Friday, July 31, 2009

I want the green shoes

When Heidi and I went to The National concert a couple weeks back, there was a guy who stopped to talk to some people in line in front of us. I'm pretty sure he was going to the Beyonce concert at the Target Center across the street, but he was wearing probably the coolest pair of shoes I have ever seen.

Somehow, he managed to pull off green Converse shoes. And he did it with panache and no effort whatsoever.

Now, I am obsessed with obtaining a pair of green canvas shoes. OK, maybe not obsessed, but I really do want some.


I found some online, but man, they are expensive! Every place I look, they're at least 40 bucks. The pair featured above are $50. I know that shoes are expensive, but that seems like a lot to satisfy what might be a temporary whim.

What may seem like a whim actually speaks to deeper issues. I am always envious of men that can pull off daring fashion choices. So frequently, it's the younger guys (20-25) that can do it, whereas you get to your mid to late 30s like me and it gets harder. A lady I know always tells me that I am very metrosexual in many respects (is that word even still ok to use?), which I suppose is true, but only to a point. I dress pretty well, but I am not flashy nor do I like to draw inordinate amounts of attention to myself. There is a guy I have seen at work but do not know who is hands down 1000% more metro than I am. Not surprisingly, he is significantly younger than me and pulls it off effortlessly.

Like so many things in my life, it's a battle between sides, or selves, if you will. One thing I am bound and determined not to do is to degenerate so badly that I am unable to match my socks without my wife's help - not that Heidi would let that happen anyway. Life is about taking chances and risking the comfortable every now and again when you can afford it. I'm not always very good at that, even when there is a pretty strong safety net below me. Now, taking risks and being daring is not to say one should always throw caution to the wind and just do whatever the hell, but to live one's life in the safe and neutral zone is ultimately not very satisfying.

And for these reasons, I want the green shoes. It's not much, but it's a start.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I woke up in the 90s

Yesterday, I wrote on Twitter: Seriously, "Celebration" needs to leak right damn now.

Well, I got my wish. This morning, not one but two copies of it had landed in my inbox. I knew what I was getting into because the 30 second sample was up on Amazon yesterday. The reveal for this song has been agonizingly slow - 19 seconds a couple weeks back, the full track in low-quality (all of which I found completely unlistenable) late last week, the 30 seconds of HQ yesterday and now, the full song in glorious HQ. It's a credit to WB that they were able to keep the song under wraps for as long as they did.

"Celebration" is not earth-shattering or anything, but it is a huge win because I got the new-Madonna-song chills (but I might have gotten those with "4 Minutes" and see how that turned out?) when I first listened to it. So if it's not earth-shattering, what is it? It's a brilliant mix-up of old and new Madonna - although there seems to be nary a trace of Hard Mandy in the mix. It is joyous and, like Madonna's best pop songs, completely effortless. Only with Madonna can you say something like "it sounds like she pooped that song out!" and mean it as a compliment.

The vocal is very Confessions which pleases me greatly, and the production, as I alluded to in the title of this post, has this 90s vibe to it that surprised me. The opening reminded me a bit of that Above and Beyond remix of "What It Feels Like For A Girl". I'm also a huge sucker for that spoken bit in the middle mostly because Dita shows up for about 15 seconds in "well, I guess I just don't recognize you with your clothes on!" What a great throwback to Erotica Madonna, only to have it followed by that little giggle that sounds like it was sampled from some early record. (props to boyculture for pointing out that laugh)

There has been some discussion on the internet that the song is a step backward for Madonna. I can see the source of this argument, but really, this type of stuff is what Madonna does best. People mock songs like "Jimmy Jimmy" and "Where's The Party" for their simplicity but those songs are the prototypes that eventually begat "Celebration" (although they had to be filtered through the prism of Confessions). It doesn't always have to be mind-boggling serious. Sometimes you can just have fun. But Madonna's heart has to be in it, otherwise it doesn't count. And she is arguably more present for this 3:35 than she was on the entirety of Hard Candy.

I would say that I'm glad the whole Hard Candy experience is behind us, but I still haven't heard "Revolver" so I will hold off on that for now. Until then, I will bask in the evidence of the brilliance of "Celebration."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I-C-E

One of the many glorious things about YouTube is that just about everything that has ever been on television, no matter how obscure, is archived there. Granted, it's only there until someone who owns the copyright gets wind of it and has it yanked.

Well, anyway, I was talking to Heidi the other day about how much I used to love to watch the UK version of the improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Comedy Central. When I transferred to U of Iowa in the fall of 1992, I had heard of Comedy Central but never actually seen one of their programs. In Iowa City, it shared the channel with VH1 taking over at something like 7pm. I can't tell you how long it took me to figure out what was going on with the show with the black movie theater seats along the bottom - mostly because I never bothered to watch it until nearly 6 months after moving in! (for shame)

But Whose Line Is It Anyway? was an early favorite, and I was never satisfied with the Americanized version that aired on ABC a while back. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that in the US version, there was very little variation as to who the contestants were. It was always Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady, with the 4th seat up for grabs. And sorry, but Wayne Brady was always a little too prepared for those "improv" songs for me to buy it completely.

In any event, this is one of my favorite moments on the UK version of WLIIA? I'm sorry that the clip is not shorter, but I consider myself damn lucky to have found it at all. In the clip, Josie Lawrence is asked to sing about her refrigerator in a country/western style. For whatever reason, I LOVED this when I first saw it. It is not particularly clever, but I swear it sounds like she's singing in the style of Cher singing country/western. Her bit starts at about 3:10. It's TOTALLY worth it.



After years of having that "I-C-E" part periodically stuck in my head and figuring I would never see it again for the rest of my born days, all is now right with the world.

(I don't think Josie Lawrence, who I always loved on the UK version of the show, ever once appeared on the American version! What's the world coming to?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Light behavior

I think this is fucking hilarious. It's via my friend Kari and you'll probably have to click it to read it.

(originally here)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A beer kind of weekend

Those of you who know me well know that I will, 99% of the time, choose coffee over beer. Not this weekend. I don't know why, but I found myself consuming more beer this weekend than I have, well, pretty much ever. Now before you start calling AA or the Betty Ford Center, let me put this into perspective.
  • I split a pitcher of Bud Light with Matt at the Pizza Pit on Friday night. Bud Light is pure crap but it tastes so. damn. good. with Pizza Pit's greasy pizza.
  • I had a bottle of Peroni Nastro Azzurro on Saturday which I don't think I even finished (the very last bit of it went into something Heidi was cooking).
  • Today I had a bottle of Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier which, because it is fruit flavored, probably doesn't even count as a beer.
So, as you can tell, I'm not exactly walking around the house impaired.

It's been a good weekend overall. Heidi and I spent a lot of time together as Anna was at her grandma's house for the weekend. We spent 2 hours on Saturday looking for chocolate cake and ended up in places we didn't expect. We also never found the chocolate cake, instead buying a box cake at Hy-Vee and baking it at home. We did, however, become seriously disenchanted with Lost after watching the first episode of Season 3. We are officially calling ourselves "on a break" from Lost, but I have a feeling that she has broken up with Lost permanently. So we watched Ocean's Eleven instead, which has held up surprisingly well and just made me want to go to Vegas even though I have no money with which to gamble and probably wouldn't even if I did.

I picked up the book Shutter Island from the library and have nearly finished it in less than 24 hours. Sadly, it's not because it's THAT GOOD it's just that easy of a read and mostly I'm just reading to find out what happens. I also found this book, Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle who wrote the pretty good Lucifer's Hammer and the absolutely unreadable Footfall. It is bascially a retelling of Dante's Inferno, and the sequel, Escape From Hell, just came out this year. Predicatably, the library had the sequel but NOT the original, so I downloaded it from Audible and am listening to it. Pretty decent so far. Audiobooks take me forever to listen to, so I probably will finish just in time for my 40th. On my side is the fact that it is only 5 and a half hours.

Also had a nice belated birthday celebration on Friday night (see the above splitting of the Bud Light pitcher). Always good to see friends and hang out. As a consequence of hanging out with Matt, I also listened to a tremendous amount of a cappella that night on my computer as we navigated our way through the a-cappella.com website after listening to a clip of an a cappella cover of Boston's "Foreplay/Long Time" on the Mouth Off podcast. Believe me, it doesn't sound that fun, but it really was!

Additionally, I am also thinking a lot about the constant flux of long term friendships - those of you who follow me on LJ (my quarterly post over yonder has arrived) know of what I speak. It's nowhere near as bad as it probably sounds and doesn't (to my knowledge) involve anyone reading here.

So that's it. It's a proper "update" which I have not done in a long time. I have been feeling the pressure to not post about music so much. I can't really help it, but since this is not a music blog, I don't want every post to be "look how cool this song is!" and I have felt like it has become that lately. That is not, in and of itself bad, but music, while something about which I feel passionately, is but a sliver of the things I think about on a regular basis.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

We're gonna need a special locker for the hat

I have never seen this picture of Cher before! It was on her last.fm artist page this morning.

If anyone knows the origin of this photo, I will be forever in your debt (my hunch is that it is from around 2001, but Cher has had red hair off and on for the last 20 years, so who knows.)

I was talking with a friend last night and I can't even remember how Cher came up. It shouldn't surprise me though because conversation with my friend is very easy and stream-of-consciousness. Anyway, in this conversation, I was reminded of my favorite Cher quote. She famously said, when referring to Madonna, "she could afford to be a little more magnanimous and a little less of a cunt." As has been pointed out by other bloggers, at the time Cher said that, Madonna probably deserved it. I would pay cold hard cash to find a YouTube clip of it, but I'm not even sure it was in a TV interview.

*sigh* At least we have the hat.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Death is her boyfriend

I'm feeling lazy tonight and wanting to do another blog post and I already talked a little bit about this video over on Facebook where it is likely to be seen by a lot more people. I didn't want to repeat it here, but fuck it, I'm doing it anyway.

I really am loving this song right now. (Bess & Matt - had the CD been just a week later, this would have made the cut.) It is M83's "Graveyard Girl."



This group, from all I have read, is part of the genre referred to as shoegaze, or perhaps it's better referred to as "nu-gaze" as this song came out in 2008, and really, shoegaze peaked around 1991-1993. Anyway, I love this song because of the images it evokes in my head. I couldn't even begin to put them down into words, for immediately it would not be what I am thinking and would just be a hollow shell of what the experience of listening to this song for me is. I love the retro sound of it - funny how it can have such a retro sound and be so recent. It reminds me of everything that was right about music in the mid-80s, even though I was too busy listening to Olivia Newton-John to notice.

Heidi bought me this album on iTunes on a whim and it has been just perfect for me this last week. It is not my usual fare of pop idiocy, nor is it super-serious-now-is-the-time-on-Sprockets-when-we-think either. It is blessedly in between, which is kind of where my brain is these days - somewhere between heavily introverted and mildly extoverted. Anyway, I am loving it and it just goes to show that the inimitable Mrs. C. is always right on target.

Now I must sleep. 5:30 AM will come waaaaay too soon.

Amalgam

Every Madonna fan with a blog is blogging this today, and I certainly don't want to disappoint.


The cover of Madonna's to-be-released career spanning greatest hits has been released today. As XO said, they didn't fuck it up - a fact I find to be quite amazing considering her track record of late. I'm glad that she seems to be embracing (at least momentarily) the fact that she has an incredible body of work rather than pretending like it doesn't exist.


The cool thing about the photo is that it appears to be an amalgam of two different shots (at least according to boy culture.)

And yes, I have nothing really original to add, but it has my stamp of approval, which is all she was really after anyway. Now the single needs to leak in full and I will be completely satisfied!

No matter how old I get, the release of new Madonna material makes me feel like I did in the summer of 1986 when MTV played the "Papa Don't Preach" video every hour, on the hour for 24 hours. Even though she has disappointed me in the past - most pointedly with the Hard Candy project, she will always ALWAYS get a second (and third and fourth and hundreth) chance. I'm glad she has not squandered it on this project.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm-a-m'i'm-i'm-i'm-alright

I made the mistake of listening to this song the other morning. It has now been stuck in my head for over 24 hours.



I have written about all there is to write about Jo Dee Messina before. Liking her music is kind of indefensible, but there are so many country songs that I like more than I probably should that I have given up trying to defend them. This is one of them. What I will say here is that this song is a product of the time when the line between country and pop was so blurred that I strayed over to country for some times. Probably from the period from about 1993-1999, I liked quite a few country acts outside of the omnipresent Dolly Parton. Many of them persist in my listening habits today, but nowhere near the level they did then.

I also really like this video, even though it is simple and basically is just Jo Dee hamming it up for the camera. There is something mildly trashy about it. As one of the commenters on the (non-embeddable) YouTube version of this video said, there is something kinda Sarah Palin about her, and I can't believe they meant that as a compliment!

Oddly enough, I can't figure out how this song fits into my overall musical taste. It doesn't have much in common with most anything I listen to, apart from being kind of cheesy and campy, but it is what it is.

Bathroom humor

So last night, I was reading to Anna right before bed - it was the Disney adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. They are a little longer than her normal bedtime fare, but still short enough to read in about 15 minutes or so. As has been our tradition for quite some time, we take turns reading. She reads one page, I read one page, etc.

Well, I had no intention of it, but I struck pure comedy gold last night. At least in the eyes of my 7-year-old.

Of all of Disney's villains, Maleficent is hands down my favorite. No one else even comes close. I think it has something to do with the fact that she is practically a drag queen, but I digress. Anyway, we were reading the book and I was doing Maleficent's voice (not a good imitation, but it makes Anna laugh) and then I pondered out loud:

"I wonder how Maleficent goes to the bathroom in that outfit."

Well, that opened the floodgates of laughter in Anna. She literally couldn't contain herself. And because her laughter is so contagious, neither could I. Yes, I was laughing at my own joke, but mostly I was laughing at her laughing at my joke.

But seriously, I get this image in my head of Maleficent hiking up that huge flowing robe and I'm just dumbfounded. What if she was at a port-a-potty? Would she even fit in there with that thing?

Anyway, that probably speaks to where my sense of humor stopped developing. But I have now assured that Anna will always think of that when she sees Maleficent.

Friday, July 17, 2009

But I've a feeling it's time to try

On our way back from Minneapolis this morning, Heidi and I were listening to Rumours, the actual CD of which has found its way into the car so it's been getting more frequent than usual airplay. Anyway, while I was listening to it, I got to thinking that if I had one wish regarding Fleetwood Mac, it would be that Christine McVie could be coaxed out of retirement for one last album. Hell, they don't even have to tour, just one more album with that lineup. 12 songs, 4 each. Make them good because it's all you get. It would certainly beat the heck out of yet another greatest hits album.

As good as Say You Will was, it always felt like it was a collision of a Lindsey solo album and a Stevie solo album. With a few Christine songs (and shortened to about 12 songs) it could have been classic.

(Christine looks 20 years younger in that photo because it has been - rather unbelievably - 20 years since the "Seven Wonders" video!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Redoubling

I just got off the phone with the student loan people. It was an odd mix of frustration and resignation.

Now before anyone jumps to any (inaccurate) conclusions, no, I'm not in danger of defaulting on them. I was just trying to explore my options, because the payment is exceptionally onerous and I was trying to figure out if I could get the interest rate lowered even though it's already pretty low and fixed to boot. I was also exploring payment options that included paying twice a month (like I do on my house) vs. the once a month payment plan that I currently have.

Well, they weren't having any of it. They weren't mean about it or anything, but they just really didn't have any options for me other than to take a different repayment plan which, while lowering my monthly payment, costs me more money in the long run. The loan interest rate is as low as it can go and any attempts to change to an every-other-week payment plan would cause me to sacrifice the interest rate I have because the payment is on autodebit. As it stands, when I calculate the yearly amount I actually cough up every month and figured the amount that's actually put on the principal, the percentage ends up being a measly 17.5%. Pathetic. And that's at a really good interest rate, not the 20+% charged by your average credit card these days.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining. I made my bed years ago, made choices and now have to pay for them. The trouble is that finances consume my thoughts - and not in the "oh, look how great I'm doing!" way. It contributes significantly to anxiety that I am fighting more often than not these days and creeps up on me at night while I'm trying to sleep which leads to being tired which decreases my ability to think rationally about it. It's easy to point fingers and place blame on this, that or the other thing but it really doesn't address what really needs to be addressed - how do we get rid of it? My natural inclination is to go from seeing that things are not ideal and then immediately jumping to panic and doomsday scenarios which doesn't help much either.

Some would say we need to Dave Ramsey our life but I think that is, oddly enough, too simple of an answer. I know of some people who have adopted his plans to tremendous success, but like many blanket statements, I am not sure that a wholesale application of his techniques would work for us. I just not sure that living as spartan as those kinds of plans require you to live for the length of time we'd have to do it is worth it. Yes, it's important to focus on debt reduction. Yes, it's important to not buy things if you can't pay for them (which was one of the stipulations I had for our California trip - paid for all but a couple hundred bucks of it.) But it's also important to freaking live while you're living and not wind up dead before you get a chance to live. Take away any chance to live and it's a surefire prescription for failure.

Like so many things in life, it's about balance. Looking back, I have not been so good about balance when it comes to things like that. But it's not as if I have stayed stagnant and am still making the same bad choices I did years ago. Even as recently as earlier this year, I had a plan to pay down a set amount on our credit card. And I did quite well until life happened. It's easy to feel frustrated by it, but the truth is that life will continue to happen and try to stymie me at every point. You can get mad about it or you can redouble your efforts.

No, it's not comfortable, but I do take a little bit of solace in the simple fact that I'm supporting three people on one income which is no small feat. But as of today, I'm redoubling my efforts rather than contine down the path of anxiety, even though the stupid student loan people couldn't give me a lower interest rate and I will probably be paying them till I have expired!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The ball goes up, the ball goes down.

Once upon a time, one of my favorite internet playgrounds was last.fm. As social networking sites go, it was one in only the loosest sense of the term. It was kind of a match made in heaven for me because it married my love of music with measurable listening statistics as well as a way to look at what other people are listening to. Patterned after myspace in that you could add "friends" (most of whom you add and then never speak to again), it reminded me of that line from The Breakfast Club when Brian is talking to Bender about being in the physics club and Bender replies "So it's sorta social, demented and sad, but social. Right?"

I joined last.fm way back in 2004 when in it was still Audioscrobbler and had about 1/10th the bells and whistles it has now. It didn't take me long to find some like-minded people who listened to some of the same stuff I did. A lot of them ended up being in the U.K. (which is where I think a lot of the user base is as it's based out of London) which was even cooler. For the longest time, it was the first place I surfed to in the morning after Gmail. I made a lot of online friends and it seemed like my shoutbox was always in use. But somewhere along the line, the social aspect of it just wore off. I'm not sure when it happened, although I can kind of pinpoint it to late 2007. A lot of it was me and how a lot of my online interaction switched from that site to interaction through this blog - it was around that time that Paul linked to me and I managed to meet quite a few cool people because of that. And ultimately, I found that interaction a lot more satisfying than random people I didn't know and had no contact with apart from last.fm.

I feel like Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Twitter) has kind of replaced last.fm in many ways - at least in the social networking aspect. Honestly, Facebook is probably the best use of social networking that I have seen yet, although I feel like it is just fraught with pitfalls, especially as the lines between our online presence and our real life (especially our work life) blur. Last.fm will never be able to compete with them as far as being a social network. While I have really lost my interest in those aspects of last.fm, I still love the fact that it collects data about my listening habits. I love knowing that Debbie Harry's "Two Times Blue" is my most listened to song or that I've listened to Casey Stratton 3,403 times, despite numerous iTunes fails and a complete crash of my operating system in December of last year, all resulting in resets of my play counts. The longer I've been on last.fm, the more stagnant my overall charts have become, although certain events have pushed certain artists up the chart rapidly, the most recent example being the twin Dolly Parton concerts. Because of them, she's now pretty solidly my third most-listened-to artist.

I stopped subscribing to last.fm a while back, and now, when I really think about it, it's kind of nice to go there and find it so quiet. It's almost as if it's come full circle to 2004, when all I used it for was to see what I was listening to. As the classic Sesame Street song goes, the ball goes up, the ball goes down, the ball keeps going round and round.

Aspirations in the clouds

Sleep is an elusive beast for me. I'm sleeping, yes, but for the last two nights I have not been able to get even anywhere close to sleep without help from pharmaceuticals, which is not the direction I like to be heading. It may sound like a backhanded compliment (and it probably is) but Ativan combined with the new Moby CD is really the only thing putting me to sleep at night these days.

It is a circle of being so tired I can't engage and then unable to sleep so that when I wake up the next morning, the cycle begins anew. I was telling Heidi last night that what I would love more than life itself would be to be able to be at home at night after work and not be so exhausted that I can't really be mentally present. But to do that, I have to find the root of my exhaustion, which is no small feat. But there is no alternative but to try.

OK, must get to work, but to balance out my general crank, let's watch Evan Cowden's remake of Howard Jones' "No One Is To Blame." First viewed at The Garden during Heidi's birthday celebration a couple years back, it was a video that prompted Heidi to utter the immortal words "If he is not gay, I will gladly eat my hat." I (naturally) had to go download it from iTunes the day after hearing it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The lunchbox chronicles

In an attempt to both save money and eat better, I have been trying to take my own lunch to work as much as is humanly possible. I have had mixed results with this - mostly my rate of success is directly proportional to the lateness of my shift - but overall it's been going well. I have had this green lunch bag for years that I've used off and on but it has seriously seen better days. The inside is ripped and it takes 10 years to dry after you wash it because water gets into the rips. I had been using Wal-Mart and Target bags for my lunch and when we ran out of those, I went to simple brown bags. Boring, but they get the job done.

A couple weeks ago, Heidi was out at Target and I don't know what possessed her but she bought me a lunch box. It was one of those "okay-if-you-don't-like-it-you-don't-have-to-keep-it" moments. It was a Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen lunch box. I honestly thought about it for a while, but ultimately decided that I couldn't do it, mostly because the movie has been so horrendously reviewed and even I wasn't that much of a 12-year-old boy - or at least my 12-year-old boy had better taste than that.

So we took it back. I looked around at lunch boxes that night but couldn't find anything that I liked. I will admit a part of me did not want to buy one of the stupid plain lunch bags. I was looking for something a little bit cool, which, not surprisingly, I did not find at Target.

We got home that night and not a half an hour later, Heidi tells me not to buy a lunch box because she found me one and it is shipping soon. Her comment was "if you can't carry this lunch box with pride, I'll have to wonder if you're still you." This intrigued me and although she bombed out with the Transformers, I still trusted her enough to know what she was doing.

It arrived today, from Entertainment Earth (the source of both the Cher Turn Back Time doll and Anna's Coraline lunchbox). And you know what, she was right. Here it is:

If that is not the coolest lunch box ever, I have no idea where you'll find it (oh, except for maybe here, but at $99.99, no freaking way.) I absolutely love those eggs at the bottom, and the back is the image on the thermos. Perfection.

I will use it with pride, knowing that I have the best wife EVER. Yes, people will give me shit, but only because they secretly want to be as cool as me. Or as uncool as me. Or whatever. But as they say about Madonna, often imitated, never duplicated.

Thanks Heidi - you're the best. I would not trade you for anything. Not even that Night of the Living Dead lunchbox.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Man in the mirror

I have been remarkably resistant to the Michael Jackson coverage that seems to be pretty much constant these days. Oh, sure I couldn't stop reading updates the night he died and the next day as well, but I kind of lost interest after the autopsy and the run-up to the memorial service that was held on Tuesday. I didn't watch the service, nor have I really bothered to watch any You Tube clips of the event. While that may seem to some as proof that I am dead inside, his death, while tragic just did not affect me in the same way that the passing of someone like Madonna or Cher or Stevie Nicks is likely to affect me (none of whom are exactly spring chickens).

Casey Stratton, whose music and career I have been following for over 4 years now, has served up what is perhaps my favorite musical tribute to Michael Jackson. Available for free from his website this morning is his cover of "Man In The Mirror" which was always one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs. It is the only 45rpm single from Bad that I purchased. I have strong memories of the video, mostly because it was not the typical Michael Jackson video. I also remember being at my friend Rick's house one night in 1988 watching Night Tracks or MTV or something and that video came on and, inexplicably, it brought about a lot of very serious conversation and was kind of the beginning of a close friendship. So it's no wonder that I have fond memories of it.

But back to Casey and his version of "Man In The Mirror." I have heard a lot of covers in my day, and while it's pretty much a note-for-note version of the original, what's amazing about it is that everything you hear on the track is Casey. All the vocals, the instruments, everything. So in a way, he's kind of like Prince, only taller and not batshit crazy! According to Casey, there were over 100 vocal parts to record, and it took him the better part of 10 hours to record just under 6 minutes of music. That, to me, is amazing if for no other reason than the patience and perseverence that it must have taken to do all that. But it sure was worth it. It is probably my favorite cover of his since he did Prince's "Purple Rain" (see, it comes back to Prince again).

A few weeks back, Casey alrso did a cover of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" which I enjoyed on a camp level, but I really don't like the song "Poker Face." It seemed like it was done kind of spur of the moment and while fun, lacked the polish of some of his best work. "Man In The Mirror" is a fully realized cover that showcases everything that I love about his music. It's, quite simply, fantastic.

Download it here. (along with "Poker Face" if you're so inclined.)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Beet beet sugar beet

100% guaranteed to get stuck in your head. I stumbled across this while looking for something else for a post I may or may not write.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hey baby, it's the 5th of July

Anna summed up yesterday pretty well when she announced from the bathtub "Dad, this 4th of July was kind of a disappointment!"

The weather was the major contributing factor to the disappointment - I'm not sure it got up above 75 degrees and for the vast majority of the day and it rained. It rained during the parade which gave it a much different feel than parades of years past. And because the weather was so crappy, we pretty much holed up in the house for the rest of the day. Anna and I did manage to watch Short Circuit which I have not seen in probably 20 years. Man, that movie is very dated but it was still fun to watch, especially with a 7 year old.

And even though the rain had managed to stop for the annual fireworks display, even that failed to meet expectations. It's a tradition in our neighborhood to trek down the street and sit at the top of a hill and watch fireworks, rather than contributing to the vehicle and foot traffic down on the Iowa State Center campus which is much closer to where the fireworks are shot off. It also serves as a great place for the kids to run around like loons, playing with sparklers and other incendiary devices. Well, this year, unbeknownst to me, the fireworks were being shot off from a different location, which meant that they appeared much further away and a good 50% of the just barely cleared the tree line, if at all.

So it's the 5th of July today and the weather today is much more like what it should have been today. We took baby steps on teaching Anna how to ride her bike without training wheels and Heidi finished her latest manuscript which I have been reading closely this afternoon in a copy edit.

The other big news of the day was that less than 12 hours after Sky 1's broadcast of the Sticky & Sweet Tour, the audio has hit the internet and I managed to download the entire show. My worst fears were realized when, upon listening, I found that the show had indeed been autotuned within an inch of its life, stripping it almost completely of its live sound. I am kind of torn on the whole autotuning thing. On one hand, it has this horrible tendency to make the live versions of these songs sound almost identical to the album versions. Well, if I wanted to listen to the album versions, I'd listen to those. This is most noticeable on the Hard Candy tracks. But on the other hand, my biggest complaint about the audience recordings was the fact that they were completely unlistenable, due in no small part to Madonna being unable to hit the damn notes. So therein is the conundrum - she certainly doesn't want to release something that sounds horrible (which, let's be honest, she sometimes does in her live shows) but in using all the studio manipulation after the fact, it seems like cheating.

Oh well, ultimately it doesn't matter much. As I said before, I'm mostly glad that the tour is getting an official release, manipulated or not, unlike poor old Re-Invention Tour.

EDIT: Yuri has reminded me of my oft-repeated sentiment on Madonna's live vocals - and that is, anyone who goes to a Madonna concert expecting pitch-perfect vocals is going for all the wrong reasons. Or is at least hopelessly delusional.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sticky & sweet and in your living room

The Sticky & Sweet Tour DVD must be getting damn close, because here's the trailer (via)



While I think it does a better job at capturing the "live" feel of the concert than the DVD of the Confessions Tour did, the apparent amount of autotune or rerecorded live vocals in these 3 minutes alone is astounding. I have listened to audience recordings of the show and there is not a single one in which "She's Not Me" is listenable. And I will tell you this, that "Candy Shop" never sounded that flawless, even at the show I attended, and I found her to be in pretty top vocal form that night. I have always maintained that appreciation of Madonna's live vocal separates the men from the boys as far as Madonna fans go, but there are times she is so bad live that even I can't take it. I mean, seriously, listen to this! And she really can sing it, because here it is at the beginning of the tour. Even though she is still flat as hell on the "I always get my maaaaan" part, there is no doubt that she was vocally destroyed by the end of Blond Ambition.

Oh well, at least we're getting the tour on DVD. I still think it's a crime that Re-Invention never got a proper DVD release. She looked so good on that tour, and the set list truly is the best of all the ones I have seen. As I was discussing with someone the other night, she is just looking so harsh and muscular these days. I miss the softness and the curves of Re-Invention and Confessions.

The tour re-kicks off again in Europe this weekend and the Buenos Aires show is being broadcast in the UK on SKY 1. At least we'll finally get a good quality recording of the tour, even if it is a bit less than live.