Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
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...
Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
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. 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...
Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2009
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.
Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
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...
Posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009
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.
Posted on Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
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.
Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2009
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.
Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009
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...
Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
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...
Posted on Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
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...
Posted on Sunday, September 20th, 2009
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...