Atlas Obscura has a story about the world’s smallest violin, at 1/64th normal size measuring less than 12 inches in length. The fraction represents the volume inside the instrument compared with regular violins. Mostly they go to 1/16th so 1/64 is tiny and rare. These small ones are made for kids, with this 1/64 model for 2 year olds. Yep, two years old and learning the violin. I do know that with learning, especially languages and music, the best results are to start young. Most young violinists start off with an instrument constructed from a box–the idea is to get them used to the feel and bow movement before actually getting them to produce sound.
One of the manufacturers of small violins is Stentor Music from the UK (their image above), who started making them in the 1980s. They have a factory in Mainland China where small violins are handcrafted. There is a limited demand, because kids grow out of them, so they only make a few hundred a year. I don’t think they are concert quality, but definitely serve a purpose. I wonder how many young musical prodigies started with a 1/64.
happy ending maths problem
Quanta magazine tells the story of Hungarian mathematicians Esther Klein and George Szekeres, and their friend Paul Erdős. The problem is dubbed the happy ending problem because Klein and Szekeres fell in love and got married. Anyway, the original problem:
Given five points, and assuming no three fall exactly on a line, prove that it is always possible to form a convex quadrilateral — a four-sided shape that’s never indented (meaning that, as you travel around it, you make either all left turns or all right turns)
They proved it for 5 points to make a 4-sided polygon f(4); and 17 points to make a hexagon f(6). The general solution they proposed, the formula for the number of points it would take to guarantee a convex polygon:
f(n) = 1+ 2(n–2)
was only recently solved by Andrew Suk of the University of Illinois in Chicago. It gets a bit too technical for me, involving what’s known as the cups-caps theorem and an area of maths called Ramsey theory that says:
within large disorganized sets — like a set of points dispersed randomly on a plane — you will always be able to find well-organized subsets
And this is when I wish I were better at maths. I can understand the simple one page wikipedia entry but not the more complex explanation on quanta.
Luckily, numberphile has a video. It was made in 2014 which pre-dates Andrew Suk’s proof but is a good introduction. Talking about happy ending, Klein and Szekeres moved to Australia after WW2 and passed away within an hour of each other on 28 August 2005.
marriage made tidy
The NYT itself had an article about marraige turning a slob magically tidy. Before she got married, Helen Ellis was a slob-hoarder, who didn’t bat an eyelid when she had food crumbs on her sofa, or even bothered to close cabinet doors and drawers. Her husband still married her.
A year into our marriage, my husband said: “Would you mind keeping the dining room table clean? It’s the first thing I see when I come home.”
What I heard was, “I want a divorce.” What I said was, “Do you want a divorce?”
“No,” he said. “I just want a clean table.”
I called my mother.
She asked, “What’s on the table?”
“Oh, everything. Whatever comes off my body when I come home. Shopping bags, food, coffee cups, mail. My coat.”
Her mother called her husband a saint and told her to learn how to clean.
And she did.
She bought storage boxes and gave away stuff. She started dusting and treating making the bed as cardio exercise.
I guess there are two kinds of people, those who tidy up after themselves and those who don’t. I can’t even let a drawer be a centimeter not closed. Everything has to be put back. A slob, even a recovered slob like Ms Ellis has to remind herself to tidy up, it’s not second nature to her.
We can do with as much good cheer as possible right now. NYT has a page of 12 great stories that have nothing to do with politics. Between US politics, the French and UK elections, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’ve stayed off fb mostly. I understand my American friends’ frustration with the recent healthcare situation, but I only have so much empathy to share. UK elections is no better, I used to lean Conservative, but I can no longer stand them. The problem is there is no alternative.
Anyway, one of the great stories is about symphony for a broken orchestra. It all started when Robert Blackson of Temple Contemporary, a part of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, learned that there are over 1000 musical instruments in the Philadelphia school system that are broken but can’t be repaired due to lack of money. Mr Blackson collected the instruments for an exhibition and is planning a performance of a piece, Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, composed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. The composition
is written specifically for the sounds these instruments can only make in their broken state
They are still looking for volunteers to play the instruments, help with aspects of the performance and to repair the instruments. People can donate and adopt an insrument: after the performance the instruments will be repaired and given back to the schools so young people can learn and enjoy playing music. Here’s some more information:
Another hot day, no incentive to go out. My favourite bookstore is having a holiday weekend sale (three for the price of two) so I splurged and bought 6 on my to-buy list. Listened to some recently added music. The soundtrack for Les Mis (I couldn’t believe I didn’t have it). Made a note to look on youtube for Hamilton the musical.
Haven’t listened to the new Radiohead yet although I’ve watched the new videos. Interesting to see that they performed Creep recently, since they stopped playing it live because it was too popular. They seem to have mellowed; as jason kottke said
perhaps Radiohead has become more accepting of the band they used to be.
Originally was supposed to meet up with mm, haven’t seen her for a while. But she just finished her exams and was feeling tired and headache-y. A bit disappointed as I was looking forward to some time out but can’t be helped.
Mostly spent the day reading and watching time slowly tick by. Organised some of Papa’s finances.
Listening and watching the video of Radiohead’s weird new song, Burn the Witch. The Trumpton cartoon is eerie and horrifying. The music stays with you. The new album drops on Sunday.
Mum and I went to mass. A very full congregation, good to see. At the end of the mass, after communion when normally people meditate or pray in silence, the Father started humming a chant. By the way the congregation followed, it’s probably a regular occurrence. Beautiful and powerful.
Found out too late (although, we were travelling) that there was a one-night showing of the last night of the proms in some US cinemas on 14 October. The actual last night was on 12 September so it was a recording. Hope the event was well attended, there’s lots of magic at the proms.
We went to see Kristen Chenoweth in concert at the Chicago theatre. I don’t get many chances to see live concerts, and I think this is the second concert I attended in a theatre setting; I remember seeing kd lang in singapore when I was travelling there a lot. Oh and I saw Fleetwood Mac at Wembley when I was in college, that was it.
It’s also the first time I’ve been inside the Chicago theatre. It’s such an iconic landmark, especially in the city of its name. We had nice stall seats, about 2/3rds of the way down. A slight incline meant I was able to see the stage with no problems.
The concert was great. A 11-person band including string and brass sections. The musical director, Mary-Mitchell Campbell played wonderfully on the piano.
Ms Chenoweth herself. Ahhh. What a voice. We were treated to Moon River, Somewhere over the Rainbow, Popular and an emotional Bring Him Home. She was personable, lively and had great presence. She sipped from a Cubs cup and told of her steak dinner at Gibson’s, conncecting her with the audience. During her tour she always sings For Good with a member of the audience or an invited guest—this time she had a young local singer Jess Godwin, who is certainly destined for a great career. She also invited a group of local youngsters to join her for the last few numbers. And she shared the stage with them, generously giving them credit and attention.
Pics not allowed, so here’s a youtube video of her singing.
Spotted via digg, a graphical visual representation of Chopin’s Etude opus 10 no 12 in C minor. There are so many others in the same youtube channel, not only Chopin but Bach, Brahms and even Beethoven symphonies.
The project and software is harmonic colouring, a method for assigning colours to musical pitches. They use 2 methods to assign colours. The first is the simple scale that starts with C:
C, C-sharp, D, D-sharp, E, F, F-sharp, G, G-sharp, A, A-sharp, B, back to C
The second is called the circle of fifths is based on frequency of pitch classes where the frequency ratio is approximately 3:2:
F, C, G, D, A, E, B, F-sharp, C-sharp, G-sharp, D-sharp, A-sharp, back to F
I understand the first method but not as familiar with the second method. Anyway, using these methods, a wheel of colours is determined. Then it’s just a matter of assigning colours to a score. They use a software called music animation machine. It’s really fascinating. This is Brahms’ piano quartet op 60 in C minor:
Task #7 of 101.1001 is to go to a new musical. Today I went to see on your feet at the oriental theatre in chicago.
There are so many new musicals that I’ve lost touch at what is showing and which one is new. On Your Feet is a show about Gloria Estafan and her husband Emilio: how they met, how they worked to become successful in the music business and how a bus accident almost derailed their lives and careers. Some reviews likened it to a feel-good tv movie. Although there are similarities to a tv movie, the energy, the music and the overall production pushed the standard much higher.
I can’t name a single Gloria Estafan (with or without Miami Sound Machine) song, but I could recognise the bigger hits when I hear them. And I did, the bigger hits. The songs I hadn’t heard of before were a revelation to me, I enjoyed them too. The dancing was great and the energy was infectious.
The singing. Wow, the singing. Ana Villafane plays Gloria, looks like Gloria, and sounds like Gloria. Superb. The other cast members were memorable too, from Josh Segarra who played Emilio and the family members: Gloria’s mom, grandmother, father and sister all excelled. The boy who played both her son and a dancing bar mitzvah boy was wonderful. At the end of both acts, the audience were on their feet, clapping and dancing, that was how much everyone enjoyed the show.
After almost 9 years away, Mike Shinola and Fort Minor released a new single, Welcome. It’s available as a free download** or a paid mp3 (wonder how many people will go for the paid version vs getting it free). The 360º video is of Mike painting a giant mural made from 1000 blank vinyl jackets, which will be signed and sold as limited edition vinyl records. I’m not a huge FM or Linkin Park fan, but I can imagine there will be lots of interest and demand for the vinyl.
In Mike’s own words:
I didn’t intend to write a new Fort Minor song, it just kinda happened. It’s not part of a new album. It’s a song that I knew I wanted people to hear right now.
His full handwritten words:
I like the song. I think LP is too loud, but I’ve always enjoyed FM’s one and only album. Their big success Where’d You Go was one of my first running playlist songs. I’m adding Welcome to the playlist. I hope there is a new album somewhere down the line. It’s long overdue. Almost 10 years on hiatus, they really do practice what they sing:
Where’d you go
I miss you so
Seems like it’s been forever
That you’ve been gone
**the free download is available on their website, upon submission of a working email address. It’s of course for marketing purposes. I use a disposable email service for stuff like this.
This one has been doing the rounds lately, it’s Eminem’s Lose Yourself interpreted in sign language. It’s incredibly cute and uplifting. From the comments, it seems that the interpreter doesn’t always sign every single word, but rather signs the meaning and context, which is rather important in rap, where words machine-gun by very fast. The great thing about this video is that the interpreter Shelby adds her own movements and expressions to enhance the experience.
Even more uplifting is to find out that signing at concerts is nothing new. I’m so glad that deaf and hard-of-hearing people can also get to enjoy concerts.
As an aside, Eminem is my secret guilty pleasure. Great running songs.
mm keeps sending me videos with a religious theme, I don’t click on all of them. This one I did. I googled it too, the song You Raise Me Up even though it sounds like a traditional Irish folk song was actually from 2002. The street performer was Martin Hurkens, who won Holland Got Talent in 2010.
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be
It’s like Katherine Jenkins busking on the tube, even though it looks to be an official music video rather than something spontaneous.
Was at mm’s to look at the travel books she borrowed from the library. She practiced the piano whilst I was reading, it was a nice background. The piece she’s learning now is Schubert’s Impromptu op 90 no 1 (d899). I always think Schubert is difficult and kinda boring, but this wasn’t. I like it. I like the C minor key.
Looking at the score, it’s difficult. Then again, everything that mm has been playing is difficult for me—she’s past grade 8 and I’m at approx grade 3 level.
New downloads from noisetrade. Free (optional tipping) music and books to discover new artists.
A sampler from sleeping at ast, aka Ryan O’Neal from chicago (no, not the actor). Comparisons to radiohead and nick drake, which is how I got to them through search on the site. I thought he sounded more like coldplay, which, depending on point of view, may or may not be a good thing. Personally, I like coldplay so I’m keeping the sampler. He’s also performed a few songs for films and tv.
On the homepage and top of the downloads list is delta spirit, similar to the shins and my morning jacket. A bit too loud for me.
A great new discovery is the rival, comparable to keane, the killers, MGMT and U2. No surprise there. Run Run, the first song from the album was actually the iphone 5 launch song and a pretty good addition to my running playlist.
And just to show I’m not always about the male indie bands, I also downloaded Welsh singer sera. I like her, she has a good voice and you can hear the Welsh lilt when she sings.
Finally, there’s classical pianist Ben Amend, a couple of miscellaneous pieces and an EP called winter woods, more new age-y music than classical. Really, really good. Great playing, great atmospheric pieces. My favourite out of all the downloads today.
For some reason, noisetrade won’t let me download ebooks. Ah well, I’ll stick with music discovery. I also wish they had a shopping cart to consolidate all tips made in one session instead of having to do multiple small $5 transactions.
This is not a biography. It is, rather, an attempt to cast a few shards of light on Nick Drake the poet, the musician, the singer, the friend, son and brother, who was also more than all of these.
The book is £35, the deluxe edition at £150 includes a 10” vinyl of tracks from a 1969 John Peel session, photographs and other goodies. The guardian has one of the tracks available for listening. It’s brilliant and haunting and sad. Another great musician who died young. There are no known live recordings of Nick’s performances, so we only get to listen.
We went to a concert by music lab, an orchestra of young and enthusiastic musicians. The concert was billed as multimedia, and there were slide shows and videos of artistic works created by other young people on a large projector.
The program opened with the orchestra playing Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Debussy followed by the Mother Goose Suite by Ravel. Good playing, and quite enjoyable. Then it was Ms Nancy Loo playing Rhapsody in Blue, she is a well known solo artist and teacher at the APA. The finale of the concert was KJ Wong playing the Asian premiere of Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky-Naoumoff. I’ve heard the piece before, but not in its entirety and it sounded very technical and difficult to master.
The main attraction of the concert was undoubtedly KJ, a sort of music wunderkid and the subject of a documentary when he was still at school. He is now in his early twenties, and presents as a mixture of arrogance and uncertainty and talent. Surrounded by almost screaming fans, of course.
For more on KJ, check out his channel or listen to him playing Etude by Emile Naoumoff. There are a few videos of other pianists playing plctures at an exhibition too, This one, audio only, is played by the master himself, Vladimir Horowitz.
Rhett Miller was a reddit AMA recently. Now that brings back memories. My friend Mary, who I regrettably have lost touch with, introduced me to the instigator. I listened and enjoyed the music, especially Things that Disappear, but never looked him up. TIL I learned that he is a member of a Dallas band Old 97s and they just issued a new album to coincide with their 20th anniversary. The first single is appropriately called Longer than You’ve been Alive, which starts:
We’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive
Propelled by some mysterious drive
It’s available as a free stream and download. Click to listen and fill in box to download:
I didn’t grow up listening to country & western music, I’m simply not knowledgeable nor had sufficient exposure to appreciate it fully. It’s not the first genre I’d pick (not second, or third either, and I don’t apologise for it) but when I do hear a c&w song, I may stop and listen to it, and I may even like it.
That said, here via slate is a short film of three different musicians / groups covering Johnny Cash’s album out among the stars. This album was recorded in the 1980s, but for whatever reason it was never released. His son discovered it in the archives after his death and it has just been released posthumously to great reviews all around.
Okay, I confess, it wasn’t Johnny Cash that caught my eye, but the mention of Brandon Flowers in the headline. The Killers, well, they will be near #1 on my list of music to listen to, and I won’t apologise for this either. I can listen to him all day, and his rendition of “I Came to Believe” was interesting — not a Killers sound, but even to my uneducated ear, quite Johnny Cash-like. I also really enjoyed the other artists on the film, Father John Misty and Local Natives, even though I’d never heard of them before. The video is 16mins long, it’s a good way to spend 16mins.
Went to a piano recital by 20 year old Piao Xingji. Very impressive. Started with a piece by a composer I’d never heard of, contemporary Charles Griffes. Then moved onto Brahms, Prokofiev, Liszt to end with Schumann’s Carnaval Op 9. There were 2 short encores, a nice way to spend 2 hours. Highlights for me were the Prokofiev sonata No 4 in C minor Op 29, and parts of the Schumann. The only complaint was that the complimentary red wine we had at interval was undrinkable. Besides, we only had 15mins so not enough time to drink even if it were drinkable.
I was watching some music programs on tv, where a young musician was singing a well known song from the 1980s. The presenter asked him how he knew about the song and he said that it’s one of his father’s favourites. Ack!! Those are the songs from my childhood, and I realised that the singer wasn’t even born when I was listening to those music. Remember making your own mixed tapes and giving them to people or playing them in the car? I still have half a box of cassette tapes in my possession, I don’t even know if I can find a cassette player anywhere anymore. Feeling old. And then I read an interview with Stevie Nicks. It’s 40 years since Buckingham Nicks. Holy moly. Definitely feeling old. Anyway, I just had to go listen to some old Mac songs.
So Disney buys Lucasfilm. The news was surprising, but then again not. There’s the Star Tours ride and Indiana Jones show at Hollywood Studios; and some of the themes touched by both companies’ films do overlap.
Some fans are aghast, not wanting change, not wanting the Star Wars franchise to become Disney-like (aka childish, predictable, too much sugarcoating). I get that. Will Princess Leia become yet another Disney princess? Will we get even more Jar Jar Binks soft toys?
Personally, I think it’s a good move. I fall into the camp of original Star Wars fans who absolutely hate, hate, hate Episodes 1-3. To me, George Lucas already turned the franchise into a second rate Disney with the prequels and the Ewok cartoons. Darth Maul was the only saving grace. So my take is, it’s about time someone else takes it over, inject some new ideas and give it back its edge. Yes I think Disney is capable of producing films that are a little bit darker. Plus, I’m glad that there’s the mighty Disney $$$ machine behind it that it will continue for many more years to come.
Anyway, on the Star Wars theme, here’s a fantastic flash mob by the WDR Radio Orchestra who treated an unsuspecting crowd at Cologne Wallrafplatz with a…treat.
Took a little break from the Paralympics to catch the last night of the Proms. Always a boisterous and emotional and patriotic event, it didn’t disappoint. In a way, I wish I’d tried to get into the Hyde Park crowd, 40,000 people opposite Royal Albert Hall in a simucast with Belfast, Caerphilly and Glasgow. There was a surprise at Rule Britannia, when several members of Team GB and Paralympics GB rowing medal winners came on stage to show that Britannia does rule the waves. Perfect.
The walls are very thin here, so I have to keep the volume low but I did sing along with Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem and the National Anthem.
I’ve been catching up on the jubilee festivities. The pageant on Saturday was a bit boring to watch on iPlayer, but I watched the jubilee concert on Sunday in its entirety. Super production, very moving, all the performers, comedians and 600 support staff. Shows the world how it’s done, and I think I’m like a lot of people trying to avoid saying something like “Gary Barlow did a good job, take that!”
This is Sing, written by Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Weber and performed by the Commonwealth band/choir and the Military Wives. All (?definitely most) of the performers are not professionals, but their voices are simply magical. Beautiful song, beautiful performance.
I’ve been following the progress of Dancing with the Stars on Car’s blog. One of the favourites is Katherine Jenkins, the local (well, if you’re Welsh) girl. One of my colleagues was lamenting why she is on US DWTS and not UK Strictly. I guess it’s all about conquering the US market and exposure.
She really has a beautiful voice. She has 8 albums (plus 3 best of) out, and Car joked about how much it would cost to buy them all. So I went and did a simple comparison of amazon UK and US. To get the 8 cds in the UK is just over £40 ($65); getting them in the US will be $110. And since I’m going to GCLS in June, I can bring them over. So she said yes, go for it and I ordered them. And they arrived today. Beautiful.
I did a (relative) massive amazon mp3 download today. Both US amazon, where there were albums for $3.99 and UK amazon, with 2 for £10 offers. Some newish music, but also quite a lot of catch up.
Brookville — Broken Lights. What can I say? Under-rated, little known indie band. Love Andy Chase. I’m less of a fan of the Ivy, I like this Brookville incarnation better. Atmospheric and just very nice music.
Marlon Roudette — Matter Fixed. This guy will be big. This is New Age, which has already conquered a number of European charts.
Take That — Progressed. Catch up. This was released last year. Take That are from my younger days, and I’m so glad to see them return to triumphantly.
Samantha Ronson & the Undertakers — Chasing the Red. This is Love Song. Sam Ronson is famous, or infamous, for being Mark Ronson’s younger sister and there was this period of insanity when she was associated with, of all people, Lilo. I get the feeling that her work could do with a bit of Mark magic, but it’s still a pretty decent effort.
Mumford & Sons — Sigh No More. They are really worth a listen. Seriously.
What else did I get? Adele’s 19 and 21. Maroon 5, an old Nick Drake and Amy Winehouse: Lioness. All good stuff. My itunes will like me.
I was telling mm about a newly discovered lost composition by Mozart that was supposed to have been written when he was 10 or 11. It was recently premiered by pianist Florian Birsak on Mozart’s own piano in Mozart’s home. I’m not a very good musician, but mm is, and she’s learning a Mozart piece right now, so good timing.
I’d never heard of Ra Ra Rasputin before today, but they have released a 3-track EP for free download until 6 December — I listened to Forward and I thought it’s pretty good
Snow Patrol tour dates, they will be in London in Feb. Very tempted. Even more tempted after reading Gary Lightbody’s highly intelligent essay on huffpo. I mean, I can’t imagine any of the X-Factor / BGT / AGT brigade, or Justin Bieber, or even Lady Gaga, using words like fecund (I had to look it up, myself) and not as an alternative to some other salacious swear word. Mr Leonard Cohen may know the word. Ah, but I digress…read that essay, and tell me you know a song by Snow Patrol
Our department went out for a farewell party for one of our colleagues. Dinner first at the forge at covent garden. I had roasted vegetable risotto, steak diane, and crème brulee.
Then it was onto the Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road to see Respect La Diva. It’s only on for 3 weeks, and I thought it was a musical that included songs from the great divas — Ella Fitzgerald, Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner et al. Actually it was more like a straightforward concert of tribute singers singing those songs. The singers were all very good, but the show could have been tighter and had a bit more of a storyline. It’s a very small theatre that doesn’t seem to have an orchestra pit so the band was on stage. This meant not a lot of space for the performers (especially the dancers) to move around. Some of the audience members were really enjoying themselves and the majority of the house stood up and clapped for the finale.
Had lunch at home, then met CC for mid-afternoon drinks and snacks, she took us to a hip bar hidden at the back of Bond Street and we had a pleasant hour or so. We also met RM for dinner at haz where we had a great meal and tried red wine from Lebanon.
But the main memory today was how we spent the time in between the 2 appointments. Not much involvement for me, aside from sitting quietly and listening to mm play her heart out at Steinway Hall. First she tried the uprights, then the baby grands. The nice sales associate then took us inside to where the concert grands are and she played Chopin’s Nocturne Op 9 No 1. Beautiful sound. I have it on video, but it’s something only between the two of us.
I was at hard rock calling tonight. It turns out that it’s the event’s 40th annversary. I got to Hyde Park around 5.30pm, just in time to catch james, followed by kaiser chiefs. The main attraction was the killers, which is now the only band I’d gone to see twice. They hadn’t released anything new (except Brandon Flowers’ solo album) since Lollapalooza 2009, and their set was full of familiar songs. Doesn’t matter, the crowd sang and cheered along with Spaceman, Somebody Told me, Some Like You Mean it and positively roared with Human and Read My Mind and All These Things.
The day started sunny but for most of the five hours I was there it rained non-stop. I was glad I wore my Timberlands and brought my cap. The ground was soaked but thankfully not quite Glastonbury-level of muddiness. I found myself near the front but stuck behind people taller than me. It didn’t matter. There were fireworks, a quiet rendition of Moon River and closed out with Jenny and more fireworks. Here’s the video of Human, although the sound quality isn’t good. There are a few more pics on flickr.
mm sent me this, an old hymn called “I know who holds tomorrow” from the album by Alison Krauss & the Cox Family. I’m not as religious as mm, this was very beautiful though.
and each step is getting brighter
as the golden stairs I climb
and every burden is getting lighter
and all the clouds are silver lined
and, over there the sun is always shining
and no tears will ever dim the eye
and the ending of the rainbow
where the mountains, they touch the sky
No lollapalooza this year, so it’s hard rock calling instead. No 3-day ticket deal, and the line up is so much smaller. It’s a different sort of event really. The choices for headliners for the 3 days are: Killers, Bon Jovi and Rod Stewart. No brainer isn’t it. I actually thought that it’s a Killers only concert before I realised it’s a 3-day event. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, but as a vodafone customer I’m able to order 48hrs in advance, so I have my ticket already.
If it weren’t so expensive I’d get a ticket for Sunday too. I have zero interest in Rod Stewart, but Stevie Nicks, Rumer and Lighthouse Family are also playing. Then again, no one goes to a concert to see the supporting and guest acts, do they?
I was saddened to learn that Prof Fritz Sennheiser has passed away. He was of course the founder of Sennheiser, one of the biggest names in audio technology. Microphones, speakers and headphones with the Sennheiser name usually mean high quality.
When I started using my ipod again, I was immediately on the lookout for earphones to replace the original apple ones. Shures and Boses were too expensive. Skullcandies didn’t fit. Everywhere I looked, the answer was Sennheisers. For everyday listening, I use the twist-to-fit models. I used the green ones for running for the longest time until I broke the arm so I was on the lookout for replacement ones last week.
These are adidas branded but made by Sennheiser pmx680. I was at first skeptical of the behind the head arrangement cos I thought there won’t be room around my ears to fit these and my glasses. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry. These absolutely stay in place, even better than the twist-to-fit. The sound quality is excellent and I like how it comes with a short cord for armbands and an extension for other use. I’m not using the armband anymore, having switched to a spibelt (well, Nathan shadowpak), that’s another post.
On the livestrong forums is a thread on top 5 running songs. Till I Collapse by Eminem seems to be a favourite, but I find it too loud and hard to run to the beat. Doesn’t mean I don’t like rap, I run to 8 miles and Lose Yourself, which would make my top 10. So, top 5, in no particular order:
mgmt — kids
ben lee — afterlife
killers — read my mind (or human, I can’t decide)
uh huh her — common reaction
muse — uprising
Honourable mentions: chris rea — auberge, lindsey buckingham — did you miss me, lady gaga — poker face, fort minor — where’d you go (or remember the name).
Daniel Merriweather’s latest, love & war came out last June. In the UK. I waited and waited and waited for it to become available here, or at least available for download. But no, it didn’t show up. Boy, was I tempted to get it elsewhere. Luckily, when I was on home leave I made a point of going to hmv to get the cd. It’s as good as I expected. And I noticed it’s just come out on amazon US. This is the first single, Change featuring Wale, which reached #8 on the UK charts.
I heard about Daniel Merriweather on twitter. I follow Mark Ronson, who produced the album. I didn’t realise he’s from Australia — guess he’s another transplant. His style has been described as r&b, with a mix of pop. I like it, I have the whole cd and every song deserves its place on the iphone and nano.
I went to the sappho’s salon event at women and children first bookstore to support Anne Laughlin, who read from her new book Veritas. I have the book in my ereader, it’s high on the list of books to be read. And especially after I heard her read a lengthy excerpt. She also read the prologue from her newest, untitled, book. Oh wow. That one is already fantastic and I can’t wait for it to come out.
The second half of the event was singer-songwriter julie loyd, who sang a few very pleasant songs.
The good thing about living only 5 mins away is that I was probably home and showered before a lot of the people even left the store.
It was a glorious day when I woke up, so I went running by the lake. All the way up to where the bike trail ends, then back down along the lakefront all the way to Montrose Beach.
After showering drove to Ikea. The route on google maps is bogus, there’s been roadworks at the Lawrence junction to the Kennedy for ages, so I just took Foster.
I was really hungry by the time I got to Ikea, so I headed to the restaurant immediately and had a large meatball, lingonberries and mashed potato lunch. The aim was to look at kitchen tables, to make sure that I wasn’t missing out on anything. There was one, table and 4 chairs for $129, good price but not what I was looking for. I ended up buying a bedside table to use in the living room by the fireplace, 4 glass bowls at 99c each and a bottle of chopping block oil. I never thought of oiling my chopping blocks, let’s see if it works.
The main shopping was done at home. I finally ordered the bar table and stools I saw at cb2. Delivery on Friday.
Also bought 6 ebooks, catching up on recent releases. And 6 mp3 cds:
oracular spectacular — mgmt
breakthrough — colbie caillat
rattlin’ bones —kasey chambers & shane nicholson
b.r.m.c. — black rebel motorcycle club
baby 81 — black rebel motorcycle club
the e.n.d. — black eyed peas
Oh yes, my musical taste doesn’t make sense, here’s acid, pop, country, alt rock and hip hop.
This song rotated to the top of my running playlist and it’s such a great song to start a run. I mean, I adore fleetwood mac and (almost) everything they do and Lindsey is a huge, huge part of that love. Yes, he gets disparaged — think the joke about the lindsey buckingham paradox — but even then he’s recognised as a genius.
This is did you miss me from his 2008 album, gift of screws, which has been very well received, albeit not much attention given by the mainstream press and radio stations. It’s a shame. This is a perfect top 40 song, with a catchy hook and the usual killer unstated guitar playing.
Bat for Lashes was the first act I stopped to watch at Lollapalooza, just because it was the first stage I came across, and because the music kinda grabbed me. There was a pretty, dark-haired girl and a voice that was, even at an open stage, ethereal. I filed the band’s name away in my head, and went off to see the likes of the Airborne Toxic Event, Vampire Weekend and the Killers.
So at the weekend I decided to browse amazon for their music, and I ended up buying both albums, fur and gold and two suns. Bat for Lashes is actually Natasha Khan, the practice of calling oneself a band continues, in the NIN and Badly Drawn Boy tradition. She’s from Brighton, looks a little like Lily Allen, has a hipster new wave fashion style. She’s been compared to Kate Bush and Bjork and has opened for Radiohead. Thom Yorke is a big fan.
I find her music clever and just that bit whimsical. Descriptions abound from reviewers like magical, dreamy, luminous. I actually can’t stand Kate Bush or Bjork, but Natasha isn’t grating like the former or batty like the latter, she manages to balance pureness of voice with pop; cute whimsy with solid musicianship. She’s indie without trying too hard, if that makes sense. Someone to watch out for, definitely.
I spent 9 hours (1-10pm) on Sunday at lollapalooza, which is one of America’s prime music festival events. It’s a 3-day event, but as I looked at the lineup, I decided I could only do one day, especially since I had to go to work friday. I was a bit bummed that I missed Depeche Mode on Friday and Gomez, TV on the Radio and Tool on Saturday. Ah well, next year.
It was a HOT, HOT, HOT day. We were allowed sealed bottle water, and throughout the day I made sure I was hydrated. Okay, I had 3 Bud Lights in addition to the water, watermelon and smoothies I enjoyed. I also diligently bought and used sunblock; and a cute fedora I bought at one of the stalls. The first pic here shows a fire department “mobile ventilation unit” which they used to fan water for a cooling shower for the participants. The second pic shows what seems to be all 225,000 attendees.
There were 8 stages, and with Grant Park 1 mile long, it was essential to plan. There were only a couple of overlaps where I had to decide, most of the time it was obvious who I wanted to see. I caught the end of Bat for Lashes, who I’ve never heard of but will likely buy their album now. Then mid-afternoon it was Airborne Toxic Event, who were more subdued than I expected. I wondered if I should have gone to see Kaiser Chiefs instead. I was fairly close to the stage, although being short it was difficult to see over the shoulders of people in front of me.
A short break afterwards, during which I chomped down a portion of Jack Daniels bbq wings washed down with a watermelon wedge. Then it was back to the same stage to see Vampire Weekend, which got us jumping and doing screams. I only know their most well-known songs, and I sang along like the other audience members.
It was then time to explore the other side of the festival, more food, looking around the stalls, bypassing the autograph area. Found myself in the dance pit section, where DJ Boyz Noise was spinning. Then caught the end of Dan Auerbach before heading to Lou Reed. Unfortunately Lou was disappointing, so I walked the whole mile back to the south end, got a tamale/taco combo, a smoothie and a frozen kefir (like frozen yogurt), my last Bud Light and found a seat on the lawn to wait for The Killers.
Brandon Flowers and gang did not disappoint, opening with Human, rocking hard through their repetoire and finishing with a flourish with Read My Mind, Mr Brightside and All These Things that I’ve Done. We sang “I got soul but I’m not a soldier” over and over and over again, it was brilliant. Two encores later, I joined the thousands on my way home, very satisfied, very buzzed and feeling a little like I was 21 again.
The first Walkman was launched 30 years ago this week. Wow. I had one of those original monsters, and still have this 1987 WM-103 in my drawer.
The BBC asked 13 year old Campbell Scott to trade his iPod for a Walkman for a week, and his account made me feel old. OTOH, it’s amazing how much technology has advanced over the last 30 years, that he has absolutely no idea what a cassette tape is.
It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape.
Oh my! Cassette tapes! I still have a couple of them at the bottom of drawers. Remember making mix tapes for friends and swapping them? Blah RIAA.
Wow, free CDs seem to be the newest thing. From Darren Hays (remember him? from Savage Garden) and Robert Conley comes We are Smug, the name of both the band and the album. Download the full 10-song album. FREE.