Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This wasn't supposed to happen.

The McDonald's brand is one of the most universal brands, and one would think that the brand would march inexorably to conquer the entire world and good portions of the solar system. But this expansion has been stopped in its tracks in Iceland, due to the depreciated exchange rate for the Icelandic currency, the krona. You see, McDonalds in Iceland was importing all of its food from Germany, and apparently there are high taxes also. McDonald's franchisee in Iceland, Jon Ogmundsson, noted:

For a kilo of onion, imported from Germany, I’m paying the equivalent of a bottle of good whiskey.

As I tried to ascertain the impact of this closure on our lives, I realized that I only know of two people from Iceland:

  • Bjork.

  • The other one (the guy) who was in the Sugarcubes.
Now I don't even know if Bjork lives in Iceland any more, or if she even eats meat, but certainly the closure of McDonald's in Iceland would serve her as material for a song. Something with screaming and the wail of the cow, I would think.

But there is an association between Bjork and McDonald's - just the wrong Bjork. I found a reference to a McDonald's employee named Lotta Bjork.

But I did find one Twitter user who lamented Pobre Bjork upon hearing of the McDonald's closure.

Monday, October 19, 2009

And then she did this thing with her hands...

I was attending a presentation this morning, and one of the presenters departed slightly from her PowerPoint slide.

The presenter's slide stated that a particular system was "Bigger, Better, Faster."

However, as she was talking, she said that the system was "Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger."

I don't know if it was intentional, but I - hey! Kanye?


(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

If you're not certain what I'm talking about, be sure to view this video and this video.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Garth Brooks shows why you need more than marketing

Garth Brooks has re-emerged in the news over the last few days. The first word (at least that I saw) came on Thursday:

Garth Brooks has an interesting take on retirement. The country superstar, who hung up his ten-gallon in 2000, says he's back in the game ... but with no immediate plans. Brooks, 47, made his announcement Thursday during a press conference in Nashville. "We're going to take the retirement roof off over our head, and I already feel taller," he said.

PopEater, source of the above, also printed a rumor:

It has been rumored that he is preparing a sixteen-week run in Las Vegas.

So at that point, we knew that Brooks had called a press conference to announce that he had no immediate plans. Kinda reminds me about the time that our local news station had a reporter, live on the scene in Santa Barbara, to report - LIVE - that Linda McCartney did NOT die in Santa Barbara as was initially reported.

As far as I know, Garth isn't a vegetarian, but the idea of calling a press conference to announce that you have no plans seems a little odd.

The next bit of news came from the Inquisitr, which pretty much reported the same press conference, but with a little bit of editorial comment:

I for one welcome Mr. Brooks back into the fold, his hit song writing has been missed.

Thankfully Brooks didn’t announce any plans to un-retire his alter ego “rocker” Chris Gaines.

And remember that rumor that PopEater posted? Well, it seems that Brooks DID have some plans after all. From a later Inquisitr post:

After announcing that he would be coming out of retirement after a 9 year hiatus, Garth announced special shows starting on December 11th 2009.

Oh, and...

Tickets for the shows will be announced in quarterly lots, with performance times possibly changing over the 5 year period of the singers contract.

So Brooks went from having no immediate plans, to having a five-year commitment. Five years - kinda like if Kirk and Spock and McCoy were hanging out on the beach, and then decided a day later to explore the universe for a while. My brain hurts a lot.

One could condemn this as the manipulative marketing that has been associated with Garth Brooks in the past.

Only one thing, though - Brooks is good.

The Inquisitr's James Allen Johnson pegged it right. AllMusicGuide (via CMT) pegged Brooks' influence as follows:

Garth Brooks is a pivotal figure in the history of country music, no matter how much some country purists would like to deny it. With his commercially savvy fusion of post-Merle Haggard country, honky tonk, post-folk-rock sensitive singer/songwriter sensibilities, and '70s arena rock dramatics, Brooks brought country music to a new audience in the '90s -- namely, a mass audience. Before Brooks, it was inconceivable for a country artist to go multi-platinum. He shattered that barrier in 1991....

Now of course there is a school of thought that believes that if anything is that popular, it has to be bad. But Brooks is also known for pushing boundaries, both lyrically and musically. From AMG:

[A] backlash began to develop in the fall of 1992, beginning with the release of "We Shall Be Free," the first single from his fourth album. Featuring a strong gospel underpinning, the single stalled at number 12 and many radio stations refused to play it. It was indicative of the eclectic nature of his forthcoming album, The Chase, which pushed the boundaries of contemporary country. The Chase debuted at number one upon its October 1992 release and by the end of the year, it sold over five million copies. Nevertheless, that number was half the size of the figures for his two previous albums and there was speculation in the media that Brooks' career had already peaked.

But the real experimentation occurred a few years later, when Brooks recorded as the aforementioned Chris Gaines.

As the Chris Gaines album was about to hit stores, Brooks' new persona was revealed to the public. Since the machinations of [the movie] The Lamb were only known to music insiders and fans who religiously followed the trades, Brooks' sudden re-emergence as a slimmed-down, soul-patched, shaggy-haired soulful pop crooner was utterly bizarre to almost every observer. There was a massive PR campaign to shed light on Chris Gaines, complete with a TV special, but the details were so convoluted that it couldn't be explained easily. In the Life of Chris Gaines was released at the end of September 1999, and although it entered the charts at number two, it was a major commercial disappointment; by the time Christmas rolled around, some major stores were offering heavy discounts on the record in hopes of clearing out unsold stock.

But regarding the road that Brooks' career has taken - through Chris Gaines, through "We Shall Be Free," through record unavailability and re-releases that would make Disney proud - Brooks simply says that he's being honest. Here's what he said in 1994:

I get a lot of messages from people who think I do certain things for the shocks and as a marketing ploy. That's not the truth. Not at all. it's like when that line "When we're free to love anyone we choose" caused so much trouble, I looked at myself in the mirror and said: "Man, you are one controversial person. But you're a very plain guy, a meat-and-potatoes guy. How come everything that you do is so controversial?" It's funny how sometimes real life is the odd way to look at things.

But he'll presumably play this song in Vegas.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Everybody need reverse polarity - Rush's "Vital Signs"

In a FriendFeed conversation about Jefferson Starship that continued this evening, Alex Scoble mentioned Rush. And he wasn't talking about the non-owner of an NFL team, but the band.

The mention triggered a memory of my favorite Rush song, a song that closed out the album "Moving Pictures." (Great album cover, by the way.)

Peter H. Donnelly took the time to record the lyrics to this song. Here is the chorus:

A tired mind become a shape-shifter
Everybody need a mood lifter
Everybody need reverse polarity
Everybody got mixed feelings
About the function and the form
Everybody got to deviate from the norm

When I first heard this in college, I assumed that Rush were parodying themselves. But that song has certainly engendered its share of discussion. Take this tweet:

'Everybody needs reverse polarity', sang Geddy Lee of Rush on Vital Signs. Sorry, not me.

But perhaps it's best to hear what Neil Peart said:

We had purposefully left one song still unwritten, with a view to writing it directly in the studio, as we have had such good results from this previously. Songs such as "Natural Science," and "The Twilight Zone" have benefitted from the pressure and spontaneity of this situation, although then it happened by force of circumstances, where now our planning includes a space for 'no-plan.'

"Vital Signs" was the ultimate result, eclectic in the extreme, it embraces a wide variety of stylistic influences, ranging from the sixties to the present. Lyrically, it derives from my response to the terminology of 'Technospeak,' the language of electronics and computers, which often seems to parallel the human machine, in the functions and interrelationships they employ. It is interesting, if irrelevant, to speculate as to whether we impose our nature on the machines that we build, or whether they are merely governed by the inscrutable laws of Nature as we. (Perhaps Murphy's Laws?) Never mind!

Oh dear...maybe they were serious. Or maybe Peart's just pulling our collective legs.

Remember Peter Donnelly? The reason that he posted the lyrics to the song was because he then proceeded to analyze said lyrics. Here's what he said about reverse polarity:

I agree with the next paragraph that everyone needs reverse polarity. Simple reverse polarity is sleep, entertainment, or relaxation for most people, but for very creative people it can mean connecting to the unconsciousness or the imagination, but which, like meditation, is still a knowable, explainable, and conscious method and process.

So...what do you think?

Or should I just go back to listening to Jefferson Starship?

(Picture source, license)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Could Gladinet potentially incur the wrath of the RIAA?

Some time ago, I heard about SkyDrive (from Sarah Perez) and started using it via my personal MSN account. However, despite some isolated use (and attempts at use), I never really adopted it to any great length because (at least in my experience) the upload and download times were too slow for my taste. But should general upload/download speeds improve, the idea of moving my files to the cloud - from which I could access them from anywhere - sounds very attractive.

Steven Hodson recently wrote about something that would make cloud storage even more attractive - a service called Gladinet that allows you to mount cloud storage as a Windows drive.

And Hodson notes that Gladinet supports more than SkyDrive:

As you can see from the drop down list Gladinet supports the following cloud file storage services:

* EMC Atmos
* Google Picasa
* Google Docs
* Google Docs for Google Apps (Pro)
* Amazon S3
* WebDav
* FTP Server

Note that Google Docs is one of the items above. We'll return to that in a moment.

Now that is really powerful, and really easy to use. One example that immediately came to mind (assuming viable network speeds) was putting my music files on the cloud, connecting to them via a Z: drive, and then being able to access them from any of my computers -

And that's when the alarm bells started going off in my head.

You see, if I were to buy a Siobhan Donaghy CD (I tried; Rasputin Music didn't have one), rip the files, and put the files on my Z: drive, then I could easily access them from any computer. While perhaps there are some legal ramifications to this, I could make a moral argument that I bought the CD for my personal use, and the backup copy is stored in a single location - never mind the fact that I'm ACCESSING the backup copy from multiple locations.

But, in the same way that I could share my Z: drive with myself, I could share it with someone else. Or maybe thousands of someone elses. And that is, of course, just as illegal as Napster v1.0.

Now Gladinet, of course, is only a tool. There is nothing inherent in Gladinet that makes it illegal. It's just that Gladinet makes it even easier to perform illegal activities. (As does Google Docs, incidentally, since Google Docs files can now be shared, just like SkyDrive files can.)

Now of course there are countless ways in which I could engage in illegal activity without Gladinet. I could copy the files to a thumb drive, or a CD, or a floppy, or paper tape (a lot of paper tape). But that would be an asynchronous sharing of the files, which would eventually result in the files residing in two or more locations. This technology makes it really really easy for the files to reside in a single location, yet be shared by people simultaneously.

Now of course the RIAA could figure this out also, assume the worst, and require Gladinet users to pay exorbitant fees to the RIAA on the assumption that they ARE sharing files. But that would be a stupid move on the RIAA's part. And of course, we know that the RIAA never engages in any stupid m-

Um, never mind.

(Picture source, license)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Heard the new Carl Sagan/Stephen Hawking music track?

Jason Kottke isn't tired of auto-tune yet, and he shared this gem:

You can get the audio track from Colorpulse Music, along with other tracks such as one featuring Billy Mays and Scatman John.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The lineup for Oracle OpenWorld 2009 Appreciation Night

Even the Empoprise-MU blog gets involved in Oracle OpenWorld posting at times, primarily because of the "Appreciation Night" that is held at Oracle OpenWorld every year. It primarily features a bunch of bands. Thankfully, the Psychedelic Furs were not invited back this year, but, according to Oracle, here's who the attendees will see:

  • Aerosmith

  • Roger Daltrey (minus the Who)

  • The Wailers (minus Bob Marley)

  • Three Dog Night

  • Shooter Jennings

And One, "Driving With My Darling"

From my buddies at YouTube:

The song appeared on the I.S.T. album in 1994.

If the name of the band doesn't ring a bell, I talked about And One's song "Life Isn't Easy in Germany" in a December 2008 post.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Editorial comment in biographies biographies can be edited by users, and as of Wednesday night California time, someone expressed their opinion regarding the departure of the last original member from Sugababes.


Sounds like someone has sworn under an oath of war - but that Sugababe departed long ago.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Never be the stsohg AGAIN (to keep me from repeating myself)

...go ahead and re-visit these previous two posts:

Siobhan Donaghy, "Ghosts" (22 March 2009)

Lyrics | Siobhan Donaghy lyrics - Ghosts lyrics

Melanie C, "Never Be The Same Again" (23 March 2009)

Lyrics | Melanie C lyrics - Never Be The Same Again lyrics

Two good songs that go great together. And you don't even have to be a YouTube member to watch the videos.

And let me throw in an extra - "Ghosts" backwards.

But no, I can't find a widget with the backwards lyrics. Sorry.

And as long as I'm throwing new videos into this, here's a university project from Edge Hill University.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My ten favorite Duran Duran songs, and their Taylor level

I realize that my cousin will probably disown me when I admit this, but I cannot tell one Taylor from another. If you were to ask me to name the current and former members of Duran Duran, I would respond as follows:

Now, while my cousin can tell one Taylor apart from another (she was photographed with one of them), I'm forced to admit that if Jackie Taylor, Marlon Taylor, and Randy Taylor walked up to me on the street, I couldn't tell them apart or tell you what instrument they played.

Now, of course, you know that the Taylors' names aren't Jackie, Marlon, or Randy. They are actually Alan, Wayne, and Jay.

No, actually their names are John, Roger, and Andy. Duran Duran's official website records the entries and exits of the various Taylors, to wit:

  • John (guitar), along with Nick Rhodes, founded Duran Duran around 1978.

  • Roger (drums) joined in 1979. John had switched from guitar to bass by this time.

  • The last Taylor, Andy (guitar), joined in 1980, around the same time that Simon LeBon became the vocalist, thus setting the stage for the "classic" lineup of Duran Duran.

  • In 1984-1985 the Taylors split off on separate side projects, with John and Andy joining the Power Station while Roger joined Arcadia.

  • By the end of 1985 two Taylors, Roger and Andy, leave Duran Duran.

  • In 1995 Roger joins Duran Duran for one song, but not permanently.

  • In 1996 John leaves Duran Duran, leaving the band Taylor-less for the first time ever.

  • The Taylor-less nature of the band is short-lived, as all three Taylors rejoin Duran Duran in 2001.

  • Andy then left for a second time in 2006.
So it is possible to measure the Taylor level for any Duran Duran song. I've listed my ten favorite Duran Duran songs below, followed by their Taylor levels.

  • "Hold Back the Rain," 3 Taylors

  • "The Chauffeur," 3 Taylors

  • "Is There Something I Should Know?" 3 Taylors

  • "The Wild Boys," 3 Taylors

  • "A View to a Kill," 3 Taylors

  • "American Science," 1 Taylor

  • "Winter Marches On," 1 Taylor

  • "Ordinary World," 1 Taylor

  • "Thank You," 1 Taylor

  • "Electric Barbarella," 0 Taylors
However, there are truly not enough data points to draw any conclusions regarding my like of a song in comparison to its Taylor quotient. As it turns out, I am most familiar with the "Rio" (3) and "Notorious" (1) albums, but the exuberance of the former and the world-weariness of the latter is not directly related to the Taylor level.

(Picture source, license)

Monday, October 5, 2009

FTC disclosure, the musical edition

FTC DISCLOSURE: This blogger knows someone who knew someone who was a member of Hoobastank, and this blogger actually met said member of Hoobastank once, although he only recalls it dimly. Readers should be informed of this because the circumstances of this relationship may impact positively, or perhaps negatively, on this blogger's coverage of the Hoobastank band. While this blogger has not received direct monetary compensation from Hoobastank, existing business theories about "goodwill" dictate that a monetary value could conceivably be assigned to the relationship, and therefore disclosure is mandatory.

Hey, I disclosed in my business and Inland Empire blogs, so I might as well disclose here also.

(Picture source, license)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Observations on a band that has undergone many permutations, including my disbelief at a statement by a former college roommate

I still remember when my college roommate Eric played me a song called "In the Court of the Crimson King," and I asked him who recorded that song.

"King Crimson," he replied.

I figured that Eric was pulling my leg, since I was sure that some guy named Robert Fripp had recorded the song.

Well, I subsequently learned that we both were right, and I spend part of my college days listening to that album (which I eventually purchased on cassette) and a much-different sounding later album by a band that was also called King Crimson. In fact, I guess I should check to see if Fripp has formed the 17th version of King Crimson yet. But according to Wikipedia, there have only been seven lineups of King Crimson to date. While I have a passing familiarity with lineup 4, the most popular lineup was lineup 1.

The Guardian looked at the band recently, 40 years after "In the Court of the Crimson King" was released:

In the Court of the Crimson King was the masterpiece that essentially launched progressive rock, which was the dominant genre in high-end British pop for the next seven years. Until The Dark Side of the Moon, it was the definitive prog-rock album. And yet, singled out as it was by punk rock as an emblem of all that was bloated and overblown with modern rock, it never quite received its due.

And if Robert Fripp et al are card-carrying members of the RIAA, they may want to reconsider their membership:

The revival of interest in an album that has been scarcely fashionable from the late 70s through to the 90s is partly due to online filesharing.

And, by the way, those are some very big files. Remember that the original album only had five songs; none of this 2 minute 30 second stuff. Even the titles of the songs ran on for miles; it wasn't until later that they'd learn to write short titles like "Elephant Talk."

I haven't heard any of the songs from the album in years, but my favorite part of the album was a small snippet in the title track, right after they changed key from D to E with a massive sonic blast...followed by some very quiet noodling...followed by - another sonic blast. Classic.

Also check out this live YouTube performance. (Unfortunately, this performance doesn't include the coda.) If YouTube hadn't presented me with an your account has been permanently disabled message, perhaps I might have favorited it.

(Picture source, license)