Friday, March 31, 2006

Led Zeppelin DVD (a note from Sep 2003)

I have now watched all of the Led Zeppelin DVD and agree with Conor that it is pretty fab. The single best thing about DVD is the sound, you have to run your DVD player through a stereo system. The production values on this DVD are great, the sound is very clear. The selection of shows is great it shows several different stages in the band's evolution.

So why were Led Zep so great? First of all the sound is amazing. It seems clear that this is Jimmy Page's doing. Jimmy Page is obviously also an interesting guitarist. By the later shows (Madison Square Gardens) he has gone a bit loony and is wearing some wicked trousers. But he is only half of the best front line in rock. Robert Plant is amazing. Sooo sexy and inventive he is always fun to watch.

Poor John Paul Jones hardly appears. How much of this is modern editing (by Jimmy Page :-) ) and how much of it was done at the time is unclear. John Paul Jones definitely has the Ringo role, despite his musicianship and co-writing of some classics (like Kashmir).

And then John Bonham. Not as amazing a drummer as Keith Moon, he still has the best snare drum sound in history. Modern drummers (like Dave Grohl say) are better, but I am glad that Led Zep stopped when he died. Better that than what the Who did.

Summary: better even than the Police video where Sting wears the multi-coloured coat.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rush - R30 (first disc only), your questions answered

Well what do you want to know?

How do they look?
Neil Peart (drums). Wears a hat so he must be balding. Never smiles. Does the same drumstick twirl reflexively. Appears to have at least one drum for every year he’s been playing.

Alex Lifeson (guitar). Looks like your average 55 year old dad.

Geddy Lee (bass, vocals). Looks great and jumps around. He must dye his hair.

Do they play 2112?
Yes, and they enjoy it too. Geddy Lee had a stuffed parrot on his shoulder and sang one verse about being “the pirates of the temple of Syrinx”
People playing air guitar?
Yes. It's in Frankfurt, need I say more?
Laser show?
Yes. Plus vaguely Monty Pythonish videos.
What did I learn?
Geddy Lee is the key to Rush’s sound. Like Chris Squire he is a bass player who leads a band.
How long is it?
You can get through it in under an hour if you use fast forward.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Things to do in Paris

There is a plan for a big fmaily gathering in Paris in Summer 2008. I am looking forward to it already. I have never been to Paris, but all that city nous will enable me to suss it out in a short time. After I have exhausted the French stuff I will go and eat Algerian cookies.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Best headline ever

Experts Reveal the Secret Powers of Grapefruit Juice

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Free flights!

In the past the perks of different jobs were worth having. It used to be that having a parent who worked somewhere with a computer produced unique benefits. There should be some sort of 401k scheme for perks so that you could take them from job to job. I would like to still have free ice cream from Sidoli's.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Arctic Monkeys plus the Spinto Band (13-Mar-2006)

This was the first rock show I have been to in ages. In fact I can’t remember the last one I went to. Last time I went to the Great American Music Hall they had seats downstairs and it wasn’t much fun. But for this gig it was standing room only and a full capacity crowd. As far as I could tell I was not the oldest person there but most of the crowd were young with a good smattering of school age kids.

The Spinto band featured a guy who has been taking lessons form David Byrne in how to throw stuttery shapes on stage. They also had a keyboardist who looked like Jerry Harrison which was good, I am always pleased to see another curly haired person in rock. The band also featured three guitarists which breaks one of my Rules of Rock. The third guitarist seemed to me to a Bez figure as he didn’t contribute much, and this was confirmed when one of the leaders broke a string. No guitar techs for this band as Bez was forced to swap guitars and go off and restring the offending axe. I liked this band. They were poppy in a way that reminded me of Teenage Fanclub. I don’t think a British band would dare to be this enthusiastic and it cheered me.

I was having such a good time that I stayed near the front for the Arctic Monkeys. The band started more or less on time which pleased me as it was already my bedtime. Alex Turner came out wearing a hoodie, and I was shocked when the hood came down to see him sporting a distinctly Paul Wellerish haircut. Everyone (at the front anyway) jumped up and down for the better known songs. I found myself joining in the shouting of the lyrics in football crowd style. Some sound problems wiped out the bass amp for a while and Alex stepped up to perform a new (to me) song accompanied by just his own guitar. Update: this song was the world premiere of Despair In The Departure Lounge.

To be honest I was a little disappointed at how the arrangements of the songs were exactly the same as the recorded versions. Obviously this band is so new that they haven’t yet had time to get bored with their older stuff. But the crowd was into it and I had fun the chanting and the bopping around. Overall I really liked it and am now planning to go to some other gigs this year.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

March to support San Francisco teachers 14-mar-2006

We marched supporting San Francisco teachers trying to get a pay rise. We were on the KRON TV news. In the screenshots below you can see a giant inflatable rat (representing the school district), Grace's cool sign (Fair Pay = Good Teachers), Grace's head (red hat), me, and Amy. March to support San Francisco teachers 14-mar-2006 March to support San Francisco teachers 14-mar-2006 March to support San Francisco teachers 14-mar-2006 March to support San Francisco teachers 14-mar-2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

Hail? In San Francisco?

In five minutes we got this much hail...

Why you need a shredder

When you buy something with a credit card in the USA the sales clerk does not even pretend to check your signature. So it must be hard to get a credit card? In the linked article we find out how easy it is to get a credit card in someone else's name. All you need to do is a little dumpster diving.

The Soft Rock revival

Apparently there's a soft rock revival. This is not news to anyone who's heard Coldplay. After I read the article I tried unsuccessfully to buy Pilot's good tunes on iTunes.

"If kids grow up with their dad listening to the Jam and the Clash, where's their rebellion going to come from? How are you going to wind your dad up? Well," he chuckles, "playing fucking Supertramp will really wind your dad up."
Actually I've always liked Supertramp. If you like the Beatles how can you not like (some) Soft Rock?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Doctors are handing out these drugs like Pez

Ambien, the nation's best-selling prescription sleeping pill, is showing up with regularity as a factor in traffic arrests, sometimes involving drivers who later say they were sleep-driving and have no memory of taking the wheel after taking the drug. "Doctors are handing out these drugs like Pez," said William C. Head, an Atlanta lawyer who is one of the nation's leading defense lawyers specializing in impaired-driving cases.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ivor Cutler RIP

Ivor Cutler has died at the age of 82. Read how Alex Kapranos was inspired by Ivor to write Jacqueline.