Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Music Choice arrives on TiVoCast!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Now that the press release has hit this morning, I’m proud to announce that hundreds of music videos in a range of genres are now available — FREE! — on your broadband-connected TiVo DVR through TiVoCast.

You can search by the artist’s first name or the song title’s first word, or you can browse the different genres. To get started, simply visit TiVo Central -> Find Programs -> Download TV & Movies -> Music Choice.

Check it out! And you can discuss this on the TiVo Community forum here.

Bad math

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

The other day I read an item about Radiohead‘s upcoming new album, In Rainbows. The interesting thing is that they let you buy the download (in DRM-free MP3 format) for “whatever amount you want to pay.”

I checked it out and saw that they were also selling a collector’s edition CD and LP (with free download included), for 40 pounds.

Here comes the bad math part. I knew that it’s currently 2 dollars for every pound. But instead of doing the normal sane math, of 40 times 2 makes $80, I went with dividing. 40 divided by 2 is $20, that’s a great price! So I ordered one.

(I blame fatigue.)

Then I took a nap. While napping, the fraud detection unit of the bank calls me. “Did you really spend $80 in the UK just now?”

“What? Huh?” — waking up — “no, I spent $20.”

“Well, check with the vendor. They might have overcharged you by accident.”

“Well the web site was acting funky. Maybe they did the transaction multiple times.” (And it’s true, their web site was giving all kinds of weird errors while I was buying the album. I read online it was due to crushing server load.)

But of course there was no web site error. I figured out my mistake, read their FAQ on how to cancel, which said send them an e-mail. So I did, explained my mistake, and politely requested to cancel my order. And I sent another one when I didn’t get a reply. Still no reply.

So I guess I just bought an $80 CD — to be precise $81.52 plus a $2.45 “foreign country fee.”

On the plus side, the album came out yesterday, and I downloaded it. And I’m listening to it now. And it’s insanely good. This may be my favorite Radiohead album ever.

Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint at Oakland’s Paramount

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

For our one-year wedding anniversary back in February, Kimi brought us tickets to see Elvis Costello, and Tuesday night was the night of the show. And I guess Yvonne was collaborating with Kimi because they all brought tickets at the same time.

We decided to take public transit, which meant leaving work a bit early. Kimi and I met with John at the Menlo Park Caltrain station where we trained it up to where Yvonne works, and then we drove to the Daly City BART station, and from there over to downtown Oakland for dinner at Le Cheval (a very well known Vietnamese restaurant). Service was very quick (and the food is very good; it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten there), so we had plenty of time to walk on over to the Paramount.

I used to work in downtown Oakland for quite a few after I graduated from Cal, and as Yvonne put it, it was literally a walk down memory lane. When I first started working at Diversified in 1990, it was down at 15th and Broadway (although later we moved to City Center when we spun out Diversitech, the training business). That area of downtown just wasn’t doing well. Once the Emporium Capwell closed, it seemed like the heart went out of all the surrounding businesses. It got to the point where almost all of the doors were boarded up. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the area had come back: All of the ’89 earthquake damage had finally been repaired, the street work that had seemed to drag out for years was finally done, and both small and large businesses seemed to be doing ok (and the Emporium building was now occupied by Sears). The old Fox theatre with its beautiful Byzantine motif looked like it was back in business. And the clock on the old Oakland Tribune building even had the right time, which I had never seen before.

As for the concert, I was very impressed. We were in row NN in the Orchestra, sort of the middle of the pack. If you haven’t been to the Paramount, it’s a gorgeous Art Deco theatre. It’d been a few years since I saw Tori perform there, and if there’s a more beautiful concert hall in the Bay Area I don’t know about it.

Elvis was in rare form, and Allen Toussaint with his Crescent City Horns lit up the joint. A lot of the music really brought back memories of the first and only time I’ve been to New Orleans, with Kimi right after we got engaged in 2004 (staying with Jeff P. and his then-girlfriend Amber on their floor during Mardi Gras). Of course with Katrina and the theme of their recent collaboration, The River in Reverse, the tone was bittersweet at points.

I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t know a lot of the songs (since I haven’t listed to the new album yet), but they opened with the Nick Lowe-penned classic “Peace, Love & Understanding” (one of my favorite songs) so I was exhilirated right from the beginning.

The new arrangements of old Elvis classics like Pump It Up, Alison, Clown Strike, Watching the Detectives, Deep Dark Truthful Mirror really worked — especially the conjoining of Alison with the old Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ classic, “The Tracks of My Tears.” With Elvis and his three Impostors plus Allen and his four-person horn section as well as his guitarist, Anthony AB Brown, this was a big noisy group. But what really hit home were the quiet moments, especially on a number like Broken Promise Land. A high point for me was a very impressive “Clubland.”

Altogether, they played for over three hours. Amazing, just amazing. You wouldn’t know that Elvis (Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus in real life) was a 52-year-old. I’ve had these songs in my head for two days now.

With the reverse public transit logistics and dropping people off, we didn’t end up picking up Sammy until after 1am from Kyrie’s place (thanks, Kyrie, for watching him!) and I actually had to get some work down so I didn’t get to bed until 2:30. I was definitely dragging at work on Wednesday. But what a wonderful concert. It had been a while since Kimi and I had seen one, so it was really great to get out.

If you have a chance to see one of the stops of this tour, it’s highly recommended. Here’s a sample of what the set list looks like.

Sweetie, thanks for the anniversary present.

Date Night: Inside Man

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Last Friday was date night, and thanks to the pro babysitting of John & Yvonne, Kimi and I headed out to dinner and a movie.

Our first intention was to try the world-famous Uncle Frank’s BBQ, which is around the corner from our house, but we got there at 8:30 and unfortunately it closes at 8. What!? First they don’t let us in with Sammy since it’s in a bar (21 and over required even for the restaurant). Now we learn that they close at 8. Damn you Uncle Frank, with your tantalizing but inaccessable BBQ.

So our second choice was Tomatina, in the Mercardo off 101. This is probably Kimi’s favorite restaurant. The parking lot was a madmadmadhouse as usual, so we got our garlic rolls and piadines and strawberry-lemonade to go, and ate in the cafe area at the Mt. View Century. Not romantic or elegant, but certainly delicious.

For the second movie I’ve seen this year, and Kimi’s first, we choose Spike Lee’s Inside Man. I recommend this film. You should know that it’s not really a standard caper pic as it advertises itself to be, and that Jodie Foster’s role is tiny. But Denzel and Clive did a great job, and Spike’s film-making was both engrossing and confident. I suspect there are about six or seven plot holes (and Kimi and I compared notes on them on the way home, each having found possible flaws the other one didn’t find), but ultimately this is a movie that riffs well off of bank heist pics and police standoff pics (such as Dog Day Afternoon, which it pays tribute to) and goes in a fresh direction.

Spike choose to open and close with a piece of Indian pop music — the deliciously catchy Chaiyya Chaiyya from Dil Se (listen/watch it now!).

Epilogue: On Saturday night, we picked up food to go from Uncle Frank’s, and while I think eating it to go misses a majority of the experience, Uncle Frank’s is definitely the real deal. The cajun corn is so incredibly spicy that it’s a full-body experience. There are a few reviews that make for good background reading.

Video Selection #5: Rabbit in Your Headlights

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

This song came up on random shuffle the other day, reminding me that I had never posted the promised fifth entry in this series. Directed by Jonathan Glazer (who also worked with Radiohead on “Street Spirit” and Massive Attack for “Karmacoma,” as well as directing the very popular Jamiroquai video “Virtual Insanity”), they took the interesting choice of overlaying the audio from the video’s events on top of the song. The effects work better on a real screen rather than a monitor, but see if you don’t think the buildup is worth the payoff.

“Rabbit in Your Headlights” by U.N.K.L.E. (IFILM, sorry for the ads)

Previous video recommendations: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Video Selection #4: Field Guide to Snapping

Monday, February 6th, 2006

It was years ago that award-winning designer Annette Loudon (of Construct & Antiweb fame) pointed me to her Twinklepop project wherein I saw the video to Slang’s “Field Guide to Snapping” by Nikhil Adnani of Groovechamber. All of the Twinklepop videos are good but this one charms me endlessly.

I have to watch Twinkelpop’s newest addition, Halou’s “Ratio of Freckles to Stars,” a few more times, but I think I’m in love with it. (Halou video created by Milena Sadee and Horacio Perez; be patient as it loads.)

The Cheese Stands Alone

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

For Christmas, Santa (shhh, don’t tell him, he doesn’t know yet) got Sammy a three-CD set called 100 Kids Sing-A-Long Favorites. There are cute illustrations on the cover and within, a track listing for a round century of children’s songs, but no actual information about the artists and musicians. It’s credited in Gracenote only to “Madacy Kids,” which is apparently an offshoot of a Canadian brand, Madacy (but don’t bother visiting, there’s no real information or utility there).

Why is Madacy so secretive? Because they have kidnapped a chorus of young children, chained them to their microphones in the studio, and feed them nothing but supercool.

The selections range from the popular (“Old MacDonald Had A Farm,” “This Old Man,” “Home on the Range”) to the obscure (“Do You Ken John Peel?”, “Five Green Bottles,” “Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me A Bow-Wow”). The style is as you’d expect, and the cuteness factor is off the scale (especially the way they pronounce “moo-moo here, moo-moo there” in “Old MacDonald”) — except for the fact that everything is sung at a pace that suggests speedballs are involved. Honestly, when I try to sing along (or should that be Sing-A-Long?) for Sammy, I cannot keep up.

Furthermore, the songs worm their way into your brain. At night “Oranges and Lemons” or “I Saw Three Ships” are playing themselves over and over in my head, even if I only had them on for a few minutes over 12 hours before.

I was struck also by how few lyrics I really knew to the well-known songs. Choruses, sure, but not the verses. The title of this post comes from “The Farmer in the Dell” — to wit:

The farmer in the dell
The farmer in the dell
Hi-ho, the derry-o
The farmer in the dell [duplicate lines eliminated below]

The farmer takes a wife [etc.]

The wife takes a child

The child takes a nurse

The nurse takes a cow

The cow takes a dog

The dog takes a cat

The cat takes a rat

The rat takes the cheese

The cheese stands alone

There you have it. All must now bow down to cheese, the overlord of all. Who knew?

Video Selection #3: The Child

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

Another H5 video, this one is for Alex Gopher’s “The Child.” See if you can spot the theme that resonated with me!

Video Selection #2: Sugar Water

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Since there was some interest in yesterday’s pointer to “Remind Me,” I’ll follow that up with four more posts this weekmonth with my favorite music videos. For today’s entry, my absolute favorite music video of all time (currently, at least) is “Sugar Water” (Quicktime) by Cibo Matto.

Its director is Michel Gondry, and there are a few notes about his experience of making that video.

I’ve watched this video perhaps fifty times, and it’s so dense that I still discover new things. The timing is exquisite. It also inspired me to write a short story which I’ll post here at some point.

Today’s Video Selection: Remind Me

Monday, January 30th, 2006

“Remind Me” by Röyksopp (video by H5, a French graphic studio/collective)

I first saw this video with Kimi and Bryan at a Res show in S.F. at the Exploratorium a few years ago, and it’s stayed with me for a while. I woke up this morning with the song in my head so I tracked down the video while Sammy was napping. Hopefully one of these two links will still be around a few years from now:

Quicktime
or
Media Player

(The first link is less cluttered, has no ads, and is uncensored, but the second link has better sound and can play full-screen.)