Tuesday, September 18, 2012

amanda palmer theatre is evil

the new amanda palmer album came out recently, and after being barraged by her tweets and retweets, i picked it up. (to be fair, i follow her, and if i don't want to deal with the volume of tweets that she does i should unfollow instead of complaining.)  i've been a fan of her music since the dresden dolls, and have a bunch of her cover stuff as well.  i don't know what it is, but i just enjoy the music that she does.  sometimes piano driven, sometimes a more basic rock, but it's just good music.

i'm not going to review songs all the songs or anything like that, but i did want to hit on a few tracks.
  • the killing type was is the first to really jump out at me.  i saw the video and it didn't do too much for me, but with the headphones on it just really stood out.  they lyrics are this interesting piece about not being able/willing to kill but having those sort of urges, carrying a knife, getting angry but knowing you couldn't/wouldn't do it.
  • do it with a rock star - "do you want to see all my cavities."  that's a damn fine line, great double entendre
  • want it back - really reminds me off dresden dolls stuff, in a good way.  but also has this nice, 80's synth feel to it.
  • melody dean - man, this sounds so much like 'my sharona' that i have to imagine that it's intentional.  okay, she even says my sharona at one point in the song.  having said that, it's awesome.  this song rocks, will get you moving.  the drum break down is effing awesome.
  • berlin - this really has that old melodramatic dresden dolls feel to it.  the song builds along what seems like a pretty simple piano riff, but mixed in with what sounds like a old striptease.  or, i guess a cabaret.
Overall, the album is a departure from the dresden dolls, which is fine, because it's not the same band.  obviously, when you have a band like the dolls that is only two people, and now the front person is in another band, there will be a lot of shared sound.  it's unmistakably amanda palmer.  i enjoyed the whole album.  obviously, some songs will speak out more to you than me.  the bed song is definitely one that will rip your heart out, and as exhibited by the amount of tweets palmer gets about it, people love it.  (i'm not sure why i didn't write about that one.)  i also really like the amount of the synth sound on it, which i am hearing & enjoying in a lot of current stuff.

On a related note, palmer has created a minor (?) controversy by asking for volunteer musicians to play at her shows as part of the grand theft orchestra (here's a good summary post).  she's asked for essentially semi-pros that would be willing to play, and would get to hang out with the rest of the band, get free beer/food in the green room.  she has been taken to task for this because some people feel that she should pay those musicians.  she is devaluing what musicians do because she's not hiring actual musicians, or paying musicians at the scale they might receive.  there is also a devaluing of live music because everyone should get paid for what they do.  i think that's most of the argument.  now, some of it has also been a bit nasty toward her personally, but that's dismissible for the argument.  if you're going to attack a person rather than their argument, well, you lose.  palmer's argument back is that the people are volunteering.  they're choosing to do this, they're having a good time, and they're getting a form of payment.

to be honest, i think i see both sides.  i've always been surprised when i talk to friends in bands that play for free.  i get it if you're getting some exposure from a really big touring act, but even then, shouldn't you see a little bit of the door?  also, it seems like some bands may also get the rep of being willing to play for free, and so venues/bars will put them on the bill all the time or frequently because they know they can get them for free.  that seems pretty bad, and i wouldn't want to be in that position.  i mean, i'm not going to do a painting at your house for free.

then again, when i was playing music regularly, i was doing it for free, as a volunteer.   sure, i was playing at church, and so it had some other meaning attached to it for me.  but, deep down, i did it because i wanted to play and provide a service.  if people want to get on stage, help out another musician, even one that is making pretty good money, and play for free/beer & high fives, that's fine with me.  i probably lean a little more this way in this particular argument about amanda palmer.  i still wouldn't play regularly as a band/in a club/in concert for free.

Monday, September 17, 2012

california calliope spectacle

saturday night was the california calliope spectacle at fulton 55.  what's that?  well, realistically it was the cd release show for the local country band back in the valley.  they just recently finished recording their debut album and wanted to put on a release show that was more than just your average show.  so, they came up with the idea of the california calliope spectacle.  they encouraged attendees to get dressed up in crazy outfits of whatever era.  they had go go dancers.  they had belly dancers.  they had a lady on stilts wandering through the crowd.  i heard there was a fire juggler, but didn't see it.  and, they had the music.  we were lucky enough to score some tickets from chris, the lead singer of back in the valley.

the first band was the psychadelic homeboys.  they played rock versions of a lot of 90's r&b songs.  bobby brown, montell jordan, and beyond.  they also did some hendrix and other classics.  it was pretty fun stuff.

back in the valley actually went on second.  they wanted to be able to play the show, and then hang out and enjoy themselves.  they do mostly originals, and overall it's pretty likeable stuff.  chris sings well, and the fiddle player was very good and had a nice voice as well.  one really funny moment (to me) from their set was when they were about to play the title track of the new album.  chris was explaining the concept of the album being about california, and it was conceptualized in the metaphor of a woman.  as he's saying this, the guitar play chimes in that it could be a metaphor about whatever you like.  umm, not really a good idea to contradict the lead singer while he's actually speaking.

the westerns went on last, and they play rock.  i think you could effectively call it screaming classic rock & roll.  i don't mean that in a bad way.  they play it well, and generally have a good energy about their performances.

overall, it was a good show, and we had a fun time.  it got crowded enough in fulton 55 that they opened up the top as well, which they don't do unless they pass a certain number of people in the venue.

two last notes about the night & venue - drinks are not cheap at fulton 55.  i had to do a double take on our bill at the end of the evening for the two of us.  i'm not complaining (too much), but it seems like as a venue they could charge a little less per beverage.   the last thing, one bartender was working his but off.  seriously, he was scrambling and getting drinks out quick.  i actually tipped him straight up at one point because he was working so much.  the other bartender, not so much.  very busy talking to people, socializing, and didn't seem all there by the end of the night.  not very good.

Friday, September 14, 2012

lies romney told me

in one of my classes, the students consider the leadership of kings, specifically king david from the bible and some of his failings.  in it all, there is a question about moral failings of leaders, and the unwillingness to admit fault.  in the context, students frequently make connection to bill clinton, and his lying about the lewinski scandal.  fair point.  some will throw out nixon & watergate.  okay.  a rare few will throw out jfk and the alleged affairs he had.  i'm sure they could go on further, mainly because our leaders continue to demonstrate the ability to screw up.

this brings us to this week and some of the political situation our world is in.  let's look @ facts:
  • a strange film promo pops up online, and it's some sort of film that defames islam.  at the time, no one really knows who made this low budget film.
  • people in the islamic world react with displeasure to the promo, speaking out against it
  • the u.s. embassy in cairo tweeted that it was displeased with the film, that the u.s. was against mocking anyone's religion, and so on.  their tweets, although not the official u.s. government response, were almost identical to the statements released by the bush administration when muslims were upset by a cartoon in a dutch paper.  yep, very similar statement, but not the official u.s. response.  as it should be noted, this statement was made on twitter, before any protests in cairo or libya.  the embassy later deleted these tweets.
  • protests began in several countries.
  • the  u.s. embassy in libya was attacked.  many credible sources say that this was a preplanned attack.  the snafu over the movie trailer was used as cover for the attack.  it had nothing to do with film, or the tweets, or really the muslim protests over insults to their religion.  the attacks resulted in the deaths of several u.s. citizens at the embassy, including an ambassador.
that's the timeline.  it's clear, it's verifiable.  but, willard romney and his campaign are going to ignore that.  romney's campaign claimed that the obama administration was apologizing for the film, apologizing after the attack, and that obama's foreign policy was weak.  willard romney is willfully ignoring the fact that it wasn't any official statement by the administration.  nope, the official words from the president's office completely condemned the attacks, the loss of life.  when this has been pointed out to willard romney, he refuses to accept it.  he maintains his stance.  he stubbornly refuses, almost childishly, digging in his heels about what he sees as obama's foreign policy, which he clearly is wrong about.  he says that the president shouldn't apologize ever for america.  well, he didn't here.  but, i disagree with that statement anyway.  if our country does something wrong, we should admit it.  in fact, i have no problem with the fact that our president has apologized for the actions of the u.s. gov't in central america during the 40's and 50's.  now, we haven't admitted or apologized for everything we did, but last year we did admit that we did medical experiments on people.  it was unethical, although not illegal.  so, we apologized for our participation.  but, in the situations of this week, no apologies were issued, or needed.

all willard romney needs to do is admit that they were wrong.  they were misinformed about the timeline of events, and that under their initial understanding of the situation, it looked different.  upon being given the correct order of events, the full situation, they have a better understanding, and respond appropriately.  nope, not going to do it.  days later, with tons of time, with a political isht-storm swirling about, willard romney continues to stand his ground.  he is defiant in his interviews about it.

frankly, i'm mystified.  willard as seen as strong, full of resolve in the situation.  he's sticking to his guns.  well, he's also wrong.  who would celebrate his stick-to-itedness when you're completely wrong about a situation?  i guess it's one of those things that you never want to let facts get in the way of a good argument.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the sleepover disaster

will there be a sleepover disaster show before the end of this year? rumors circulating.

rumors already circulating about a new album, but the chance of a new show has got me excited.

Monday, September 03, 2012

fresno blogger bowl 5

kiss the ring.  or, in this case, my laptop or my trophy. tonight, our group of fresno bloggers had our fantasy football draft, and at said draft, i also was awarded my trophy from last year's win (blogger bowl 4).  we had a little bit of turnover in the league, and a couple of folks had to step out, but we were able to secure 10 teams for the league this year.

as last year's winner, i was awarde the first draw for draft order.  i grabbed 5 from the pitcher.  honestly, i wasn't all that happy with 5.  with 5, there's a good chance you'll miss your desired first pick.  and, in snake draft fashion, that 5 pick is also 15, which probably means you won't get the guy you would have wanted to get at your second pick either. so when michael of weird fresno threw out he was willing to trade the #1, i jumped at it.  i offered him my pick in round 4 & the 5 spot and we switched it up.  this did not work to his benefit in round one, but he was happy with the move.  so, here's how it went, in order for me (you don't care, but wev, this is my blog).

aaron rodgers, green bay qb - this pick was super funny to me, because michael instantly was upset, as he hoped to get rodgers with his recently acquired #5 pick.  sorry, brother, he was the #1 you coulda had.
rob gronkowski, new england te
marshawn lynch, seattle rb
fred jackson, buffalo rb
dez bryant, dallas wr
steve johnson, buffalo wr
willis mcgahee, denver rb
c.j. spiller, buffalo rb
ben tate, houston rb
donald brown, indianapolis rb
ben roethlesberger, pittsburg qb
laurent robinson, jacksonville wr
ny jets defense/special teams
rashad jennings, jacksonville, rb

i'm actually a player short since i traded my fourth rounder away completely.  so, i need to still pick up a kicker before wednesday's first game, but whatever.

looking over my team, i admit i'm a little worried having 3 buffalo guys and 2 jacksonville guys.  one of the buffalo guys is just a handcuff for the starting rb, so that's okay, i guess.  rashad jennings is jacksonville's top ranked rb, but only technically because maurice jones drew held out during the preseason.  if he's not on par, or gets hurt, jennings could be worth it.

some funny highlights from the draft - i think people tried to pick demarco murray three times.  malcolm floyd was picked in back to back rounds...by the same team.  tim tebow was picked, but mark sanchez wasn't.  and oh yeah, people tried to pick randy moss twice, which it was joked that ours was probably the only league where that happened.  good night overall.

and, btw, we had our draft over @ swigg's.  first time i've been there.  good burger, local beers on tap,  wings were good, too.