Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Bernie and I have been watching "The Next Great American Band" on Friday nights. I have to say this: It's FAR superior to American Idol.
In fact, it's American Idol with talent, musicianship, intelligent judges, zero fluff and filler, and 100% less Ryan Secrest.
Of the 12 bands chosen to compete, 10 of them are actually really, really good, and I'd bet that 6 to 8 of them end up with contracts regardless of who wins. The music industry is absolutely starved for new bands, and the music-loving public is sick of no-talent no-last-name solo acts like Britney, Jessica, etc., and emo boys like James Blunt.
Voting takes place after the show airs on Fridays, and the lowest vote-getters simply aren't there the next week. No results show where we have to watch the host vamp, fill and fluff for 29 minutes to find out who lost.
Here's the lineup and what I think of them:
Cliff Wagner and the Ol’#7:
-This is a bluegrass band with a lead singer/banjo player that sounds like comedian Rodney Carrington. They're just fantastic - really tight, talented, creative and entertaining. I don't know what the market is for a bluegrass band nowadays, but they should be the first name mentioned when you hear that genre of music. Great group. Ranked #4 of of 12 in my scorebook.
The Clark Brothers:
-An all-acoustic trio of brothers that prefer Christian music with a rustic bend. They play dobro, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and pretty much all the string instruments. No drums. First of all, their playing is off-the-charts good. Second, their singing is tight, and they are very high-energy on stage. They'll make it big whether they win or not. Just amazing. #3 of 12 in my book.
Denver and the Mile High Orchestra
-From Nashville, despite their name. This is a big, horn-laden swing group with a dynamic frontman. My personal favorites, but probably not going to win. If there's still a market for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or Cherry Poppin' Daddies, this band will be heard from in the future. The horns are tight, the energy is high, the stage presence is hot. Really really good group. #5 of 12.
Dot Dot Dot
-An 80's Euro-band throwback. Good musicians and a good frontman. They do what they do well, but they are really more of a tribute group than a functioning band. Not very original or ground-breaking. I'd rank them 11th out of 12 in the competition.
-I'd call them a R&B/Soul band, but they change styles faster than I can follow. Amazingly tight - they throw stops, time changes, runs, solos, style changes, etc at you and they must be telepathic to be able to do what they do. They remind me of Living Colour. The front man is a hell of a singer and a hell of a guitar player. I'd rank them #2 of 12.
-Four musicians living in a small apartment together with nothing to do but jam all day. They're what I'd call a pop-alternative group, much like many others on the radio today. The frontman is particularly good-looking, so they may have a future for that reason alone. I think their music is OK, but not particularly original. I'd rank them somewhere in the middle of the pack. #7 of 12.
Light of Doom
-You'd think this is a gimmick band, but they have surprised me. This is the Heavy Metal band consisting of 12 year old boys. The musicianship is insane! I totally expected them to do nothing but cover songs, but tonight they did an original song that was just fantastic. The only problem is taking them seriously. No matter how good they sound (and they sound like pros), I have a hard time doing that. Rank them #8 of 12.
The Likes of You
-This is almost a cheat. The lead singer has had a long solo career opening for big acts, but never has gotten his big break. So he cobbled together a band, rehearsed for 5 months, sent in an audition CD, and now they're in the competition. The amazing thing is that they are making really good music and almost accidentally have become a legitimate collaborative band. I'd say they're #6 of 12.
-A 3 man rock group from Detroit. The bass player had a stroke 3 years ago and now he plays the bass parts on the keyboard with his left hand. You'd never notice from listening. They're pretty darn good. I'd pay to see them in a bar, but I'm not so sure they could sell CDs. The lead singer is also a fantastic guitar player. Rank is #9 of 12.
-A punk all-girl band. Unfortunately, they suck. More unfortunately, the judges keep saying nice things about them. I'd never have passed them thru auditions. All the guitars meld into one mushy mid-range cloud of dissonance, and the front-girl can't sing at all. She isn't even pretty. I've heard many, many better punk-girl bands. Last place.
-A country-rock group that had a record deal at one time but their CD didn't sell and they lost the deal. This could be the best group in the competition. The singing and harmonies are air-tight, the musicianship is top-notch, the original songs they've done sound like crossover hits to me. No weaknesses. This is my front-runner.
-Fox has really been trying to sell this group. They are a retro-sixties Beatles-type band. In all honesty, they're pretty good, but I think they are weak in versatility, meaning once they are out of their niche, they aren't legitimate contenders. #10 of 12.
at 11:55 PM
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
After being teased horrifyingly with predictions of rain in the past few weeks, we finally got something more substantial than a sprinkle here in Stallings. It's been frustrating. On three occasions, there has been over 50% chance of rain, and it's missed us by mere yards. I'm talking there's a line in the road where on one side there's puddles and runoff, and on our side, dry as a bone. I had been giving serious consideration to the idea that there's an invisible force-field above my neighborhood.
Well, today, we actually have had 3 or 4 ten-minute spans where it actually gave a somewhat manly effort to wet the ground. Not that you can tell after it quits. I believe I've mentioned the consistency of the dirt around here before. One big slurping sound and it looks like nothing happened.
At least there's one more day of rain-like possibilities left. Maybe we'll get some measurable precipitation this time. Yeah, right.
at 10:35 PM
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Bernie and I went to the Carolina Renaissance Fair in Concord this morning and had a blast. We had heard of it last year, and it runs from September thru November every weekend each year. What we didn't know is that it's a permanent attraction. The buildings and stages are real, not tents. It's almost like Busch Gardens, except there aren't any rollercoasters and high-tech rides. It's been here for 14 years and gets bigger every year.
Lots of people in garb, 6 stages with rotating acts, probably a mile of walking to get from entrance to end, lots of food, lots of interesting wares, and a real jousting show 4 times a day. There are also a bunch of medieval characters walking or sitting around, some of them shouting insults at passersby.
The jousts are a continuing story, apparently. We went to the first one of the day and three knights compete to become the new general of the queen's armies. One is a bad guy, one is a crazy guy who hears voices, and one is the heroic guy. The bad guy won by cheating, and the good guy lost by claiming that one of his faults wasn't counted properly. At the end, the queen declared that the contest wasn't over an that they would compete further at the next show. From what I understand, the next show will have the bad guy and the good guy duel, and the last show of the day is apparently a joust "to the death".
I was surprised to see that they sell beer on the premises, and even have ale brewed on site for sale. The wares for sale are real, not cheap toys. The food was really good, consisting of turkey legs (of course), soup in bread bowls, sausages on sticks, etc., and the prices were quite reasonable, especially compared to the state fair.
Chris, Elizabeth, this is something we should all go to together next year. Athena will love it.
Addendum: I nearly forgot to mention there are games of skill - throwing knives, throwing stars, throwing axes, shooting arrows, crossbow bolts, etc. Real weaponry!
at 2:56 PM
Monday, October 15, 2007
Click on the picture above and ask:
Does the dancer spin clockwise or counter-clockwise for you?
For me, it's random, and I can make it switch if I try hard enough. Making the switch is pretty hard, though, no matter which direction she's currently spinning.
I guess that makes me neither right- nor left-brain dominant.
Sigh. Always undefinable. That's me, all right.
at 12:39 PM
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Bernie had one of her wisdom teeth removed today. My mom drove her to the oral surgeon and brought her home. When I got home from work, the Novocaine was just wearing off. I can't stand to see Bernie in pain - it just tears me up inside. I've been spending the evening giving her the ice pack for 20 minutes, then taking it away for 20 minutes. I'll be happy when she goes to sleep so I know she's not hurting any more. This may actually be harder on me than on her.
at 9:53 PM
Monday, October 01, 2007
Brian D., please look at this one. Now this is something to rant about!
Severed Leg Custody Case
- A redneck ("Jethro") buys a charcoal smoker at a forclosure sale.
- He finds a severed leg wrapped in paper inside it.
- The redneck former owner of the leg ("Cletus") comes forward, wants it back so he can eventually be buried with it.
- "Jethro" says "finders keepers" and is suing to keep the leg.
- He's currently displaying the empty smoker for $3 a look. ($1 for kids)
- He says, “The price will be going up if I get the leg.”
Here's the 911 log from when "Jethro" found the leg:
at 7:15 PM