Friday, December 28, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I knew it was a catchy tune. In college, I heard it once, and could not get it out of my head.
What I didn't know (until tonight, thank you former KALX DJ "The In-Crowd") is that:
a) the song, by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class, charted as a single in 1970;
b) which led to an album;
c) which Varese Sarabande re-released as a CD in 2000 with extra tracks;
d) it's available as MP3 downloads from Amazon, and
e) there's a music video. The video, a lovely time capsule from 1970, was directed by a local filmmaker with experience (he'd just done a musical called Finian's Rainbow). Francis something.
Photo by Annie Leibowitz.
Miss Abrams is still around, and still writing music.
Trailer for Columbia Pictures' Jason and the Argonauts, filmed in the miracle of Dynarama!
Trailer for Hallmark Entertainment's made-for-TV movie Jason and the Argonauts. Despite the presence of Dennis Hopper, Frank Langella, and Derek Jacobi, no one remembers this.
Trailer for Mary Zimmerman's Argonautika, which just closed at The Berkeley Rep. (If link is down, try YouTube link)
Mary Zimmerman on Jason and the Argonauts, courtesy of McCarter Theatre Center and the Shakespeare Theater Company.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
So, as part of my preparation for said solo act, I was scanning YouTube for ideas for choreography to fill a sixteen second instrumental break in the karaoke track of Jerry Herman's "We Need a Little Christmas."
While watching Angela Lansbury, Lucille Ball, Mitzi Gaynor, the Purdue University Glee Club, various amateur dance and holiday recitals, and even the Sims(!), I discovered that the instrumental break is a feature for radio (and, apparently karaoke). Most of the live shows skip right past it.
Then I found this homemade music video of the song, done by a local teenager, and starring her family.
And while the actors are self-conscious, the whole thing is done with love.
Way more sincere than the Purdue Glee Club.
I'm crossing my fingers that when our boys are teenagers, they have the chutzpah to do this un-ironically.
Note: There are plenty of jaw-droppingly unintentionally hilarious choreographed dances to this song on YouTube, which, out of respect for this family's efforts, I'll leave you to find on your own.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I was looking for an Washington Post article covering a White House press briefing which announced that the country's drug interdiction policy for the past 7 years has been a success. I couldn't find it from the front page. But then this caught my eye, and you know me, given a chance to click on something equally interesting, I'll lose all memory of the first thing I was trying to look up.
So. Twenty six different cookies for the holidays. Twenty six more ideas to propose.
Not that I have high hopes.
L wants to make more sugar cookies with sprinkles. R agrees. We suggest other favorites from our childhood (peanut butter cookies with hershey's kisses, green corn flake wreaths), but they're not interested.
A cookie made with crushed candy canes appeals to them.
Whatever. I need to find out really soon if carmel covered chocolate chip dulce de leche oatmeal cookies are all that-- or too much-- and if the vegan Rumnog Pecan Cookies will come out if I sub in real milk and butter, and --only because I live in Berkeley (this cookie sounds a little too snobbish and not all that tasty-- John Scharffenberger's Chocolate shortbread with Cacao Nibs
Hey. Who put the Quinoa Cheese Cracker in the mix? That's clearly an oversized cracker.
Also, on the same page: edible gingerbread Christmas ornaments.
(Note: I had to allow popups to get the recipes to appear)
In the (translated into Chinese, and then back to English) words of Coulton himself:
"Now arrived for a crucial time, we all should self-examine really needs the record company. We are glad with the traditional phonograph record management pattern which rottenly deteriorates to say very much goodbye."
Of course, the Japanese air force never did quite make it to Burbank. But if they HAD, they would so have been fooled.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Missed this when BoingBoing originally posted it in late August.
Photographer Haiko Hebig captures incredible images of industrial decay. Aging equipment, outmoded machinery, abandoned sites.
Take a few minutes with this one. It's a big archive.
No prices, but supposedly prints and posters are available for sale...
VHS tape wobble! Vocoder! Star filter! Diamond wipe! Chromakeyed space bed!
Credit to TSOYA for pointing the way to this, and to this actual 1980 video by The Jacksons (including Michael), in which the brothers band together to form all of creation (voiceover intro by Don LaFontaine FTW!):
Monday, December 10, 2007
Perhaps Chevron could take a cue from Hydro, a Norwegian oil and gas concern, who is using television advertising to inspire the next generation of engineers.
It's a mashup by go home productions of Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" with the Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize", here used as the soundtrack to a creepy bicycle safety film from the Prelinger Archives featuring apes in hats.
(Or is it monkeys? They do have tails...)
For the mp3, visit go home productions and find GHP Complete CD8 "The Bootlegs".
My friend Kathy pointed me to this 11 minute sketch, a parody of "This is Your Life" featuring Carl Reiner as the host and Sid Caesar as the reluctant guest. Oh, and Howard Morris, whose emotional "Uncle Goopy" presages the anarchic brilliance of the Tim Kazurinsky "I Married a Monkey" sketches from SNL (which I'd like to link to, but aren't readily available online).
From the treasure trove of classic television moments atLikeTelevision
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Tonight I paid a couple of nickels to download some photos from the online photo service Snapfish. Here is the header from the email I received from "Snapfish Service" as confirmation:
I will offer that the mindset that insists that "the Comcast Photo Center" will be an easy swap-out for all instances of the word "Snapfish" is the same mindset that insisted that the U.S. would be greeted liberators in Iraq.
Friday, December 07, 2007
An interesting conceit, a riff on the AFI "Top 100" lists, that becomes astonishing by the time you get to the 70s, numbing by the 50s, then hilarious, then astonishing again. A true obsessive's accomplishment.
The complete list of movies is available here.
Via Laughing Squid, via Ze Frank.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Partly because of the domineering influence of S. Jobs, and partly dumb luck, Chiat has had some amount of success in its Apple advertising. The iPod silhouettes are of course a mascot, but they are 1) iconic in their non-specificity (note that they change with each refresh of the campaign); and 2) representative of the actual product in relationship to the consumer, i.e. you + iPod = this dancer.
The dumb luck of course was in the original casting of obscure* author John Hodgman in the role of "PC" in the now long-running series of "PC vs. Mac" commercials. (The ads themselves also work both in that the mascots are stand-ins for products, and that they are engaged in an actual discussion about the value proposition for the consumer.)
The series would likely not have continued much past its original run without Hodgman (and, in my opinion, Justin Long, whose straight man has become increasingly understated almost to the point of motionlessness), who has leapt through hoop after comedy hoop without faltering. (The last round did begin to strain the limits--as writers attempted to communicate in 30 seconds the comedic impact of Vista users downgrading to XP.)
In this latest ad (launched last night), Hodgman nails the peeved eyeglass adjustment like a 1950s television comedy veteran.
*Remember that at the time he had contributed perhaps a handful of pieces to "This American Life", had written for McSweeney's and Men's Health magazine, and not a whole heck of a lot else. His casting came on the heels of his insanely successful book tour appearance on The Daily Show--before he was selling many actual books.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Jeep commercial. Laugh out loud funny.
Checked YouTube: yup, it's a popular (146,000 views and counting). Getting buzz on AdWeek.
The commercial features Andy Kim's 1973 pop single "Rock Me Gently," a crop of CGI animals, and spot on comic timing.
I laugh every time I see it.
R has asked me not to laugh.
L keeps asking me why it's funny. And thanks to YouTube, I can pause, and go cut by cut to point out the visuals that take what could have been a cheese fest into brilliant comedy.
Spot produced by Cutwater, a brand new boutique creative firm in San Francisco (started by Chuck McBride (former Executive Creative Director at TBWA/Chiat/Day) which, thanks to McBride's credentials, stole the Jeep account away from some Detroit firm).
High res version available at Cutwater's website, if you can navigate through its ubercool interface. (Why do design firms always want to hide their work behind pages of flash animation?)
We now have (to Deirdre's dismay) added "Rock Me Gently" to the iPod to the kids' favorites playlist.
Monday, November 19, 2007
a parody classifieds site.
Item: Live Bobcat in my Washing Machine
I think. Could be something worse. Need someone to just go in, open the washer and deal with it.
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
this is in or around My House
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Now, thanks to Flickr, an enthusiastic photographer, and his kite-flying prowess, I know. Thanks Michael L!
Monday, October 29, 2007
The findings: 80% of K-5 teachers reported spending one hour or less each week on science.
Link to the study.
Link to SF Chronicle article.
Link to the YouTube video (which is an executive summary given by adorable moppets... who, while surrounded by "science-y" gadgets (pretty much NONE of which you'd see in any elementary school classroom whether it was science intensive or not), almost but don't quite match the actual demographics of elementary schoolchildren in the nine Bay Area counties.)
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thanks to YouTube, and especially the Wembley Stadium clip (which intercuts actual footage of these preachers), you can see exactly what Byrne and biographer John Howell are talking about.
Talking Heads: Original Music Video for "Once in a Lifetime," 1981
Talking Heads: Live Performance of "Once in a Lifetime," Wembley Stadium, 1982
Talking Heads: Live Performance of "Once in a Lifetime," from Stop Making Sense, 1984
But I only bring this up because I happened upon a very different YouTube video tonight.
Kermit the Frog:
Covering "Once in a Lifetime," Muppets Tonight, 1996
Now I've always found the Muppet photo parodies (of album covers, of Calvin Klein ads, of famous paintings) spot on... not just clever, but powerful, iconic even. This re-creation of Springsteen's Born in the USA doesn't quite have the power of the original, but substituting Kermit for Bruce comments on the cult of celebrity, the power of image, and the ouroborous-like ability of pop culture to swallow itself.
Sadly, however, this power doesn't translate to video.
This may be a function of the Muppets Tonight writing staff in 1996 inability to see this sketch as anything but a parody of Stop Making Sense. (An odd target in 1996 considering that the Talking Heads had broken up 5 years before... Byrne had 4 solo albums out by this time...) Certainly, the image of Byrne dancing and singing in the oversized suit was an indelible image in the landscape of musical performance.... but as you can see in this clip... NONE of the stage presence that Byrne brings to the song translates to Kermit. This clip apes the form (not the content) of the Stop Making Sense clip, but not very well. There's not even a Muppet take on the song.
Okay, I stacked the deck. Gave you three Byrne clips first. Maybe in 1996, without having seen Byrne recently, the clip would have been hilarious.
But if the first season of The Muppet Show and the first three movies showed us anything, it was that as much as the Muppets depended on an immersion in pop culture, they rarely needed to resort to parody.
Counterexamples welcomed. My memory is selective.
More versions (listed here, to avoid the Michael Bolton and Keith Urban songs with the same name)
1. Mashup of Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" with bizarre conceptual video from The Ernie Kovacs show
2. The Smashing Pumpkins cover, done as a heavy metal dirge/drone
3. Tornoofo17's surprisingly watchable music video of his friends dressing up and lip-synching to this song.
4. Acoustic emo version by Scott Stevens of the Exies
5. Performance in a warehouse by experimental band Invisible, with a conceptual twist: a performer typing out the lyrics on an electric typewriter, not only to provide the lead singer the words, but as the typewriter is hooked to a piano, adding an original countermelody.
6. Music video by Cienfuegos, an Argentinian rock band, doing a cover, c. 1998
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
This month's feature story is a 4000 word survey of the storytelling scence. Writer Autumn Stevens interviewed a bunch of local storytellers, and put together a nice article on the theme of "not just for kids." The article includes a description of yours truly:
More closely resembling, with his neat button-down shirt and perpetually earnest expression, a middle-school English teacher than a flamboyant performing artist, Ereneta introduces a Louisiana folktale about two sisters.
Middle school teacher, eh? I was hoping for sophisticated yet approachable, with hints of cherry and oak, and a nutty finish.
Maybe I should switch to a dinner jacket and bow tie. Or bring along poor Yorick here more often.
Photo by Lori Eanes.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Acting opportunities for parent & child?
Does anyone know of any Bay Area opportunities for a parent and child to act/perform in an amateur stage production together? We recently visited some relatives in the LA area who are about to perform as a family in ''Annie.'' We'd love to do something along those lines. Any leads would be most helpful. Thank you.
Dear BPN Subscriber: We have had astonishingly good luck being cast as a family in a unique theatrical institution, the McGee Street Players. Just in the past year, we have completed the following run:
Death of a Salesman (family cast as Willy Loman, Linda, Biff and Happy)
Barefoot in the Park (Mom: Corie Bratter, Dad: Paul Bratter, Son #1: Corie's Mother, Son #2: oddball neighbor Victor Velasco.)
I Am My Own Wife (Dad: Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Mom: Understudy. Son #1: House manager. Son #2: Assistant house manager.)
Oliver! (Dad: Bill Sikes/Fagin, Mom: Nancy/Widow Corney, Son #1: The Artful Dodger, Uncle Chris: Mr. Brownlow, Nephew Ben: Oliver Twist, Son #2 and Aunt Christa: Workhouse Boys/Fagin's Gang)
Peter Brooks' translation of The Mahabarata (Son #1: Aswhatthaman, also played Nakula in the touring production. Dad: Ganesha/Krishna. Son #2: the Deathless Boy. Mom: The Second Princess. Nephew: The Sun/Rakshasa/Ghatotkascha. Aunt Christa and Uncle Chris: all other characters.)
Sweeney Todd, revival directed and designed by John Doyle (Currently being cast. Production delays due to contract dispute over which character will be assigned the tuba.)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Turns out, it lasted two. Apparently the 227,000 subscribers (like Deirdre and I) who paid for full access to the NYT online brought in $10 million a year in revenue. Now the NYT is discontinuing its subscription model, although it said TimesSelect met projected expectations.
Apparently the number crunchers have figured out that opening up the NYT to the 13 million unique users who visit monthly will get them more ad revenue than the TimesSelect model, even after splitting the profits with Google and Yahoo.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The clip is from an episode of Comedy Central's Reno 911!, a parody of COPS that features mostly improvised dialogue.
I'm pretty sure he was naked before this, on CBS's Nash Bridges, too, back in 2001... he did a piece on All Things Considered about it.
You can catch JP in the upcoming direct to DVD sequel to the new Steve Carell Get Smart movie, an upcoming episode of Monk, some ER, and The Emperor's New School.
Oh, and check him out backing up Vince Gill.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I haven't been on campus at the right hour in 8 years, but today leaving a meeting, I chanced upon DeCadence, a coed group, six men, six women, singing some pop songs. Nice choral blending, a little bit of vocal percussion, and varying qualities of solos (some thin and reedy, some big and brassy (which suited the outdoor location better).
DeCadence takes itself slightly less seriously than other a capella groups on campus, often wearing costumes or accessories to comical effect.
BUT for whatever reason today (I missed any intro or outro... didn't even figure out the name of the group until I played a game of "follow the links" through various Cal student club acapella groups)... they were all wearing business attire and dorky sunglasses*.
But the Business attire, combined with the haircuts of the men, meant that my brain could not avoid comparisons to everyone's favorite alum of Cornell's "Here Comes Treble":
(Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in NBC's "The Office")
So as much as I enjoy the fact that young adults spend hours practicing, performing, and touring songs in which they get to make "neer neer neer" noises to imitate the sound of electric guitars... I couldn't get out of my head today the notion (implanted there by repeated viewings of The Office) that college a capella isn't just populated with music dorks, but raving idiots destined for mid-level careers in sales)
I did enjoy their un-ironical arrangement of King Harvest's 1973 hit, "Dancing in the Moonlight," although they did have quite a bit of ironic choreography. And they had a somewhat clever parody of the Beach Boy's "Kokomo," sung as "Ber-kel-ey."
Like most college acapella groups, mp3s aren't easily available... but...
YouTube link! (Dancin' in the Moonlight)
If you want to see them in focus: Wednesdays, noon, Sather Gate.
*And by dorky, I think I mean "fashionable." They look like they're all vintage 1977, but I think kids today are wearing that style now without irony.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
No more delightful a sound than the sound of two men whistling
The next best thing to being there: having a single Whistleaire in the neighborhood to serenade the birds and lighten the hearts of the residents of our street with a cheerful tune.
Second best: YouTube video!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
This isn't about the market performing better than government, because this isn't for profit. It's about smart people applying technology in smart ways.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Remind me when I'm convicted and sent up the river to find a jail with THAT kind of activities director.
Of course the YouTube "related" list sent me straightway to the Tollywood (sic, see comment below) "Thriller" ripoff, which I'd not previously had the chance to see.
And for those who missed it in 2004, a shot-for-shot Lego stopmotion recreation of the ENTIRE thirteen minute Michael Jackson video.
BONUS: Apparently there is a whole subculture of people dedicated to recreating Ok Go's backyard and treadmill dance videos using lego people and stopmotion animation. How would these people ever connect without YouTube? Link
Friday, July 20, 2007
Remember QTVR? Quick Time Virtual Reality... where you stitch together photos to make not just panoramic photos, but 360 degree photos, plus up and down views.
Well the hotshots of this field of digital photography just held their annual conference in Berkeley. And they took some wild pictures of the Berkeley campus, San Francisco, Yosemite, and of course, the Super Shuttle from the airport and various conference receptions.
Kip Hawley, head of the TSA, has acknowledged that the (now lifted) restrictions against lighters on airplanes was merely "security theater", that "trivializes the security process."
Now maybe he'll start rethinking that whole liquids thing. (Although if they lift that ban it'll be a major financial blow to the makers of contact lens solution. Sales have--pardon the expression--exploded to contact-wearers on trips longer than two days.)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
This is one of those recipes that must be tried to be believed.
Thanks to Kathy Molinaro for introducing it to me.
The day she brought this into the office I drove straight home to make it.
Super easy. ASTONISHINGly good.
1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz bag semi-sweet Nestle (or other) morsels
Preheat oven to 350°
Line a jellyroll pan with foil, including sides.
Line pan with saltines.
Melt butter on stove, pour in sugar.
Bring to a (rolling) boil and remove from heat.
Drizzle over saltines.
Place pan into 350° oven for 15 minutes,
remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate morsels over saltines.
Return to oven for a few minutes more, until morsels melt.
Remove and spread chocolate across top with knife.
(I used a metal pie server)
Leave in refrigerator overnight.
Break up like peanut brittle.
1. Best served right out of the refrigerator.
2. Do not leave yourself alone in the house with it.
Here, in Episode Three, Vending Machine Red takes a break from saving the world.
More episodes available here.
Friday, July 13, 2007
If they (or her, or him) can keep this up, it could grow into a terrific placeblog. I've subscribed in bloglines. Here's hoping.
From Forgotten NY, a site dedicated to the lost and decaying.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
If you can figure out (or ask your librarian) what kind of online database/interface your local library uses, you can configure this bookmarklet for your web browser.
Then from the Amazon page, instead of buying a book unseen for $25 or $30 (plus shipping), you can click the bookmarklet to search your library's database. (And depending on your system, you can have the book sent to your local branch for checkout.)
I need to try this out.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Now it's been blogged, featured in the East Bay Express, and loards.com has gotten a slightly more modern makeover.
From the Express:
...Loard's makes relatively small batches of ice creams with relatively high fat content (about 16 percent), and what's known as "low overrun" — a minimal amount of pumped-in air, the notorious filler in big-factory ice cream.I prefer it to the Fenton's, I gotta say.
This fall we're gonna host an ice cream social and have a Loard's/Fenton's faceoff, so that others will come to understand.
Monday, June 25, 2007
For the last few years you have had the privilege of being at one of the world's greatest universities—not only studying, but being a part of a community that takes arts and ideas seriously. Even if you spent most of your free time watching Grey's Anatomy, playing Guitar Hero, or Facebooking your friends, those important endeavors were balanced by courses and conversations about literature, politics, technology, and ideas.
Distinguished graduates, your support system is about to end. And you now face the choice of whether you want to be a passive consumer or an active citizen. Do you want to watch the world on a screen or live in it so meaningfully that you change it?
Monday, June 18, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
But if I read the same discussion on a blog, which handily provided a link to YouTube, well... I'd just have to click. I couldn't stop myself.
And then... and then I'd realize that I actually had seen this video. I probably was there for its premiere on ABC's Friday Night Videos.
And then... oh good Lord.
This very well could be the Worst. Video. Ever.
And the worst of it... it was gone from my mind for the past 25 years. Now it's back. AND I CAN'T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Here's a stunningly elegant and simple microsite from McCann Erickson for Nikon's new entry-level Single Lens Reflex, the D40.
They gave 200 people in Georgetown, South Carolina, Nikon D40s to play with. It's a picturesque town, to be sure, so there's plenty to shoot. And then they put them all on this web site, portraits, action shots, landscapes, everything. And they let each of the featured photographers tell their story of how much they enjoyed the camera.
And the photos look really, really good.
I know it's a commercial site, but I spent a full hour the other night exploring it.
Here's the twist: it's really hard to find any details about lenses, or what megapixels, or any technical stuff. The pitch is really about: anyone can take a great picture with the camera. About as technical as they get is to say that there's less shutter lag and really good autofocus so "you'll never miss the moment."
Adweek likes it too.
I'm almost ready to buy one.
You had me at pelicans.
If you dig around on other photo sites, and look at the reviews, you realize that McCann Erickson probably got thirty thousand photos for the project and could show off the best two hundred or so. And, if you dig around Picturetown, you realize that the flash still does weird things to pictures. And there are tradeoffs involved in buying the low end of the SLR market.
But ooooh. Picturetown.
Friday, June 01, 2007
"BERKELEY -- Wild turkeys went after Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory technician recently as he rode his Segway to the office."
NBC 11 broke the story... and has photos taken during the attack!!!
I like the response from The Daily Cal's staff blog: "We don't like Segways either."
(photo by jdng)
Monday, May 28, 2007
The Economist takes aim at high fructose corn syrup, which suggests that fructose, and not fat, is a major contributor to obesity.
It's an op-ed piece, so there's a lack of citations, but if it's true that there are good sugars (glucose) and bad sugars (fructose), there's even more reason for me to spend ten minutes in the bread aisle at Andronico's reading ingredients trying to find a loaf of bread under $4 that doesn't use HFCS.
Just reading about the hormonal effects of HFCS makes my innards hurt.
And in the last paragraph, I like the backhanded swipe at America's plan to produce biofuels from corn. "Misguided government policy" they call it. I'll have to do some more reading, because I'm not sure if they are calling it misguided because this country's agri-corn future will starve more Mexican campesinos, or because it will make corn even more dominant in our economy, or because it's a losing cause next to switchgrass as a biofuel, or because the Economist just assumes that since the US can't find its way out of a paper bag/land war in Asia, that it couldn't possibly execute a sensible energy policy.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Not long after the Pilgrims set anchor in the harbor they called Plymouth in 1620, the Wampanoag leader Massasoit paid them a visit near their makeshift settlement and made a wary offer of friendship. It took several months for two of the Pilgrims to venture into the wilderness and return the gesture. When they
did, they noticed circular pits alongside the trails, which, the natives told them, were storytelling devices. Each of these "memory holes" was dug at a place where a remarkable act had occurred; every time Indians passed by these spots, they recounted the deeds. The Pilgrims, Nathaniel Philbrick says in his vivid and remarkably fresh retelling of the story of the earnest band of English men and women who became saddled with the sobriquet of America's founders, "began to see that they were traversing a mythic land, where a sense of community extended far into the distant past."
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
(photo by something.from.nancy)
He looks harmless enough.
His first CD, Ralph's World, had melodic covers of the Winnie the Pooh theme, Roger Miller's "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Her," a toddler friendly version of "Shake Your Booty," and a couple of winning originals. He's ranked up there with Justin Roberts as heir to the King of Preschool Rock and Roll.
So when our neighbor passed on a pair of tickets won on-- of all places, our neighborhood college station KALX-- I said sure, why not go see Ralph's World?
After all, Deirdre was out of town. The boys deserved an adventure, and the Great American Music Hall was promising breakfast with this 9:30 am show! (I checked the web site: Rice Krispies is a co-sponsor of the tour, along with the House of Blues. I correctly guessed that breakfast would be a bowl of rice krispies. Actually, it was a beer cup full of rice krispies. So I had fed the kids beforehand)
So can Ralph Covert and his band pack the GAMH at 10 am on a Sunday morning?
Yes, yes he can.
Is the GAMH bar open at that hour?
Yes, yes it is.
Bloody Marys seemed the parents' drink of choice. And the kids bopped and clapped and hopped and swayed to Ralph's music.
The other kids, I mean.
Our kids stood frozen with their hands over their ears in dismay.
The GAMH sound techs had the sound turned up to eleven. It was louder than any band I've ever heard there, like "All Wrecked Up" (Granted, Ralph's World has a full drum kit, and an electric bass) (hmm. With the possible exception of Vise Grip and the Ambassadors of Swing). Ralph proudly announced to the kids that their parents were sharing with them the joys of a true rock concert, and he was happy to initiate them, presumably with steel-warping volume.
After three songs we ducked to the sides where we grabbed an empty table partly sheltered from the direct blast of the overhead speakers. The waitstaff helpfully offered earplugs, which Liam liked. Ro-Ro tolerated them for two songs, still with his hands over his ears.
If we had known more songs it would have been fun. Instead, it was kind of like being assaulted with sound. And wondering why all the other kids weren't huddling in a fetal position.
We left after 40 minutes, but we did learn one new song: one song, so peppy, so full of zest, we can't help singing it four days later: "We are Ants." (Link to YouTube video concert footage. Imagine this same song, eight times louder, and in the dark)
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Now that Tim and I are in the harsh new social environment known as the PTA, we're part of an email communication system in which each new posting to the PTA discussion board is also delivered as an email message. I appreciate this immediacy, because it'll remind me constantly of PTA meetings, changes in class schedules, and so on. However, I fear the immediacy as well, because it is an easy way for conversational wildfires to start and rage furiously and unproductively. To be specific: the school is working full-tilt on its upcoming Carnival, which is our only schoolwide fundraiser of the year and very important to our budget. A parent wrote in to say that her 5-year-old felt too pressured to sell $1 raffle tickets for the carnival and this was a problem that the parent community needed to fix. Her post was several paragraphs long, however, and was not as well-worded or well-edited as it could have been. Consequently, several parents who are hard at work on the Carnival (and deeply stressed out about it) felt criticized by other parents just at the time when they needed to feel community support.
Was this tension handled by one parent calling up the other parent and saying, "Gee, we're having some hard feelings about this, how can we work this out and move on?" No. It played itself out in waves of various parents posting from the perspectives of: a) hostile; b) defensive; c) suggesting a big summit to overhaul school fundraising; d) impugning other parents' child-rearing abilities; e) calling for a school-wide party to celebrate the school-wide carnival; d) calling for a special peace summit ..... on and on.
The email tsunami might have seemed pretty funny if I wasn't a member of the fundraising committee.
So here's a question: Plenty of internet sites address email etiquette like, "don't post in all-caps," "be nice to newbies", how to use the little carrot-marks as quotes, and so on. But have you seen anything about how to avoid this type of 'reply to all' Sturm und Drang, or how to reconcile it once it has run its course? I figure plenty of PTAs out there have experienced precisely this situation before.
NEW DELHI -- A court issued arrest warrants for Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on Thursday, saying their kiss at a public function "transgressed all limits of vulgarity," media reports said.
If convicted, Gere and Shetty could be fined, jailed for three months, or both.
Sure, it's news, and they scooped the Bollywood fan sites on this one, but the AP totally missed out on this: Aishwarya Rai will take her husband's surname to be known as Aishwarya Bachchan.
And this: Bollywood is planning to "remake" Charlie's Angels.
Link is to "Chris' Invincible Super-Blog", where the YouTube video is embedded along with a running text commentary, including the identification of the single greatest line in anything, ever, spoken by "Bruce Wayne" at 1:27:
"I've been looking into something. There's a series of robberies all over... a bunch of technology companies all over. At least seven or nine security guards have been killed already."
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
As a rule, processed foods are more “energy dense” than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them “junk.” Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat.
This perverse state of affairs is not, as you might think, the inevitable result of the free market. Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?
For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system.
[This is actually being posted by Deirdre, but since Tim's already signed in, I'm not going to bother with my own i.d.]
And we also learn that it's much easier to parody Sarah Vowell than we ever suspected.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
This episode, from back in February, highlights Longleaf Lumber (mill in Maine, showroom in Massachusetts), a company that reclaims lumber from the past couple of centuries of human construction (barns, factories, etc.), remills it, and resells it as flooring and other products.
Longleaf's Marc Poirier leads a brief tour of the lumber yard, displaying an incredible depth of lumber knowledge. I've never been quite sure whether those experts on Antiques Roadshow know everything they're saying (or if they've looked it all up in reference books off-camera), but Poirier is clearly the real deal.
Click to view
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Protestors are burning Richard Gere in effigy, after he publicly kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness event, in a recreation of one of his moves from Shall We Dance?
More conservative Indians, no fans of Bollywood to begin with, are burning Shilpa Shetty in effigy.
Shetty, no stranger to contreversy, is not only a Bollywood actress, but the winner of the UK's version of Celebrity Big Brother, as well as an activist for HIV/AIDS awareness and PETA.
Although Ms. Shetty is a fixture in the celebrity "news" each week on "Namaste America" and "India Waves," we've seen none of her movies, including the notable release from 2004, Phir Milenge, a remake of Jonathan Demme's 1993 Philadelphia. The film featured Ms. Shetty in the role originally taken by Tom Hanks and future Mr. Aishwarya Rai, Abishek Bachchan (the Big B's son), in the Denzel Washington role. But with all references to homosexuality removed. And the requisite musical numbers thrown in (more video montages than dance numbers, though).
Gere has apologized profusely for any embarassment he's caused Ms. Shetty, and for his own cultural blunder.
I was going to enter a joke here about waiting for him to apologize for one of his lame movies, but I really haven't seen any of them.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Fascinating experiment on context and perception.
A wee bit smug, taking potshots at the Federal employees rushing to work, who won't even so much glance at the musician. By the same token, though, it's a call to reflect on how many details in the urban sphere we filter out.link
Friday, March 30, 2007
The Beatles make an appearance on Dr. Who in 1965, during the William Hartnell era (Hartnell was the first of the ten actors in the lead role over the show's three and a half decade run)
In seventh grade, I wouldn't ever have had a chance to see a William Hartnell episode, but if I'd known about the Beatles/Dr. Who crossover, it would have blown my twelve year old mind.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove (left) performs a rap dance with comedian Colin Mochrie during the entertainment section of the annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner. Reuters photo by Jason Reed
[Mochrie is a cast regular on "Whose Line Is It.." He also plays one of the Keebler elves.]
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. ... Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.
[At right: Carbon-free commute on a scooter through the snow.]
Friday, March 16, 2007
The second time I heard Blake Jones play live, I didn't have to listen through the door. I could actually see him play. This was at the 2005 Rogue Festival, where once again he was my venue manager. This time, with his "Ill Advised Solo Show," Blake sang and accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, and playing tunes on the subject of politics and religion. Songs like Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In," and a lot of originals, like "Don't You Be Stealin' My Jesus," a lament from a liberal Christian who finds the political influence of the religious right maddening.
Upbeat songs, mostly. A warm and welcoming stage presence.
But no theremin. None of the toy pianos and lush wall of sound his friends, fellow musicians, and reviewers adore him for. His one gig in San Francisco this year was when I was out of town.
Third time's a charm: Finally, this year in Fresno, Blake was fronting "Send the Trike Shop to Liverpool," a concept concert which was nominally a fundraiser to pay off the Visa card debt that accompanied their recent booking of upcoming gigs in Liverpool. A ha! Now I could hear it! Bookended between pitch perfect covers of "Strawberry Fields" and "I Am the Walrus," the Trike Shop brought Blake's songs to gorgeous life. Now I understood the comparisons to Brian Wilson. This wasn't just infectious nod pop, it was toe-tappingly fun retro DIY avant-goodness. (It was also the loudest thing I've heard in the past decade, but it was my choice to sit in the second row in the nightclub directly in front of the six foot high wall of speakers).
The Trike Shop's Myspace page prominently features their Frank Zappa tribute. If you're like me, and not familiar with the Mothers of Invention and their charms, it's hard to see Blake's pop roots here.
Their Garageband page has just two songs, but they're pop heaven. "Snapshots" calls to mind Nilsson and the Beach Boys. "Clever Things" evokes Ray Davies by way of Jonathan Richman. Both seem like they came out the same era as the Beatles' Rubber Soul and Revolver.
And, if you'd like to hear Blake's theremin, check out his CDBaby page (last track).
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The first time I saw a theremin in live performance was at my office Christmas party (which features as a longstanding tradition, a talent show). Dan Bluestein sang "Witchta Lineman," accompanying himself on guitar and theremin (quite a feat, that)-- the theremin he had built himself. I seem to recall it involved a battery and two crescent wrenches, one of which he operated with his foot.
In 2005, at the Rogue Festival in Fresno, my stage manager Blake Jones informed me that he'd miss one of my shows, as his own Big Loud Pop Show he'd organized for the Festival would conflict. By the time I'd finished my show and got to the venue, it had long since started, and sold out, so I stood out on the sidewalk and listened through the door. A local Western Swing band, the They Can't Hardly Playboys, was ripping through "Hot Rod Lincoln," and after that, there was, unexpectedly, a samba, with an otherworldy tone taking the lead, sliding up and down the melody of Ary Barroso/S.K. Russell's "Brazil." I asked a couple of folks also outside the door: "What is that sound?"
"Pedal steel?" one suggested, and this didn't seem too farfetched, given the previous song.
Later, Blake confessed that indeed, it was a theremin, and that he himself had played it.
A year later San Francisco musician pc muñoz, who I went to high school with, would hire Blake to play theremin on his new recording project, and casually mentioned he was seeking a spoken word artist. Blake suggested a storyteller from Berkeley that he'd seen in Fresno recently, namely me... which is how I ended up on a CD with some of the East Bay's best jazz musicians.
This year I finally got to see Blake play the theremin live, as he covered "Harlem Nocturne," with his band, The Trike Shop.
Watching a theremin performance is fascinating, because the performer never touches the instrument. It's also not visually stimulating, because the slightest movement on the part of the performer produces a great variance in tone, so tackling an actual melody involves a limited range of movement.
So here from YouTube is a video introduction to the theremin by Jon Bernhardt, who not only tells what a theremin is, but tackles a pop hit from the 80s. And while this is wrong on so many levels (especially his jacket), I have to say, the novelty of the theremin fits the novelty of the song. Enjoy.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Multimedia feature on Fresno's Rogue Festival, posted on YouTube, with footage from the first weekend, including a bit of my show (I saw the video camera outside the theatre... didn't know he came inside).
Monday, March 12, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Seven classic Dr. Seuss stories done up as 60s Dylan-gone-rock-and-roll.
"Green Eggs and Ham" as "Bob Dylan's Dream #115"
"Oh, The Thinks You Can Think" a là "Like a Rolling Stone" (wait; that's not what I meant. my brain's seizing up. i'll correct this reference and get back to you)
Complete with faux vintage album art and vinyl surface noise.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
What's geekier than KLF's 1988 "Doctoring the TARDIS," a novelty mashup of the theme to British Sci-Fi series "Doctor Who" and Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll (part 2)" that went to #1 on the UK charts?
What about Dean Grey's 2005 mashup of KLF's 1988 hit with Green Day's "Holiday"?
Take one instrumental TV theme, combine one novelty rock anthem primarily used now for NBA team entrances, and Green Day's growly punk pop energy. Might be geekier, but it actually improves upon KLF's version.
Hear the MP3
Watch the YouTube Video
(from Dean Grey's American Edit album featuring mashups of Green Day's entire American Idiot album, which lasted an entire 10 days on the Web before the lawyers from Warner Brothers served up a cease-and-desist order. Boing Boing was all over the American Edit event, but I ignored it, not being a fan of Green Day. So, consider this a late entry.)
Dried mustard? Hot pepper sauce? Eggs?!?
If he'd gone all nutmeg on me I would have telephoned the Brooklyn Police to have him hauled away, but as it is I'm left thinking there's something funny in that Hudson River water they drink out there.
Because I am that kind of friend I will inform Tom that the best mac and cheese ever can be found in Issue 3 of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (May/June 2003).
- 1 pound shredded white cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (plus more for greasing baking dishes)
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup storebought or 3/4 cup homemade bread crumbs
- salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter four 14-ounce ovenproof dishes. In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon of melted butter with breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup cheddar.
2. Cook macaroni; drain.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add cream cheese, cut into cubes. Stir until melted, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the remaining cheddar until melted, 5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
4. Divide the mixture among prepared dishes. Bake until bubbling, 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until golden, 10 minutes more.
Ok, so the recipes do share the preposterous level of cheese (3/4 pound against 1/2 pound macaroni). And here the whole milk and cream cheese take the place of Tom's evaporated milk and extra butter.
I still don't get what's with the eggs. Just make carbonara for crying out loud.
Follow the link to the winners, but then head back down the blog for #s 2 through 20, in the categories: Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Screenplay (no distinction between original/adapted), Scene, and the best film everyone saw back in 2004 on the festival circuit but has yet to see U.S. theatrical distribution.
This year Mike has YouTube working for him, so most of the year's best clips are available for viewing.
[via Wooster Collective]
Local street sticker artist DAve launches an after-school arts workshop for middle-school and high school students in San Francisco.
Tax-deductible donations accepted through fiscal sponsor Youth Speaks.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Ergonomic curved pole, non-toxic floor cleaners, washable microfiber mop pads, and biodegradeable/compostable sweeping cloths. Like all their products, Target-demographicked design.
They know exactly how to get me to want one.*
*Or two, since they sell a different model specifically for wood floors.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Inspired by Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, Bonnie Azab Powell rounded up some friends also interested in thinking about food, and created a collaborative blog on sustainable, local, organic, and/or ethical food choices.
I like the multiple perspectives from different foodsheds (Berkeley, Austin, Seattle, plus reports from readers) on restaurants, farmer's markets, and farmers. I also like the recipes and the essays grappling with how to make meals more local, or more in line with sustainable agriculture.
But what I really like is the News roundup: several times a week the team posts links to headlines in the media about our food supply chain. You'd think that might be hard to sustain. But these folks comb the news for health stories (trans-fat; E. Coli outbreaks), trade policy (Genetically modified crops, the impact of NAFTA on corn, Japanese bans on American beef), consumer issues (package labelling), agriculture (the Farm bill, the citrus freeze), and intersection of all these issues with big business, Wal Mart, Archer Daniels Midland, and global warming... why some weeks there's more food news than foodie essays.
And on top of that, their tag line cracks me up.
Monday, January 29, 2007
And here's the two minutes that was soundbited most often:
Almost makes me forget he's a rabid right wing Christian conservative who has voted with the Bush Administration more times than any other Senator.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Six videos play in parallel, illuminating the latest (or, who knows, maybe this was yesterday's) craze in Japan.
In the top center: the closing credits to "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya", an anime feature. As in America's "Down With Love", the credits are juxtaposed with a dance number, in this case over a pop song that is the exact opposite of melancholy.
In the lower center: the dance number, full frame without credits.
To the left and right of each are fan-created versions of the same clips.
We missed the Ok Go backyard dance competition.
We gotta get in on this one.
Below: the full frame dance.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Stephen Colbert: What made [Tuesday's State of the Union speech] so groundbreaking, I think, was all the new stuff we've never heard from the president before...like a domestic agenda. Take his proposal to fix the whole health care mess with the only proven cure-all: tax breaks...
Bush clip: And for the millions of Americans with no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within reach.
Colbert: It's so simple. Most people who couldn’t afford health insurance also are too poor to owe taxes. But...if you give them a deduction from their taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they're not getting back from what they haven't given to buy the health care they can't afford.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
(from The Colbert Report, January 18)
Stephen Colbert follows up on the celebrity feuds from the previous week, including the spat between Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Baachaan. (Includes a favorite Bollywood clip of Ronan's).
In the interest not getting our news entirely from Comedy Central, I tried to find via Google the actual details of the feud in question. However, though Google sources quite a few Indian media outlets, the fact that Colbert was giving this feud play on American television is bigger news than any actual feud.
In any case, the Bollywood news and gossip cycle has already moved on its next big item, the upcoming marriage of the Big B's son to sometimes co-star and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai.
Monday, January 15, 2007
From The Colbert Report, January 7, 2007. Colbert's "We the Mediator" segment weighs in on celebrity feuds: Rosie O'Donnell v. Donald Trump, Angelina Jolie v. Madonna, and of course:
Shahrukh Khan v. Amitabh Baachan
Friday, January 12, 2007
In just four minutes you can listen to the arguably inevitable, and surprisingly danceable remix of two key moments--when he reveals that the iPod, phone, and internet communicator he's introducing are all in a single device, and when he reveals that the device doesn't require a stylus.
The crowd, you can hear, goes absolutely nuts.
(Of course if you did want to watch the whole speech, it's available as a free podcast download here.)
Their January report, "Crunch", analyzes color, form, typography, illustration, and visual texturing found on packages for chips, crackers, cereal, and other things that crunch.
You can also check out earlier reports on Energy Drinks, Children's Cold Medicine and Sliced Bread.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I've got two sets, one at 2 pm, for 40 minutes, and one at 7 pm for 45 minutes. And I'll pretty much be fretting over my set list between now at 1:59 pm Saturday.
Not sure what happened to our profile names in the upper right.
Maybe they'll come back once everyone has logged in
(you have to log in with a GoogleID rather than your Blogger username to post now).
The main change you'll see is the addition of "labels", also known as categories or tags.
I've gone back and begun to tag a few posts, and we can begin to see some trends.
Let me know if you need any help.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Today I admitted to her (sheepishly) that I'm more likely to read her thoughts, poems, website recommendations, etc., on a blog than in email, since email has become so task-oriented for me (too many of her emails I file quickly into "Read Me Someday", which--good luck with that).
But with my RSS reader I'm sure to read any new post within 24 hours.
I am such a slave to the internet.