Friday, March 30, 2001

A week of classical: Josh is doing a very cool experiment next week: nothing but classical music. This is something I would like to do myself, as I'm woefully under-educated in the subject, yet most of my performance lies in it. (For example, I'd never heard Beethoven's Missa Solemnis before singing it in September.) I hope he throws some choral works up in the mix. Hell, I might send him some. I've got copies of four of the five Concordia Society concerts, including stuff like Bach's "Singet dem Herrn", Bruckner's "Os Justi", Frank Martin's "Mass For Double Choir", and other cool stuff by Verdi, Stravinsky, Part, Tavener, Harris, and Thompson. I could give him a day full of chamber choir!
Tim has a point: In my irritation at labelling a remix of "One Night In NYC" a new song, I completely overlooked the similarities between the uproar over the song and the "uproar" over Madonna's banned video. Clearly, only minutiae bother me.

You know, it's really bothersome to me that the overall reaction to the recent wave of school violence is to look around for something to ban. Personally, I feel that fixing the sociopathic beliefs that fuel these tragedies by reinforcing to kids that life is precious and actions have consequences would have a much better long-term effect than not allowing a particular piece of pop music to be played. It's easier said than done, particularly by me since I don't have any children. You can bet, though, that when I DO have kids, my wife and I are going to do our best to instill a strong and rational moral code in them before they get to the point where they snap. (It helps that my wife has a psychology degree.)

AAARGH: I really like Aretha Franklin. Honestly. I think she's one of the greatest performers of the past 50 years. She has a great voice and a great body of music behind her.


Another day, another color scheme: I've decided to tweak the template again. I'm still not convinced about the blue title bar. Please, if anyone's looking at this thing, let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 29, 2001

POEM-CEES SHOW TONIGHT: Anyone in the DC/Maryland area who wants to see a great hip-hop show for very little money should check this out tonight, March 29:


University of MD, Nyumburu Cultural Center


See the amazing beat-box routine! Thrill to "Sha Sha" and "Test"! Make them perform "Good Morning" and "The 180" for a change!

Severything. Here's an invaluable resource for anyone who is a fan of Severed Heads - an mp3 archive with most of their rare back catalogue. Do them a favor and buy some stuff if you like it, because Tom Ellard and co. are really deserving of it.
No love for Naked Chef: The things people send me via email. This is probably not suitable for Jamie Oliver fans with no sense of humor. Personally, I've never seen his show. (The only show on The Food Network worth watching is Iron Chef.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Tim Finney, Boy Wonder: I first encountered Tim on, where he was all of five years old, yet wrote better than most of us college students/graduates. Since then, Tim has begun shaving, gone to college and started an excellent weblog that focuses primarily on dance music called Skykicking. (Of course, half of the referrals to my site seem to be coming from there, so many of you know this already.)
MISSY ELLIOT - Get Your Freak On video: (RealPlayer) This NME link will play Missy Elliot's newest video. It's a bizarre mix of hip-hop cliche, idealized psuedo-Eastern mysticism, dank caves, forbidding factories, stutter videography, and completely unnecessary morphing. Of course, it's brilliant. Furthermore, it is a perfect companion for the song's creepy stalker beat, which strikes me as being equal parts "Psycho" and "Dig Dug". The coup de grace, though, is the 30 second coda from a completely different song, complete with what is destined to be the first sing-along hook of the summer. Missy proves once again that any deficiences she has as a lyricist are more than covered by her ear for production and imaginitive videos. (I'm not conviced that I needed to see Missy's neck stretch like that, though.)


Scary synergy: Moments after posting my love letter to Living Colour, Tom pointed me towards this article written by Maura for the Philadelphia Weekly on the possibilities of a metal resurgence. (It appears that the charge is being led by Buckcherry and Tesla. Oh well, maybe next year.)
Living Colour reform: Junior high was, in many ways, a really desolate time for me. I spent a good portion of the eighth grade trying to convince a group of people who didn't care that I was the greatest person on the face of the Earth. The obvious result of this is that I was shunned, derided and (literally) spat upon. I was already feeling somewhat alienated because I was the only black male out of a class of 340 students, but this new indignity was almost too much to bear. I really hated most of my classmates, all the while wishing there was something I could do to make them like me.

By the time I entered high school, I'd decided I had enough. My year of Hell had shown me who my true friends were and I decided that I was never again going to waste time and energy trying to impress someone. It was about this time that I started searching for music beyond what was played on Twin Cities radio. My brother, who had recently moved to Seattle for college, gave me a tape of an all-black rock band who were doing stuff that spoke to me much more than Poison, Bon Jovi, and the other hair-metal bands did. There was a strong funk-vibe underneath their tracks, along with a much richer singing voice and more aggressive, musical guitar solos. The album was Living Colour's Vivid. I ran around proclaiming its glory to anyone and everyone I met. Many were scornful. Few of my classmates wanted to believe that a black band could rock harder than their precious Def Leppard and Whitesnake. A year later, many of these same kids were running up to me and raving about this "brand new" band and their awesome song "Cult of Personality". I smugly reminded them that I had played the song for them over a year ago. My reputation as "the guy who knows everything about popular music was born. In a supremely ironic twist, many of the kids I'd been trying so hard to impress were suddenly trying to impress me. (This only lasted about three months, but it was an enormous confidence-booster.)

Since then, Living Colour has held a special place in my heart. I related to the band in a very personal way, partially because they were the "black band", but more because they were one of the bands I used to reinvent myself from "nerdy, wannabe popular junior high dork" to "nerdy but confident high school student who couldn't give a damn what you think". It's a subtle distinction, but without it I probably wouldn't have had the confidence to spend a summer abroad or move halfway across the country for college. I couldn't be happier that they're getting back together.

Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Obligatory Oscar-related post: I have to say that I'm much more sympathetic to Julia Roberts now than I was going into this whole shebang. Her acceptance speech struck me as a great example of what a person should do if he or she wins an Oscar. Seriously. Who wants to see someone being remarkably poised and stately while reading a pre-rehearsed speech? What we want to see is the sheer exuberance Ms. Roberts displayed. We want to see the award winner tell the cut-off man to take a seat and let him/her talk. We want to see an imperfect, off-the-cuff speech that displays real emotion. With that speech, Julia Roberts cemented her spot as America's Favorite Actress in a manner she's been unable to achieve through her movies. Surprisingly, I can't begrudge her that at all. You go, girl.

While I'm on the subject, congrats to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for winning four Oscars. Boo to the Academy for not nominating any of the actors, particularly Ziyi Zhang.

When Doves Cry: I'm usually not one for baseball links, but this one was too weird to pass up. You'll need QuickTime to view the associated movie clip. Trust me; it's worth it.
Happy birthday, Freaky Trigger. There is certainly some fine writing out there on the Web. It's amazing and startling to find so much of it concentrated in one place. Read and be merry.
New dance track set to outrage UK public: GRR. This song is at least four years old. A remix doesn't make it a new song. This is the thing that annoys me the most about dance music culture (besides this).
Geri Halliwell in lesbian shocker: In other news, water is discovered to be wet! This article was blogged not for the "shocking" revelation, but for the shocking picture that accompanies it. I think this is proof that some publicists hate their clients.

Monday, March 26, 2001

Woolworths ban Eminem dolls: Normally, the decision to ban anything would be enough to get me extraordinarily riled. However, I firmly believe that we need to encourage our musicians to stop signing silly merchandising deals. Unless we're talking about Poem-Cees action figures (Natural Law comes with Atomic Flow, Black Picasso has Radioactive Rhyme, and Stylus comes with a special Kung-Fu Scratch technique), I don't wanna hear it.
New Prodigy single on the way? There's a rumor going around that a collaboration between The Prodigy and 3-D of Massive Attack will be released as a single this year. Insert the animated GIF of me doing a happy dance here. The idea of two of my favorite groups collaborating is causing me to drool uncontrollably.
Why I hate people: I just spent 20 minutes downloading an array of mp3's from Napster which claimed to be tracks from the upcoming Tool album Lateralus. Of COURSE they were fakes! I really should have known better, but I'm so desperate hear anything from this album... I suppose I'll have to do with the magical "Recordare Jesu Pie" from Benjamin Britten's War Requiem instead. What breathtaking music! I don't think four-part female singing gets any better than this. The cascading harmonies, the swooping melodies, the gorgeous orchestration... oooh. Of course, it's followed by the remarkably ugly "Confutatis Maledictis" for the men, which just makes the women's part sound even better.

After this, I'll give a listen to Black Box Recorder's The Facts Of Life. I know I like the title track and "Weekend". Let's just see how the rest of the album stands up.