Friday, November 28, 2008

Laura Marling @ Cafe Du Nord, 28 September 2008

Laura Marling

Photo by ipickmynose at flickr.

This was ages ago. Laura Marling is that youngster who did not win the Mercury Prize because some boring indie rock group must always win. She was second on the bill which meant I got to go home at a sensible time. Did I mention that she is young? She is 18 and I kept thinking of Wayne Rooney (a football player), who similarly seemed to appear at age 17 already fully formed. Her songs are nice. I would like to know who did the arrangements for her band, I suspect the wonderfully named Charlie Fink who seemed to be her main associate. She is intense and the crowd are intent. She looks down when she speaks but stares above the watcher's heads when she sings (Yes, I know she is not doing that in the picture).

Compare and contrast with Taylor Swift, another precocious talent who has taken the quicker route towards stardom. Will Marling ever try to take that step upwards? One of her last songs, a new one, sounded like she has discovered Bob Dylan. I wish her luck.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to block that infuriating blinking icon on New York Times pages

Anything moving on a web page is very distracting. So I browse the web with flash turned off, ads filtered, and (experimentally) with xss filters in place. But despite all this NYTimes has a tiny icon on their news pages that flashes. To get rid of it you should use your ad blocker to block
and, hurrah, one less flashing image.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A basketball game

Image from CCSF vs. SJCC (i.e. not the game I saw)

G. has been enjoying playing basketball and I wanted to take her to a game. We went to see the City College women's team (CCSF Rams) play against Santa Rosa Junior College (SJRC). The game was in the new gym at CCSF. It is a very impressive place, with a large hall big enough for 3 basketball courts. In this case the game was played in two thirds of the hall, with one set of bleachers for spectators. There were referees and scoreboards and we had to pay $13 for both of us to get in.

I don't really know much about basketball but any competitive sport is fun to watch. I quickly picked out a few favourite players to follow. CCSF started well but they started swapping out my chosen players very early. SJRC had one outstanding player (possibly a point guard) who played nearly the entire first half and had enough spare energy to continually shout at her teammates. At half-time the game was tied. In the second half CCSF put their starters in again and kept them there. Now I realized that they had been giving the whole squad a run out in the first half. The fresh CCSF team quickly took a ten point lead. Even the SJRC star was looking tired. Suddenly it wasn't very competitive and while a free throw was in progress we snuck down the sidelines and out.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals @ The Independent 14 November 2008

When I got to the Independent support band Blues and Lasers were wailing in a dual guitar, dual drummer frenzy. There was a definite Allman Brothers feel and the band was having fun. When the Nocturnals appeared I realized that there is a big overlap between the two bands. I liked Blues and Lasers but the addition of Grace Potter, a powerful and subtle rock singer with a soulful voice made an even better combination.

The audience for this show was older with a good sprinkling of Deadheads; I usually think of them as a bunch of dopey hippies but the great thing about this particular subset was how friendly they were. Weirdly enough Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are sponsored by Cabot and there were free cheese samples available. This sort of jamming group can take a while to get warmed up, but once they did there was a lot of dancing. There are more adventurous groups in the world but this was a good night out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Free mp3s @ Amazon (US)

There are quite a few free mp3 compilations at Amazon. I downloaded three; click on the images below to go to a page with details. This may not work if you are outside the US.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

How San Francisco voted on Prop 8.

See how SF voted at the Chron.

Implications of the election of Barack Obama

The election of Barack Obama is bound to resonate with black and mixed heritage people throughout the uk. Having witnessed what once seemed inconceivable in the USA they will ask how long before something similar happens here. A black prime minster. Actually I was thinking of dr doctor who but yeah, why not?

The election of Barack Obama is bound to resonate with black and mixed heritage people throughout the uk.

Having witnessed what once seemed inconceivable in the usa they will ask how long before something similar happens here.

A black prime minster.

Actually I was thinking of Dr Who but yeah, why not!

Watchmen movie trailer

I suppose if it is possible to make a good film of Lord of the Rings then in theory one ought to be able to make a good movie of Watchmen.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Vote for the New Led Zeppelin Singer!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Opeth @ The Grand at the Regency Center, 6 October 2008

opeth ticket

I'd never been to this venue before. It is a former Scottish Rite Temple. It is an impressive neo-classical building clad in classy white stone. Although not quite as fabulous as the Oakland Scottish Rite Center which I have explored a few times, this was a great setting for a heavy metal concert. Inside is a large ballroom with a balcony. This upstairs area has unreserved seating and a bar. Downstairs is a first aid station where they are handing out earplugs, plus there are more bars.

The audience was young and more blue collar than at most shows I go to. Mostly white kids with a few blacks but hardly any Asians. Dress was mostly tee-shirts which was lucky as there didn't seem to be much air circulation and the atmosphere was hot and sticky. There was a distinct smell of sweat.

I missed the first support band who apparently only got to play for 17 minutes but I did catch some of High on Fire. They worked hard, with plenty of sweat pouring off the shirtless singer/guitarist. I was a bit disappointed in their sound.

Logos are very important to metal bands and there was a big cheer when Opeth's backdrop was put in place. Like Nightwish, Opeth are a band that is dominated by one person. In this case our guy (Mikael Ã…kerfeldt) writes the songs, plays guitar, and sings in both growling and normal styles. Over the years there has been a turnover of personnel and on this tour there is a new guitarist. Unfortunately he is not as interesting a guitarist as Mikael. There is a flamboyant keyboard player and some other guys. Everything revolves around Mikael who seems to be a very controlled presence. He does lots of stuff, the songs even have tunes (in places) but I felt the performance never really took off. In some ways it seemed over-rehearsed. I liked the songs I knew more than the ones I didn't. Still, it was fun evening out.