Saturday, August 30, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

How to build a Cathedral, part 12

Ramp to front door of Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, August 2008

The cathedral is scheduled to open on 25 September 2008. Almost all the work being done now is on the interior. You can now walk up to the outside of the building. Here you can see a ramp up the front door, and a crucifix over the main entry.

Front door with cross, Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, California, August 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

Humanity doomed

A top Go professional (Myungwan Kim) lost a handicap game of Go to the MoGo computer program. For years Go has been the game where a strong amateur could beat any computer. But now, through better algorithms rather than faster hardware a computer is competitive. In this case the computer did have a huge advantage in that it got to play 9 stones unopposed at the start of the game. But any win against a pro is a huge advance. The closing position is above with black (MoGo) winning. The game is here in sgf format.

Who are the best singing drummers?

First of all, what does this mean? I think it's drummers who sing and drum at the same time. So that makes it easy. The best three singing drummers are:

1: Grant Hart (of Husker Du)

2: Levon Helm (of The Band)

3: Karen Carpenter

Then there are drummers who can (and do) sing.

  • Phil Collins
  • Robert Wyatt
  • Mo Tucker
  • Roger Taylor (of Queen)
  • Denis Wilson (of the Beach Boys)
  • Dave Grohl
  • Bobby Gillespie
  • Ringo Starr
  • That guy from Paper Lace

Then there's the special subcategory of drummers who shout:

  • Yamantaka Eye (Boredoms)
  • Yoshimi P-We (Boredoms, OOIOO)
  • Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

David Tennant as Hamlet with sonic screwdriver

David Tennant as Hamlet with sonic screwdriver

Click on picture to see original...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lightspeed Champion @ The Independent, 20 June 2008

It's as hot as it ever gets in San Francisco, and I am suffering. Devonte Hynes (i.e. Mr. Lightspeed Champion) is still wearing his signature wooly hat so he is cooler than me. Lightspeed Champion are setting up their own gear. The PA plays the Kinks, the Cure and Pulp. The club is less than half full. I can walk to the front so I lean on the stage. The band play a lot of different styles. I think that Devonte is like Prince cos he is so talented, but that seems lazy as Devonte is a rare black person in rock. Drummer Anna Prior kicks ass. They have nice songs but the best bit is where they play the Star Wars theme. The band and the audience have fun. It all seems so simple.

Conor Oberst @ Bottom of the Hill, 2 Aug 2008

With all the entrepreneurial energy in the United States, how come no-one has found a way to make the sound check superfluous? Why can’t concerts start on time? I think of these eternal questions as I wait. Tonight it’s particularly annoying to wait as I had come to the venue the night before without a ticket. I got the date wrong. It’s never happened to me before. The staff nodded sympathetically. And 10 minutes earlier people were trying hard to get rid of single tickets. Tonight I’m back again, with a ticket. The audience is young and 50% female. Next to me someone looks at wikipedia on their cell phone. On the other side a bloke shows off his iPhone to a girl. They play bass heavy reggae before the band comes on. I love reggae, there must be a special shop where you can buy boring reggae to play before shows.

It’s six piece band. There are three guitarists, breaking my #2 rule of rock: no band needs more than two guitarists. Wikipedia says that they play Indie Rock, but really they play in a Classic Rock style. It’s a bit Blonde on Blonde, it’s a bit E-Street Band. They’re all good players and the keyboardist is a great colourist. They’re really capable and so they’re not really pushed by the material. At one point the guitarist sings a song and everything brightens up: for once it could all go horribly wrong! But soon we are back to safety.

Conor Oberst is a good singer, and has nice songs. He can totally control that break in his voice that he uses so effectively on record. But he’s cold. There’s almost no interaction with the audience. This is in a tiny club, but I’ve felt more connection with Bruce Springsteen in (enormous) Wembley Stadium. Maybe we’re just there to admire him? People are chatting and taking lots of iPhone photos. Conor jumps on the drum riser. He raises his guitar aloft. I’m sure he feels it but I don’t. The band hits a groove, then changes gears in an instant. There’s a lot of head and not enough gut. I was disappointed.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Manga Cafe Mika

adults reading

A manga cafe (the Manga Cafe Mika) has opened in San Francisco. You pay to go in and then you can read from the extensive stock of 20,000 books. The family manga expert and I went to Japantown to try it out. It costs $5 for the first hour and then $1.25 per 15 minutes after that. When we had looked in the window the other week I had thought it was stocked with English language manga, but in fact 95% is Japanese. The English language section is over 700 books but they are mostly recent kids books, predominately from Viz. There was no Akira, no Osamu Tezuka, no Lone Wolf and Cub. I was a bit disappointed. The local expert happily read Naruto and I read Death Note. I thought everyone there would be children but they were mostly grownups. There are computers too, and a screen continually running anime, which everyone ignored.

20,000 manga books