube channel is packed with other great songs I'd gladly buy (especially this one, called High Road... oh, and this one, called First Love). But, oh well... four tracks or one track, Father Tiger has some of my favorite music this year.
#3 Lightning by Matt & Kim
Well, no surprise here. Matt & Kim are easily one of my favorite bands, and Lightning is yet another winner. The sound is less of an evolution from Sidewalks that we previously heard from Grand, but that's not a bad thing at all...
Not uncoincidentally, the above video for Let's Go is my favorite this year. I laugh every time I see it. And now I count the days until I can experience Matt & Kim in concert again.
#4 St. Lucia EP by St. Lucia
The thing about hearing a cool snippet of music in a television commercial is that you don't know if it is representative of the entire song. Plenty of bad songs have a nifty music riff that sounds awesome in a 20 second burst, but fails miserably when listened to in context of the full song. Or, even worse, not representative of the entire album. So when I heard a beautiful, soaring piece of pop splendor in the Victoria's Secret "Sexiest Gifts" ad, I was naturally skeptical...
Or blinded by angels. Nevertheless, I went ahead and Googled the lyrics to discover the song was All Eyes on You by a one-man band called "St. Lucia." A quick trip to iTunes so I could preview the self-titled EP, and I was hooked. It may have only six tracks, but they are really good tracks.
#5 Nocturne by Wild Nothing
In what I can only describe as a dreamy love-letter to the mellower side of the 80's, Wild Nothing has crafted an exquisite album that was pretty much my soundtrack for the last days of summer...
So long as you're giving a listen to Nocturne, I'd recommend taking a listen to their previous effort, Gemini, which is equally amazing.
#6 Port of Morrow by The Shins
James Mercer is the musical genius behind The Shins and their mind-blowing smash album Wincing The Night Away. That he chose to follow that success by abandoning the band and moving on to a new project called Broken Bells was cause for concern. Would we ever get new music from The Shins? Turns out the answer is yes... but with Mercer repopulating the band with all new musicians. Turns out that wasn't a cause for concern, because the new album was as brilliant as fans could have hoped for...
Like butter. But... different than I was expecting... somehow. It's as if this latest iteration of the band has not so much built upon what has come before, but instead tossed it out and started from scratch. I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I like the album quite a lot so it probably doesn't matter.
#7 Battle Born by The Killers
Brandon Flowers has piercing vocals that could cut through steel, and any time he chooses to really cut loose on a song, you can be assured of it touching your very soul. Battle Born is remarkable because he cuts loose on most every track...
And, yes, that fucking incredible video was made by Tim Burton and stars Winona Rider(!!). Here's another track where the video is too good to be true...
If any band was more primed to throw caution to the wind and create a concept album in the vein of Pink Floyd... well, it would be Pink Floyd... but The Killers would be a close second.
#8 Night Visions by Imagine Dragons
After giving a listen to the polished sound of Night Visions, you'd be hard-pressed to peg this as a debut album. And yet, it is...
So pretty. And, just because I can't help myself, here's their latest video. It's pretty awesome...
If this is where the band begins, it will be very interesting to see where they evolve to.
#9 Shields by Grizzly Bear
This entire album could be the soundtrack for a Quentin Tarantino film, and I don't know how I could pay it a better compliment than that. Tarantino uses music to secure a sense of place for his stories... and it doesn't matter from which time period they come. Grizzly Bear has gone retro in a very unique way, creating their own sense of place, wherever that may be...
This album convinced me to check out the band's back-catalog, which is pretty impressive.
#10 The Truth About Love by Pink
If I were to die tomorrow, one of my regrets would be that I haven't yet seen Pink in concert. She's amazingly talented in a way that harkens back to sirens of old, and to experience that live would truly be an experience to be savored. The Truth About Love sounds a lot like what Pink has given us in past releases, but I think her lyrics are getting more clever...
Tell me that listing to Pink belt that one out to the cheap seats from on-stage wouldn't be awesome. You can't! Probably one of the most consistent vocalists working right now, I'd buy any new Pink album audio unheard. This release hasn't changed that.
#11 Living Things by Linkin Park
For reasons that just mystify me, hardcore Linkin Park fans have been railing against Living Things when I honestly feel it's some of the band's best work. It would be easy to dismiss the criticism if I thought there was some kind of new directional shift happening here, but it seems more like a shift back, which should be something that makes fans happy...
Oh well, I have -zero- complaints. The album is a fantastic listen and gets a lot of play on my car's iPod (good driving music!).
#12 Body Faucet by Reptar
I caught this band opening for Foster the People last year and was suitably impressed enough to check out their album debut when it dropped this Spring. My first reaction was "Meh. Nothing really special." But then I found myself playing it a lot more often than I ever thought I would. Body Faucet started growing on me. Like a virus...
Just good ol' fashioned FUN, that is! The album is pretty much more of the same. I think this might be a band to watch.
SINGLE SINGLE VISION...
Home by Phillip Phillips
I don't watch any of the singing competition shows, so I had no idea who Phillip Phillips was. I found this track by using Shazam on my iPhone.
Unfortunately, there were only a couple other songs off his album I liked, so I gave it a pass. Still, it's pretty song.
CHEESIEST VIDEO 2012 AWARD...
Hall of Fame by The Script
Since I've already shown my favorite video (Matt & Kim's Let's Go) I thought I'd come up with a different video award this year. I can see how it would be easy to dismiss The Script as pop fluff... their first single release off of their third album (titled #3, get it?) features a track with will.i.am for heaven's sake. But the album isn't that bad and there's a sensibility behind their music that reaches for something more. Except where their videos are concerned...
When I saw this video, I actually laughed out loud. I mean, seriously. A deaf girl and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks each aspiring for greatness? Holy crap... did they get Nicholas Sparks to write this crap? I kept waiting for Lionel Richie to show up with that blind girl from the Hello video. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have to use schmaltz to sell your song, regardless of how schmaltzy that song is, you're never going to be taken seriously.
And... that's a wrap! Rumor has it, 2013 brings us a new album by Depeche Mode. It's looking to be a good year in music already.
Sat around with Kitty One.
Went to see West Grand Boulevard in concert.
Ate Cambodian food.
The secret to Aaron's sexy-smooth vocal stylings? Cherry Coke Slurpee!
Well this day didn't get off to a good start either!
Sometimes events happen in life that are too traumatic for words. They can only be expressed in song.
So now, in the tradition of Bitch Got Three Spaces, Blogography proudly presents yet another Grammy-worthy edition of Song Lyrics from Redneckistan...
Eggo Didn't Leggo My Waffle
Lyrics and Music by Blogography Gangsta.
Sung by Blogography Gangsta (featuring Killa Kyleon, Ice Burgandy, and Gucci Mane).
Got my butter!
Got my syrup!
Got my fork and knife!
Now all I need is a delicious Eggo waffle
To complete my life!
Open the freezer!
Open the box!
Open that plastic wrap!
What the hell? they gave me half a waffle
Now I think that I might snap!
Eggo ruined my breakfast,
The most important meal of the day!
This ain't no way to be livin',
Ain't nothin' goin' my way!
Yeah, yeah, yeah... yeah!
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
Pray for peace!
Pray for freedom!
Pray for world harmony!
Lord, they done gave me half a waffle
Why have you forsaken me?
Rage on Eggo!
Rage on Kelloggs!
Rage on breakfast too!
Don't need no haters messin' with my waffle
Or else I'm comin' for you!
Eggo ruined my breakfast,
The most important meal of the day!
This ain't no way to be livin',
Ain't nothin' goin' my way!
Yeah, yeah, yeah... yeah!
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
Eggo didn't leggo my waffle.
— All lyrics copyright ©2013 by Blogography.
Just one day in Chicago.
A really pretty day in Chicago.
I don't like theater.
I hate musicals.
I have a general distaste for ridiculing somebody's faith.
Which makes the idea of seeing the smash musical The Book of Mormon a strange prospect...
I enjoyed it.
Not really my thing, but South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone kept it funny enough that I didn't mind all the singing and dancing that usually causes my eyes to roll back into my head. The icing on the cake was the set design, which was really well done.
As for ridiculing the Mormons...
This was a tough one for me. I have Mormon friends who are some of the nicest, most generous people I've ever met. And even though I disagree strongly with the church's monetary political maneuverings against things like marriage equality (which should result in them losing their tax-exempt status)... I don't find their religion to be any more strange or as unusual as any other religion.
And that's where I had a problem.
I'm sure the Christians in the audience were laughing their heads off at some of the more outlandish things that come from The Book of Mormon. "Ha ha ha ha! Those Mormons believe some crazy shit... that's so funny!" Which only leads me to believe that they've never actually read their Bible, because it's filled with all kinds of stuff that's equally hard to believe. Unless you have faith in it. Like the Mormons do in their sacred texts.
Whenever a satire like this is made spoofing Christianity or Islam or Judaism or whatever... people go ape-shit. But the Mormons? They have a sense of humor about it all. They take out ads in the Playbill...
This made me feel a little less guilty for laughing along with the crowd, but I couldn't get it out of my head how a chunk of the audience would have a very different reaction if it was their faith that was being poked fun of.
Anyway, back to the show...
The Book of Mormon is a play in two acts. It tells the story of two young Mormons who get sent on a mission to a poor and war-torn area of Uganda. One of them is Elder Price, who is the perfect example of the Mormon faithful, and confident he will succeed in his task to convert Africans to Mormonism. The other is Elder Cunningham, who is basically playing Jonah Hill acting more annoying and stupid than usual, and is the polar opposite of Elder Price.
As the story proceeds, Price starts losing his faith as the task at hand ends up being much more difficult than he ever imagined... and Cunningham becomes an accidental hero thanks to his talent for telling lies. Hilarity (and I mean genuinely funny hilarity) ensues.
Overall, the play is as good as everybody you've ever known who has seen it has said it is. I think it gets a bit sloppy and disjointed in the second act, but it's not a deal-breaker. Parker and Stone (along with Robert Lopez) reveal true genius here, and there's some unexpected sweetness woven into the story that makes it pretty irresistible.
But not for everyone.
The two people sitting next to me arrived very late, taking their seats just as the Hasa Diga Eebowai number was in full swing. It's basically a song where the natives are saying "fuck you, God" as a way of dealing with the abject misery that fills their every waking hour.
They left at intermission and never came back. They let their displeasure be known, however... their Playbills were ripped to pieces and laying on the floor.
I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion, but how in the fuck can you show up to The Book of Mormon at this stage of the game and not know what you're in for? I guess they are just really uninformed. Or totally stupid. Or both.
Oh well. It certainly made me more comfortable to have the extra room.
So... for anybody in Chicago who has a tolerance for naughty words and a bit of blasphemy... I recommend seeing The Book of Mormon if you get a chance. The cast was incredibly talented, the story inspired and, even if you hate musical theater like me, there's enough to make it worth your time and hard-earned money.
Put down that St. Patrick's Day bottle of Guinness... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Metroland! One of my all-time favorite bands, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), will be releasing yet another glorious album come APRIL 9th! Titled English Electric, they just released a video for the first single, Metroland...
Beautiful, as I knew it would be. I cannot wait to see them in concert come April. The last time I saw them live was fantastic, so it's sure to be a good show.
• Kicked! Earlier in the week I mentioned the Veronica Mars movie project over at Kickstarter. I had pledged a chunk of money which came with a reward to attend the Los Angeles premiere. I received a "congratulations" notice from the Kickstarter website. Then I received a receipt from Amazon Payments confirming my donation. But a couple days later when I went to view my account, I saw that my pledge was missing. So I contacted Customer Service to ask why... only to learn that it was rejected because that reward level had "sold out." This is a load of crap. Apparently I was just supposed to ignore the two confirmations I got, since I received NOTHING telling me there was a problem. And, obviously, I had no idea there WAS a problem. Otherwise I would have pledged to attend one of the other premieres. Which, of course, have sold out. So now I am left with nothing because Kickstarter has a stupid-ass website that is incapable of reserving a reward properly. Oh well, guess this is the universe telling me I couldn't afford it anyway. Stupid universe.
• Enraged! I saw a video from an airport in China a while back which showed a man going apeshit because he wandered off for breakfast and missed his boarding time. Apparently he wanted them to call back the plane or something and, when they wouldn't, he started tearing the place apart...
As somebody who has spent their share of time in airports, I can say that I've never seen it get this bad in person... but I have seen travelers rip into airline employees for something that was actually their fault. My favorite being a girl who was late for her flight to Hawaii because she was sick, and was somehow convinced that this was not her fault. This resulted in a phone call to daddy telling him to make this mean person let her on the plane. Never mind that it had left 20 minutes ago... logic need not apply. Just like when a person arrives at the airport 10 minutes before a flight and gets pissed off because the security line is moving so slow. THEN they expect you to let them cut ahead in line so they don't miss their flight. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on for hours. I wonder what it is about going to airports which makes people leave their brains (and courtesy) at home? This has me really excited to be flying out tomorrow.
• This is CNN? Two students RAPE a girl, and what does CNN do? Heap pity on THE RAPISTS for the difficult life ahead of THEM?!? Oh how terrible that THEIR "promising future" has been destroyed just because they RAPED somebody...
Are you fucking kidding me? But of course FOX "News" has to prove that nobody is a bigger piece of shit than them when it comes to ruining people's lives... they decided that the 16-YEAR-OLD RAPE VICTIM isn't deserving of any kind of privacy, AND AIRED HER FULL NAME. Fuck integrity! We just want to make the news exciting for our viewers so we can keep that advertising money coming in! This is such a sick, fucked-up, sad society we live in. I don't even know what to say any more.
I really don't.
Last night Marty (of Banal Leakage fame) and I went to see OMD play at The Depot in Salt Lake City.
As expected, it was mind-blowing amazing show. They played a nice mix of both new material and beloved classics. And, just like the four previous times I've seen them live, played them extremely well. Along with Depeche Mode and Matt & Kim, OMD is easily one of my favorite live bands, and any opportunity to see them in concert is a no-brainer...
The tour is in support of their new album (released just two days ago here in the US!) called English Electric. Overall, I like the album very much, and there's some pop music treasures on there that I'll be listening to for a very long time. However... OMD being OMD, they decided to add a bunch of "experimental" stuff that I didn't care for at all. Luckily, it wasn't enough to torpedo the whole album (see: Dazzle Ships), but oh how I wish the band would stick to cranking out the beautiful pop music that I love them for and just stop with the self-indulgent artsy crap (or whatever)...
Still, well-worth a listen if you've liked their stuff in the past.
I've put a setlist review in an extended entry, if you're so inclined...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Am I doing the smart thing and packing my suitcase right now? No. Instead I'm here blogging... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Awarded! I pretty much think that all award shows are crap, but the MTV Movie Awards at least show stuff you want to see. Not just with the nominees, but also in the commercials, which featured looks at upcoming hot movies... including two I'm dying to see: Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. I think I've rewound and rewatched both spots on my DVR at least a half-dozen times now. Here's hoping they live up to the hype.
• Beebus! I know Justin Bieber is young and all... but holy shit...
I've been to the Anne Frank House. It is a very somber and emotional ordeal to experience how her family was forced to live and what they went through to survive. Once you've seen Anne's hopes and dreams on display throughout the museum, you're reminded that she ultimately didn't survive, and it's like a punch in the gut. You feel it.
But all Bieber seemed to take away from the experience was how cool it would be if she were alive today so she could be his fan. I honestly don't know if I should chime in on what a fucking moron he is... or just feel sorry for the little wanker being so blissfully clueless about anything except his own ego.
• Graze! In the UK they have a service which delivers healthy snacks directly to your mailbox once a week called "Graze." They're kind of famous for their olives, but they've got a pretty big assortment of nifty treats. Not so long ago, they launched here in the US, and I've been a member for the past twelve weeks. To make a long story short, it's probably not the greatest value for your money, as the four portions you get for $5 (delivered) are pretty small. That being said, I do like the variety and convenience...
Recently Graze sent out paper doll bunnies to their members(?!?). I have no idea why, as it seemed like a huge fucking waste of money. I would have been happier to get a dollar off my next box or something useful like that, but oh well.
About the only thing I don't like so far are their "flapjacks," which are a slimy granola bar of some kind. Other than that, everything is pretty decent. For some reason we Americans are denied the olives, but hopefully they'll be added at a later time. I think the service is still in beta, so signing up is limited to invite codes... but they should be launching for reals any time now. Might be worth checking out when they do.
• Coachella! Tonight OMD played Coachella and YouTube was streaming it live. While not quite the same experience as being there, I was really happy to see the show from the comfort of my living room...
Oh how I love this band. If you wanna take a look, YouTube may still have it up.
• Opener! Speaking of OMD, their opening act was a guy calling himself Diamond Rings. Surprisingly, his band exceeded my expectations in just about every way. Most of his music is inspired directly from 80's acts, and Marty and I spent his entire set tossing out which bands were the template for the song he was playing. I ended up buying his latest album off iTunes, as it has some good tracks...
If you're into 80's pop and looking for something new, Diamond Rings is worth a listen.
And... now I suppose I should pack that suitcase.
Another morning where thunderstorms were forecast for the entire day.
Which, of course, never came to pass. I swear, whomever is in charge of predicting the weather in Pittsburgh needs to be smacked around a little bit, because this is getting ridiculous.
But the weather miscast was definitely something to be grateful for, because Becky managed to score tickets to today's Pirates game...
They close down the Roberto Clemente Bridge when there's a game, which makes for a nice walk.
This time our seats were on the "Club Level" which has restaurants, billiards, lounges, and ice cream!
But, most important of all, I found Cracker Jack this time!
The game was off to a very bad start, as the Reds scored four runs in the first inning. But the Pirates managed to battle their way back into the game... including a monster home-run hit by Garrett Jones in the bottom of the 8th that cleared the park and ended up in the Allegheny River!
The above video is worth checking out... it's a pretty impressive hit!
Mr. Jones! The little kit lens on my NEX-6 continues to blow my mind. This is from the 200 level... WITH A KIT LENS!
The Pirates eventually won, 4-5 after extra innings...
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the win... we had to leave early so we could make a concert...
Hold on to your crotch... it's
Now, I should preface this with two pieces of information...
This meant that I really didn't know what to expect. My plan was just to hang out with Becky and drink beer, which would have been a great time even if there wasn't a concert.
But there was a concert, and I totally admit that it ended up being ten times more than awesome.
As her set went on, things got a little weird...
Which was taken to an entirely new level when
Sparks went flying out of her vagina, which was apparently impossible to capture on iPhone. Sorry.
Then it was time to bring on the simulated inter-species beastiality where sports mascots started bumping, grinding, and swapping heads...
After all this freaky shit went down, even
Eventually we got a tiny car, blow-up legs, and a blow-up hippo as
During her set, Ke$ha was all about dishing out life advice ("Be Yourself! Always! Unapologetically!"), sharing her private thoughts and feelings ("I don't want a guy to talk to me, I want a guy to fuck me!"), and giving her fans ideas for after the show ("I want everybody to go home and fuck tonight!")... which just made her even more special to me. I was sad to see her go.
But the party didn't stop there... after a half-hour of DJ music by somebody called "Ump Smoker" it was time for Pitbull. I had no idea who he was, but once the music started I did realize that I knew of his music. Who knew? In any event, his show was pretty impressive.
Apparently, Pitbull was responsible for the Men in Black 3 theme song.
Even if you hated his music (which I didn't), the stage show is still entertaining.
Looks like Ke$ha isn't the only one who can unleash a glitter bomb.
All-in-all? A very good concert, and I had a great time. If you have the opportunity to see the tour, I highly recommend checking it out. Just be prepared to walk through a shit-ton of glitter in the parking lot after it's over...
And that was a wrap.
After an action-packed day of excitement like this, my "real life" is going to seem really, really boring.
Thanks a lot, Becky!!!
Time to find your happy place... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Blackhawks!!! And so it's the Blackhawks vs. the Bruins for the Stanley Cup...
GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!!
• Hart. Hart to Hart was a staple of my television viewing habits when I was a kid. Not only was it entertaining, but Stefanie Powers and her massive pile of feathered hair was almost too good to be true. Now Adam Scott and Amy Poehler have done a shot-for-shot remake of the opening credits.
And it's absolute genius...
If they were to ever do a retro made-for-television movie I would watch the shit out of it. The idea of a remake is just too brilliant to pass up.
• Crapper First Cracker Jack had die-cast metal toy prizes. Eventually those were replaced with plastic toy prizes. Then they ditched the toys altogether and switched to stupid stickers. And now? They don't even bother with the damn sticker. You get an "online prize" of some kind that you redeem with your phone. Well, unless you have an iPhone...
This blows. Why do they even bother?
• Photoshop! Every once in a while something goes viral on the internet that I actually like. "Photoshop Live"is one of those rare events...
I hope they do more of these... it's such a great idea.
• Miley! Since I hadn't heard anything music-related from Miley Cyrus in quite a while, I naturally assumed she now runs a gas station and mini-mart in Pittsburgh after I saw this...
But then lo and behold, this track is waiting for me when I get home...
I'm diggin' it! I can't stop! And I just don't care!
Early to bed... Early to have the alarm wake your ass up at the crack of dawn so you can drive three hours to work.
And so a Seattle-based band I like, The Local Strangers, played a Very Special sold-out show at The Triple Door tonight. It was Very Special because they were accompanied on some of their songs by the Passenger String Quartet.
Which is like taking Amazing, sprinkling it with Awesome, then deep-fat-frying it in Magic.
Such an amazing show, and I find myself filled with pity for those unfortunate souls who didn't get to experience it...
If you ever have a chance to catch them live, this is a band worth checking out. You can keep track of them on their Facebook page or sign up for The Local Strangers newsletter and get free music on their website.
It's not the chase that I love.It's me following you.
In my annual music wrap-up for last year, a musical duo called "Father Tiger" came out of nowhere to nab the number two spot for best album of 2012. My only disappointment was that some of my favorite singles from the band weren't on it.
This has been partially rectified with their EP release titled Vernal Equinox which had First Love as one of the tracks. It's a terrific song, and today they release a video for it...
And timely, given that we're nearing the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality in America...
Not so long ago, I was lamenting that I would miss the 2013 "Delta Machine" tour for my favorite band, Depeche Mode. For some unfathomable reason, they decided to skip Seattle this time. Fortunately, Certifiable Princess saw my agony and mentioned that they would be playing in Tampa on September 14th! One very, very cheap airline ticket later plus a few thousand hotel points, and here I am!
As expected, the concert was amazing... C.P. and her husband thought so too. DM played a terrific mix of new tracks and old favorites, and backed it up with an Anton Corbijn stage show that was pretty cool (if less elaborate than what we've seen in the past).
Delta Machine is a fairly dark album that has a heavy industrial-style sound to it. I enjoyed it well enough, but it's just not the same Depeche Mode that made me such a huge fan. And though I wish they had played more classic stuff, it was still a great show that was easily worth the effort it took to get here...
Despite my pining away for more of their older material, this was an epic concert. Depeche Mode sound every bit as good now as they did 30 years ago, and remain one of the best live bands I've ever seen (with Matt & Kim being a close second). So long as they keep performing this well, the band is in no danger of losing me as a fan, regardless of where they go with their music.
That being said, can we please go in a slightly different direction on the next album? All these songs about heaven, angels, redemption, addiction, and salvation have really been played out now, and it's time to move on. I really, really don't want to have to suffer through another version of The Child Inside.
When I found out that one of my all-time favorite bands, The Pet Shop Boys, would once again be swinging through Seattle on their Electric tour, I was ecstatic. This would be three-for-three in seeing all their Seattle performances. Except... the date was one day before I leave for vacation. And there was no way I could make that work.
But there was also no way I was going to miss the show, so I found they were playing Philadelphia on a weekend, and my solution was clear.... I would be cashing in a pile of airline miles and hotel points and heading back to the East Coast (after Depeche Mode in Tampa last weekend).
It was totally worth the effort.
Mostly because the concert was mind-bogglingly excellent, as usual. But also because my ticket came in a "meet and greet" package where I actually got to shake hands and chat with the band! And get my lanyard and program signed...
Not really knowing what to say, I thanked them profusely for coming to Seattle at long last and then returning again with their previous Pandemonium tour. It was then that Neil said "Wait... we're going to be in Seattle again this tour... what are you doing here in Philadelphia?" At which time I explained my situation, and Chris was kind enough to say that they really enjoy playing Seattle and that it's part of their schedule now (replacing Texas, apparently). Both "Boys" were incredibly warm and friendly, and seemed genuinely appreciative of their fans. It was a complete thrill to have met them, and I'm still a bit starstruck from the experience.
As I had said, the show was beyond amazing. Very imaginative and technically impressive. Beautifully staged. Incredibly entertaining. And then there was the music... which is one of my favorite things on earth. They played a brilliant assortment of songs new and old, and the crowd was on their feet the whole time.
AND I GOT TO SEE IT ALL FROM THE SECOND ROW!!!
When I bought my ticket, I had thought that I was in the 28th, because my row was "BB." In an Excel spreadsheet, columns go from A to Z, then go AA, BB, CC, etc. But it turns out that the "Mann Center for the Performing Arts" has BB as the second row of the orchestra pit. I was so close to the stage that it was almost like getting to meet them all over again!
ME! RIGHT THERE AT THE STAGE!
Their first costumes were scary spikey shirts. They did not look at all comfortable.
Then it was time for... BULL HEADS!!!
The sheer volume of lasers present would have vaporized lesser men!
Chris is wearing a disco ball on his head. And why wouldn't he?
The Pet Shop Boys were strapped to beds, then had other bodies projected on to them!
Chris's keyboard station was beautiful and... ELECTRIC!
And... it was time for a final couple of songs and the end to a great show!
Incredible. Just incredible.
No joke... if you are even a tiny bit of a fan of The Pet Shop Boys, GO SEE THIS SHOW! Tour dates are here.
This is one incredibly small world. I went from having no idea how I was getting home from the concert to getting a ride from the guy sitting next to me from Philadelphia who is a colleague of a friend I know who lives in London when I am from Seattle. I noticed it completely by accident when he put on a sweatshirt with a company logo I recognized. And this follows my running into my friend from London when I was in Boston back in June.
Everything's connected... you just have to stop and look for it!
And speaking of connections... seeing The Pet Shop Boys was not the only great thing to happen today... I got to go to lunch with blogging buddies BubbleWench, LibraGirl, and ChrissyRub! They were incredibly kind enough to take time out of their busy Sundays to come hang out with me and I couldn't have been happier. Having met such amazing people over the years from this blog continues to be a payoff that never ends.
After a fun couple hours, the ladies were nice enough to kill time with me before the concert by offering to take me to see Ft. Mifflin. Once they told me it was haunted, I was totally onboard! It's actually quite a pretty area...
Though the insides are kinda dead. I totally understand why ghosts would want to hang around here...
The most interesting thing about Ft. Mifflin today, however, is its proximity to the airport. Every 5 minutes, a plane screams overhead. And the planes get really close...
No, seriously, the planes get really, really close...
I swear at some point I could see people inside...
Pretty cool! Thanks again ladies!
And... then it was off to the concert, which LibraGirl was kind enough to drive me to.
And... it was incredible. Just incredible.
But I think I mentioned that already.
Prepare yourself for the Truth About Love... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Homeward! My journey home began with a five-hour flight from Siem Reap to Incheon/Seoul at 11:30pm last night. After arriving in Seoul at 6:00am this morning, I was going to spend my TWELVE HOUR LAYOVER wandering around some of my favorite parts of the city. Instead I took my aching head and exhausted body to Incheon's handy Transit Hotel for some sleeping pills and a ten-hour nap. Then it was time for my nine-and-a-half-hour flight home on Korean Air's "SkyTeam" livery plane...
That's one long-ass day of travel. But it wasn't really horrible... lucky for me.
• P!NK! After getting to Seattle, then waiting a half-hour for a ride to my car, then driving a half-hour up into the city, then waiting two hours for a room, then taking a two-hour nap... it was time for P!nk at Seattle's Key Arena...
As you can see, her fans were ready!
• P!NK! As expected, P!nk's jaw-dropping show was a beautiful spectacle from the minute the curtain went up...
• P!NK! The truth about the Truth About Love is that P!nk is so mind-bogglingly talented that she doesn't really need a crazy stage show... it's just the icing on the cake...
Doesn't hurt that she's beautiful to look at as well.
• P!NK! What I don't get is how P!nk isn't dead yet from the insane circus-style tricks she packs into her concerts. Here she is, flying high above Key Arena WHILE SINGING...
If I were to speed around at such dizzying heights, I would be puking all over the audience.
• P!NK! And, all too soon, one of the best stage shows I've ever seen was over. But not before P!nk was wrapped in fabric, drenched in water, and sent spinning above the stage...
Yeah... not a show you want to pass up if P!nk heads to your neck of the woods.
Annnnnd... scene. Tomorrow I drive home and back to Real Life.
Disco became self-aware 40 years ago.
36 years ago, Disco was approaching the height of it's dominance thanks to the movie Saturday Night Fever and the soundtrack by Disco icons The BeeGees.
34 years ago, Disco died a horrible death. Most people were not sad to see it go.
For years after, Disco attempted numerous revivals, yet never managed to come back from the dead.
Earlier this past summer, Daft Punk unleashed the hit track Get Lucky and I feared that Disco might be coming back in zombie form, but this too was short-lived.
For now, it would seem the world is safe from the Disco threat.
But we must remain vigilant.
We must never let down our guard.
Because the spirit of Disco is still out there... somewhere... plotting to return and enslave the world with its evil.
And now tha... tha... OH MY GAWD...
KILL IT NOW! — KILL IT WITH FIRE!
KILL IT WITH FIRE BEFORE IT DESTROYS EVERY ONE OF US!
Today was kind of weird in that I found out The Beatles: Bootleg Recordings 1963 was released. It popped up in my news feed and was reported to have two previously unreleased demo tracks along with a wealth of alternate studio takes for classic songs, plus a bunch of live recordings from the BBC. For a Beatles fan like me, it was a joyous event.
Until I found out it's THIRTY-NINE DOLLARS AND NINETY-FIVE CENTS, that is.
I mean, yes, it's 59 tracks... and it's The frickin' Beatles... but $39.95 when I have a lot of the material in already-released or alternate versions? Crazy talk.
So I bought the two demo tracks, listened to samples of the 57 remainders, bought a few more I liked, then put my wallet back in my pocket and walked away relatively unscathed.
Out of everything, the demo for Bad to Me is the stand-out. It's peppy and fun with wonderful lyrics that bounce and sparkle throughout the minute-and-a-half track like only an early Beatles tune can. I knew of the song (written by Lennon), and knew it was recorded by Billy J. Kramer for release, but I had no idea this recording existed. So... yay.
A part of me continues to wonder if there are other tracks hidden away that are being saved for The Beatles 100th anniversary or something. Given the massive amount of material Lennon-McCartney created, it certainly seems possible. In the meanwhile, I suppose I'll have to be content that releases like this continue to find their way to Beatles fans.
Even if it costs THIRTY-NINE DOLLARS AND NINETY-FIVE CENTS!
And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of music I liked this year. Which is not easy for a guy who's perpetually stuck in the 1980's when it comes to what he listens to.
THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite albums this year...
#1 English Electric by OMD
I pretty much love my top-three albums equally, so I had a tough time deciding which one would end up on top. After a lot of back-and-forth, I settled on English Electric because it had the highest play count on my iTunes (probably thanks to Night Café, which is a song I can't seem to get enough of). And while I don't think it's as great an album as their previous release, History of Modern, there's a lot to love here... even if I would just as soon skip over the experimental crap they sandwich between actual songs.
#2 Electric by Pet Shop Boys
Last year, Pet Shop Boy's Elysium took the top spot on my list despite the love/hate relationship I had with the album. This year was pretty much a repeat of last year, with half the album hooking me worse than a heroin habit, and the other half leaving me cold. Which got me thinking... if I took the half of Elysium I liked and added it to the half of Electric I liked, it would end up being one of the best Pet Shop Boys albums ever. As it is, both are merely "good" for the band... which means Electric is still better than 99% of the stuff that got released in 2013. Getting to ACTUALLY MEET NEIL AND CHRIS WHEN I WENT TO THEIR PHILADELPHIA SHOW was just the icing on the cake.
#3 Dynamics by Holy Ghost!
After falling in love with their self-titled debut, I fully expected to hate Holy Ghost!'s follow-up, because isn't that the way it always goes? Apparently not. Yet another heavy contender for my #1 spot, Dynamics is more 80's-inspired pop genius from a band who knows how to keep cranking out something new that feels as though it's been around for decades. Don't Look Down may very well be my favorite song of 2013. And I'm still mad at myself for not seeing them in concert yet.
#4 The Movement by Betty Who
And speaking of 80's-inspired pop genius... Betty Who came out of nowhere with an EP that I haven't stopped listening to since the minute I learned it existed. Her instant fame was mostly due to the use of Somebody Loves You in one of the best marriage proposals ever... but the three remaining songs are every bit as good (and an argument could be made that High Society is even better). Needles to say, I am anxiously awaiting Betty's first full-length album and an opportunity to see her live.
#5 In a Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities
This release could have made my list based on their smash single Safe and Sound all by itself. Fortunately, the album had more to offer, as it arrived jam-packed with enough addictive synth-pop dance tracks to choke a horse.
#6 Native by OneRepublic
I don't know what it is about OneRepublic, but there hasn't been an album out yet that I haven't played to death... and Native is no exception. Yes, it's more of the same, but I'll take it. Especially when it has such a hauntingly beautiful tune as Can't Stop.
#7 When The Night by St. Lucia
Jean-Philip Grobler, better known as the "band" St. Lucia is someone I discovered from a Victoria's Secret commercial, instantly falling in love with his breezy music and fresh sound...
His self-titled EP ended up being #4 on last year's list, and I ended up playing those six tracks many, many times. So you can imagine my excitement when his full album finally dropped in October, as I had been waiting an entire year for it to arrive. The result is more of the same of what I love about St. Lucia... even if a few tracks abandon his relaxed vibe and go a bit more frantic (the track Too Close comes dangerously close to being a mess). If I have one complaint, it's that I ended up paying for three songs I had already bought on the EP. But a quick listen to beautiful tracks like Elevate has me not caring quite as much as I probably should...
#8 Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
I was tempted to leave Random Access Memories off my list because it's on everybody else's list... but that's not exactly fair, is it? And while "the sound of Summer 2013"... Get Lucky... has been played to the point of nausea, there's plenty left on the album to keep you listening. And I do. Even though it's much more disco than 80's pop.
#9 Free Your Mind by Cut Copy
With each new album, I become a bigger fan of Cut Copy. Their last effort, Zonoscope, was a flawless album that I didn't even know existed until nearly a year after it had been released. I swore I wouldn't make the same mistake next time, and I didn't... I kept up with the band and bought Free Your Mind on day one. And love it. It's big pop fun that's interesting enough to keep me coming back.
#10 New by Paul McCartney
As a massive Beatles fan who fell in love with the band long after they had their run, I suppose it's no big surprise that I had a hard time getting into Wings, who was also done and gone by the time I was into McCartney. His solo projects didn't fare much better... until New, which is a fantastic album with all the hallmark signatures that makes Paul McCartney one of my favorite artists in music history.
#11 Palms by Carousel
Dreamy synth-pop magic that stays in almost constant rotation in my iTunes playlists. This was a discovery made off iTunes Radio, which is always a pleasant surprise.
#12 Delta Machine by Depeche Mode
Given that Depeche Mode is my favorite band of all time I'm pretty much obligated to put their latest effort on my list... even if I'm not sure it really belongs here. Probably because I didn't fall in love with any songs off of the album and am still trying to understand how things could have gone so terribly wrong (seriously, ENOUGH with the songs about angels, heaven, and redemption! Pick a new topic... ANY new topic). I did a write up on the Delta Machine tracks played on their latest tour (which I saw in Tampa), so if you want the gory details of my confusion, here you go.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR...
Volume 3 by She and Him
If I had the guts to deep-six Depeche Mode off my list, this is the album that would take their place. Just when you think you can't love Zooey Deschanel any more than you already do, THIS comes along...
This is Icona Pop by Icona Pop
Some addictive tracks here... but too many of them sound to much the same, which made it a tough pick for my list.
Prism by Katy Perry
Now, heaven only knows I love Katy Perry... her Teenage Dream was an explosion of bubble gum pop perfection... and her first single, Roar, off Prism sure grabbed ahold of me... yet the album just wasn't enough. Maybe it's because she's dating John Mayer now and I can't get the horror out of my head, I dunno.
Swings Both Ways by Robbie Williams.
And... color me shocked. I had -zero- confidence that Robbie could pull off a swing album, but he totally nails it. How he got the inspiration to even attempt this is a mystery, but I'm glad he did.
VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS 2013...
Metroland by OMD
I'm gonna love just about any animated music video... even if the song is shit. But this terrific video is what happens when the song is awesome. Equally amazing is OMD's animated video for Night Cafe (above).
Roar by Katy Perry
The video was so great that it made me love the song. Or maybe it was Katy Perry's outfit. At this point it's hard to tell.
Somebody Loves You by Betty Who, Spencer, and Home Depot
Okay, it's not her official video for the track... but it's hands-down my favorite music video of the year!
And now I'm going to sit back and hope that Pet Shop Boys will go three for three and give us another album and tour in 2014!
BETTY WHO! And tonight Jester and I got to see her perform LIVE!
Which was the perfect end to my day, even though it's now 1:00am and I'm ready to slip into a coma. Maybe it's because I'm old, but I thought 9:30 was a really late start-time on a work-night to be holding a concert. It was made all the worse when you consider Betty Who didn't even take the stage until 11:45...
She totally lives up to the hype. Her music translates beautifully to a live set. Her performance was energetic, infectious fun and Betty gives 200% to her audience. She has a commitment on stage that equals any "big-name" act I've ever seen...
And that's what made this show so fascinating for me.
I was in Seattle as the grunge scene started to ignite. I saw small bands before they were huge bands. It was a genuine thrill to see these musicians in their early days, watching them work through the kinks, find their footing, and then go on to become these massive success stories.
Betty Who has the same feeling about her.
The sound system at the venue was awful. Weird things were happening with the mix. Betty's earpiece looked to be malfunctioning. The lighting was off. Her backing tape was miscued half the time. But it just didn't matter. Betty Who has the talent and star power to rise above it all. And the audience loved her.
I am genuinely thrilled, again, to see an artist at the beginning of their career. This was the last date on Betty's first tour and her first show ever in San Francisco. You can't help but wonder where she'll be a year from now... five years from now. Opening for P!nk on an arena tour, I'd imagine. She's that good...
Anyway... I had a great time. Though I did have to climb up on a table when I thought I might inadvertently be having sex with the two guys grinding away in front of me. They apparently liked Betty Who's show even more than I did.
Betty promised another EP with new songs will drop this Spring.
Then she stepped into the TARDIS and faded off stage, becoming one with time and space.
If you haven't bought her EP yet, you're missing out. CLICK HERE TO BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!
Now there's a full year of Bullet Sundays ... because a Very Special THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIFTH edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mac! Happy 30th Birthday to the Macintosh. It's easy to overlook the importance of something when you use it every single day, but I love my Mac more now than I ever have...
If you haven't seen Apple's look back at Mac innovations, it's well worth exploring If I were forced to pick that one year of Macintosh history that was the biggest for me, it would have to be the release of the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001. Not only was it sexy as hell, but it was also the first time I felt I could do everything on a portable that I could do on my desktop Mac.
Here's to 30 more years of kicking ass.
• Truth! The greatest concert I ever saw was Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses tour back in 1988. A close second would be P!nk's Truth About Love tour from last year. Absolutely spectacular. If you didn't get to see it... or just want to see it again... it's been released on video and is for sale at the iTunes Music Store for just $15 and it's worth every penny...
Just an FYI... the tour is actually still ongoing, with three more dates remaining for Anaheim, Fresno, and Las Vegas. If you've got loads of money sitting around, it's worth tracking down tickets for this sold-out show.
• Bernice! Looks like I need to start watching South Beach Tow! Because, BERNICE! How awesome is she?!?
Holy shit! I hope her ObamaCare has kicked in by now... she's got a rough job!
• Unintelligent! I have been recording the new show Intelligence on my DVR, stacking them up in the hopes of discovering another Black List. No joy. This is easily one of the stupidest shows ever to air on television. It's yet another one of those shitty series where the writers are constantly pulling some kind of random techno-bullshit out of their asses not because it makes sense for the story... but because they're too fucking lazy to come up with something... intelligent... for lack of a better word. "HOW ARE WE GOING TO STOP HER? SHE HAS A COMPUTER CHIP IN HER HEAD?" — "I KNOW! LET'S PRESS A BUNCH OF RANDOM BUTTONS AND EXPLOIT SOME HERE-UNTO NON-EXISTENT FLAW IN THE CHIP SO WE CAN HACK HER HEAD AND SAVE THE DAY!" — YEAH! WHO GIVES A SHIT IF WE ARE THE VERY DEFINITION OF DEUS EX MACHINA! IT BEATS HAVING TO USE LOGIC FOR A LIVING! Seriously, I don't understand how this crap-fest ever made it to air.
• LEGO! Just when I think that I couldn't possibly be more excited about the upcoming LEGO movie, this comes along...
"Epic" isn't an epic enough word to describe the epicness of just how epic this movie is gonna be.
And there it is... a year's worth of 365 Bullet Sundays in the can. And you said it wouldn't last. Shame on you!
One of the few remaining bands on my 80's Must-See-List is The Smiths... but since that reunion probably isn't happening any time soon, getting to see Morrissey (whose early solo stuff I love) is the next best thing.
And since he wasn't coming anywhere near The Pacific Northwest and Seattle on the tour for his upcoming album World Peace Is None of Your Business, it meant I had to travel to see him. Off to Tampa I go.
I didn't eat much at all yesterday, so I woke up hungry this morning. I really wanted a falafel for lunch, but found out the mall across the street had a Grimaldi's, so my lunch plans were set.
But first... X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST!
It's no secret that I think Bryan Singer's original two X-Men films were crappy and boring... and that Brett Ratner's third film, the horrendously shitty X-Men: Last Stand, is one of the worst comic movies of all time. Nor is it a secret that I loved the Matthew Vaughn prequel film X-Men: First Class, and was thrilled that the X-Men franchise was finally getting a decent movie.
Which is why I was mortified when Matthew Vaughn dropped out and Bryan Singer returned to direct the First Class sequel... X-Men: Days of Future Past. And the fact that Singer was not only dragging his original X-Men back into the franchise... but he was also going to take a dump on a classic and beloved story from the comics... well, the movie had "disaster" written all over it. And that's pretty much what we got. In typical Singer fashion, inexplicable shit happens that has no regard for the characters, the source material, nor movie continuity. But back to the film...
In the future, mutants are almost extinct thanks to giant robots called "Sentinels" which hunt them down. In a last-ditch effort to save both mutants and humans, Wolverine's mind is sent back in time to his younger self so he can change history and save the world. The way he does this is to have Singer pull a new super-power out of his ass for Kitty Pryde, which makes no fucking sense, but oh well. What follows is kinda boring in stretches, but has some really good action sequences, so all is not lost, I guess. The best thing about the film is amazing performances by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy... plus a killer sequence featuring the mutant Quicksilver (who looks fucking stupid, but is performed wonderfully). Overall, it's a decent flick that (wisely) abandons past continuity in an attempt to tell an entertaining story. I wish it was a better, tighter story which respected the source material more, but you can't have everything when it comes to an X-Men film, apparently. I give it a B-.
THEN it was time for pizza. I had them make a Da Vinci pie ala David's of Spokane... in a New York pizzeria... in Tampa... which was kind of strange. But it tasted great...
THEN, after working for the afternoon, it was time to make my way down to St. Petersburg for the show. Where I ran across this guy as I headed into town for a quick dinner...
The Morrissey concert, which was playing at the Mahaffey Theater, was worth the trip. Mostly. The opening act was Kristeen Young, who had moments of brilliance interrupted by ungodly screeching and instrument abuse. I can kinda describe her music thusly: Part Tori Amos. Part Pat Benetar. Part hog slaughterhouse. Part car wreck. Part piano being shot out of a cannon. All accompanied by drum and guitar pounding. I don't know what to make of it, actually. Not my thing I guess. She was followed by an interlude filled with all kinds of bizarre crap before Morrissey took the stage...
As for the main event? Moz sounded amazing, his band was very good, and he played a nice selection of songs. Sure, I wish he had done a lot more tracks from The Smiths and his earlier solo works, but even his later stuff sounds like classic Morrissey, so I enjoyed every minute...
All the way, Morrissey was Morrissey. He told us of his disgust that a sinkhole at LEGOland was more newsworthy than Syria or the death of Maya Angelou. Had a discussion with some people from the audience what they thought about it. And he accompanied Meat is Murder with a horrific, graphic, bloody video showing the atrocities that happen to poor animals in the meat and dairy industry. He also took time to give a thbpt/raspberry to the people in the audience who "weren't listening" after thanking those who did.
The crowd was a little dead, which explains why he played just 17 songs with a single encore compared to the 19-20 he's done in other cities. No matter... the show was well worth the trip and price of admission.
Now if only I can manage to see New Order in concert...
Today was sure a good day for videos!
Starting with the international trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which is shaping up to be a must-see film. This pleases me, because I was highly skeptical when Marvel announced it was on their development schedule. The comic book has all kinds of weird ties to the "galactic" side of the Marvel Universe, which needs a lot of subtext to be fully understood.
It also features a talking raccoon.
But with each new sneak peek and trailer that gets released, I love the idea a little more.
Especially the talking raccoon...
Can you imagine if we get an Avenger or two in the sequel? Holy crap is Marvel doing absolutely everything right in their film properties.
My love of The Daily Show is well-known. A lot of that has to do with Jon Stewart's genius delivery of the "news" stories he reports. But he's not the only talent on the show. His supporting reporters are all pretty darn good. One of the best was John Oliver before he left to do his own show... Last Week Tonight.
Now he's even better.
He is able to distill complex topics to bits that are as easy to understand as they are funny. His latest story on Fifa is an excellent example...
His take on Net Neutrality, one of the most important topics in this country today, was genius...
The YouTube Channel for Last Week Tonight is well worth a look.
In music news... OK Go has done it again. They've crafted an incredible video for their latest track, The Writing's on the Wall...
What's great about OK Go is not just that they know how to make uniquely great music videos... but that the music they put in those videos is really great too. This song has been stuck in my head from the minute I heard it.
If you've ever wondered what would happen if Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant Broadway musical The Book of Mormon were mashed-up with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant cartoon South Park... well, wonder no more. Simon Chong has flawlessly animated exactly that...
I'm no fan of musicals... but The Book of Mormon was absolute genius, and this just makes me hope that we eventually get a movie version of the show.
The Brian Williams rap mashups that have been appearing on Jimmy Fallon are amazing because they're so brilliantly crafted. The latest installment for Baby Got Back is no exception...
In case you hadn't seen it, my favorite of all of them is Rapper's Delight...
If you can't get enough, here's a link to more.
And lastly... such a cool rescue catch by Brock Holt of the ever-awesome Boston Red Sox...
How sweet was that?
See? A pretty good day for videos!
I'm a big fan of the television show Community.
When NBC decided to cancel the show after its fifth season, I was understandably upset.
YAHOO! TO THE RESCUE! — Thanks, Yahoo!
In other entertainment news, a trailer for The Skeleton Twins was released today. It looks pretty great. If nothing else, the soundtrack sounds terrific...
Secret by OMD!
Holy crap does than bring back memories...
I miss the 80's.
On days where I do nothing but work, there's never much to blog about.
So I'm starting a new category here at Blogography to make my life easier. Whenever I have nothing to write about, I'll just toss out the best and worst things I've seen that day. Which will usually be YouTue videos I watch while eating lunch at my desk.
Bullet Sunday it ain't... but, eh...
The best thing I saw all day...
Miyazaki-san may have retired from Studio Ghibli, but his fingerprints are still on everything they release. Absolutely beautiful animation.
The worst thing I saw all day...
You have to watch it all the way through to appreciate the true horror of it all. Seriously, who wants to listen to this crap? Was the crowd actually digging it? Or were they waving ironically? What has humanity done to deserve this?
Now I have to get back to work. At 11:36pm.
I'm pretty sure I know what I did to deserve that.
Smoke is in the air and so are bullets... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Spoilers! Since I have no desire to see yet another flaming pile of shit Transformers movie that's not about Transformers, I jumped right on io9's "Spoiler FAQ" for Transformers 4. Sounds just as heinous as I knew it would be. Even if you have no interest in this turd of a film franchise, Rob Bricken's comments are pretty epic. If you want an entertaining read that encapsulates everything that's wrong with modern movies, it's an article absolutely work reading.
• Don't Come! But... but... I've already been to Belgium!
Antarctica has been at the top of my travel destination list for years. Now I just don't know. Tourist crowds? In freakin' Antarctica? Blargh.
• Murder! I would like to add my outrage to all those people condemning dinosaur hunters for murdering these magnificent creatures...
Photo © Universal Pictures
What a bastard! NOT COOL, STEVEN SPIELBERG!
• Shawn! Started out my day listening to Jay-Z and found myself Googling him to see what he's up to (besides Beyonce). Ended up watching about 20 Jay-Z interviews on YouTube. He is awesome in all of them. This is probably my favorite. Not many people can out-Letterman Dave Letterman...
It's nice how Jay-Z feels the need to keep reminding us that he's cooler than 99% of the people on earth.
• Pepe! Click here for some wisdom from a true leader... President José "Pepe" Mujica....
Photo © The Associated Press
They saved the most telling quote for last on the secret to happiness...
"To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don't try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don't expect others to live like me. I want to respect people's freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don't share those views."
Sounds oddly familiar... a pity politicians in this country aren't so forward (er, backwards?) thinking when it comes to imposing their criteria (or, more likely, the criteria of the lobbyists who have bought them off) on the people they claim to represent.
• Thanks! Have you thanked your parents today?
And, to the woman hosting this video... marry me?
Now I suppose I should try to get some rest before The Week From Hell rears its ugly head. Blargh.
Time to get weird... because a Very Special Weird Al Yankovic edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Unless you've been hiding from the internet and all known media this week, you've undoubtedly heard that Weird Al has a new album out called Mandatory Fun. And to promote his latest release, Al is releasing one new video each day for eight days. As usual, they are absolutely brilliant. And it got me wanting to take a look back at my all-time favorites. Not an easy task when most every video the man makes is great, but here's my Top 12 in order of release...
• I Lost on Jeopardy (1983). I laugh every single time I see the video for I Lost on Jeopardy, which is amazing considering I was not a fan of the Greg Kihn original that it is parodying. It doesn't hurt that Don Pardo pops up at the end... and Greg Kihn himself closes out the video...
• Like a Surgeon (1985). Weird Al parodying Madonna's Like a Virgin had huge potential to go terribly wrong, but ended up being the video that confirmed Weird Al's early brilliance. Like a Surgeon was smart, funny, and came from an idea suggested by Madonna herself...
• Christmas at Ground Zero (1986). This non-parody track is just too funny... telling the ultimate horror story, but in the peppiest way possible. I especially love the video for Christmas at Ground Zero because it went all retro with a nifty throwback to Cold War paranoia...
• You Don't Love Me Anymore (1992). Okay... this is hands-down one of my favorite Weird Al songs. That he managed to come up with such a great video for You Don't Love Me Anymore (itself a parody of Extreme's video for More Than Words) is just too good. Adding a cameo by Robert Goulet is beyond good...
• Jurassic Park (1993). I never knew that I needed a Claymation parody of MacArthur Park in my life... but then Al came up with the amazing Jurassic Park and I wondered how I ever lived without it. This song is particularly great in how it manages to reach a sympathetic note while still being funny...
• It's All About the Pentiums (1999). I'm a bit surprised that Puff Daddy allowed a parody of It's All About the Benjamins but, much to his credit, he did. This resulted in a computer geek's dream anthem, It's All About the Pentiums, which proves without a doubt that there's no subject Al can't sing about...
• Close But No Cigar (2006). The song is clever but not a favorite. Until Al got John K. to animate Close But No Cigar, at which point it became genius...
• White & Nerdy (2006). A love letter to geeks everywhere, White and Nerdy pretty much sums up my life from high school onward. As if that weren't enough, it's a really good parody of Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone's Ridin'...
• Perform This Way (2011). A scathing parody of not only the hit song Born This Way... but the absurdity of its creator, Lady Gaga. On both counts, it's dead-on. So much so that it pretty much transcends "parody" to become art in its own right.
• Party in the CIA (2011). I rather liked Miley Cyrus' Party in the USA, and was happy that Weird Al parodied it with Party in the CIA. I was even happier when I saw the gorgeously animated video he released for it...
• Word Crimes (2014). Robin Thicke ruled the summer last year with his misogynistic song Blurred Lines which glamorizes rape culture. How Weird Al thought to turn it into a genius commentary on bad grammar with Word Crimes I'll never know. But he did, and I love it. My favorite track off of Mandatory Fun...
• Foil (2014). This catchy parody of Lorde's Royals starts out as amusing but mundane... then takes a genius left turn off the deep end by diving into government conspiracies and the Illuminati. I only wish the song were longer, as it seems to cut short at the end...
And... that's a wrap! You can tell that Weird Al has a darn good videography when some of his most popular videos (Eat It, Gump, Fat, Amish Paradise, Smells Like Teen Spirit, etc.) didn't make my list.
Time to find some shade... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Theif! If I were going to be a master criminal. This would be my jam.
You can't change the world
But you can change the facts
And when you change the facts
You change points of view
If you change points of view
You may change a vote
When you change a vote
You may change the world
The media controls us. It's what they do. Sadly, nobody seems to care... they're too busy feeling what they're told. But the ones we should really be worrying about is not the media... it's who controls them.
• Baddies?! Comedy is at its best when it has some harsh truth to it. This bit from Mitchell and Webb has been in my mind a lot lately...
Doesn't hurt to stop from time to time and evaluate your situation. You might not be where you think you are.
• Yossi! As I was digging through Netflix for background noise while I worked, I was shocked to find that there is sequel to the Israeli film Yossi & Jager (which I talked about here). Titled Yossi, it picks up ten years later. Shattered after watching his boyfriend die in his arms, Yossi Gutmann has buried his life as a gay man and put all his energy into becoming a cardiologist. Depressed, lonely, and with no social life to speak of, everything changes one day when the mother of his former lover appears at the hospital...
So rarely does a sequel live up to its predecessor. This is an exception. I was really glad a reader had recommended the original film, and even gladder to have come across the followup. In many ways it not only provides closure for Yossi... but also the audiences who came to care about the character. Since this is a foreign film with subtitles... AND gay cinema... it hasn't gotten much exposure in its two years of release here in the States. That's a shame, because it's a good story regardless of your nationality or sexuality.
• Sunny! Wow. Be safe out there. And carry SPF 50...
The sun is your friend. So long as you're wearing protection.
• MMMMMEEEEEAT! According to Popular Science, there's a tick whose bite can make you severely allergic to meat. Obviously a sign from God that we're all meant to be vegetarians. Why else would something like this exist? No confirmation from Pat Robertson on that yet though...
Photo from the Center for Disease Control
If this becomes an epidemic, it's good news for cows. And pigs. Maybe chickens and turkeys... I don't know about birds. Bad news for fish and sea creatures who'll have to take up the slack. Really terrible news for carrots, I suppose.
Annnnd... I need to reload.
I never thought I would see The Thompson Twins perform live again. Since they are one of my favorite bands of all time, that's kind of a bummer.
But now, miracle of miracles, Tom Bailey (the lead singer and primary songwriter behind the band) is going on tour. Where he will be performing some of my most favorite songs. It seems too good to be true. It's all going to go all wrong, isn't it?
But then a video was posted of his pre-tour warm-up show...
I Can't wait to see the Retro Futura tour next month. And who knows? Maybe next time he tours, Joe Leeway and Alannah Currie will join him. Wouldn't that be something.
That's not a question. It would totally be something.
It's a good time to be a Thompson Twins fan.
Frontman Tom Bailey is touring with some other terrific 80's acts (including Howard Jones and Ultra Vox's Midge Ure) on the Retro Futura Tour. And a Thompson Twins 2-disc set Remixes and Rarities is due to be released in September.
As if that wasn't enough, he sat in with The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this evening...
Please... please... please... let Tom be inspired to release some new Thompson Twins material after the tour is over. And then tour again.
Pull up a seat to the campfire... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Doctor! While I felt Peter Capaldi did a great job as the new Doctor Who, I was a bit disappointed in his debut episode. I'd like to blame it on all the build-up, hype, and anticipation pushing my expectations too high... but I honestly feel that had nothing to do with it. I was just bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. It was a boring episode.
I'd have thought they would start this series out with a bang, but that didn't happen... at least in my humble opinion. I don't know what they're waiting for, but here's hoping next episode ramps things up to where they need to be.
• Thrice! Did I mention that the latest FREE issue of Thrice Fiction has been released? Well it has! And you can download it at absolutely no charge from our website!
Plenty of good stuff to be found within. Hurry up and get your copy before we come to our senses and start charging thousands of dollars for it!
• Star-Lord! My man-crush on Chris Pratt continues. I love it when famous people use their celebrity as a force for good instead of being self-centered assholes like so many seem to be. And kudos to Marvel for not starting up a lawsuit when Chris visited a children's hospital in-character as Star-Lord...
Photo from @Twitter
What an awesome guy.
• Bunga! If you've got an upcoming journey to or through Europe, be forewarned that Iceland is ripe for yet another volcanic eruption. Mt. Bardarbunga is poised to blow. The potential for disaster being even larger than the previous explosion of Mt. Eyjafjallajokul that messed up travel plans for millions of passengers as flights were delayed and canceled left and right due to unsafe ash content in the air.
It's always something.
• Tom! I hate to be the All Thompson Twins All The Time Channel, but I'm a huge fan. And this is a really good interview...
Original Photo Uncredited
• Human! And lastly... this video is titled Restore Your Faith in Humanity. It's aptly named...
Annnnnd... no more bullets for you. See you next week!
Don't you dare despair... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• The Ramones! HOLY CRAP! If this is true... IF THIS IS TRUE... wow.
• Fun! Funko Pop! finally announced that they are releasing some Firefly characters in their line of vinyl pop culture figures...
I, of course, was compelled to pre-order my favorite character, Hoban Washburne, complete with one of his toy dinosaurs...
You can get your own over at ToyWiz.
• Dreamy! The entire Skyer album by the Swedish dream-pop group Postiljonen is achingly beautiful... but this song is just... beyond. How they managed to create such a lovely song around Whitney Houston's How Will I Know? is a mystery...
Though if forced to pick a favorite off the album, Plastic Panorama is absolute magic...
Of course, I'm a sucker for anything that quotes The Princess Bride.
• Cancelation. With quality television being a rare thing indeed now-a-days, I was disturbed to see that the A&E series Longmire has been canceled...
What's interesting in this case is that the show is being canceled despite pulling big ratings. The studio is shopping the show around to try and keep it on the air, which is encouraging, but it's hard to take news like this given the overwhelming amount of crap clogging network schedules.
• Roofs! If you have a head for heights, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov have posted a stunning set of sphincter-puckering photos from Hong Kong on their website...
Actually, "stunning" is under-selling it.
• Diane! A big thank you to Diane Sawyer for five years anchoring ABC's World News Tonight. I've been tuning in throughout her run and have become a fan. I look forward to future appearances as a "special correspondent"...
The diversity was nice while it lasted. Now the "Big Three" networks are all once again being safely anchored by white guys.
And... my six-shooter has done ran out of Bullets.
Put on that skinny tie and flip up that collar... because a Very Special Retro Futura Tour 2014 Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tom Bailey! I'm just going to cut to the chase here... as a diehard Thompson Twins fan, Tom Bailey's run through some of the band's greatest hits surpassed my every expectation. After 27 years you'd naturally assume that something would be lost. But it wasn't. Everything he sang was note-perfect and the arrangement of the songs, while freshened up a bit, was still respectful to the originals that everybody came to hear. I loved every minute that Tom was on stage, and nearly three decades of begging for a Thompson Twins tour was rewarded in every way I could have dreamed of (short of having Alannah and Joe show up, of course)...
The set-list was pretty much what you expect...
If time were permitting, I would have really liked to have seen Lay Your Hands on Me and Get That Love included. Maybe one day. And please. Please. Please one day let Tom Bailey take the trip back to Brit-Pop Land and give us a new album of Twins material. Please. If there's one thing his participation in Retro Futura has shown us, people are ready.
• Howard Jones! I'm a big HoJo fan. I love his incredible synth play and feel-good lyrics. His music is on regular rotation on my iTunes playlists. I've seen him perform live twice. Seeing him in concert should be one of life's highlights for me and, for the most part, it is. But good lord, man... does every tune you play in concert have to be the super-extended-disco-remix version of the song? Yes... I love it when a live performance brings a little something to the table that you can't get from the album... but you did that with the heavier pumping synth intros. There's no need to give us fifty refrains of WHAT IS LOOOOOOOOOVE, ANYWAY? DOES ANYBODY LOVE ANYBODY ANYWAY? All it does is serve to drive your beautiful song into the ground and make it run way, way too long.
Still... it was Howard Jones. And though the senseless, endless repetition was annoying, I still loved his performance...
And so did the rest of the crowd...
By the way... Howard Jones has continued to release albums well after the 80's were dead and gone. His last release was in 2009. If you're a fan, it's well-worth checking out. Even so, for the sake of Retro Futura, Howard didn't stray from those early hits that made him famous... The Human Touch, Like to Get to Know You Well, Everlasting Love, No One Is to Blame, The Prisoner, What Is Love?, Things Can Only Get Better, and New Song.
• Katrina... sans The Waves! I should come clean here... I am most definitely not a fan of Walking on Sunshine, which is Katrina and The Waves' greatest hit (here in the US, anyway). I am, however, absolutely a fan of Katrina Leskanich's performance at Retro Futura last night. She worked her guts out to put on a good show and succeeded completely. And not just from her music, which was terrific, but from her conversations between songs... telling the story of how they came to be and how they impacted her career...
My favorite track she performed was Going Down to Liverpool, a Katrina and the Waves track made famous by a cover by The Bangles. As Katrina explains it, the success of that song by another group led to her band getting signed. The rest is history.
It's worth noting that by opening the show, Katrina had to perform in full-on sun... which was blisteringly hot and relentless throughout her entire set. That she managed to get through her song list without fainting is pretty impressive. Even more impressive? The album she wrote and recorded in just five weeks before joining the tour. Take a listen here.
• China Crisis! This is a band that pretty much flew under my radar back in the day. The only song I remember latching onto was the beautiful Wishful Thinking which, thankfully, was performed in their set...
I don't know that Retro Futura turned me into a diehard fan of the group, but it did make me much more interested in taking a listen to their stuff.
• Midge Ure sans Ultravox! And here's where we get to the biggest surprise of the evening. I've played his album If I Was - The Very Best of Midge Ure and Ultravox so many times that the lyrics are burned into my memory. Every song on that album is absolute magic, and I was pretty excited to see Midge perform live, as I'd never had the opportunity before. Little did I know that he would blow the doors off the joint with a voice so powerful and pure that you could feel it to your very soul...
Absolutely amazing show. I think he took the breath away from every person in attendance.
When it comes to his track selection, any fan of Ultravox was bound to be disappointed because he only had time to perform five songs...
All in all... wow. Just wow. I would watch another show in a heartbeat.
• SHARK BITE EXTREME! Before heading to the Sandy Amphitheater, Marty (of Banal Leakage fame) and I headed to Joe's Crab Shack. They have a beverage called a "Shark Bite" that I really wanted to try (because it looks so cool), and the restaurant was fairly close to the venue. When the drink arrives, it's all vodka, rum, sweet and sour, plus Blue Curaçao... with a shark full of grenadine hanging off the side...
The idea is that you dump the grenadine into the blue "water" to make a bloody mess...
And it is cool... for a minute.
But what you ultimately end up with is a disgusting glass of purple stuff that's so sweet your teeth will ache afterwards.
You do get to keep your plastic shark though... and that's all I really cared about.
And there you have it. This afternoon I flew home from Salt Lake City without incident... walking on sunshine the entire way because I got to meet Erin Gray, hang out with one of my long-time blog friends, get a plastic shark... oh... and see one of my favorite bands of all time perform live after 27 years of waiting. A pretty great way to spend a weekend, I think.
I have watched every episode of The Tonight Show since Jimmy Fallon took over. I understand the criticism of his work there... he's not the greatest comedian and his interviews tend to wander... but that's not the point. The guy just knows how to have fun and get his guests to have fun with him. And because of that, it's easy to tune in and let Jimmy take you away from the troubles of the day. And for that I love the guy. He never fails to make me laugh, and having The Roots as his house band guarantees that you're going to hear some good music to boot... even if you don't like the musical guest.
Fallon has a number of bits that I enjoy, but sitting at the top of the list is where Jimmy and The Roots get a musician to perform one of their hits... accompanied by instruments from a kid's classroom.
The result is funny... but the song is always great too! In catching up on shows I missed while I was away, I ran across his best one yet. Meghan Trainor showed up to sing her track All About That Bass.
If you missed it, here's a few of my other favorites. Including Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines...
And Carly Rae Jepsen singing Call Me Maybe...
And, of course, the time Sesame Street visited to sing their theme song. How anybody can watch this and not smile is beyond me...
And then there's The Roots. Holy crap are they talented. They can do anything having to do with music. And I've seen Questlove fill in on drums more than a couple times for visiting musicians. Flawlessly. I have no idea how he does it. Just massively great at his job, I guess.
If you're not a fan, here's a video where The Roots backed Miley Cyrus acapella on We Can't Stop...
So people can criticize Jimmy Fallon all they want, but there have been times where watching him on The Tonight Show has been the best part of my day.
I can't offer a better endorsement than that.
Put down that pumpkin spice latte, you coffee house hipster... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bureaucracy. If watching this video doesn't make you want to execute every bureaucrat asshole in Washington D.C. responsible for dreaming up this bullshit, then you're not watching it correctly...
Wouldn't it be great if our politicians got off their worthless asses and actually fixed stupid shit like this? Well, don't hold your breath, they're too busy getting reelected to do anything actually useful.
• LEGO. As a lover of all things LEGO, I have to say that even imaginary LEGO makes me happy when it's as well done as this...
Images by JimmyLegs50
You really gotta see the whole thing to appreciate this level of genius.
• Dora. I had a little crush on Dora from I Married Dora. I had more than a little crush on Mirage from The Incredibles...
I was very sad to learn that the amazing actress responsible for both those characters, Elizabeth Peña, passed away earlier this week. She will definitely be missed.
• Hooks. As if losing Elizabeth Peña wasn't tragic enough... sublimely talented SNL veteran Jan Hooks also passed away this past week...
A terrible loss for her many fans... including me.
• Reverse. One of my favorite bands, Mackintosh Braun released an EP titled The City Below in anticipation of their new album Arcadia, due in 2015. My favorite track off the EP was posted to SoundCloud and is worth a listen...
You can pick up The City Below at the iTunes Music store.
• Equality. Progress sometimes happens...
And that's a wrap. Kinda nice to have Bullet Sunday actually land on a Sunday for once.
Hasn't been working so far...
Maybe I need to sacrifice Justin Bieber to a goat or something.
Halloween may be over, but the terror is just beginning... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Frozen. While my hockey heart will forever belong to the Blackhawks, my love of Boston Red Sox baseball spills over to the Bruins from time to time. Halloween was one of those times...
Dressing up as characters from Frozen to visit sick kids? That's pretty great. GO BOSTON!
• Corn! Okay... this took me completely by surprise...
Now that's a cat that likes corn!
• Rock. Oh... so that's what it takes for Saturday Night Live to be entertaining again! Chris Rock and Prince! As a huge fan of Chris Rock, I knew he'd blow in like a hurricane and ride the bleeding edge. He did not disappoint. With an opening monologue that was so brilliantly dead on that he should be arrested for assault, Rock tore through gun control, Christmas commercialization, Jesus, 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and Ebola like his life depended on it. Yeah, it was uncomfortable in spots, but it was exactly what it needed to be... enlightening and damn funny.
Now we just need to wait for FOX "News" to shit all over his performance like they do anything that they can spin into an attack on 'Murica. Then again, is there anything they can't spin into an attack on 'Murica?
As for Prince... he decided to skip the whole "two-song performance" tradition and combined his time for a single blistering medley of his latest tracks. I do not envy having to be the band who has to follow that next week.
• Bianco. How Christina Bianco can keep all those voices straight in her head is a mystery... but the result is pretty amazing...
What... no P!nk?
• Galactic. I was sorry to hear of the tragedy that overcame SpaceShip Two earlier this week. Forging into unknown territory is always a dangerous but worthwhile endeavor...
My thoughts are with the friends and family of co-pilot Michael Alsbury.
• OK! Yet another masterpiece from OK Go! This time they took their famous one-shot video concept to all new heights by using drones to shoot it. As if that weren't enough, the song is pretty awesome to boot...
Every time the band releases a new video, I wonder how they're possibly going to top it, and here's my answer. What's next? OK Go in space?
Click. Click. Click. Until next week then...
Put down that shot of Jägermeister... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Foundation! Literary sci-fi nerds around the world (myself included) had a simultaneous orgasm when it was announced that Jonathan Nolan would be adapting Isaac Asimov's seminal work, the Foundation trilogy for HBO...
Foundation's Hari Seldon by Michael Whelan
My fear is, of course, that Foundation will get completely screwed up like Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars did... but Nolan seems to be a serious fan, so here's hoping.
• Ash! As if a Foundation TV series isn't enough, it was announced that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell will be bringing The Evil Dead back as a Starz television series in 2015!
Kind of amazing that a cult property like The Evil Dead would be getting resurrected like this, but I'll take it.
• Salmon. John Oliver's Last Week Tonight came up with a mind-bogglingly cool set of guest-appearances for one of their latest bits...
Now that's pretty epic.
• Lighthouses. Stunning.
• Attack! While I was in Africa, I was always joking about how great it would be to see some kind of unbelievable animal attack scenario... like leopards attacking an elephant... or a herd of impala attacking a lion... or whatever. Little did I know...
Holy cats! I would have put my money on the lions. Way to go there Tantor!
• Ass. A couple months ago Marvel Comics unleashed a shit-storm of controversy when they got famous Italian artist Milo Manara to create an alternate artist collector cover for the Spider-Woman relaunch. I was blissfully unaware of the controversy until I saw a link to an article at Elle magazine where somebody was commenting that she looked like a porn star. I remarked at the time that this was pretty ironic given how Elle Photoshops their models to within an inch of their lives to look like porn stars. And, in many ways, their work was far dangerous because young girls looking at the Spider-Woman cover would immediately know it wasn't real... whereas with Elle they're presented with women that look real and whose beauty is obtainable but, in reality, are not.
Fast-forward to today, and one of my friends sent me this link...
So apparently Maddox is blogging again. Kinda. I don't always agree with him, but I think his take on Spider-Woman #1's alternate cover is pretty dead-on. Especially considering that kids today don't give a crap about comics, and most of the people reading them are adults that grew up with them.
And now... back to my impending hangover, already in progress.
This weekend I ran across a video for one of Depeche Mode's most beloved songs, Just Can't Get Enough. As is typical with YouTube, the videos are stacked up like potato chips and you find that you can't watch just one. Before I knew it, I had blown through dozens of versions of Just Can't Get Enough from their live shows over the decades. Turns out that they've played it a lot.
Not surprisingly, the band had changed it up a bit over the years...
Here is the video that started my journey. They look like they're 10 years old here. The original song is a bit tinny, but this is the only way I knew it for nearly a decade (from 1982)...
Now, in the above video, Alan Wilder has taken the place of Vince Clark, which means there are even earlier versions where he was still with the band (from 1981)...
I'm glad that the official video for the song has Vince performing the track. He wrote the thing after all. Just an FYI, this is the only DM music video he appears in (also from 1981)...
Jumping back ahead to 1982 and the post-Vince Clark period, this version of the song has Dave Gahan with a bit different ending than what I've heard before...
Then we come to what many consider to be the "classic era" of Depeche Mode. People Are People gets released and the entire world starts to take notice (from 1984)...
Of the many, many versions of Just Can't Get Enough I've heard over the years, my hands-down favorite is the live version from my favorite Depeche Mode album of all time... 101 (from 1988)...
A little harder on the synth, but not so much that it's a radical change from the original.
Alan Wilder left the band in 1995. The band was never quite the same. Nor were live performances of Just Can't Get Enough (from 1998)...
Not a lot changed in the years that followed (from 2006)...
Which leads us to last year's show (from 2013)...
This actually sounds like a step back towards the original, where the synth is a bit more brassy than deep.
And... out of the 200+ versions of the song I found on YouTube, that's a pretty good representation of the song's evolution.
I hope to hear it at many more Depeche Mode concerts in the years to come.
They're gonna get you.
They won't forget you.
Oh you know I know.
And here's the last of my "Best Of 2014" lists for the year. Which was a surprisingly good one given that none of my most favorite bands had releases this year!
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 All That We Had is Lost by Postiljonen
Had I heard Postiljonen's debut album Skyer when it was released last year, it would have topped my list for 2013. But since Howard didn't tell me about Postiljonen until this year, I had to find a way to get them on my list. Hence, their All That We Had is Lost remixes album in my #1 spot. I love this band. Their beautiful dream-pop music has been playing constantly since the first day I heard it, and no band has consumed me like Postiljonen in a very long time. So... after you buy Skyer, you'll want to pick up All That We Had is Lost (a stunning re-work of Whitney Houston's How Will I know) so you can get the new track When All The Wild Things Die. Magical stuff.
#2 The City Below EP by Mackintosh Braun
As previous years will attest, I have -zero- problem putting an EP on my list. Especially when it's an EP that contains my favorite song of the year... the hauntingly sublime In Reverse. My guess is that The City Below EP was released to satisfy fans who were upset that Mackintosh Braun's long-promised album, Arcadia, was delayed until March 31st of 2015. It worked. The four tracks are all fantastic, and definitely left me wanting more.
#3 Sonic Highways by Foo Fighters
It's always surprising to me that Dave Grohl and Co. haven't made a single misstep in their entire catalog of work. They seem incapable of disappointing me, and everything they release gets played to death. Sonic Highways is no exception. It's a tight album of only 8 tracks... but each one is flawless. Foo Fighters are the face of modern rock in a day and age where rock music seems to be a dying breed. Pray to whatever rock gods ye may that they keep blessing us with new music for years to come.
#4 Take Me When You Go by Betty Who
Having playing both of Betty's EPs into the ground, it was hardly surprising that I'd fall in love with her all over again with the release of her first full-length album. Take Me When You Go is filled with melodic 80's-style pop that I can't seem to get enough of, and Betty's lovely voice bounces through each track with such effortless enthusiasm that it can lift me up even when I'm at my lowest. If you haven't jumped on the Betty Who train yet, there's no better time than now.
#5 Hungry Ghosts by OK Go
I often feel that OK Go's actual music is eclipsed by their amazing, mind-bending music videos. Yes, the videos are fantastic, but they wouldn't be nearly as compelling if the music sucked... but it really doesn't. OK Go has a knack for cranking out inventive, thoughtful songs that deserve the awesome music video treatments they get. The first single, The Writing's On The Wall is by far my favorite track, but there's a lot of pop magic happening on Hungry Ghosts that makes it worth listening to.
#6 Talking is Hard by Walk the Moon
Having friends who get me musically is an incredible blessing, because I'm always being exposed to terrific new music I would have otherwise missed. Many, many thanks to Jester for turning me on to Walk the Moon which is exactly the kind of pop music I obsess over. Talking is Hard is about as good as an album gets. Each track builds on the previous track to keep you moving from beginning to end. Sure, it's only been out for a month, but I've listened to it so much that I've probably played it more than half the other albums I bought this year.
#7 Sheezus by Lily Allen
Lily Allen never really registered for me, even though I very much enjoyed the occasional single I'd happen across. But then she made a guest appearance on P!nk's fantastic song, True Love, and I became obsessed. An obsession was rewarded when she dropped Sheezus back in May. It's an album of chirpy pop classics that never cease to make me smile.
#8 Ghost Stories by Coldplay
As someone who felt that Coldplay's best days were long past, I was taken a bit by surprise with Ghost Stories. It's a haunting album of love and loss that kinds of sticks in your head with each new listen. I don't know that the band will ever reach the marvelous heights found on A Rush of Blood to the Head, but if they keep hitting us with albums like this one, I'm happy to tune in.
#9 1989 by Taylor Swift
When a country artist as successful as Taylor Swift abandons her bread and butter for a stab at pop music gold, it would be understandable to think her insane. But 1989 was a gamble that totally paid off, and is responsible for two of my favorite songs of 2014 (Style and Blank Space). Sure it wanders in places, but it's an overall success story that has me hoping Taylor will abandon her country roots a few albums longer.
#10 White Women by Chromeo
While there are some inexplicably missable tracks on Chromeo's fourth album (I'm looking at you, Sexy Socialite!), the preponderance of vintage beats that make up White Women is too good to deny. This is unapologetic classic pop at its purest, and filled a void in 2014 that needed filling.
#11 Mandatory Fun by Weird Al Yankovic
While I've always been a Weird Al fan, his albums always seem so uneven that I hesitate buying them. Most of his parodies are dead-on, relevant, and funny as hell... other times they miss the mark so badly that you're left wondering why he even bothered. Al seems to have a bit better luck with his original songs, but they too can degenerate into a polka disaster from time to time. Fortunately, Mandatory Fun is much more gold than lead, and easily my favorite album in his discography so far.
#12 The Violet Flame by Erasure
I just can't seem to get into Erasure's newer stuff. The last album of theirs that I really liked was Nightbird back in 2005. Everything that followed doesn't feel very "Erasure" to me at all. With The Violet Flame they took a step back in the right direction, but it all feels so... I dunno... disco?... to me. The "snap" of their pop origins is just missing, with Andy Bell trying to go all operatic or something. Why they can't just give their fans the straight pop album they want I don't know. In the meanwhile, I guess this is better than nothing. And better than a lof of music I heard this year.
ALSO WORTH A LISTEN...
Sucker by Charli XCX
Had this album been released earlier (it just dropped a couple weeks ago) it might have made my list. As it is, I enjoy it, but it hasn't grown on me as much as I had hoped. While Boom Clap feels well-polished and repetitive, too many other tracks feel rushed out the door and repetitive. I'm hoping that Charli matures a bit with her next release, because she certainly has potential.
Singles by Future Islands
So there I am watching Letterman on my DVR and a band I've never heard of takes the stage and proceeds to blow the doors off the joint. The band was Future Islands and the song was Seasons (Waiting On You). Sadly, the rest of the album never reached that high, but many of the songs ended up in steady rotation on iTunes nevertheless.
Voices by Phantogram
It seems like an eternity since Eyelid Movies was released, but apparently Phantogram has put that time to good use, because Voices is one beautifully crafted work of synth-pop art.
Clark by Clark
Nothing makes me happier than being able to work while some deeply atmospheric synth music is lurking in the room to keep me company. Clark is filled with exactly that, and I find it playing more often than I intended.
Run the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels
My music is all over the map and, given my pop music leanings, most people are surprised to find out that my tastes includes everything from metal to rap. And when it comes to rap, the second release by Run the Jewels was my go-to album for those times I needed a fix these past few months. What I love about Run the Jewels is that rappers El-P and Killer Mike play off of each other so damn well. Apart they're good... but put them in the same room and let them build off each other, and they elevate each other to new heights. The first album was packed with those deep throbbing beats that keeps me coming back to rap... this follow-up is even stronger.
Indie Cindy by Pixies
Consistently labeled as one of the most influential bands in music history, the Pixies never consumed me like they did so many of my friends during their formation in the late 80's. Then, just as I was appreciating the band for their inventive stylings that pulled me back to my punk rock days, they disbanded in 1993. Game over. Except... not so much. They got back together for a tour in 2004, and new material followed nine years later in the form of three EPs. This album collects all three into a single work that feels much larger than the sum of its parts. While I'm still not the Pixies' biggest fan, Indie Cindy is a terrific album that has me finding a new appreciation for the band.
Crush by 2NE1
I first became aware of South Korean girl-band 2NE1 with their release of 2nd Mini Album, featuring the amazing track Hate You (seriously, you've gotta watch this insane music video). Three years later they released Crush, their second full-length album and it's everything I could have hoped for. Bouncy pop tracks tempered with a hint of rebellion that few other bands have been able to pull off so convincingly.
My Everything by Ariana Grande
This album was one of those pleasant surprises that came out of nowhere. There I was minding my own business when I heard Love Me Harder drifting from the speakers of a restaurant, inundating the place with pop magic. I found out who and what it was thanks to Shazam on my iPhone, and was pleased to find that Ariana's album was filled with more of the same.
Mr. Twin Sister by Mr. Twin Sister
Another atmospheric synth album that gets a lot of play while I'm working, Mr. Twin Sister never feels quite as deep as Clark, but it has a delicious moody vibe I love. I play this album a lot while driving, as it stems off the road rage that inevitably grabs hold.
And that's my music jams for 2014! Here's looking forward to an even better 2015.
I'm not much into health food.
Don't be sad that my trip to California delayed your favorite post of the week... because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...
• Weekend! Had such an amazing time in San Diego for Jester's birthday weekend...
Thanks to Chuy for the Group Photo!
A nicer bunch of people you will not meet.
• Heart! Speaking of Jester... a song he wrote with Matthew Hayes is being performed by Kenyth Mogan in a clever Wizard of Oz inspired video... with a twist. Jester appears as Scarecrow, by the way...
And here's a behind the scenes making-of video for the video where Jester (Aaron) explains the origins of the song...
I love having talented friends!
• Horror! One of the biggest surprises from this past weekend was attending the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Ken Cinema...
Newspaper and squirt gun ready! Thanks to Jester for the Photo!
I haven't "done" the Rocky Horror in 25 years. I remember a lot of the audience participation lines... but I was surprised by how much everything has evolved. There were plenty of current pop culture references (Justin Bieber?) to be found, and a lot of stuff had been added. Hopefully it won't be 25 years before the next time... it was a lot of fun.
• Carrots! Best episode of Billy on the Street ever!
We have the coolest First Lady ever.
• Sausages! Whilst having Sunday Brunch at the marvelous Cafe 1134 yesterday, I was introduced to the fact that Soy Chorizo exists. It was absolutely wonderful in my breakfast burrito, and made an ordinarily boring egg and cheese entrée into something flavorful and amazing. Now I just gotta find it local.
• Spock! As I was flying home today, I learned the Leonard Nimoy has been hospitalized for chest pains. Wishing him the speediest of recoveries. Nothing would make me happier than having him make a third appearance in the Star Trek reboot.
And that's the end of the bullets, everybody!
There have been three times in my travels where I have forgotten my camera.
The second was Austin, Texas, in 2002 where I was visiting the terrific Hard Rock Cafe that used to be on 6th Street. This was an especially painful mishap, because the cafe closed before I could get back and document this amazing property. I did manage to find a disposable camera at a local drug store, but all the photos turned out terrible.
The third was while visiting Osaka, Japan in 2003, where I managed to purchase a cheap plastic toy camera at the Universal Studios Osaka gift shop to get shots of the new Hard Rock Cafe there.
And the first time?
When I visited Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee way back in 1995. And, despite returns to Memphis over the years, I never went back.
So my grand plan today was to run out to Elvis's house... THIS TIME WITH MY CAMERA... and take some photos. Except when I got up this morning I realized that, when it comes to Graceland, once is enough for me... photos or no photos.
And so I was off to Hard Rock No. 163, bitches!
As always, I was prepared for the worst. Yet another ugly hipster Hard Rock with only a smattering of memorabilia. Which would be a real slap in the face for Memphis, because their previous cafe was so awesome. So imagine my surprise when I visited this new property and found that the new location is in a primo vintage building with plenty of history and character... and they had a decent amount of rock-n-roll memorabilia to make it actually worth your time to visit!
The Hard Rock is located at the head of famous Beale Street. The location is hopping at night, but fairly sedate in the daytime...
The one big tourist attraction in Memphis I haven't done yet was to visit Sun Records, which is the birthplace of rock-n-roll. And home to some very famous musicians. Like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many, many others...
Well worth a stop if you're ever in the Memphis area. The tour cost me $11.50 and lasted 40 minutes. Our guide was fantastic, and really made the place come alive.
And that's now I spent my only day in the city.
And now? I'm going to dinner at Faiqa's house and you're not!
UPDATE: Uh huh...
It happens all the time.
Find a band you like one minute and they drop off the face of the earth the next. I can find no word from Father Tiger since December (their website hasn't been updated in almost a year).
Kind of sad about that, as I thought for sure 2015 would be when we finally get a first full album out of the band...
Hopefully they're just busy in the studio and haven't had time to post updates?
In other music news... the best news I heard all day... Duran Duran has an album coming out in September through Warner Bros. Records that will reunite them with genius producer Nile Rodgers!
Few bands have remained as consistently good with their music than Duran Duran. Their last release (way back in 2010), All You Need is Now, was as amazing as anything they've ever released. If we'll be getting more of the same this time around, I'll be very happy to add them to my Best Of 2015 list.
Say what you like about Miley Cyrus and her dipshit antics, but the girl can definitely sing.
And she's generous. She created the Happy Hippie Foundation to raise funds and awareness for homeless youth. To support the organization, she's had some fairly impressive guest stars join her for a series of "Backyard Sessions" to drum up publicity for the organization.
The latest, a cover of Neil Finn's Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House... featuring Miley and Ariana Grande... is just beautiful. It's been my jam all week...
Sadly, it's not for sale anywhere I can find.
So in case you too decide to "acquire" it off YouTube and need some cover art for your MP3, here you go...
And if you want to kick a few buck to Happy Hippies to support the very worthwhile work they do, that would be good too.
Don't dream it's over... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Selfie! As somebody who narrowly avoided getting smacked by somebody unable to control their selfie-stick this past week, I applaud Pizza Hut for their PSA...
When I have completed my bid for world domination, possession of a "selfie stick" will be punishable by death. If somebody ever smacks me with one of these things, that stick is going straight up their ass.
• Wha-?!? CatDuck!
• Reality? The Briefcase, a new "reality TV" show on CBS, is one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen on television... and that's saying something. "Let's exploit people with financial troubles for entertainment value!" — Holy shit. THIS is where we're at? Really?
The concept of the show is that a struggling family is given a briefcase full of money and introduced to another struggling family. They then have to decide how much of the money to keep and how much to give to the other family. BUT LITTLE DO THEY KNOW... the other family was given a briefcase full of cash too! Oh the drama!
You just KNOW that eventually one family is going to keep all the money while the other family will give all the money, creating a briefcase super-villain family that will be absolutely crucified by social media. As if keeping free money you desperately need is some kind of pure evil. I bet this show does gangbuster ratings. Human beings are the absolute worst. Fuck CBS for this disgusting, horrific exploitation of the poor.
• Wait! New music just dropped from one of my favorite bands, Postiljonen...
Beautiful, as always. Can't wait for a new album to hit!
•Giddy! Twelve. More. Days.
YOU CAN PLAY AS A LEGO DINOSAUR, PEOPLE!
And that's all the bullets we have today... move along, there's nothing to see here...
Sometimes things just come together as if by magic.
Or divine intervention.
You've probably seen this viral sensation of Dutch punk singer David Achter de Molen (from the band John Coffey) catching a beer in mid-air while crowd-walking...
But you might not have seen the video interview with the guy who hurled the beer, which is almost as good...
Buy that man a drink.
UPDATE: It's science, bitch!
Well, gee, where do I start.
In summary: Apple Music is a poorly-executed, bug-ridden, embarrassing pile of crap that is sadly typical of the utter shit that permeates anything to do with iTunes. If you've already got Spotify, there is nothing to see here. I'd argue that Apple's execution of a streaming music service is actually worse than Spotify in just about every sense. After the three-month free trial is over, I'll be dumping Apple Music like the steaming turd it is.
Shall we begin?
I have no clue as to what's happening at Apple these days. More and more they just can't seem to get their shit together. Apple Music is just one more failure in a series of failures, and it's getting tiring.
I shouldn't have to work so hard to be an Apple fan.
Every little thing the reflex does leaves you answered with a question mark, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Red! "Attend a live concert by a band I love at Red Rocks Amphitheater" has been on my bucket list for a very, very long time. So long, in fact, that I was ready to compromise and go see ANY live concert at Red Rocks the next time I was in Denver. "Even Nickelback?" you may be thinking. Yes. Even Nickelback. Fortunately, long-time blogging friend Howard let me know that Duran Duran was going to be playing tonight, so I got to fulfill my original bucket list item the way it was meant to be fulfilled.
• Rocks! And let me tell you, Red Rocks is a frickin' amazing place to see a concert. I only had my iPhone, so any photos I post can't really do it justice, but here you go...
For much, much better images of this breathtaking venue, a Google search is a good place to start...
• Clean! The first opening act was Clean Bandit, a group I've never heard of before...
Not bad at all.
• Chic! The second opening act was Nile Rodgers and Chic. This could have been a bit of a snooze, but Nile Rogers pulled from the unfathomably huge stable of artists he's worked with to unleash a truly amazing set. I'm Coming Out, Upside Down, We Are Family, and even a brilliant rendition of David Bowie's Let's Dance were all there and just amazing. They even did Daft Punk's Get Lucky! Wrapping up with La Freak and Rapper's Delight didn't hurt. Fantastic performance.
• Durans! And then it was time for Duran Duran and they were amazing. Simon Le Bon has lost absolutely nothing over the years, and the show was everything you could hope for... including a setlist that had them playing a great mix of new stuff along with the hits everybody wanted to hear...
All in all, and amazing night by one of my favorite bands!
• Off! If you haven't run out and purchased Paper Gods yet, it's an album well worth your time. Half the tracks I love, and the remainder aren't terrible. My favorite track, Pressure Off, is now stuck in my head...
So, yeah... if you have the chance to see Duran Duran live in concert, I'd definitely do that.
• Blergh! All was not perfect at Red Rocks, however. The sound, which was awesome for Clean Bandit and Chic, kept muffling in and out throughout Duran Duran's entire set. It was very frustrating given just how amazing Simon Le Bon was belting out the tracks.
And, oh yeah... whomever designed the lighting for Duran Duran's stage show should be shot. Half of their set was spent staring not at the band... but at a huge fucking bank of lights that blinded everybody trying to see the show. THIS is what I was staring at for way too long...
Incredibly annoying, and I wish bands would be more mindful of BLINDING THE FUCKING AUDIENCE, because this is not the first time this has happened to me.
And... that's a wrap!
The weekend may be ending, but the fun is just beginning because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bond? Oh Lord. Worst. Bond. Theme. Ever. Seriously... who saddles James Bond with this whiny shit? I cannot believe that the same director who used Adele's amazingly powerful masterpiece Skyfall in his previous film would follow it up with this crap... AND I DON'T EVEN LIKE ADELE!
My expectations are running very high for Spectre, but listening to this mind-numbing drivel has me seriously questioning why. Hell, if Mendes wanted a song called Writing's On The Wall for his movie, I'm sure OK Go would have been happy to re-work their vastly superior song...
Ugh. Just ugh.
• JELL-O! Leave it to The Slo-Mo Guys to crank out yet another entertaining video...
Everything really IS better in slo-mo!
• Restless. Absolutely gutted that Catherine Coulson, "The Log Lady," has passed away just as they were finally getting around to filming new Twin Peaks...
She has one of my favorite character introductions of all time...
You will be so very missed in the upcoming Twin Peaks revival. Rest in peace, ma'am, the owls are quiet at last.
• Water! Liquid love on Mars? Thompson Twins called it...
• Derp! Pretty much...
• Family! This photo of a father making sure his daughter's step-father was a part of her wedding was the best thing I saw all week...
© 2015 Delia D Blackburn Photography, and thanks for sharing such a fantastic moment.
The story here is just great, and proves that people don't have to be horrible to each other all the time. If you want to see an interview with the fathers in question, here's your link.
Until next week... buh bye.
It's been a fairly stress-filled week.
I don't know that my weekend will be any easier, but at least I have a quick trip to look forward to on Monday.
And now? Nachos!
Don't worry... blogging isn't as dead as they say, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Jones. I do not have the vocabulary to adequately express how much I'm looking forward to Marvel's Jessica Jones on Netflix this November 20th...
If it's even half as good as Davedevil was, I'll be ecstatic. Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter (as LUKE CAGE!) look to be knocking it out of the park.
• Outrageous. And so it turns out the shitty Jem and the Holograms movie adaptation is, in fact, shitty. Which was foretold by many, many people after watching the trailer...
IT'S NOT FUCKING ROCKET SCIENCE! RESPECT THE DAMN SOURCE MATERIAL OR FAIL!
• FAKE! Nothing like getting excited over a ton of five-star reviews on an item you're needing from Amazon... only to find out that every last one of them were from people who either got it for free or received a discount for their "honest and unbiased" review. Well screw that. Your "honest and unbiased" review is overwhelmingly positive because THAT'S how you get chosen to get free stuff for reviews! They're not going to choose people who are critical of the things they write about to review their product. I absolutely loathe this shit.
• Dull. Seems almost eerily accurate...
Dell. The pink slime filler of computer companies.
• Comeuppance. Oh. How sad for the price gouging little fucker.
• Force! This has got to be the single best video game commercials ever made...
The magic of video gaming is that it has the ability to put you in a fictional universe made real. Many video games have been advertising along these lines... this is the first one to absolutely nail it.
And I'm off. In the meanwhile, here's probably the cutest thing you've seen all week.
Last night was my first time seeing Walk The Moon live.
It was also my first time seeing a show at the Nob Hill Masonic Center.
Hopefully it won't be my last for either one. Thanks to Jester for inviting me to such a fantastic show...
The venue is right across from Grace Cathedral...
The evening began with an opening set by Holy Child, which I had previously seen live when I was in San Francisco for Betty Who. They were followed by a band I had never heard of before called Saint Motel...
I really, really enjoyed their set. Saint Motel is an amazing live band. Wasn't as impressed with their studio albums, but maybe they'll grow on me.
The main act was Walk The Moon and they were fantastic...
You can get a taste of what they're like live in this video for Different Colors...
They are best known for their hit single Shut Up And Dance...
I was worried that my favorite song off their latest album was skipped, but We Are the Kids came along in the encore...
If you ever have the chance to see Walk The Moon live, it's an opportunity you absolutely should not pass up.
Back to real life.
Thanks to Home Automation Week, Bullet Sunday is on Monday and starts... now...
• The 1975! Definitely a highlight of my week... if not a highlight of my entire year... was flying to San Francisco so I could see The 1975 in concert with Jester. This has quickly become one of my very favorite bands, and their live show did not disappoint. Not only did they play tracks from their flawless debut album, there was plenty of amazing new stuff off their forthcoming one. Like my favorite song of the night, Change of Heart...
I was very surprised by how fantastic their stage set was. It's dead simple... consisting of a large video screen and four video columns... but it's what they DO with it that made the show so spectacular. If you have a chance to see them in concert (which might be tough... they're selling out everywhere) by all means give them a shot.
• Elephant Walk! When I was on vacation in Africa last year, my first stop on safari was at Ruckomechi camp in Zimbabwe. It's a beautiful reserve in a region known as "Mana Pools" and is billed as "The Elephant's Favourite Camp" because elephants are roaming around everywhere. They were always around, and you are constantly running across them throughout your time at camp... I even found an elephant in my shower once. For the most part, if you leave the elephants alone, they leave you alone. Just don't approach them. And absolutely do NOT get near a baby elephant unless you want a momma elephant getting annoyed with you. I loved having the elephants around, and never once had any problems with them. Which is why I was surprised to see this viral video going around of an elephant attack that was most definitely shot at Ruckomechi camp. I ate at that very table...
While this incident is alarming, it also has to be exceedingly rare, because thousands of guests (including me) have been through Ruckomechi Camp without incident. Hopefully this won't dissuade people from visiting, because it is easily one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.
• Star Wars! I have no intention of seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens while the hype is still running high. While I love Star Wars, that's greatly overshadowed by my hatred of people at the movies now-a-days. Used to be you only had to worry about people talking during the film. Now you've got mobile phones, which has made things even worse. I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers for The Force Awakens, but am still getting excited by the build-up to the movie. And this video by Jimmy Fallon with The Roots and stars of Star Wars is pretty awesome...
• Feeding! Probably one of the funniest things I've seen all year...
• Kitten! And now, before I go, the most heartwarming thing I've seen all week...
Amazing. I love happy endings like this. Best of luck, Lazarus!
Enjoy the rest of your Monday, everybody!
I was fairly excited to see A Very Murray Christmas, but ultimately found it too odd for my tastes once I finally got around to watching it. But there were enough really good parts to make it all worthwhile.
My hands-down favorite? Miley Cyrus singing Silent Night.
Say what you will about Miley and the swarm of controversy that surrounds her, but the girl can sing...
Things like this are why I make no apologies for being a huge Miley Cyrus fan.
And here's the last of my "Best Of 2015" lists for the year.
Not a bad twelve months for music I like, actually!
THE TWELVE BEST...
#1 Arcadia by Mackintosh Braun
Often times, I determine my favorite album of the year by factoring how many plays it registers on iTunes adjusted for the number of months its been released then further adjusted to reflect how new music gets a ton of listens the month after release. It's a scientific approach for something that's not at all scientific. This year, Duran Duran came out on top. Which makes sense, I love their latest album and listen to it constantly. But, in the end, my heart was telling me that Mackintosh Braun was my top pick. They took their EP from last year (my #2 album) and built on it in beautiful ways. The EP track In Reverse is still my favorite song off the album, but Holding Pattern comes a very close second. Everything they touch is melodic and magical and my infatuation with their sound hasn't diminished one bit. If you are a child of 80's pop like I am, they are well worth checking out.
#2 Paper Gods by Duran Duran
After the misstep that was Red Carpet Massacre, I feared that one of my all-time favorite bands was slipping off my radar. But then they hit back hard with All You Need Is Now, which I liked quite a lot. Was it a fluke? Apparently not. Paper Gods is one of their best albums in years, and the fact that they're brave enough to partner up with other artists (like Nile Rodgers, Mr. Hudson, Kiesza, and Jonas Bjerre) has reinvigorated the band and made them more relevant for modern audiences and old fans alike. The perfect example is Pressure Off, which has Simon teaming up with Janelle Monáe for pop brilliance that cannot be denied. And then the band goes into a different direction entirely with the most beautiful song of the year, What Are the Chances. With practically no missteps on this album, my faith in Duran Duran has been fully restored. If you had given up on the band, Paper Gods is essential listening.
#3 Music Complete by New Order
My love of New Order is firmly planted in their formative years. The band was such a massive part of my musical education that their early hits define "New Order" to me. And yet... their later stuff never fails to impress. Republic, Get Ready, and Waiting for the Siren's Call were all excellent releases and maintained my love of everything they do. Now they've blessed us with Music Complete which has only served to cement their genius status in music history. It's an eclectic blend of pop, rock, dance, and electronica that couldn't come from anybody else. Tracks like Plastic, Tutti Frutti, and Superheated are everything I could ask for from the band.
#4 New Glow by Matt & Kim
The fact that so many commercials have opted to use Matt & Kim's sound to pitch their wares has done nothing to diminish the indie spirit that permeates every track the band releases. That they're not afraid to experiment in new directions keeps their music fresh, even if it doesn't always pan out for older fans who are firmly entrenched in the Grand era. With New Glow, everybody's favorite musical duo took a welcome step back on a few tracks while continuing to push forward with others. This has resulted in an album that's a little uneven, but no less fun than what I've come to expect. Not surprisingly, Matt & Kim continue to push the envelope with their music videos, often coming up with genius visuals that rely on imagination instead of budget to wow their fans.
#5 Dark Sky Island by Enya
While I've been a huge fan of Enya since her debut, Ive grown a little Enya-indifferent over the years. I buy everything she comes out with, but don't remember falling in love with an album since The Memory of Trees back in 1995. Fortunately, for whatever reason, I'm really digging Dark Sky Island. It's got that hallmark Enya melodic construction that defines her beautiful music, but it also feels more... more... this time around. It's like she's gone from reaching for the stars to reaching past the stars for what heaven must sound like. But it's not just the way she sounds, Enya has something to say.
#6 Art Angels by Grimes
Claire Boucher, AKA Grimes, is one of those artists that has been a little difficult for me to love through her first three albums. It's not that I couldn't appreciate the experimentation she was going through to find her sound, it's that it went in directions I just couldn't follow. So when Art Angels dropped, I didn't make an effort to take a listen. But then all this critical acclaim started being heaped upon the album and I couldn't stay away. Yes, it's weird in parts... but in wonderful ways. If you're not a Grimes fan... or have yet to experience Boucher's music... this is probably the way to get introduced.
#7 Recreational Love by The Bird and the Bee
While I've been a fan of the band for a while, The Bird and the Bee never really got to the point where I was anticipating what comes next. Then came their Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates album (with Shirley Manson on backing vocals for Maneater!) and everything changed. Now comes Recreational Love, and it did not disappoint. I can honestly say that this album has made me a fand of the band and I am most definitely looking forward to what comes next. Playful, fun, brilliant pop stylings that's earned a space in my musical rotation.
#8 Froot by Marina and the Diamonds
This album came out of nowhere when Howard mentioned it as we were headed to the Duran Duran concert at Red Rocks. The only thing I knew about the band is that I think I once passed by them at some kind of record signing. Interested to know what had Howard so excited about a band, I gave Froot a listen. And was captivated. It's beautifully constructed and every song feels fully refined but oddly raw at the same time. Good, good stuff.
#9 Dopamine by BØRNS
After releasing Seeing Stars on the EP Candy, I became an instant fan of BØRNS for his melodic pop sensibilities and fun lyrics. I also became anxious to get my hands on his debut album, which dropped back in October. Turns out it was worth the wait... though didn't quite live up to the hype I had built around it. Still, a lot of really good songs that get a lot of iTunes play.
#10 A Head Full of Dreams by Coldplay
Coldplay is pretty much the law of diminishing returns in music form. Yes, I like the band. Yes, I think they can make good music. Yes, they're latest album is worth listening to. But the band just isn't evolving. They released Ghost Stories last year (which I liked quite a lot) and this is just more of the same. Which would normally be a good thing, but I'm starting to get tired of Coldplay. In ten years will I even be able to remember which song was on which album? Probably not. Step it up, guys.
#11 Introducing Darlene Love by Darlene Love
It's frickin' Darlene Love. With her first non-Christmas album in 27 years. What more do you need to know?
#12 Before This World by James Taylor
It's frickin' James Taylor. With his first album of original material in 13 years. What more do you need to know?
And, that's a wrap. Really looking forward to new music in 2016!
A new year, 52 new opportunities for bullets, because Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...
• STRANGE! As a huge, huge, massively huge devotee of the Marvel Studios films, I'm ecstatic that The Powers The Be are finally getting around to exploring the mystical, magical side of the Marvel Universe. I've long been a fan of Doctor Strange, and everything we've been teased with shows that they're doing it right. Starting with the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch...
Will be very interested to see how they integrate magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That's going to be a delicate line to walk.
• ARETHA! Watching Carole King's reaction is almost as entertaining as watching Aretha Franklin flawlessly belt out her song at age 73. Almost.
Talent like that don't come along every day.
• WEESA GONNA DIIIIE! I loathe the Star Wars prequels with the burning hatred of a thousand suns. And then there's this...
Not that it would make me hate Jar Jar Binks any less, but it would certainly make me feel better about his presence in those shitty films.
• Grapes! "I sold Star Wars to white slavers?" Really? Sour grapes are sour. Geroge Lucas is just pissed that people loathe his shitty prequel movies with a passion reserved for explosive diarrhea while JJ Abrams unleashed the Star Wars film everybody wanted. The Force Awakens is on target to becoming the most successful movie in the history of the universe, and that's gotta hurt. Though I'm sure the billions of dollars Lucas got for selling off Lucasfilm to the "White Slavers" at Disney is some small consolation. Time to go count your money and shut the fuck up, George.
• ZONE! I'm the mayor of The Friend Zone...
It's funny because it's true.
Thanks, internet, I needed that.
Welcome to the fifth installment of Things I Bought Week, showcasing stuff that I recently purchased and what I think of what I got for my hard earned money!
What did I buy this time? The Denon AVR-S910W Dolby 7.2 Channel 4K Receiver.
I loathe having to buy new stereo equipment.
But receivers are handling a heck of a lot more than just audio now-a-days... receivers are the hub for both audio and video. So whenever video standards change, your equipment has to change with it. When we went from RCA jack video to composite video and optical sound? New receiver. When we got S-Video? New receiver. When we went to HDMI? New receiver. And now that HDMI has been improved with a new version 2 at 4K and shitty fucking copy protection has been unimproved with HDCP 2.2? New receiver.
I mean, sure, you can always use old inputs on an old receiver... I've been doing that for years and living with the lower quality picture... but it's time to upgrade.
I've been a huge fan of Pioneer equipment over the years, but they don't seem to be pushing the envelope now-a-days. My next favorite brand is Sony, but it was a more expensive option for what I wanted. So I spent days researching which receivers were getting good marks now-a-days and settled on Denon. The have a number of different models, but the AVR-S910W was on sale for a great price and did more than I needed, so here we are.
Aesthetically, the unit could easily be confused with dozens of other receivers since they're all looking the same now-a-days... though this line seems to be a bit more minimalistic, which I like. It has a fraction of the buttons of the old Pioneer it's replacing. Since most HDMI electronics can talk to each other via CEC (Consumer Electronic Control), you rarely need to press anything anyway. Turn on your AppleTV and CEC switches the receiver for you. It's mostly automatic and entirely awesome. What's crazy, however, is that the buttons you most need for non-HDMI devices (because they can't be automatically controlled) ARE MISSING. Want to switch the audio source to Bluetooth so you can play music off your iPhone? Hope you have the remote handy, because there's no button for that on the receiver itself.
And speaking of the remote... it's yet another button nightmare where you have to go hunting for what you want. Which sucks to be sure (why is it only Apple can minimize crap on remotes?) but it is fairly well organized, so there's that.
In addition to the afore-mentioned HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 compliance on all 8 of its HDMI ports (nice!), the 910 can also handle the forthcoming HDR picture spec and upscale signal from your old video equipment to full 4K. It's this last feature that sold me on the 910 over the cheaper 710, as I have old 8mm decks that will benefit from the upscaling technology. Since the 910 has an $80 instant rebate in effect, the price difference was $0, which is money well-spent.
For gamers out there worried about video processing lag, I couldn't detect any. But, then again, I'm playing everything on a Wii U now-a-days, which isn't quite so demanding compared to next-gen consoles by Sony and Microsoft. I'm assuming it won't be a problem, as the 910 has plenty of processing power to get the job done.
But enough about the video... what's going on with the audio?
Since I prefer to listen to music in headphones, the primary function of my new Denon receiver will be for home theater surround sound. Support for 7.1 surround is a given, but the unit can also handle new 3D spatial sound technology like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X... which seems a cool idea, but there's nothing really available in the consumer space encoded with those technologies yet and it requires adding more speakers than I want in my small living room. Still... nice for future-proofing the unit, I suppose. Surprisingly, you can run two subwoofers off this receiver, which I didn't even know was a thing. Since low frequencies are non-directional, I thought this was a one-and-done, but apparently two subwoofers provide a richer bass experience.
The sound itself seems very good. I'm no audiophile, but everything I've listened to is well-defined and separated out perfectly on my speaker system. Since my setup is small and fairly undemanding, the 910 is massive overkill in the power department, but it's nice to know I've got the ability to run some serious speakers at 185w per channel if I ever need to.
Denon has its own proprietary system for wireless speakers called "HEOS" which is meant to be direct competition with SONOS. If I could afford a wireless speaker system, I'd bypass HEOS because it has to share your WiFi network instead of creating a separate mesh network like SONOS does. This is a serious deal breaker, because most WiFi networks are close to saturated given all the crap we keep connected to the internet in these modern times. So while HEOS support is nice, I supposed, I have a feeling most people won't bother with it.
If you sacrifice 2 channels from a 7.1 system and can live with a 5.1 surround setup, you can repurpose those two channels as a different speaker "zone" which can be placed in another room and play from a completely different audio source. I honestly think this is kind of silly, but I guess there are some scenarios where it might be useful.
Like most receivers today, the Denon has built-in Bluetooth and WiFi for live streaming. It has support for Pandora, Spotify and Sirius XM on-deck, and can also interface with Apple Airplay-enabled devices like iPhones, iPads, and Macs. There's also support for internet radio, but the "stations" are kind of clubky to access, so I probably wouldn't. Thanks to Denon's apps for mobile devices, you can control the receiver with your iOS and Android devices. It seem capable, but also overly complex and cluttered. Still, it does easily allow you to control functions and tie into media servers as sources fairly easily, so worth the free-fitty-free pricetag.
When it comes to set-up, the AVR-S910W is dead-simple. You can use your iPhone to grab all the WiFi settings via Airplay which is super-sweet (no WiFi? Ethernet is also available). Then it's just a matter of following the on-screen instructions displayed on your TV to match your speaker setup. Thanks to the Audyssey Bronze calibration system being built-in, you can optimize your levels with ease. Just place the included microphone on a tripod in the middle of the room and the 910 will play tones to measure your speakers. The system them creates a custom profile based on room acoustics to give you optimal sound at every volume level. I know this reeks of silly gadgetry that usually ends up being useless... but can honestly say I noticed an immediate quality improvement after running through the Audyssey program. Pretty cool.
The on-screen user interface is serviceable enough, but kind of pathetic by today's standards. Mostly a bunch of text staring at you, it looks badly dated. Why Denon would invest money in all the latest bells and whistles only to choose to saddle it with a 1990's wrapper is more than a little inexplicable.
Something I've never seen before is Denon's "Eco Mode" which attempts to save electricity by restricting power to each channel based on the volume you've set. I notice no difference on my tiny speakers with Eco Mode on, so I've just left it there.
If there's a flaw to be found with the AVR-S910W, it's this... THERE IS NO SWITCHED POWER OUTLET ON THE BACK! Which means your subwoofer gets to be powered on all the time unless you want to get up, walk across the room, and manually cycle the power off when you aren't using it. Which begs the question... WHO FUCKING DOES THIS?!? Seriously, what idiotic excuse could they have for leaving off a switched outlet for your subwoofer from the feature list? Every fucking receiver I've ever owned has had a switched power outlet until now. It's senseless bullshit like this that takes great products and sabotages them utterly. This is such a moronic oversight that I am compelled to drop a grade from my score even though the unit is otherwise perfect. I just naturally assumed I'd have my outlet and was dumbfounded when I went to plug in my subwoofer and saw there wasn't one. Somebody at Denon needs to pull their head out of their ass on this one, because it makes the company look like complete idiots. Had I known about this inexcusable flaw, I don't know if I would have purchased it. But probably. There's just so many great things about it compared to the competition in this price range.
RATING: B • RELUCTANTLY DAVE APPROVED • Currently selling for $479 at Amazon.
A very sad goodbye to one of my favorite musical artists...
David Bowie's album Let's Dance was an amazing pop reinvention that I've played to death...
But my favorite Bowie is from his work on the film Labyrinth in which he managed to turn in incredible performances for both acting and music... including the song As The World Falls Down, which is about as good as it gets...
So many amazing works. You will be very much missed.
I'm not a big fan of Adele's music... but I am a seriously huge fan of Adele herself.
Every time she appears on a talk show or gets interviewed, she's so genuinely charming, funny, smart, beautiful, and down-to-earth that you can't help but love her.
And now she's joined James Cordon for an episode of Carpool Karaoke, and it's everything you could ever want...
I really liked her James Bond theme, Skyfall... and there's some tracks on her new album that I do enjoy... so maybe I'm finally coming around to becoming an Adele fan?
Turns out MadTV had a handle on the current state of the Republican Party all along.
Not bad for a show airing twenty years ago...
Preach it, sister!
And, seriously, this wasn't written as parody yesterday... it's from nearly twenty years ago...
Darlene McBride really needs to come out of retirement.
Of course, we've already got Mike Huckabee, so she's almost redundant... but still...
I'm not a huge fan of Adele's music, but changed my mind when I ended up really liking her James Bond theme for Skyfall. Then she released her latest album with the amazing single Hello and I began thinking I was on my way towards becoming an Adele fan.
And now comes this reggae version of the track by Rosie Delmah and Conkarah...
New Pet Shop Boys in April!
It's pretty amazing how quick the albumas have been coming...
That's four albums in eight years. Super!
You haven't struck gold... but you're getting the next best thing, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Boss! One of the funniest things to come out of Saturday Night Live in a while was Undercover Boss: Kylo Ren with Adam Driver reprising his role from Star Wars: The Force Awakens...
And now they've released some behind the scenes clips...
• Vax? So this is what it takes.
• J-Law! I'm obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence... and her appearance on Graham Norton takes it up a notch...
• GHOST! BUSTERS! LEGO Dimensions is the gift that keeps on giving... thanks to new Level Pack releases that take the game in entirely new directions. The latest? Ghostbusters!...
Looks epic. Can't wait until I have time to play it.
• Blake! Nothing quite like "discovering" a new song you like... eight years after it was released...
Apparently Blake Lewis was an American Idol winner. Since I don't watch that show, I never knew he existed until my Amazon Echo played one of his songs a couple days ago.
And... that's a wrap.
Ever since Howard introduced me to the magic that is Postiljonen and their stunning debut album, I've been waiting for a followup.
And yesterday was the day.
If you enjoyed Skyer (and why in the hell wouldn't you?) then Reverie will be a welcome addition to your music collection as it's pretty much more of the same...
Filled with lush, gorgeous soundscapes that carry you away to a better place, Reverie is going to be serious competition for my favorite album of 2016...
If you're looking for and escape, here's your album.
Not a big fan of the Oscars.
The movies and people behind the movies that I feel most deserve to win so rarely do... if they even get nominated at all.
This year that was made vividly clear to me as the Worst. Fucking. Bond. Theme. Ever. won best song. This kind of whiny shit masquerading as "music" drives me insane. But use it as a James Bond theme? Sacrilege. It doesn't help that Sam Smith is sounds like crap live. If they wanted a song called "Writing's on the Wall," they should have called OK Go!
Yeah. I know. I already said this.
It's probably too early to declare The 1975's i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it as my favorite album of 2016, but I can't fathom anything coming along to move this breathtaking work out of my top spot. The album is a bit eclectic, with some musical numbers injected between the songs, but it's a full volume of awesome, even when they're skipped over...
Probably my favorite track on the album is Change of Heart. Remarkably, it's lyrically a direct sequel to the song The City on their previous album. In a very cool, yet heartbreaking way. The band played this at the concert I went to with Aaron back in December, and I'm glad I finally get a studio version to listen to...
And then there's Somebody Else, which is a hauntingly beautiful track that hasn't left my head since I first heard it. I could probably listen to this on repeat for days before getting tired of it...
For a pure 80's flashback episode, look no further than the bouncy This Must Be My Dream...
The song Paris is one of those melodic masterpieces that drifts into your consciousness when you least expect it...
A song that's bound to cause a bit of controversy for dissing a big chunk of The 1975's fans comes in the form of She's American. It's a bit over the top, but is speaking to a point, I suppose...
I could just go on gushing over all the tracks on the album, but I'll probably stop here and wrap up with the last video the band released for The Sound, which addresses the band's critics in a way that's more thought-provoking than antagonistic...
And so... as if it weren't obvious... I give the album my highest recommendation. It doesn't stray too far from what made them an instant favorite with their first album, but isn't a clone that would just be boring.
Very sad to learn that Prince has left us. He was a remarkable artist whose influence will not soon pass from this earth.
Just thought I'd post a smattering of things I like about His Purpleness today rather than try and do any kind of retrospective on what his music has meant to me all these years.
Probably my most favorite thing Prince-related is Kevin Smith's story about his attempt to work with the guy. Yes, Prince was strange, but he could be. Because he's Prince...
I am certain that I'm not the only one who is dying to know about the mountain of Prince material stacked up in his vault. We could be getting new stuff for decades, assuming his heirs choose to share it with us.
And, of course, Questlove has a story to share...
If you haven't seen Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Story on playing basketball with Prince (played by Dave Chappelle), then you owe it to yourself to click over to iTunes and buy the fifth episode of the second season right now. It is one of the most hilarious things you will ever see (and, unfortunately, gets lost because everybody focuses on Charlie Murphy's Rick James story, bitch). If you can't get iTunes episodes, here's a handheld recording...
Prince, of course, reacted as only Prince can...
And Queen Latifah on Fallon (who are both huge Prince fans) show how even the stars are starstruck when it comes to Prince...
David Spade shared an awesome Prince story on Fallon too...
Prince did an episode of The New Girl that was so Prince it hurts. Liz Meriwether, the creator of the show, has an awesome recap of the experience that's a must read. And, in case you didn't see the episode, here's a mashup of his appearance...
I love too many Prince songs to count, but my favorite has to be Raspberry Beret. It's such an amazingly clever song in so many ways... musically, lyrically, creatively... it's everything you expect from Prince in one amazing video...
The story around the video is equally interesting. Up until this point, Prince had been in a self-imposed exile from music videos for a while. I don't know what made him change his mind to appear in Raspberry Beret, but it made the video a pretty major event at the time. Also... I read somewhere that Prince coughing at the beginning was real and he, as director of the video, decided to leave it in. The Purple One is human after all!
"Overcast days never turned me on. But something about the clouds and her mixed..." For the longest time, I had those lyrics wrong. I always thought it was "But there's something about the clouds in her midst." Then one day I was actually listening (as opposed to singing along... badly) when I realized there was no "there's" in that lyric. Then I had to reevaluate what he was singing over and over until I figured it out. Now every time I look out my window and see an overcast day, those are the words that enter my head. Hopefully I haven't got them wrong. Again.
And, lastly, Prince being Prince... the ultimate performer...
So much more could be said.
Goodbye Prince. You are gone but definitely will not be forgotten.
Don't despair over your impending march to Monday, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• HASTURD! What happens when a complete piece of shit holds political power?
Apparently they get away with being child-raping garbage. God bless America.
• Jack! And so it looks like John Krasinski has been cast as Jack Ryan in a new Amazon series based on John Clancy's books. In all honesty, I think he may end up being the best Jack Ryan yet. Baldwin wasn't physical enough. Ford was too old. Affleck not cerebral enough. Pine was just (surprisingly) plain bad. They all lacked something essential to the character. Krasinski, on the other hand, is the whole package. If they get the story right, I think he'll knock it out of the park. And if he can get his wife to make a guest appearance, so much the better! The only thing that gives me pause is that Carlton Cuse and Graham Richard are developing the series. Given the way they took an amazing concept and flushed it down the toilet with Lost, my confidence in them delivering with Jack Ryan is very low. Fingers crossed though.
• English! If you're into linguistics, here's a video for you...
Of course, there are dialects within dialects on both sides of the pond, but this is a pretty great encapsulation of the differences.
• Shame. This is the America we're building...
PEOPLE. JUST. WANT. TO. FUCKING. PEE! As they've been doing in bathrooms for centuries! And yet, here we are... people being terrified by asshole politicians taking a non-problem and blowing it up so as to distract from what's really going on...
Again, the people most responsible for doing heinous shit in public bathrooms... ARE ASSHOLE POLITICIANS, ASSHOLE RELIGIOUS NUTS, AND ASSHOLE CRIMINALS... not transgender persons! And if you buy into the lies, guess what, you're the problem!
• Pop! Amazing how I'm still discovering excellent 80's pop music that I somehow missed in the actual 80's. This time? A Good Heart by Feargal Sharkey...
And, just to show that I'm not above missing out on current pop music, I recently heard Cake by the Ocean by DNCE, which is awesome...
And, yes, that's a Jonas Brother on the mic there.
Alrighty then... the time has come to say goodbye to another edition of Bullet Sunday. Until next week...
SUNDAY BEGAT SUNDAY AND SUNDAY IS SUNDAY, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Butter. A friend of a friend closed his restaurant last December. A while back he was asked if he would share some of his favorite recipes and he did. Then somebody asked him how in the heck he made his burgers taste so good. His answer? "Butter and salt." Saturate the buns in butter before grilling them. Just before flipping, salt and pepper the patty (his restaurant had a touch of garlic powder in the mix) then flip and add more salt. Sodium nightmare? Yes. But restaurants don't have to post Nutrition Facts, so that's how he made his burgers taste great. Tonight I gave it a try with my Boca Burger patties. *AMAZING* The abundance of butter and salt totally takes them to the next level. High blood pressure, here I come!
• Voter. Just sayin'...
Why American's aren't rioting in the streets for an end to our fucked-up two-party system I will never know.
• Wierd World. Oh Lord, Really? Pat Robertson's crazy shit is hilarious, yes, but there are people who actually believe the words he's saying! I mean, the gays are going to force me to like bestiality? BUT I DON'T WANT TO FUCK A GOAT!!! THANKS, THE GAYS!!!
This guy is bat-shit crazy. Genuinely certifiable. Scary insane.
• OH IT IS ON! Heinz starts making yellow mustard... SO NOW FRENCH'S IS MAKING KETCHUP! =BOOM!=
Which one is making mayonnaise next? And will Hellman's start making ketchup and yellow mustard of their own in retalliation?
• Dipshit Pie! Trae Crowder has become one of my favorite vloggers. His unique take on politics is comedy gold, and this was one of my favorites these past months...
Oh noooo.... where are we going to get our meth and pontoon boats?
• DNCE. While I was on sabbatical, I got hooked on DNCE's album Swaay for my "Album of the Summer." Their first video, Cake By The Ocean was catchy as hell and I was instantly addicted...
When they released their next video for Toothbrush, I was baffled by people calling lead singer Joe Jonas "brave" and "progressive" for featuring a plus-size model. IT'S ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM!!! She's one of the hottest women on the planet! I mean, seriously, there are guys who would take a look at ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM and say "No thank you?" It's not like he put a regular human woman in his video... IT'S ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM! Oh how brave of him! He was progressive enough to make out with ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM in his video! Give me a break.
The last video was for Body Moves, which was another catchy, high-energy track...
I have no idea if this was just a side-project for Joe Jonas or what. It will be interesting to see if the band stays together for another album. I sure hope so.
And... as good as it feels to be shootin' bullets again, this here Bullet Sunday is at an end.
Live music is a treat I don't get to experience often enough. Mostly because I almost always have to travel to get to it. This trip to San Francisco was all about getting to finally see a Mustache Harbor show... of which my long-term friend, Jester, is a part.
Last night was the first of two sold-out shows at Bimbo's 365 Club, and it was glorious...
Jester as "Ace Fontana" singing to a legion of Mustache Harbor fans on SPACE NIGHT!
Fantastic show. And a pretty great way to spend an evening. Needless to say, if Mustache Harbor is ever playing in your neck of the woods, they are well worth checking out.
Because who wouldn't want to experience a band brought together by their astrological signs and a love for vintage soft rock and sweet staches?
Guess Bullet Sunday is just going to have to wait, because I've got one last day in San Francisco...
Which started rather late, because I was wiped out from a late night of enjoying the smooth, soulful, vocal stylings of Jester and Mustache Harbor for their second sold-out show at Bimbo's 365 Club last night.
It was every bit as awesome as Friday's show, where we were once again transported to OUTERRRRRRR SPAAAAAACE...
WE LOVE YOU, ACE FONTANA!!!
Jester as Ace Fontana as Ace Frehley — ©2016 by Tananarive Aubert Photography
I had two things left on my San Francisco agenda, which Jester was willing to accommodate... 1) A FALAFEL WRAP SANDWICH... and... 2) FORTUNE COOKIES FROM GOLDEN GATE FORTUNE COOKIE COMPANY...
After that it was off to the airport so I can rest up before tomorrow's early morning flight.
Thanks a million times to Jester for making everything in my San Francisco holiday possible!
Your eyes are not deceiving you... because an all new Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...
• #TrumpsAmerica. Hey everybody! Are you tired of not being able to get through a single day without seeing yet another example of the horrendous level of racist bullshit that is inundating our Black youth? Do videos like this make your blood boil?
Might I suggest a donation to my long-time blogging friend Kelly Wickham's amazing organization: Being Black at School so she can help make a difference? She's doing the work to effect change and could use your help.
• Certified Pre-Owned. I love creativity in advertising. Especially when it's for such a great cause...
I'd adopt ten more if I could.
• Snowline. Welp, winter is coming. Confirmed as I was driving back home today...
Hopefully it can hold off going full-on winter until next week. I've got another trip over the mountains coming up.
• Soul. I was very saddened to learn that the amazing Sharon Jones died. Her performances with the Dap-Kings was a show I have long wanted to attend, and I'm more than a little upset I never got the chance...
Rest in peace, Miss Jones.
• Hamiltoon. The cast of Hamilton respectfully asked that Vice President Elect Mike Pence "...uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us..." at the close of their show and President Elect Trump loses his fucking mind, as usual. But that was only the beginning, because crazy-ass Jeanine Pirro of FOX "News" went full-on bat-shit insane... (I'm paraphrasing here)... "HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE THE STATE AND OUR FUTURE SUPREME LEADER! YOU'VE RUINED MY ENJOYMENT OF HAVING WATCHED YOUR PLAY WITH ALL THE BLACKS AND ALL THE LATINOS AND ALL THE HIP-HOP! BOW BEFORE PRESIDENT TRUMP, YOU INSOLENT SWINE! AND MAY HIS GLORIOUS REIGN LAST A MILLION YEARS!" — I swear... it is only a matter of days before we start hearing "uppity negroes" come out of the mouths of these racist pieces of shit. It is so blatantly obvious EXACTLY what they are thinking... and the team of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted trash that will soon be running this country has emboldened them to become utterly transparent. They're not even hiding it anymore. I am disgusted to my very core. Oh... and PS... REVERSE RACISM IS NOT A THING YOU FUCKING MORON!
Me bullets be gone. See ye next week.
Fight through that leftover turkey tryptophan food coma... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• More. As a fan of the show Gilmore Girls, I was naturally curious about the Netflix revival, Gilmore Girls: Year in the Life. The show kind of lost its way in Season 6, then really lost its way in Season 7 after creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and writing/directing partner Daniel Palladino left the show. But now they (and the entire surviving cast) is back for another go in four 90-minute "films" entitled Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall...
For the most part, I was happy to see all the characters again and felt the stories for all four episodes were solid... even though many of the mistakes I thought were made in Season 6 & 7 were, oddly enough, repeated all over again. As if that weren't enough, we finally got to hear those Four Final Words that Amy Sherman-Palladino had wanted to end the series with all along. And though the words make perfect sense and took the series to a logical place, I had two problems with how things ended. 1) It pretty much begs for more episodes. And 2) I don't know that the words mean as much now when Rory is in her 30's as they would have had they been spoken when she was in her 20's back when the series ended.
All that being said, boy was Edward Herrmann missed as Richard Gilmore. He was always such a big presence in the show, and his death left a huge void. That the Palladinos used this as an exceptional opportunity to move Emily Gilmore's story forward is to their credit.
Here's hoping Netflix will bless us with another series in the future.
• Watching. Speaking of television shows... my favorite show going right now is No Tomorrow...
Girl meets boy. Boy thinks the world is going to get hit by a meteor and be destroyed. Adventures in life ensue. And it's funny to boot. Give it a shot if you have some free time in your television schedule!
• Strange? Doctor Strange has the best "Art of the Movie" book from Marvel yet. So much thought went into the bizarre visuals, and you get a terrific look at how the filmmakers agonized over them. A very cool companion to a very cool movie...
If you're a fan of the film... or even the comic book... this is a book worth checking out.
• LEGO. As if the upcoming LEGO Batman Movie isn't super-awesome enough...
LEGO has just announced that the next series of MiniFigs will come from the film!
Am dying to own them all, but here's the one that I can't live without...
Fairy Princess Batman! Classic!
• Scream. Pretty much the theme song for my life these past weeks...
And... there's your bullets for the week.