Scent Weakly 2.0

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Puppies and Rainbows

Annie didn't like my feeble attempt at a holiday newsletter, so she put her college education to work.

On Radar: Todd Snider

Todd Snider's name shows up a lot on various sites I read that cover the music I listen to, but I never took the time to check him out. My mistake. His shows are a blend of John Prine-esque music and Mitch Hedberg-esque comedy. He'll be at the BellyUp on Tuesday, January 22.

Friday, December 28, 2007

SW Recommends

There has been a bit of a void of compelling concerts in December, but early '08 looks to have several shows of interest. Here's what I have circled on my calendar.

Saturday January 19 Ryan Adams Spreckels
Wednesday January 23 Will Hoge/Jason Isbell Casbah (early show)
Sunday February 10 Rhett Miller BellyUp
Monday February 25 Jay Farar BellyUp
Saturday March 1 Blitzen Trapper Casbah
Tuesday March 4 Rufus Wainwright BellyUp
Saturday March 29 The Avett Brothers BellyUp

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Music Biz

In this month's Wired Magazine David Byrne (Taking Heads) says some very intelligent things about the music industry. The money quote:

What is called the music business today, however, is not the business of producing music. At some point it became the business of selling CDs in plastic cases, and that business will soon be over. But that's not bad news for music, and it's certainly not bad news for musicians. Indeed, with all the ways to reach an audience, there have never been more opportunities for artists.

David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

Merry Festivus everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On Radar: Bishop Allen

I've been listening to their album The Broken String. Really good stuff. Here's their MySpace link: Bishop Allen

And here's a YouTube:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Weirdest Cover Ever

Paul Anka sings Nirvana's Smells Like Team Spirit.

Google Flight Status

Google introduced a new flight status feature.

For the latest information on a flight's status, simply search for an airline and flight number, and the first result will tell you whether your flight is on time or delayed as well as the estimated departure and arrival times.

Here's a quick example for a specific American Airlines flight:

Alternate Universe

The Artist

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fighter Jet vs Concrete Wall

Evidently US government has a bigger budget than the guys on Myth Busters.

The US Gov. decided to answer the age old question, What would happen if a fighter jet crashed into a concrete wall (nuclear power plant)? So, what did they do? They put a F4 Phantom on a track and ran it into a concrete wall at 500 mph. I'm not sure if they answered the question, but the video is cool.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Xmas Newsletter

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Classic

Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah has become a bit of a cliche as about every singer in the universe has covered it. Jeff Buckley's version remains the gold standard, and I'd place Bon Jovi's as the worst.

Here's a really lovely video of JB's cover.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Secret Revealed?

In the last scene of Lost in Translation Bill Murray whispers something inaudible to Scarlett Johannson. FWIW here's a vid that claims to enhance the audio to the point that Murray's whisper can be understood.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Field Trip: Modest Mouse

Carly and I saw Modest Mouse several months ago at Cox Arena and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Last night their show was at SOMA. Blech. SOMA is a standing only venue that is essentially a large concrete barn. It was also packed. So while MM played a perfectly good set, I enjoyed it far less.

I will give SOMA credit for this. MM started playing a couple minutes after 9:00 and were done just before 11:00. It was good to be home and in bed on a school night before 11:30

Monday, December 10, 2007

Geezer Rock

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Led Zeppelin

Although Carly and I are going to see Modest Mouse Monday night, I'd rather be in London where Led Zep is performing for the first time in almost 20 years.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A SW Recommedation: The Avett Brothers

I've never found their recorded music very compelling, but after seeing their live show in August I have become a huge Avett Brothers fan. They are maximum effort performers whose dynamic energy is highly entertaining.

They'll be touring California in late May and early April. Eth and I will be at the BellyUp show on Saturday, March 29.

Mar 29 Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach, California
Mar 30 El Rey Theater Los Angeles, California
Apr 3 Rio Theatre Santa Cruz, California
Apr 4 Slim’s San Francisco, California
Apr 5 Slim’s San Francisco, California
Apr 8 Big Room Chico, California

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Field Trip: Vampire Weekend

My timing is getting better. I got to the Casbah a little after 10:00, and just as I entered Vampire Weekend was taking the stage. They look like nice college boys, and I guess that's what they were about a year ago. Unfortunately, the lead singer and the guy on keyboards (who also sings) were really sick. They powered through it, but you could tell they were hanging on by a thread.

Their stuff is very catchy (their parents obviously played Graceland a lot in their formative years). I have no doubt you'll be hearing their stuff all over the radio and TV in the very near future.

Chargers vs Chiefs

On most Sundays I get together with a bunch of other old guys to eat unhealthy food and to watch the Chargers.

Today at half-time Michael, our host, fired up his Wii. As a non-gamer, I gotta admit that playing the Wii is pretty fun.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I'm Not There

If I could write this would have been my review of the Dylan Biopic:


From Friday's Globe and Mail

November 30, 2007 at 12:06 AM EST

I'm Not There

Directed by Todd Haynes

Rating: ***

Bob Dylan appears for less than a minute in I'm Not There. Near the end of the film, you can see him on stage in an archival film clip, his cheeks puffing in and out as he plays a mournful vamp on the harmonica.

Apart from that brief glimpse of its subject, Todd Haynes's new movie, inspired by “the lives of Bob Dylan,” is like a ritual invoking an absent deity, aimed at moderately to deeply obsessed fans who are enjoying their idol's current career renaissance. The name is never spoken, but any competent Dylanologist could annotate the references to songs, girlfriends, clothing and career moments of the star over the past half-century. Some of the oddest details aren't made up – Black Panther Huey Newton really did believe Dylan's Ballad of a Thin Man was an allegory about black empowerment.

Most Dylan devotion is harmless – the online pools guessing what the order of his songs will be from one concert to the next, for example – but the adulation also can be creepy, and not only from the people who treat him as the messiah. Even critics who normally revere all things Dylan turn vicious when their idol proves fallible: Village Voice writer Mark Jacobsen wrote in reviewing Dylan's 1978 film folly Renaldo and Clara: “I wish Bob Dylan died.”

To enjoy I'm Not There you should be just a little bit Dylan-crazy, fascinated by his talent, ornery personality and enduring cultural influence. That interest will get you over the film's lumpy bits. At its best, Haynes's film is a trippy essay about Dylan's celebrity persona: mixing drama, mock-documentary and sixties new-wave cinema, it takes some daring leaps. For the appearance of Dylan's band playing electric instruments at the Newport Folk Festival, we see the musicians strafe the audience with machine guns. When Dylan meets the Beatles, they're pictured as a quartet of Munchkin-voiced imps, re-enacting their A Hard Day's Night antics.

Then there's the gimmick of the six actors. Haynes ( Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven) has essentially divided up the Dylan legacy into different file folders, each represented by a different performer. The film jumps between characters and periods. We start with the young shuck-and-jive Bob, making up stories about his past and calling himself “Woody” after Woody Guthrie. He's played by an 11-year-old black kid, Marcus Carl Franklin, who sings and plays guitar. The most expendable version is a chain-smoking Rimbaud-like Dylan (Ben Whishaw) saying paradoxical things in what appears to be a police interrogation. Then there's the earnest protest singer named Jack Rollins (Christian Bale, who also plays the Christian Dylan, Pastor John).

By far the most exciting Dylan incarnation is Cate Blanchett playing a character called Jude Quinn. She does an uncanny and sexy impression of the horrible-adorable Dylan in his mid-20s, much of which is well-documented in D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back (1967) and in Martin Scorsese's recent PBS series.

The movie bogs down when it becomes an obvious allegory. We have Richard Gere as old-timey Dylan during his Woodstock years, but set in a surreal early 20th-century world. Gere plays Mr. B., also known as Billy the Kid, who lives in the town of Riddle. But Pat Garrett (Bruce Greenwood) wants to destroy the town for a highway. Almost as clumsily self-conscious as one of Dylan's films, the Gere sequence is a clumsy fable about the artist's need to preserve ambiguity and mystery from the deadening forces of greed and conformity.

In contrast, there's the much more specific world of married Bob. Heath Ledger plays a Hollywood actor, Robbie, who once played Jack Rollins (Christian Bale's version of Bob) in a film. That section of the film portrays his marriage to Claire, who's a cross between Dylan's Greenwich Village girlfriend and his first wife. Claire is played by French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, who suffers soulfully as she watches her boyfriend turn into a swaggering male chauvinist and half-hearted father. She's the most prominent of Dylan's muses in the film, who include Julianne Moore as a stand-in for Joan Baez, Michelle Williams for Edie Sedgwick and Yolanda Ross for Mary Alice Artes, the woman who brought Bob to Christianity in the late 1970s.

The music often carries the film when the narrative momentum fails, and the soundtrack mixes Dylan and indie rock stars performing versions of his songs. If the title song seems unfamiliar, join the club. It's an outtake from The Basement Tapes, an agonized lament from a man who has abandoned his lover. The dramatic implication is that Dylan, in his shape-shifting persona, has somehow sacrificed his identity and happiness to serve as a voice for collective humanity.

Just a small quibble: Does anyone seriously buy this? I'm Not There is part of the Dylan renaissance (engineered by his manager, Jeff Rosen) in the last few years, propelled by the Scorsese series No Direction Home and the publication of Dylan's memoirs, Chronicles, Vol. 1. In 2006, at 65, Dylan became the oldest living person ever to have an album enter the Billboard charts at No. 1.

Even with new information provided in the film, however, his personality remains not so much elusive as cantankerous, particularly in contrast with the expansiveness of his songs. That gap gives I'm Not There something of a hollow centre. The contradiction is neatly summed up in Robert Shelton's 1986 biography of Dylan, also called No Direction Home. Shelton quotes Harry Weber, who knew Dylan as a university freshman in Minnesota, saying: “Dylan is a genius, that's all. He is not more complex than most people; he is simpler.”

On Radar: Bug Labs

Note: This is uber tech geek stuff, but holy crap it could be revolutionary.

Some very smart guys (Bug Labs) have created a completely open source hardware/software modular erector set on steroids.

I'll let the guy behind the product explain it. The video is a bit long (17 minutes)but well worth your time.