Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Who am I to suggest Lil Wayne doesn't know tennis?
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Salvador Dali was many things: artist, provocateur, stylish bon vivant. But we can now add another entry to his curriculum vitae:
Awesome Game Show Contestant Who Thinks He’s Getting Paid By The “Yes”
Most importantly, without Mr. Dali, these pictures might never have existed. You’re welcome, Internet.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Marah, I have not come to bury you, but rather to damn you with faint praise.
Last night's Marah show at Johnny Brenda's was…
The Wistful Rant
It was full of energy, frequently fun, and I will never get tired of singing along to almost their entire catalog.
But missing are the outlier adjectives that would previously fell regularly from my lips like sweat from my brow. Words like, "great", "transcendent", and "unfuckingbelievable" never even bought a ticket for the notoriously short trip from my brain to my mouth.
And I'm beginning to doubt whether they'll ever will again.
I take no joy in this. I want to be blown away by them again. I want to sit in a puddle of my own joy, rendered speechless except for silently mouthed "wow"s.
I've tried like hell to keep an open mind, which hasn’t been easy. After seeing Marah at WCL last May, I wrote extensively (http://bit.ly/k8ZqA) about the baggage I brought to a Marah show and how it affected my experience. I won't rehash that, but suffice to say I haven’t lost all that baggage in 15 months. In a nutshell, they were a band with an already turbulent history who, in one fell swoop, lost 4 of their 6 members at a creative & performance peak. Not an easy hole to dig yourself out of.
But right now? Comparing Marah 2009 with Marah 2010? They’re moving backwards, not forwards.
This is yet another new lineup. Same drummer. New bassist and guitar player. So it’s possible I’m being too hard on them.
As erratic as the WCL show was, they were at least trying new things. Classics were reimagined, some even with the interesting tinge of funk. That incarnation at least had the balls to swing for the fences. I may not have loved the path they had chosen, but I respect them for not sticking to the one with all the picket fences and pavement.
Look, I realize they're in a tough spot. They have to win over new fans, while not alienating the old ones. That's a tough line to walk for any established band. But what I saw last night at Johnny Brenda's was they type of show I never thought I'd see from Marah:
The "hits" were front and center and only "Formula" seemed to have some imagination to it. The new stuff was sprinkled capriciously throughout. One could even pedantically debate whether or not "Muskie Moon" even counted as a new song. Hell, it’s practically old enough to get a learner's permit and subsequently get to 3rd base with half of the drama club.
The new album leaves me cold. It’s not like I dying to hear a lot from it. But the old/new ratio does not speak highly of their confidence in the new material. I would have respected them more if they came out with a big chunk of LIAP songs and said "Screw you and your expectations, these are our latest and greatest babies. We’re going to play the hell out of them and make you love them." Whether in the dark days of “Float Away…” or buoyed by mainstream recognition, the hell bent for leather Marah I've come to know and love like a blackjack dealer with poor math skills would do.
The Disjointed Critique & The Backhanded Compliment
You'll never convince me that every single song of theirs needs keyboard. It works slightly better on the AOD & LIAP material. But I've never once listened to Tyrone or Catfisherman and thought, "Boy, I wish there were more keyboards on this song." I realize it’s not changing any time soon. Christine is here to stay. She’s talented (I liked her solo album), but miscast in her current role.
I really enjoyed the stripped-down acoustic stuff, which is not something I thought I would ever say. More of an indictment of Electric Marah than an endorsement of Acoustic Marah? Possibly.
Sloppiness on Dave’s part reared its head several times. He skipped numerous chunks of lyrics. At first, I was willing to chalk it up to a certain level of ramshacklitude, which has been part of their charm. But it happened enough that it the charm quickly wore off.
The new band lineup was solid, if unspectacular. The drummer is rock-solid. I liked the addition of the horn on several songs, one of which, gloriously, was Christian St. Takes me back (in a good way) to the shows with the Hopping John Horns.
And I’ll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I can hear “The Closer” and not dance a jig.
A snippet of “Baba O’Reilly” was teased early on, but thankfully, it was not played. To me, that’s indelibly a Serge moment and decidedly not kosher if he’s not singing it.
I'm coming to grips, sadly, with the fact that the primary enjoyment I get from a Marah show will likely be rooted in nostalgia and camaraderie going forward. I’m not quite ready to foreswear the slack-jawed, googily-eyed awestruck transcendence I’ve come to expect.
So I'll probably stop being publicly crotchety about how much better things used to be. Because it quickly becomes a broken record that’s dead horse-adjacent.
I’ve bent over backwards to avoid getting embroiled in Marah’s soap opera over the years. All I’ve ever cared about is the music on the CDs and on stage. The elusive “it” that bands and fans spend years trying to find? They had it, regardless of personnel changes or backstage drama. I was able to keep a blind eye to because of it.
Maybe I'm tired of rationalizing yet another lineup change, or maybe they just don't have "it" anymore.
The bottom line is that if they put forth the effort, with the songs they have in their arsenal, Marah can hit a bloop double every night. But home runs seem further out of reach than ever before.
And that's a goddamn shame.
p.s. If they ever brought “After the Implosion” out of mothballs, I take back everything I wrote here.
3. Microscopically increase the success of onside kicks.
Onside kicks work about 24 percent of the time. But that's a misleading figure; they rarely work if the opponent knows they're coming. From an entertainment perspective, it would be nice to increase the likelihood of the kicking team recovering its onside attempt, but not by too much—if teams suddenly recovered 40 percent, the game would become a farce. So how do we slightly increase that possibility? By changing where the receiving team lines up. Right now, it's ten yards from where the ball is kicked. Make that fifteen yards, which would force the receiving team to charge forward once the ball is kicked. It wouldn't change the metrics dramatically, but it would give the trailing team slightly better odds.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I decided to go to the Newport Folk Fest this year after seeing the killer line-up (Felice Brothers, Levon Helm, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, O’Death, and many others).
Also, I heard Dylan might be going electric again.
My previous experience with big music festivals was limited to the very fun, very well-run 2005 Austin City Limits Festival. My annual schedule of Ultimate Frisbee tourneys has made getting to some of the ones that look intriguing (Mountain Jam, Bonnaroo, another ACL trip) tough to line up each year.
But this year, I’ve been easing into club Ultimate retirement like Madonna eases into a hot tub full of goat placenta she uses to stave off grim death for another fortnight. So the schedule has loosened up a bit, like Madonna loosens up her outer…
…um, you get the picture. And quite a picture it is.
I tried to get some fellow music fans to join in, but was unsuccessful. So I drove solo up to Fort Adams State Park just outside of Newport, RI.
The ride up Friday was long and arduous. What Google said would take 6 hours, instead took 9. Part of it was my fault because I left later than I planned and it was hell getting through the George Washington Bridge. I should have known better and gone 287/Tappanzee, but even that wouldn’t have spared me the 25 miles of 5 MPH traffic for the first 25 miles of 95 in Connecticut.
I was bleary-eyed and wobbly by the time the traffic mysteriously opened up (another Madonna joke? nah.) pretty much where the signs said it would.
The end of my trip was no picnic either, as I couldn’t find the campgrounds where I had reserved a spot. The locals at the Gas ‘n Gulp being condescendingly surprised that I could miss the sign didn’t help my mood.
Screw you, locals.
Anyway, I was able to luckily check in to my site even though the office had closed 15 minutes earlier. I set up my tent by headlight and passed out.
The next morning I met up with my companions for the weekend (Jarsh, Rachel, Chad, Courtney and their 3-4 more charming than annoying offspring, of which only Teague has a Twitter account). Later on, we met up with the irascible parents of Rachel and sadly absent Nic, who later on shared my campsite. And they didn’t know it, but I tweeted something funny but simultaneously false and terrible about them. Mostly it was to freak Nic out. He hasn’t brought it up, so it was either no big deal, or he plans on murdering me in my sleep.
The vibe was very laid back. Lots of older XPN types who found their spot in front of the Fort stage and settled in for the long haul. Lots of younger fans too, who bopped from stage to stage. It was a pretty good mix and as far as I could tell, nearly douchebag-free.
We were surrounded by ocean. I looked with a tinge of jealousy at the hundreds of boats, floats, and one guy standing on a surfboard poling himself through the water who were able to listen to the music on the Fort Stage for free. A few people may have even snuck into the show for free. Not a bad way to spend 2 beautiful days, floating along with coolers full of beer.
Most of the food offerings were pretty good and only mildly overpriced. They had Magic Hat (who gave me awesome pink and black sunglasses), at least until they ran out on Sunday and had to sell hurriedly purchased Bud Light to placate us. I guess they wanted to keep a lid on the drinking because you were only allowed to drink in a tent at the very top of the map below. You could kinda hear the music if you weren’t in the tent, but not at all inside when the tent was full.
The setup of stages was a bit odd, especially on Sunday when a # of high-profile sets were scheduled back-to-back-to-back at the small Harbor stage. Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Felice Brothers, and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes all had that place overflowing with fans. Especially Edward Sharpe. That set was delayed for 20 minutes while the local fire marshals forced everyone out of the center aisle and the area right in front of the stage. Meanwhile, the Quad Stage had a TON of room and mostly lesser-known acts. The only reason I can think of is that there was only one entrance to the Quad area and maybe they were afraid of a bottleneck.
Enough blather. On to the music. While the batteries of my Kodak Zi8 lasted, it's 1080p video captured some pretty cool moments. Apologies for the shakiness of some of them as I was holding the camera as still as I could.
NPR has audio of most of the sets here.
O’Death is a truly unique band. They play what I dub “turbo bluegrass”, but that doesn’t do justice to the hell they unleash when they perform. This guy does a better job at both describing O’Death and the Newport Folk Festival. Hats off, brother.
I was bouncing around in my seat the whole time. I got there early enough for a 2nd-row seat, so I sacrificed a bit of room to move for the awesome vantage point. Didn’t think I’d get another chance at seats that good the rest of the weekend.
There were signs everywhere about video recordings not being allowed, so I was paranoid about recording stuff. Hence the preponderance of heads in these clips. Sorry. I got over that paranoia pretty quickly.
It’s amazing what Andrew Bird can with his just a violin, a feedback loop (or whatever you call it), and his love of the whistle.
I saw Dawes open for someone at Johnny Brenda’s recently and have been digging their kinda laid-back California rock vibe. This one even name-checks LA.
Wasn’t planning on recording this, but it was a very cool moment. It was Dawes’ last song, a simple sing-along (“I gotta feeling… Everything’s gonna be alright…”). Midway through the song, the lead singer called his father to join him on stage. This was apparently not his dad’s first time upon the stage. He bolted down and belted it out. Sadly the bright sunshine meant I couldn’t really see what I was recording, so you get a lot of the backs of people’s heads. But trust me, it was rather sweet.
I was beat and just lying on the grass during the final set of the day (John Prine). It was a relaxing way to end the day. Am lukewarm on Prine, but he matched my mood. In my line of sight was an American flag on top of Fort Adams, so I decided to get artsy. Entirely coincidentally and ironically, the song I recorded was “Flag Decal” which has lyrics like “Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore; It's already overcrowded from your dirty little war.”
I did take a break from dancing my lily-white butt off to Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings so I could record this song. They were a breath of funky air amidst an otherwise fairly white bread weekend (at least the acts I saw).
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band put out a great compilation album earlier this year with guest vocals from a fantastic roster including Tom Waits, Jim James, Andrew Bird, Jason Isbell, and many others. They continued this collaborative streak in the second half of their set.
Ben Sollee helped out on “Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea”, and Jim James tore the roof off with a tent-revival-preacher-on-5-hour-energy take on 2 songs (“Shake It And Break It” and another one I didn’t know). These 2 songs left a much better taste in my mouth than JJ’s solo set from the other day. I was bored silly and left halfway through. To be fair, I’ve always preferred MMJ’s epic stompers to their quiet hushes, and I was in the minority based on discussions with other folks who saw his set.
I used up the last of my battery on the last PHJB tune, so the rest of the vids are taken by other folks.
The first time I ever saw Felice Brothers was at a house concert at Drew Eckman ’s beautiful house on Lake Cupsaw in North Jersey. And that’s one of the few times you’ll hear me use the words “beautiful” and “Jersey” in the same sentence. I took a bunch of videos from that fantastic afternoon, and they can be found here.
At Newport, they tapped into a deep vein of raucous energy as people filled the aisle to shout along. They killed that momentum a couple times with too many slower songs, though. It didn’t help that there was some confusion about when their set was over. They left the stage at one point and seemed confused about whether they were done or not before coming back.
The audio on this one starts sucking a quarter of the way in, but I include it because I make a cameo at the 1:45 mark:
I was torn on Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros going into the festival. Loved their first single “Home”, but the album didn’t do much for me. They won me over with their set on Sunday. I was crashing a bit and smack dab in the middle of a rabid crowd that was way into them. That’s usually a recipe for me being turned off, but they delivered a wide-eyed, energetic set. My shorthand description of them being The Polyphonic Spree – 4-5 members + a Björk look/singalike isn’t that far off, but I dig them more than I did before.
Levon Helm is a legend and should probably be declared a National Park or something similarly meaningful. Erect a gift shop in his belly button. I’ll man the old-timey photo booth.
It’s just a shame that his voice has been weakened after numerous health problems including throat cancer. He’s a scrapper, though. I've added his name just below Buddy Guy’s in my People I Hope I’m Rocking As Hard As They Are When I’m That Old pantheon. I saw him at the Keswick last month. It was a good show with a killer band, but Levon only sung one song entirely by himself. It’s OK, because “It Makes No Difference'” kills me every time regardless of who’s singing it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see much of his weekend-closing set due to my ride leaving with their baby in tow. If I wasn’t fighting a cold and feeling like crap, I may have struck out on my own and figured out a way back to the campsite. As it was, I was happy to head back, though it looks like I missed a good show.
This is an incredible vantage point for the all-star take on “I Shall Be Released”. I just wish the person taking it would keep his damn mouth shut the whole time. I’m guilty of that sometimes when I take video, but this is a reminder that it can nearly ruin a great song. But I still love seeing not just a beautiful song, but the awed reverence everyone has for him.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
“Juggalos don’t play,” insisted a young man by a trailer. “If we don’t like an act, if they don’t bring the wicked shit, we’ll throw shit at them. When Andrew W.K played here they were chucking all these water bottles filled up, like 90 percent with piss, and then partially unscrewed so it fucking got all over him.”
If Andrew W.K, the human personification of partying, got abused at the Gathering, what chance did Tequila have of making it out of a nightmare gig with her dignity intact? For that matter, did Tequila have any dignity to imperil? (Quick answers: very little and no.)
Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
- Han Solo was supposed to die in Return of the Jedi
- George Lucas was supposed to direct Apocalypse Now
- Star Wars was never supposed to be multiple movies
“I took a master class with Billy Wilder once and he said that in the first act of a story you put your character up in a tree and the second act you set the tree on fire and then in the third you get him down,” Kurtz said. “ ‘Empire’ was the tree on fire. The first movie was like a comic book, a fantasy, but ‘Empire’ felt darker and more compelling. It’s the one, for me, where everything went right. And it was my goodbye to a big part of my life.”
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Welcome to The Pac-Man Dossier! This web page is dedicated to providing Pac-Man players of all skill levels with the most complete and detailed study of the game possible. New discoveries found during the research for this page in December 2008 have allowed for the clearest view yet of the actual ghost behavior and pathfinding logic used by the game.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The methane—normally frozen at great pressure as gas hydrates embedded within subterranean rock—can become dislodged and transform into gaseous bubbles expanding geometrically as they explode upwards. When these bubbles reach the surface of the water they soar into the air, still expanding upwards and outwards.
Any ships caught within the methane mega-bubble immediately lose all buoyancy and sink to the bottom of the ocean. If the bubbles are big enough and possess a high enough density they can also knock aircraft out of the sky with little or no warning. Aircraft falling victim to these methane bubbles will lose their engines-perhaps igniting the methane surrounding them-and immediately lose their lift as well, ending their flights by diving into the ocean and swiftly plummeting
This is in the same league of lame explanations like the face on Mars being a natural formation. But they can't explain away the pyramids next to it. Can't CIA scientists do any better than this?But this theory doesn't explain the ships that were found fully in tact with no signs of any type of disturbance, half eaten meals still on plates, etc. but NO PEOPLE ANYWHERE. Sorry by methane can't do that. It also doesn't explain the stories of pilots who entered funnel shaped clouds over the Bermuda triangle at least 200 miles from Miami and when they emerged from the funnel shaped cloud only 30 minutes later, THEY WERE IN MIAMI. Methane can't do that either. Sorry I don't buy it.RIGHT! They do this kind of crap and think people are stupid and buy their dumb misinfo. But then again it sounds like people are dumb and buy their misinfo. Methane bubles are all over the ocean and they come up every day. But not many destroy ships or planes for that matter. Most importantly they HAVE NOT FOUND THE SHIPS OR THE PLANES IN THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN. Now how do these goofs explain that? Oh my good god. They need to get a real job like washing dishes or something stupid rather than waisting grant money on disinfo."If the bubbles are big enough and possess a high enough density they can also knock aircraft out of the sky with little or no warning" So basically you're telling us that the earth just farted them away... This article is worthless.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
There are an estimated100,000 uncaught killers in the United States. Cops are overworked, departments underfunded, and as many as one in three murders goes unsolved. But the Vidocq Society — named after Eugene Francois Vidocq of Paris, the world's first detective and founder of France'sBrigade de la Sûretépolice force — hunts down the murderers, frees the innocent, and succors the families victimized by crime.
"I call Frank [Bender] with the tough cases," says America's Most Wanted host John Walsh, who considers him brilliant. (Bender is also happily sex-addicted, having slept with some 300 women — his wife had no objections. He is dying of mesothelioma that has eaten two of his ribs, and doctors can't understand why he isn't dead yet.)Wow - is there anything else they can lay claim to?
They are besieged with requests from cops and victims around the world, including a congressman who wanted to solve a murder in his family, and a young, small-town Tennessee cop overmatched by an elderly millionaire serial killer who moved from state to state killing his wives. However, a case must be cold for two years before they will touch it. (Walter claims to know who killed JonBenét Ramsey, and the identity of Jack the Ripper, but won't tell anybody.)A super group of people that solve crimes AND know the identities of two of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time? Yeah, these guys are badass.
For most Americans, tap water, electricity and heating are not only staples of modern convenience -- they're absolute necessities. A small but growing number of Americans, however, have ditched the comfort and convenience of their utilities and chosen instead to live off the grid -- unconnected to gas, water, phone and power networks, and, in some cases, making their life from whatever they can grow or hunt on the land. In 2009, British journalist and documentary filmmaker Nick Rosen traveled around the United States visiting these unplugged Americans to find out what it means to live an off-the-grid life.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Here's the Big Picture's take on it, giving you an idea of the scope of the fires.