Saturday, September 29, 2007

Flying over Greenland - a welcome distraction from in-flight movies

The highlight of yesterday's flight back from Ireland was the 30 minutes or so where we flew over the southern tip of Greenland. It was like flying over a new planet, looking for signs of life (some of the icebergs looked a bit like boats, and I saw what looked like a town, but was probably seeing things as the 'town' was surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. Did a plane drop some crates of supplies in every couple of weeks perhaps?)

I took many, many pictures, with somebody else's camera (travelling w/ many people, almost all of whom took their cameras with them, I didn't bother to take my own and thus got to experience everything at the time it was happening rather than having to wait until it was up on flickr). One I get a hold of the better ones I'll put them up, in the meantime check out this grainy, postage-stamp sized video a guy put up on you tube: here. This one, though the camera work suggests the guy was sharing the plane with several thizzing squirrels, is also nice.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where2 fails it and other stuff from our trip to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill

A co-worker and I spent a week in Raleigh, which was cool overall. In an effort to mitigate tedium we tried out a different restaurant every night, but we were amazed at how often Google or our GPS system (where2) sent us to a place that was no longer in business, for example:

MVP Sports Bar (colleague is football-obsessed.)

2 Bar-B-Q places (Bar-B-Q and Ribs (?), Cooper's (in a seemingly dodgy part of town, first of all, and devoid of any signs of life when we got there)).

Some Indian restaurant w/ 'Sitar' in the name (fortunately 'Bombay Kitchen' was close by and made for a very satisfactory plan B).

On Wednesday we tried out NC-style BBQ at Smithfield's Chicken in Wake Forest (recommended by a classmate from the area). NC-style BBQ is vinegar-based, it's not the sticky, messy, but transcendantly delicious BBQ I was used to. It was good for what it was, but I'm not a convert; I still prefer the tomato-based approach. Anyways, since we were in Wake Forest we decided to check out the Wake Forest campus. The Where2 computer voice lady directed us to the center of a really beautiful little town, past a seminary we at first thought was the campus. We arrived at our destination to find a plaque marking the place where the Wake Forest campus WAS, before it moved to Winston-Salem in 1956. D'oh!

On Thursday I made my 15-years-too-late pilgrimage to Chapel Hill, a capital of indie-rock goodness in the early 90's (Polvo, Superchunk, etc, etc). As Steely Dan says, those days are gone forever, over a long time ago, but they did still have several Polvo CDs at Schoolkids records. I bought a Thee Hypnotics (early 90's Stooge-Hendrix rock) CD for $3, the new Cinematic Orchestra CD, and the new Aesop Rock CD. This signalled to the clerk either a) I have diverse musical tastes or b) I have an shakily ill-defined personality as these choices cancel each other out. Anyhow. My colleague was not much into the Schoolkids Records scene, but is a good guy and let me do the aimless shelf perusal thing for a bit, and took the opportunity to check in w/ his mother, I think (he was speaking Gujarati during the call).

The campus was really nice, just crawling with attractive, seemingly bigger-than-average young people. Bigger as in taller, as in scaled up in all dimensions. Half the kids had cell-phones to their ears, which looks weird to somebody who graduated from college 17 years ago. Some juggling club had a tight-rope strung between two trees. A guy fell off, the boingy sound of the rope followed by the thud as he hit the ground (he was OK, folks). The campus is really beautiful (the non-people part, too).

We ate at 'top of the hill', a brewpub establishment 3 stories up, with an outdoor eating area overlooking Franklin Street. When we got there the football coach was doing the live show college football and basketball coaches at all schools do, hosted by a guy with a voice identical to every other host of one of these shows in every town everywhere in the USA. 'Top Of The Hill' was another classmate recommendation. UNC seemed really cool and gave me a sense of optimism about America's young people, cell phones notwithstanding, or maybe that was the beer at Top Of The Hill (colleague consumed one beer and drove).

A couple other things we learned (aside from how to leverage SQL Server for yr BI needs) in our week in Raleigh:

  • Seemingly 90% of the people in Raleigh are in some branch of the military, or were at one time.
  • Downtown Raleigh seems eerily abandoned. You could fire a cannnon down the street and not hit anyone.
  • I have no idea what Research Triangle Park looks like, even after driving through it. It's obscured by trees, unlike Silicon Valley, the place too busy to give a shit what it looks like.
  • Like everywhere, when you go out to lunch in Raleigh you overhear computer-related conversations all around you. It's pretty boring. People need to get hobbies, in Raleigh and really everywhere. You'd think they could relive their military days of flying helicopters and blowing shit up. It would be more entertaining for people in the vicinity to hear about that sort of thing.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

In Raleigh, NC This Week

I am in the land of 1000 Universities (+ Research Triangle Park) this week for training.

The trip down went well, aside from the Rental Car place. When we tried to save a couple bucks by not upgrading to a Charger, they threatened to put us in a PT Cruiser. Neither of us has a uterus and grandchildren, so we caved in and upgraded to the Charger (also, the Charger is black). They also tried to nickle-and-dime us on several other things. I hate people.

Anyhow we are here and there's wireless in the hotel and and the training is in the hotel (we won't be using the cool black car that much). It is an industrial park kind of place, but with a lot of trees hiding all the bleakness and grayness that industrial parks in Indiana just flaunt like it's the milkshake that brings all the drones to the yard or something. We ate at a place that was pretty nice, but I'm kind of embarassed to even say the name (it was not Bennigan'z at least).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Learn French from Kool Moe Dee

Thanks to the BNN for this one.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

People need to take this shit seriously, I broke this story months ago

Back in May I wrote about 'True Hip Hop Facts', including this one:
MF Doom is actually 5 people who take turns wearing the mask for performances and 'featuring' appearances on other peoples' records.
Now, some people thought that was just some jokey material I made up because I was bored, but look at this article posted August 24 on the Paste magazine site: 'MF Doom imposters perform shows?' It seems somebody way too skinny to be the real Doom took the stage at a performance at the Independent in San Francisco for about 20 minutes, did some lip-synching, and left, much to the crowd's dismay and general rage. They dispersed to WiFi hotspots and hit the message boards to spread the word. Byron Crawford, for example, calls him 'The Gallagher Too' of rap, which, well done Byron Crawford, everybody else went for the obvious Milli Vanilli comparison, and you dug a bit deeper. (Gallagher Too is Gallagher's brother, who also does the same watermelon-oriented act). 'Dan' on the SF Weekly blog gave this account:

...lots of signs pointed to the fact that we all got hustled by Doom. Prior to the show, all independent employees (and signs posted) were adamant about no pictures whatsoever. Standard practice in itself, but never have I seen a place go out of their way to enforce. in retrospect this leads me to believe that the club had advance knowledge of this shady event. In typical doom fashion, he appears on stage roughly 2 hours after the opening act completed. He comes out looking blatantly skinnier (and shorter) to any die hard doom fan. In fact, my first comment to my buddy before I knew what was going down was: "Wow…that doesn't even look like Doom!" He comes out to Benzie box (off of DangerDoom) and no one can hear him as it sounds like his mic is off, (or he's not actually saying anything). All we could hear was his hype man. Even this didn't immediately set off a flag, because sometimes there can be sound issues obviously. After the song completes, he goes right into another song, also inaudible. this is when I started to raise my eyebrows. At every Doom show I've attended, where he's "actually" performed, he has always addressed the crowd and interacted. In fact, one of the best parts of his shows, in my opinion, are his interactions and mannerisms up on stage. unparalleled even, in my 15 years as a hip hop live show attendee. None of this is present. He's just walking back and forth on stage with no visual excitement…just rapper hands. So after 3 songs of this, I go up to the sound guy and let him know that no one in the audience can hear Doom, and ask him if he's aware. Here is his direct response to me: "Yea, I know you guys can't hear him. It's not Doom, and the guy who is up there is lip synching" My response was something to the effect of "yea right…who would do that to his fans?" Especially in the era of illegal downloads…how can he expect to keep a following large enough to pay his bills without a strong stage show? not to mention the legality behind the situation…I mean, if I could personally sue Mr.. dumile, I would. I'd love to get the G back that I spent just to see his sorry ass. I digress. So I go to the bar to cool my nerves, by this time he's muting his way through his 4th song. About halfway through the song, homeboy walks off stage. Done. No words to the crowd, no "peace out," no nothing. Boo's rained down. I had never seen anything like it before. And we're talking about an underground legend here, not just the 7pm opening act from the local high school. Then they told us show was over. that and I couldn't get my money back. The worst part about this is maybe Doom's signature trait: his mask. It provides the perfect alibi for him…no one can really prove any of this, because he hides behind that thing. If I didn't get hustled myself, I would almost respect his game. It's pretty brilliant. But now, as I've been doing more research into this, I've found that he pulled the same thing in LA a couple of nights earlier, and again with Scratch magazine for a photo shoot. To further raise suspicions, he was also a no show for the Rock the Bells show. (him and Nas: the only reasons why I actually made the trip). Magazines, I can understand, but the people who buy his music? The fans that have followed him since KMD? The fans that to date have supported his every move. The ones that travel hundreds of miles to see him? that is MAJOR disrespect. I still can't even believe it.

Please keep me posted on this if you are able. I WAS one of Doom's biggest fan, and now, all I just feel like he spit in my face. We all got hustled that night. Especially me and my girlfriend who spent some hard earned cash just to see him in California, because he didn't schedule anything in the NW. I have legal counsel here in Portland, and have actually already started to explore what kind of options I may have for legal action. Any information (including Independent OR Doom management contact info) you can provide to me would be a tremendous help. Thank you for helping expose this debacle. It needs to be prevented from happening again. Let me know if there's anything else I can provide you.
If the real Doom was watching cartoons and smoking a blunt in NYC while all this was going down, that makes him a great prankster at least. It's punk rock, a great rock-n-roll swindle for our times ('Ever had the feeling you've been ripped off', and all that).

Some people in the forums are filled with doubt that the person they saw when they saw Doom months or years ago was really Doom. Others wonder if Doom died and the Doom organization is trying to keep the meal ticket going for a while.

I continue for now to think Doom is brilliant. 'Operation: Doomsday' is a classic, even if it's built around uncleared and strangely lightweight samples. His lyrics are among the funniest and most interesting in hip-hop, and his story before this was one of an artist making an unexpected comeback after a tragedy (the death of his brother and fellow KMD member Sub-Roc, killed in a car accident at 20) and years of obscurity. Anyhow we shall watch and see. I hope Doom's OK and that's the end of the pranks on the fans.