Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
All the data and info is kinda cool to see for personal reasons, but with 824 pictures to choose from, I also think that what people are looking at provide fodder for some interesting observations.
So, here goes...
The most viewed picture on my Photostream is still the shot I took of the "Birds Nest" Olympic stadium in Beijing when Diane and I visited China in May 2008. See the picture I took at left. That just shows you the interest in China that arose around the time of the Games.
Breaking into the top ten and sitting as the second-most viewed picture is a close-up shot of the detail of the Taj Mahal that I took when Diane and I visited India in 1999. See the picture below. Not sure why, but I've noticed that while there are a lot of pictures online of the Taj generally, there are not too many of the very close up details of the building. So, maybe people are see something with my picture that they're not getting enough of elsewhere.
Other new entries into the top 10 include two pictures of marchers I took recently when Diane and I met up with some friends to view the 2009 Seattle Gay Pride parade. You can see that complete set here.
In fact, my overall views to my Photostream hit an all time high of 2,000+ the day after I posted my set of pictures from the parade, so I think the simple explanation is that there were a lot of people (presumably from Seattle) who wanted to see pictures of their parade.
Also of interest, five of the top 10 most viewed pictures continue to be of Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon) from our trip to Vietnam in 2006. To me this suggests that there are a lot of interest in the nation of Vietnam, but in particular of Saigon and perhaps the Vietnam war.
Finally, a black-and-white version of a picture I took at the Auschwitz II concentration camp when we visited Poland in 2002 rounds out the top 10 most viewed pictures I've taken. While this one is a top 10 most viewed, I can report that a number of the other pictures I took at the camp are squarely in the, say, top 30 most viewed. This suggest an enduring interest in the Holocaust I think.
Dropping out of the top 10 is a picture of the Shanghai skyline, an old Shanghai alleyway and another shot of Saigon.
Friday, July 17, 2009
It’s Friday. I’m 30,000 feet above the Earth. I am inside a jet winging my way home after a few days of business in New York City.
I am looking forward to going to attending the Social Distortion show tonight in Seattle after I get back and rest up a bit.
But right now, I’m board.
As I sit here in seat 15A – luckily an exit row with extra leg room! - listening to a “best of” list of Social D songs in anticipation of the gig tonight, my mind wondered into thinking about the best rock concerts I ever saw.
While I am probably forgetting some shows, and I do not have any info here in the airplane to remind me of dates and venues, below are my recollections of the best shows I attended. While performance quality is the most important criteria to me, it’s not the only one. Other things like how important the band or performer is to me personally, who I was with, if I met members of the band after the show (and if they were cool) are other things I consider for example.
So, with that in mind, and in no particular order, below are 10 shows I rate as among the very best I ever attended. All shows were in Seattle or Washington state.Joe Strummer. Joe is my all-time music hero – just as much for what he did musically with the Clash and in his later work as his unabashed political approach to rock and roll. I actually saw him twice before he suddenly and sadly died of a heart defect in late 2002. It’s difficult to choose between the two shows. One was the first time I saw my hero. Standing three feet from him as he cut into Clash classics and songs from his new band The Mescaleros at the Showbox in 1999 as Joe took the Mescaleros on their first tour of the U.S. was a truly great moment and might have been the choice here.
Brian Setzer Orchestra. Pioneer Square in 1990-something (1996?). Brian Setzer was the lead singer and guitarist for one my favorite bands when I was a kid, the Stray Cats. After some on and off projects in the late 80s and early 1990s, Setzer started a big-band orchestra that he fronted with his unique rockabilly guitar playing. His efforts really were key to the resurgence of “swing” music becoming popular in the 1990s. This show was among the first for his new band and the venue was really small - especially for a big band. I rate this one highly because of this, the fact that it was the first time I saw Setzer live and because the music was so different than what I had been listening to at that time. Very cool.
- Oingo Boingo – 1984 at the Paramount in Seattle. This was the first live rock show I ever went to.
- Rush – 1986 at the Seattle Coliseum (now called Key Arena). While I’m not a fan now, this as the first “big time” show I went to
- Nirvana – 1993 at the Seattle Coliseum. Simply put…it was Nirvana.
- Sex Pistols – Bumbershoot 1996. Simply put….it was the Sex Pistols man!
- Ray Davies (of the Kinks) – Showbox SoDo summer of 2008.
- Stray Cats – summer 2007 at the Puyallup fairgrounds. At long last I finally get to see this band that I loved since junior high live.
- Placebo - The Crocodile in 1999. Great band, great show, small venue, packed, enthusiastic crowd.
- The English Beat - Showbox 2008. Same reasons as Placebo
All-time worst shows:
All-time worst shows:
- The Jesus & Mary Chain – great band, really bad performance.
- Steely Dan - Gorge Amphitheater. Exceedingly boring. The most boring show I've ever seen. Not rock and roll. Rainy. Did I mention how boring it was?
- Dave Matthews Band – Gorge Amphitheater. The second most boring show I have ever been to. No effort by the performers, no improvisation, no energy. Lets put it this way, the best part of this show (other than when it ended) was a fly-over by a B-2 bomber.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
In a society armed with access to blogs, micro-blogs, online video, podcasts, social networks, texting and cell phones - are we more connected than ever? Or, are we more distant than ever?
Which of the following are the creators of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and similar social media technologies most interested in:
- "Unshackling information" for "free flowing knowledge sharing" to create a better society?
- Selling their business so they can retire early to a mansion on an island paradise?
Has social media curbed gun violence or delivered healthcare to more Americans?
If 90% of all messages posted to Twitter are generated by 10% of Twitter users, how big a con is micro-blogging?
What is more real - your "persona" on Facebook or your actual self live and in person?
What is more likely - Twitter helped Iranians protest against their recent elections OR the Iranian protests against their elections provided Twitter a reason to exist?
What is the efficacy of posing existential questions about social media...on social media?
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
This was a question I asked myself frequently when we were down south last spring because it was so obvious that so many people were overweight down there...so much so that I made it one of the key observations I reported on in my post here.
Anyway, it's an interesting article and I think it explains the situation well.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
This happened with me for one of my all time favorite bands, Manic Street Preachers with their new CD Journal for Plague Lovers. For those of you not versed in the ways of the Manics, check out some info on them here, here and here.
The Band Forms
Their second effort was Gold Against the Soul. It built on their sound a bit and saw Edwards cover more personal subjects covered in songs like “From Dispare to Where,” “Life Becoming a Landslide,” and “Roses in the Hospital.” Glory was knocking.
In 1994 came The Holy Bible, their third CD. This is – in my opinion – their very best. Dark, aggressive, tender at a few times and always thought provoking, this was truly art just as much as rock and roll. This time Edwards clearly expressed his disgust with humanity and what people are willing to do to themselves and others. Glory was clearly achieved here. (Left: The Manics in the mid-1990s -- Bradfield, Edwards, Wire and Moore. Picture not taken by me...copied from the So Well Remembered blog.)
- Peeled Apples – a dark, aggressive opener with a killer guitar riff. This song open things up on the right note and lets you know that serious business is afoot. Firing off sets of imagery in each verse that set up ironies or fears, the chorus pays these off with a couple ways to deal with those. The one suggested I like best is "trespass your torments, if you are what you wanna be."
- Jackie Collins Existential Question Time – a catchy tune with a funny, disturbing and thought provoking theme that’ll have you pondering a number of things. Situationist sisterhood of Jackie and Joan, indeed.
- Me and Steven Hawkings - a song about (I think) the dangers of cloning and using chemicals/genetics in farming. What will such activity lead to? How would "me" and scientist Steven Hawkings feel about that? Just some of the fun territory explored in this romper of a rocking tune.
- This Joke Sport Severed – things slow down here. Starting with just Bradfield’s voice and acoustic guitar, it builds musically with strings and more instruments. This is a sorrowful song in which the distraught person (Edwards presumably) is seeking "the place where I became untethered." There is a well placed "disconnect" in music to underscore this point song about half way through.
- Journal for Plague Lovers - a mid-paced rocker with radio-wave guitars, this song tackles the power, improbability and perfection of deities. At least that's my take. The song opens with some doubting lines about how "pretend prayer and pretend care makes everything fair" and then the song goes on to state that "Only a god reserves the right to absolve the ones who revile him." Heavy stuff and not easily deciphered. But that's the cool part. You can ponder it. Plus, making logical sense of great poetry, art or Richy Edwards' lyrics isn't meant to be easy.
- She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach - the driving rock riff and emotional belt-it-out chorus return here with a song about...well, I'm not too sure. There are some clear lines in here about what a person would do for love and the power of love. So, I'll go with it's about the power and pain of love.
- Facing Page: Top Left - this is a beautiful song with simple acoustic guitar. Clear divided between contemplative versus and a more upbeat chorus, Bradfield delivers perhaps the best vocal on the entire CD as he expresses Edwards' thoughts on how he feels truly down in side - both at times ready to smile and at other ready to cry.
- Marlon J.D. - kicking off with an electric drum beat, this is one of the more musically interesting songs on the album. The lyrics suggest an admiration for certain type of discipline - in particular the ability to live very basically "without clutter or luxury"...as well as the ability to take abuse and loneliness. All of these are traits from the character played by Marlon Brandon in the movie Apocalypse Now and this is referenced in a few different ways here. Musically, the song does not disappoint. Another highlight.
- Doors Closing Slowly - here we have the third slower song on this CD. Heavy on imagery again, Edwards seems to be communicating his despair with the way society is going...and the loneliness of knowing that, but not being able to do anything about it.
- All is Vanity - a very straight forward and powerful song in terms of music and lyrics and very strong for that. This song simply says that the question in life is not "what's wrong?" but rather "what's right?" What is the right thing to do? And for that, it's also a comment on the phoniness many people display or put up with every day. These are the "facts of life - sunshine" as the song's searing chorus repeats.
- Pretension/Repulsion - lyrically, this song is the musical equivalent of a Jackson Pollack painting. It's scattered, going in different directions with a jumble of phrases that don't seem to go together. Musically, it rocks hard...and for that you can enjoy it thoroughly.
- Virginia State Epileptic Colony - a nice mid-paced rocker that lyrically describes what it might be to live a life inside an institution.
- William’s Last Words - this one is sung in the flatter tone of the band's bassist, Nicky Wire, and it's a clear "song for departure" penned by Edwards as he pondered whatever he felt he needed to do. Deploying a slower, acoustic, almost plodding approach musically as Richy Edwards articulates his farewell wishes to his friends and family. A sad song in that respect and a testament to the the love they felt for their friend that the band decided to record it.
- Bag Lady - perhaps more similar to the sound of songs on The Holy Bible than any others on Journal, this song to me is about the fallacy of following the the path of narcissism and self delusion about the world. The music, combined with Bradfield's powerful deliver makes for a powerful ending to the set.