I’ve been a user of Last.fm for quite a while now. Originally I would just hit it up occasionally to find a band or song and listen to it and maybe find some new music I’d never heard before. Then, when the wife and I started having guests over to the house, either for parties or dinners, I put a PC up in the kitchen and dining room area where we could pick an artist and have random selections play in the back ground while we cooked, ate and hung out.
Then something happened. With the idea that a television show could showcase and promote music through the site (something I still think every TV show should consider), I found myself spending entire work days on Last.fm, winding my way through genres of music.
So, I finally took the plunge and actually signed up for a free account there so I can actually store favorites and all that stuff. This means, of course, I now have a profile there. If you happen to also use the site, feel free to add me as a friend, and if you want to, let me know your profile so I can see what you are listening to.
Have you ever been watching a TV show and heard a song that you wanted to know what it was or who sang it? Even worse, it wasn’t on the CW so they didn’t tell you at the end and you had to go digging around the Internet hoping that someone else who watched the show knew the songs and put it out there somewhere that Google could find it?
Last week saw the premiere of Swingtown. Its set in the 70′s and is about a couple that moves a few blocks from a cozy middle class neighborhood to a more upscale rich neighborhood across the street from a couple who swings. If the use of ‘swing’ there confuses you, it means to have an open marriage, sleep with other people as well as engage in group sex. The show was okay… nothing really ground breaking, and I didn’t even find their allusions to sex all that graphic or shocking. I’ll probably keep watching it through the summer because there isn’t much else on.
However, the best thing during the broadcast was a little blurb saying “if you want to hear the music from Swingtown again, go to Last.FM” and they gave out this link.
Pure genius. Every single show that has music in it needs to hook up with Last.FM and do this. Simply awesome. I mean, I’ve used that site before, during dinner parties or regular parties or just while I’m working… normally, you pick a band you like and you get to hear them and other bands similar to them. But this, putting together a streaming soundtrack from a TV show… this is truly inspired use of the medium. No more guessing what the song was, just go to the show’s Last.FM page and hear it again.
I repeat… every single show that has music in it needs to hook up with Last.FM and do this.
for bad zombies, worse jokes and even worse music
So, a little over a week ago, I decided to sign back up with NetFlix, which I had canceled a while back just because the wife and I were watching so much TV and buying so many movies that we never had time to watch our rentals. Now with TV in flux and not buying movies, we’ve got time… plus, since we use a PC to watch TV anyway, it gives us a great way to take advantage of the movie streaming available from NetFlix. Furthermore, as I work from home most days, it also gives me an opportunity to stream movies I might otherwise never see to my other laptop while I slave away on program code.
And this is how I came to watch Undead or Alive, a zombie western comedy. It was… bad. The zombies were corny and goofy, the jokes were lame (in fact the movie never crossed the line from “mildly amusing” into “funny”), all in all not really a good film, or even a good bad film. Don’t see it.
More after the break… Continue reading Undead or Alive
It isn’t often I take the time to mention the passing of individuals on this website. My mother, of course… Stanley Kubrick, because I loved so many of his films… Pope John Paul II… Christopher Reeve, because he was, in so many ways, Superman…
I spent most of the morning heads down on some work, barely noticing the world at all, but a few moments ago I broke away and opened a browser to CNN to get a peek at what was going on with the rest of the planet. Amid the usual political posturing and Middle East happenings, I find out that Jeff Healey died.
In 1988 I didn’t have a CD player yet, only this tape playing monstrous boom box. That Christmas, one of my gifts was The Jeff Healey Band’s See The Light. I must have played it a thousand times. And while my first car didn’t have a tape deck, my second car in 1992 did, See The Light became one of the treasured few that would be played until it broke. By then I had a CD player for home and I rushed out and bought it, and I’ve had it ever since.
I wouldn’t say that JHB was one of my favorite bands, I only own one other album by them, but they were a band I would never turn away from if the song came on the radio. But See The Light has always held a special place for me, and it always manages to find its way into my play lists and my CD rotations. If I feel like bringing down a night of karaoke or serenading my wife or dancing one last slow song before hitting the road, Angel Eyes from that album is the song I most often choose. Jeff’s music has been and will forever be a part of the soundtrack that plays in my head as my life unfolds around me.
Thank you, Jeff. You will be missed.
Over the weekend, I went to another concert. Its getting weird here, as this makes like the sixth or seventh concert I’ve been to this year, and I think there is at least one more before year’s end. I don’t think I’ve gone to this many concerts in a year before.
Anyhooble, this time around it was to go see The Donnas down at the Earl.
First off, I’d never been to the Earl before, but its a pretty cool place. The front is this little dive bar/restaurant, you can get a beer and some eats, and then in the back they’ve got a room with a bar and a stage, probably holds a max capacity of a couple hundred, maybe less. Definitely worth going there if a band you want to see is playing.
There were actually three bands that night… the first was American Bang, who I didn’t think I had heard of but it turns out one of their songs is currently being used in a commercial or something, somewhere that I didn’t recognize it right away but when the chorus hit I had one of those “I’ve heard this song before!” moments. But that wouldn’t have mattered. While I was apprehensive at first as they took to the stage looking like a band from the 70′s that fell through a time rift, their music rocked. And frankly, you know an opening band has something when the headlining band all comes out into the crowd to watch them play.
Next up was Donita Sparks and the Stellar Moments. Its Donita and Dee Plakas from the band L7 with a few guys. Not bad, not 100% to my music taste, but it did not suck.
Lastly, The Donnas took the stage. It is unfortunate that you don’t really see a lot of girl bands that play hard rock music. I’ve been a fan for a while, even before they hit it big with that Take It Off song from their Spend The Night album, so its a safe bet to say that I thought they rocked. Worth it at twice the price (tickets were only $13).
Proof that Saturday Night Live can be funny: A Special Christmas Box (Not Safe for Work)
Song played on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
The Original Crazy Frog sucked… and so does this… and this.
Some of these are funny… some aren’t.
One of the best Christmas specials ever made… Ziggy’s Gift: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Animated 1971 A Christmas Carol: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4, with voice work by Alastair Sim from the original Scrooge movie (1938).
Claymation Christmas: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Billy Idol put out a Christmas Album this year. You can sample songs and videos on his MySpace page.
… and I’m out. Merry Christmas everyone!
Edit: Removing links as they die.
I have been a writer for a large portion of my life. I am constantly jotting down ideas, paragraphs, pages, and half-chapters. Sadly, little of it ever really gets complete.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. What most people call writer’s block is usually either fear, or just a lack of a clear path from point A to point B, or worse, not wanting to use the path that has come to you naturally. Truth is though, most people who claim to be blocked are really just trying to hard to write final drafts on the first draft. The solution: write it, and if it comes out crappy, rewrite it.
I am constantly rewriting.
However, on occasion, I can churn out some quick content… heck, its what half of this website is… but there are times where I do get stuck. I come up with a good parody idea, and sometimes the words just flow right out… other times, I get halfway there and get hung on a word, a needed rhyme or turn of phrase that just doesn’t come. My usual response is just to set it aside, ignore it, work on something else, and the lightning will strike my brain, inspiration will appear. But for some reason, today, I have been sitting here with something that if a great idea, in this case the re-lyricing of a song for laughs, and when I employed my usual tactic the words just never came. So I’m sitting here with a half written song (I have the chorus set, and a couple of the lines) and I’m laughing at the idea of it, but for some reason I just can finish the execution.
Perhaps my brain just has a bridge out and what I need is a good solid detour… mmm… time to go home.
This is the best TV show you’ve probably never seen. Quick run down: Jaye is a 24 year old college grad who doesn’t know what exactly to do with her life, so she works a retail job (at a Niagra Falls gift shop called Wonderfalls) and lives in a trailer park despite having a rich family, and all is going fine in her uneventful world until a smushed face wax lion starts talking to her. As the show goes on, more things talk to her, and when she does what they say it always starts a wildly out of control chain of events that ultimately ends up with her helping someone, normally against her own judgement. Are the voices God? Are they just her suppressed “inner voice” bubbling to the surface? No one knows, and we never will.
Of this show, only 13 episodes were made. A typical half season order. However, only 4 episodes ever aired. It got pre-emted a few times, then they out and out cancelled it. It just wasn’t doing well (in its shitty timeslot on friday nights), and there was already another show on where a girl talking to something that might be God (Joan of Arcadia, also good, ran 2 seasons before they dropped it). The good news is they released all 13 episodes of Wonderfalls on DVD. Better yet, 6 episodes have commentary, and they included a great behind-the-scenes/making-of documentary. Like watching ‘Firefly’ on DVD, the show is so good it almost makes you cry that it won’t be on ever again (well, Firefly has a movie coming out, but I still rather would have seen it stay on TV for a decade instead).
One of the many good things about Wonderfalls is the theme song. Normally when I watch TV shows I’ve taped or gotten on DVD, I’ll skip the opening because lots of TV themes blow or leave you with that ‘eh’ feeling when you can’t decide if you care enough to bother rating its complete lack of grabbing your interest on either end of the spectrum. But Wonderfalls sports an original tune by Andy Partridge (the front man for the band XTC), “I Wonder Why the Wonder Falls”, a happy little jaunty tune that brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.
Anyway, while the show was rumored to be cancelled and through to the day they announced the DVD planned release, Save Wonderfalls was the home base of the effort to get the show put back on the air, and failing that get it put out on DVD. They report that over 25,000 copies of the DVD had sold by February. On their extras page, they have a link to a copy of the Video done for the song. Needless to say, it never made the charts nor any of the music channels here in the USA, and I have no idea if it did elsewhere.
If you like quirky dramatic comedy type shows, I highly recommend Wonderfalls. Its worth the $30 for the complete series.
I’ve reviewed them before, and considering that they are my favorite band, its likely that I’ll review them again… and again.. and again…
There are bands out there that have had bigger success. Bands that play sold out stadium shows, whose members live in regal mansions, whose albums go quadruple platinum in the first week despite the fact that there are only a couple of good songs on it. Better Than Ezra isn’t one of those bands. Put in any one of their CDs and there isn’t a song I will skip. Sure, I like some songs more than others, but there isn’t a “bad” one in the bunch. And then to see them live… they are tight. They know how to line up songs to flow through a set. They know their own songs, and songs of their peers well enough to know which songs can blend seemlessly from one of their’s to a medly of covers and back into their song (like going from “Recognize” into Nelly’s “Ride With Me” into “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode and back in to finish off “Recognize”). And they know how to bring the audience into the performance, to make them feel like they are a part on experience not just watching a band, and all without the use of cheezy sing-a-longs.
Last night BTE dropped into Atlanta for the 99X Sinners Ball, their version of a Mardi Gras celebration, and they rocked the stage. I’ve seen the Ezra gang do well with enormous crowds at festivals in stadiums, but in a smaller setting like Kenny’s Alley at Underground Atlanta is really where they shine. Here are some really crappy photos I took with my camera phone, proof only that I need a better camera to take to shows like this.
BTE has two albums coming up… if you don’t know them, or think you don’t know them, they have a Greatest Hits album dropping on March 15th. And they have a new album hitting shelves in April.
And of course, if you haven’t seen them live… do so. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
From the first time I heard them I was a Metallica fan.
When I heard Fade to Black, I found that music could have a message without being a folk song. Hard and heavy (with meaning), the song stirred me… and the world. Newspapers actually covered the song, and its effect on its listeners.
They continued to make music, and I continued to be a fan.
Then one day, I heard a song being played that had a familiar ring, but seemed odd… different… good.
I sought out this music and stumbled onto something I had once joked about ("Heavy Metal Elevator Music… the songs of Danzig… on pan flute!") but had never thought would be anything I would consider amazing.
Apocalyptica. Their first album was a collection of Metallica songs played on four cellos. Simply unbelievable.
Since they have done more covers, as well as some original music. All of it stunning for the simplicity and complexity of playing music with cellos while retaining depth.
If you haven’t, check them out. I highly recommend them.