I saw this video for "Human" by Carpark North during a Scandinavian music video screening at the LA Film Festival earlier this summer. It was by far my favorite of the bunch which is saying something considering the series included a new Gondry-directed Bjork video.
If the new iPod Nano, supposedly to be unveiled on Sep 9, doesn't look like the pictures on this web page, this 3rd party iPod case manufacturer is going to have a lot of wasted inventory (another leaked photo via Engadget seems to echo the previous photos).
I use my iPod all the time, but it's harder to get excited for every next iPod release. The differences from one iPod Nano to the next aren't that significant anymore; they tend to center on greater storage for the same price. The major form factor benefits have been realized.
Not that there's still not huge revenues and value to be extracted from the iPod line. Google's search ranking algorithms haven't noticeably improved (to my eye) for many years, but they continue to rake in cash because no competitors have been able to leapfrog them.
I saw Bob Dylan at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium tonight. I've never heard Dylan live before. He's more mythical to me than real, seen mostly in black and white photos, documentaries, and movies, played by a variety of actors.
I'm a lifelong developing Dylan fan. My first real exposure to Dylan came in high school as one of my friends was a huge Dylan fan and would play Dylan in the tape deck of his car all the time. Recently I found a good deal on Amazon for a used copy of the Bob Dylan SACD box set, and I've been working my way through it, one disc at a time. His sound transports me back in time and across America like a musical road trip in a convertible with its top down, with the wind tousling my hair.
I will remember tonight, but not for the venue. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is fugly, and the acoustics of the cement-floored space are awful and muddy. The speakers were balanced to lean to the left, and it sounded like Dylan was singing from a space floating about 20 feet over the left third of the stage when he was in fact standing about two thirds of the way to the right of the stage most of the evening.
It's a credit to Dylan's songwriting that despite the terrible acoustics (which made his already incomprehensible lyrics sound like the language used in Apocalypto), my toes were tapping the whole time. Given the state of my Achilles, that's no small feat. I nearly fell over from exhaustion a few times--for some reason, tearing your Achilles reduces your endurance for standing--but managed to stay upright to the bitter end, through the second song of his encore.
As a fan of speech, I admire Dylan for his sui generis command of the rhythms of English language. He really is the poet laureate of American music.
Last night at the Viper Room (famous as the venue outside which River Phoenix died), I heard the woman who should sing the next Bond theme song, and her name is Janelle Monáe.
Her set was short, just 5 songs, but it was one of the most energy-packed, blow-your-mind 5 song sets I've heard since, well, ever. I've heard her songs online via MySpace, and I was impressed, but seeing her live is an experience unto itself and not to be missed. She's like a live bolt of electricity on stage, and frankly I'm not sure she could keep maintain it for a 15 song set without just passing out and getting carried off in an ambulance.
The Viper Room's concert hall is tiny, and that was part of the experience. Being able to see her animated expressions, being able to see her dancing like her life depended on it. I'm sure I'll never experience her music that way again. For her last song, she crowd-surfed, and I nearly ruptured my other Achilles trying to help guide her across as she passed over my head.
She has an interesting style (that hair!) and sound, both futuristic yet classical. That's why she'd make a great choice for the next Bond theme song. She can bring some of the Shirley Bassey funk and marry it to a more modern, hip-hop sound. With her interest in science fiction--she references androids in her album cover and some of her songs--she might even be able to write lyrics that incorporate "Quantum of Solace" in an organic way.
Her music is hard to describe. She went from the propulsive drive of "Many Moons" to the hushed emotion of "Smile". My favorite track is "Sincerely Jane". There's funk, hip hop, soul, pop, and bits of other musical goodness in there.
After the concert, we all stared at each other wide-eyed, and then I ran over to the merchandise table to buy her CD, because all I could think was "this girl's going to blow up" and "I need to buy stock in her."
You can buy her CD Metropolis: The Chase Suite or mp3's from Amazon. Here's the rest of her appearance schedule for 2008; those of you in SF, Portland, Seattle, Arlington, NYC, or Chicago should get your tickets now.
Is Obama announcing his running mate tomorrow morning? Drudge thinks yes.
Funny bust, err...bus stop ad.
Speaking of the Wonderbra, they came up with another clever billboard, a photomosaic made up of hundreds of photos of women in their bras.
If I work on the top floor of this building and they announce that they're doing a fire drill test some day, I'm calling in sick.
Backlashes seem to have been accelerated by the Internet, so it's surprising that it took so long for the Radiohead backlash. Me, I'm going to see Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday and I couldn't be more excited.
At this moment, there might not be a bigger way for a woman to summon a world of fame onto herself than by dating Michael Phelps. First contender: fashion model Lily Donaldson.
Well-written review of "Coldplay's expanding gas" by Sasha Frere-Jones in The New Yorker this week.
Is Coldplay warm milk or just quietly dependable? Don’t ask Martin, who has transformed the English art of diffidence into a masochistic religion: “We owe them a career, really,
Paul Westerberg has released a 49 minute, one-track album titled 49:00. The best thing is that the DRM-free MP3 is available at Amazon.com for the princely sum of $0.49. I was going to think of 49 reasons you should buy this, but you won't need them if, like me, you used to cruise around in your parents car in high school listening to Replacements albums on cassette tape and hoping you could date Winona Ryder.
Doveman covers the Footloose album for his friend Gabriel as a memorial to Gabriel's half-sister Jenny who died as a teenager in the 1980's.
When I was very young, my half-sister Jenny died tragically. She was a teenager, and it was the 80's. She left behind a wardrobe of brightly colored clothes, rainbow stickers, life-size paintings, doodles on lined paper, and hundreds of tapes. These constitute most of my memories of her. It's sad for me to look at these things, and usually I don't. But a couple of summers ago I found a tape of hers with a startling cover photograph - this was Footloose. I couldn't stop listening: it was a portrait of 80's love, desire, pain, freedom, and frenzy; of being a teenager in a time of change. By listening, I could step into Jenny's shoes, see things from her vantage point. I could be emancipated by rock and roll and walkmen, just as she had been. We could listen together.
I asked my friend Thomas to cover the album, which, sheltered as he is, he had never heard before. I was clear that I wanted to him to cover the whole album - the point wasn't to rework any one song, but to re-imagine the picture they made together. With a new Footloose we could reply to the past, tell our own story about being young. This is what he made.
-- Gabriel Greenberg
Los Angeles gets its fair share of crap, and I'm as guilty as anyone. Elsewhere, people complain about the weather. Here, people complain about the traffic, the strip malls, and, well, the traffic.
But today I want to focus on one of LA's treasures. Betina asked me in the afternoon if I wanted to go with her and Justing to Largo, a movie-theater-converted-to-music-hall in Hollywood, to hear Fiona Apple. I haven't heard her sing live since a concert at the Paramount back in Seattle many years ago, but I've always enjoyed her voice, that deep and smoky megaphone.
Largo is a cozy little theater tucked on the not-so-cozy mega street of La Cienega, a long stone's throw from the Beverly Center shopping mall. Such are the geographical realities of LA.
It turns out the headliner this night was the Watkins family, consisting of sister-brother duo Sara and Sean Watkins, of Nickel Creek fame (Nickel Creek's self-titled Alison-Krauss-produced debut album is a great place to start if you want to grok them; of the 267 customer reviews on Amazon it has 213 5-star ratings).
But during their long show, they were accompanied by one guest musician after another. Dan Wilson, former leader of Semisonic and recent Grammy nominee, came out for a few tunes. Then Fiona Apple strolled out, with that introverted, nervous body language, until she opens her mouth and that powerhouse of a voice takes over the room. She is our nation's little waif, our little Edith Piaf.
Then Fiona left and Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket fan took his place. I haven't seen Phillips since a concert at Stanford back when I was an undergrad. I'm glad he still looks reasonably young, or I would have felt even older than normal.
And then Dan Wilson came back, and who did he bring on stage for a duet than John C. Reilly, of, well, Talladega Nights fame. Reilly, besides being one of the few people I know who carries his middle initial almost like an honorific, can actually hit his notes.
Great music all night long in the larger but still intimate of two performance spaces at the Largo, and yet there were empty seats in what was an arthouse movie theater sized hall, with tickets only costing $25 each. How that place does not sell out every night is a great mystery to me.
Just the previous night, I was out with some coworkers, and we were comparing LA to Seattle and NYC, and we discussed how one problem with LA seemed to be the lack of a public place you felt you could call your own. Largo feels like such a spot, and I could see myself becoming a regular.
In contrast, I went with some coworkers to The Forum in Inglewood on Monday night to see Coldplay, and that venue is one of the fugliest buildings I've been in. It's like an oversized high school gym, and picturing the Lakers playing there after seeing them at Staples Center is difficult to fathom. Since Coldplay's debut, I've liked each successive album less, and their last album had me swearing them off, but their newest album caught my ear's interest again.
The show was good, but not great. They did not bring a full musical outfit, so on string sections of songs like "Viva La Vida" they just piped in the missing backing instruments which is always disappointing. I also didn't love all the arrangements. But Chris Martin seems like one of the nicer guys in rock, and they have a long list of big anthems to call upon.
The handicapped parking at the Forum filled up, so I had to walk what felt like two miles from the stadium back to the car in the parking lot. I felt like Jude Law in Cold Mountain. When I got home and took off my walking boot, I found a big bloody spot on the back of my sock, recalling Curt Schilling's famous bloody sock. I'm going to frame it as a memento of my heroic effort on that night.
I saw this screen pop up for the first time when I plugged my iPhone into my laptop:
At first, I thought this was a good thing. I'd never been offered this option before, and of course I'd like to sync them to my library. It feels like using my iPhone for backup.
But then I read the fine print, and that confused me. If I buy a song on one of my Macs, plug my iPhone in and move that song onto my iPhone, then I go and plug my iPhone into another one of my Macs, and that song is not there, why should that song be zapped from my iPhone if I don't transfer it down to my computer? Does this mean I have to have all my purchased songs on all of my Macs in order for that song to stay on my iPhone if I plug it into each of them at different times?
Maybe I'm interpreting this wrong, but if so, it's because the message is confusing. One of the things i dislike about the iPhone sync process is that the music management piece of it if you have multiple Macs that you plug the iPhone into is not as simple and straightforward as it should be.
Rock Band 2 is coming in September, exclusively on the XBox 360, then on to other platforms later in the year. More music, new peripherals, new online modes, but backwards compatibility for DLC and previous instruments.
Exclusive on the XBox 360 at launch? I guess that's just too bad for me and my PS3 version of the game.
Noel Gallagher thought it was "wrong" that they added hip-hop to Glastonbury. Jay-Z, said hip-hop addition, responded by punching him in the face.
No, just kidding, he just decided to cover Oasis during his act.
When I'm working on my computer on a project, like wireframes or sketches or just writing, one of my favorite CDs to pipe through my headphones is Ghost In The Shell: Original Soundtrack by Kenji Kawai. I'm not sure why it sells for $57 on Amazon. Perhaps because it's an import. If you can find a cheaper copy somewhere, perhaps on eBay or on your next trip to Tokyo, I recommend it.
A call from Stanton to Jobs in 2005 resulted in Johnny Ive, Apple's behind-the-scenes design guru, driving across the San Francisco Bay to Pixar's converted warehouse headquarters to spend a day consulting on the Eve prototype. Stanton said that it was a "lovefest" with Ive, but that the notoriously tight-lipped design wizard offered few specific modifications. "Apple is so proprietary and so secretive that he couldn't even really allude to where the future of technology was going," says Stanton. "The most he could do is nod his head to the things we said we wanted to do." (Through a spokesman, Ive declined to comment.)
Speaking of Wall-E, a bunch of us caught the midnight showing Thursday night at the El Capitan theater. No surprise, I enjoyed it on many levels, in particular the early scenes on earth. With a score by Thomas Newman and Roger Deakins-consulted cinematography, the creative talent was A-plus-list. Comparing it to Hellboy II, which I saw Saturday night at the LA Film Festival, helps to illuminate why the latter fell flat for me.
Wall-E and Eve, though they are robots without mouths or noses or much in the way of facial muscles other than articulated mechanical parts and blue digital LEDs for eyes, respectively, move with a fluidity and expressiveness that was lacking in most of the characters in Hellboy II. Under all that makeup, Hellboy is working with a more limited facial muscle repertoire than a middle-aged actress on her tenth round of Botox. The fish character, Abe, and a new character, Johan Strauss, have even less expressive faces. Abe wears a rubber fish mask that can do little other than blink, while Strauss has no face at all, just a glass dome for a head. Voice work can only take you so far.
Hellboy II also suffers from what plagues stories for most sequels, which is a sort of character stasis. Sequels that are conceived of only after the success of the first installment tend to be "the further adventures of..." rather than stories with any character arc. From the first movie, we know Hellboy is a sarcastic, wisecracking brute who likes to pummel monsters first, ask questions later. In this movie, he still is. The screenplay has several storylines, including one about Hellboy's uncomfortable relationships with the humans he protects, but the mix of fantasy and real-life isn't organic and tightly woven the way it was in, say, Pan's Labyrinth.
I look forward to more work from Guillermo del Toro, but I hope it's original stories and not more installments of Hellboy.
[via Uncrate] Girl Talk has a new album out. Like all the cool kids are doing, Girl Talk lets you name your own price for 320Kbps MP3s. Pay more and you get more, like an option for FLAC files at $5 and an actual packaged CD at $10 (packaged CDs! how quaint and retro!).
His previous album, Night Ripper, was one long mashup of all sorts of popular tunes into one long danceable French bread loaf, and I suspect his new album is similar.
I had my leg cast swapped out last week. When I walked into the office, the nurse who admitted me took one look at my leg and recoiled in shock.
"What the hell kind of angle is your foot set at?" he asked. My foot was pointed straight down, like a ballet dancer on point.
"I don't know! I woke up from surgery and my foot was set that way," I said, suddenly concerned.
"Man oh man," he said, shaking his head. "That's the most severe angle I've ever seen."
The guy who was responsible for recasting me looked like Milton from Office Space but about 200 pounds heavier. He had an exasperated "seen-it-all" weariness about him, as if he wished this train of patients with ruptured Achilles would stop appearing in his office but knew that it wouldn't. He looked at me and shook his head, and I felt judged, guilty of some hubris that had led me to this sorry state.
To remove the cast, he pulled out a small handheld circular saw and made two cuts from top to bottom on either side of my leg. The saw blade protruded about an inch, and my cast looked to be about an inch thick, so when Milton put saw to cast I strained as hard as possible to push my leg as far away from the blade as possible. I was terrified, and my leg cowered against the opposite side of the cast. Milton didn't seem concerned and pulled the blade straight down with an almost bored nonchalance.
He pried the cast off, and for the first time in weeks, I saw my leg. There was a four inch wound running up the back of my leg from my heel, stitched together with black thread in a cross-hatched pattern.
The surgeon came in, took a look, said the wound looked to be healing fine, and left. Milton asked him about the crazy angle of my foot, but he replied that my wound was healing and that was the important thing.
Milton had my lie on my belly, and then he rubbed some local anesthesia on my wound. Just as I started to feel it burn, he began (I think) removing my stitches. It felt as if someone was putting a soldering iron to my ankle, and I bit my arm to stomach the searing pain.
Then it came time to pry my foot up partway towards the normal 90 degree angle that feet are at when you stand normally. There was only one problem: after two weeks of being pointed down, my foot did not want to come back up. Milton asked me to try pulling it up myself, but despite urgent messages from my brain, my foot did not move.
I couldn't see Milton over my shoulder, but I pictured the slightest of grins on his lips as he grabbed my foot and a board of some sort and pried my foot up.
I let out a grunt as a violent pain shot up my leg. He continued to pry, I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth. If someone had walked in on us, it would've looked like a UFC fight, with Milton trying to break my foot to get me to tap out.
I didn't submit, but Milton did notice that I was in pain.
"You think this hurts? I just pulled your foot up like 20 degrees. Next time I'm pulling it up the rest of the way, like 40 degrees. You better take some painkillers before you come in." And then he cackled maniacally: "Bwahahahahaha!"
Okay, he didn't cackle. But after seeing the beautiful nurses in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I can't lie, the walrusian Milton was a bit of a letdown.
I hobbled out of Milton's torture chamber with a new, slim cast on my leg but in enormous pain. I sat in the waiting room and immediately inhaled two Vicodin, which I hadn't touched in a week and a half.
The best thing to come out of this office visit was obtaining my doc's signature on a form authorizing me for a temporary handicapped parking placard. I mailed that off to the California DMV as soon as I got back to the office.
Milton, we will meet again soon, but I will be bringing my two friends, Percocet and Vicodin.
Amputees sometimes experience phantom limb. There's an analogous videogame sensation. Whenever I hear a song from Rock Band on the radio, I feel a phantom guitar in my hands and see green, blue, yellow, red, and orange notes dropping from the sky.
After trashing his teammates in the preseason, Kobe Bryant goes and says he stayed with the Lakers because he tweaked his leadership to instill his teammates with his DNA. Arrogant, yes, but also maybe not the best thing to say given his, uh, personal history, both past and present.
Yes, the Lakers have Zen master Phil Jackson as coach, but let's not forget that Doc Rivers has the Celtics shouting "Ubuntu!" coming out of every huddle. Open source operating system? That seems pretty zen to me.
Sometimes it feels like the web is too big. Look at this list of sites of "Top 60 music websites that deliver the greatest free music."
60 sites! I'd be more than happy with, say, 10, but to be honest I probably use maybe 3.
Now that I'm on crutches, and now that a temporary handicapped permit is on its way to me in the mail, I flash dirty looks at any non-handicapped person I catch coming out of the handicapped stall in the bathroom.
If I hadn't had to pee so badly after the Indiana Jones screening that morning it opened, I would've stayed around until I caught whoever had occupied the handicapped stall at the Hollywood Arclight.
Speaking of the new Indiana Jones movie, I've read a lot of fans of the new Indy movie who dismiss anyone who didn't like the movie as elitist. Sorry, but those people are wrong.
I don't care if you did like the movie, but don't tell me about summer popcorn flicks. Raiders of the Lost Ark was a great summer popcorn flick. This latest Indy flick...cost me three hours and $11.
This is old, but still worth posting. Chris Matthews obliterates a right-wing lunatic on TV. One of Matthews' finer moments.
Valleywag offers the annotated Weezer Pork and Beans video. Below is the video itself, one of the more perfect viral videos in that it's a viral video that's about other viral videos.
You can download a free 320Kbps MP3 of the new Sigur Ros single "Gobbledigook" from their website. It's off of their new album, releasing June 23, titled Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. That means, uh, something in Icelandic.
Chuck Klosterman selects the 10 musical artists with the "most dedicated, least rational fan followings":
2. Tori Amos
5. Bruce Springsteen
6. Black Sabbath (particularly the Tony Martin era, for some reason)
7. Jimmy Buffett
8. Iron Maiden
9. Guided By Voices
Their music is simple and has a nostalgic charm. Zooey is not going to compare to Matt on musical talent--if real-life guitar skills transferred to the videogame world he'd be dominating people on Guitar Hero--but she has a strong, clear voice and that same sweetness that she's showcased on screen. They both have a relaxed, confident stage presence that draws the crowd over to their side.
On the "do they sound better on CD/MP3 or do they sound better live" question, based on this concert it's the latter. M. Ward die-hards may feel a bit short-changed that he doesn't sing as much in this collaboration, but I'm not familiar enough with the oeuvre of M. Ward to know what I missed. Live, their sound is bigger and richer than on CD.