Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spector got Jokes!

From Alex Leo of the Huffington Post.

Many people don't know this, but Arlen Specter fancies himself a funny man. In 2007 he competed in the "Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest." He finished second after Joseph Randazzo, assistant editor of the "The Onion," but ahead of Ana Marie Cox. [VIDEO BELOW] "Arlen has always loved stand up comics," says Joan Specter. "If he has the chance to go to a comedy show, that's his first choice."

Sometimes this jovial nature gets him in trouble, like when he cracked some Polish jokes at New York's Rainbow Room while speaking at the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Club. The "New York Post" reported that Specter began by asking if anyone in the room was Polish. At that, around 10 people raised their hands. He proceeded to tell a few jokes about Polish people until one guest interrupted him, saying, "Hey, careful. I'm Polish!" Specter responded, "That's OK, I'll tell it more slowly." This was met with grumblings of tastlessness, and Specter eventually apologized saying it was a mistake.

Here is some video of senatorial humor that went over better with the people around him. It's from the aforementioned competition in which he mocked Trent Lott saying:

"Trent Lott was really despondent after the Hurricane hit. He had a lot of property damage but the thing he was most concerned about was that it destroyed his entire library. Both books. And Trent wasn't even finished coloring one of them."

Monday, April 27, 2009

That's teeth cleaned. Damn touchscreen....
Testing the blog texting ability. Hopfully this works while I wait to get me teech cleaned.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Humbling Awe...

It is always very nice when people respond to something creative that I have the honor of taking part in. It can be with bands and musicians I play or have played with. In this case, the love was given to the group I play with on Spill. Now the League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen is not for the faint of heart. It is for hardcore comic readers and gamers. Here is an earlier blog post about Spill.

Why am I there, since I don't know jack about comics or video games? Beside being the Paul Shaffer of the show (I play guitar behind the musings), I get to hang out with very intelligent and funny fellows on at least a bi-weekly basis. To enter this League, you have to be quick, smart, strong and cunning. For me, it is really an honor and privilege to hang out. On the website, the League Lounge just past the 1000 member milestone this week. I believe it is the largest group on Spill. To celebrate this milestone a great artist, graphic designer from the Puerto Rico, Jagr created this piece to honor the achievement:

This is another piece he did earlier:

Thanks to Jagr for his great artwork. It's always cool to see oneself in animation.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And There Goes Maude...

The very funny and talented Bea Arthur passed away today of cancer at the age of 86. New York Times writer Bruce Webber wrote a nice retrospective here. When you think about revolutionary television roles, most actors would kill for one. She had two. I still watch the Golden Girls and I still laugh my ass off. Maude was a great show also. Remember the theme, song by the late great Donny Hathaway:

Maude TV Opening Theme - video powered by Metacafe

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Clicking with Social Media

I love the moment in life that "it" clicks. For me it is how to maximize my social media usage. My social media imprint so far: Facebook, Myspace, Spill, AfroPunk, LinkedIn, Twitter and this blog. I didn't hyperlink the myspace because I'm still switching my regular myspace to a music myspace. There is a link to my Twitter to the left of the posting space here on my blog. I will add buttons for my other profiles in time. Plus I will update my link on the side to include all of the blogs and news sources in my Google reader. The one thing need to get a grip on is sending articles, videos or what have you through services like Digg, Yahoo Buzz, Stumbleupon, Delicious.

That's the key for me. I have to be able to put a social media app into my everyday flow. I have been using social media for years now, but I always felt it fragmented my persona. Friendster for this, Myspace for that. My mind streams in a more linear fashion. I don't see my musician self any different from my competitive media analyst self or my runner/athlete self. The drive and love of competition, for instance. I believe as the web converges, I am becoming more efficient in informing and being informed. For me, it is the learning process that ties it all together for me. The way I studied music going up is the way I studied for my MBA or tests in school. That process of learning and teaching others was the same to me. I just adapted for the stage or the job or the class room. That's why I like to my minimize the places I input and maximize the places I output. For instance this blog feeds into my notes on Facebook, my Spill and my Afropunk pages. I don't write anything here that I wouldn't say to my boss, my family or my friends. I like to reference a multitude of different things because as I have said before, I am fascinated with the human condition. One great website for social media is Mashable.
This is a great one-stop information resource about the constant mutation of social media.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

1st Gig Down: Soul Track Mind

Yours truly with his triumphant return to gigging with Soul Track Mind. With Jonathon on guitar, a hiding Raymond on alto saxophone and a hiding Ryan on drums. Band members not pictured are Donovan, lead vocals and Joe on trumpet.

The gig tonight was great. December 2003 was the last time I played a live gig. I took a sabbatical from music to finish my BBA and MBA. I was a little nervous. There was a huge birthday party at TC's Lounge on the east side of Austin, so it was nice to come back to a full house. Over the last month, I have been practicing Mondays with the fellas. I learned 30 tunes for the gig. There were rough patches, missed keys, missed beats. Over all it felt good. I played with the regular drummer for the band tonight for the first time. We had a few miscues, but we got the people up and moving. We just found a new drummer we have been rehearsing with recently. The current drummer is going to be gone for the summer. I initially learned the tune with Donovan, the lead vocalist, on drums.

All the familiar senses came back: reading the crowd, my cross-legged trance stance when I'm in the groove, watching the hands of the Jonathan the guitarist as I followed his lead, following Donovan and picking up his cues, listening for the kick drum, the feel of my fingers caressing the strings, the weight of my bass with the 2Tek bridge, my amp being ok and my sound coming off as a little hollow, the excitement, the thrill of creating live art that moves people to dance.
And now my bed is calling, another sense from live gigging being the reason-tired workday afters from magic nights.

I love this stuff.
I'm back to my core calling in life.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Mom Goes Existential On Me.

Today is my mother's birthday, so I called her to chat a bit. In the middle of our conversation, she got sublimely deep on me. We were talking about my childhood. She once gave me Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss to read to my sister. She said I told her "This is stupid, there is no such thing as green eggs and ham!" During our conversation today, my mom told me I was always a "literal" child. My mom and dad never spoke to me as a child, so my imagination developed in a different manor. I never was and still not much of a reader of fiction. I have read most of the classics in school, but I never go out of my way to read new fiction. I love biographies and I always marvel at our literal world. I love history. That is why I love the human condition. It also explains why I'm a news junkie. When I write songs or poetry, I write about literal worlds-time and places. My abstract thinking comes from imagining what if people made different choices in their lives. How would a person react if put in a situation. I was never a fantasy world type person. Comics, D and D, and even video games have never really interested me. I appreciate the passion for those things.

One of the things I love about music is that is real and abstract at the same time. I can play notes, read notes, sing notes, play with rhythm, listen to recordings. Yet you never actually see music. You feel it. The imagination behind songs, compositions and bands. The myths and legends behind the creators of music are my comic books, my fantasy worlds. The great thing for me is that I can be part of it. I can create my own world and collaborate with others.

This leads into my thoughts on religion, since this is Easter weekend. The greatest gift my parents gave me is a sense of self. They always respected my autonomy and let me think for myself. Now music to me is my way to connect with the spiritual. Whether playing or listening to my favorite music of discovering new bands, I connect with a higher power. I respect a person's faith, though I will never get around how some organize religion is used to separate and marginalize people. I never believed in a middle man to tell me how I should live my connection to the spiritual. I am very glad I didn't grow up with some of the constraints organized religion can give folks. My sense of self lets me know its ok that I get my connection with the spiritual through notes and beats. When I need to connect, I pick up the instrument closest to me or play a recording.

All the green eggs and ham talk made me think of this reading by Jesse Jackson.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Understand The Feeling

Getting dumped. Fired. Let go.

Even when I knew it was coming, it was hard. So as I sit in the crowd and watch the gentleman I'm replacing in Soul Track Mind, I understand.

Getting dumped by a band is like getting dumped by 4 girlfriends at once. I understand the sunglasses on stage. I understand loose , sloppy playing.

Don't worry the right band will come around. It always does.


The teaser digital remasters:
Yellow Submarine Soundtrack
The Beatles: 1
Let It Be: Naked

I have been waiting for this for years. Just listen to Nowhere Man from the Rubber Soul CD and compare it to the Nowhere Man for the Yellow Submarine CD. Beatle fans, we are in for a treat. I might even break down and buy a video game console to play the Beatles Rockband.

The Beatles are the largest influence on my life outside of my parents and my godparents and my friends.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Michael being Michael

Goes third person-$0
Reminds Stockton that he beat him in 1997 and 1998-$0
Reminds the world that Magic never beat him in the Finals-$0
Michael Jordan-Priceless.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Old School Video Shot

Cruising my YouTube favorites and I find this clip. This is the Screaming Headless Torsos at the Knitting Factory in New York City in 1996. This is still the most unique band I have ever experienced. If you look closely at the zoom in at the 8 second mark, you will see me standing next my Japanese friend Yumika. I'm glad the zoom in is a little blurry, because you can't really make out the hideous shirt I was wearing or my terrible mustache.

Back to the Blog

It was a nice week away from one aspect of my computer life. This last week has been pretty interesting for me and I guess culture in general. Here is a rundown of things of interest to me:

1. How progressive is Iowa? First, the 2008 Iowa Caucuses gave President Obama the springboard to get into office. I'm still amazed by that. Now, the Iowa Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage. This should make Californians feel ashamed.

2. The Obamas in Europe. Do they cut a figure together or what? Their mere presence is doing a lot to repair the US world image. The fact that President Obama didn't get more economic stimulus from European countries makes perfect sense. Those countries possess the social safety nets to help their citizens. The United States does not have universal health care or cheap access to higher education. Michelle did what any human being would do if a someone gives you a hug, she hugged back. Get over the Queen thing people. Steve Jobs must love the fact the Queen has an iPod. I can't wait to see the commercials. And she gives the French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a Gibson guitar. Who said music the music industry is totally dead?

3. I haven't really commented on the economic crisis. There are enough people taking all types of potshots at the Stimulus Package, the Bailout of the Banks, The Auto Crisis and so on. I am worried like everyone else, but it doesn't overwhelm my thoughts. I feel lucky to have finished my MBA in Finance from Summer of 2006 to Spring 2008. That education gave me the tools to understand the problems and the knowledge of where to go to research what I don't understand. For everyday tracking and simple understanding of these complex issues I recommend these resources:

NPR: Planet Money the Blog and Podcast

Slate: The Big Money
Marketplace from American Public Media

Check out this podcast from Fresh Air featuring Frank Partnoy. Great explanation of derivatives and the other financial instruments that have push us close to the edge.

4. Speaking of close to the edge, the newspaper industry is getting hammered by everyone. I work for one of the successful newspapers, The Austin American-Statesman. What irritates me about the discussion is the omission of 2 key facts with the newspapers that have failed. They papers were either in 2 papers towns (Seattle, Denver) or the ownership had the had massive debt (Tribune Company, Philadelphia Newspapers). Since the Statesman has been up for sale, there has been a lot of speculation and rumors. Over the past month, there has been a back and forth between the Statesman and the Austin Chronicle about what's going on. That will be a separate blog post.

5. We are getting a nice tax refund.

6. The Bulls are in 7th place in the East.

7. The Bears got Jay Cutler! Yes, I'm excited and I'm going to draft Matt Forte, Devin Hester and Greg Olsen in my fantasy league next year.

8. Damages had a great season ending episode. Season wrap-up post this week.

9. Opening day in baseball never gets old. Steroids, expensive stadiums be damned. Does anything ever really stop baseball, expect the war and baseball itself?

10. The latest LEOG is up. Check it out, if you dare...

11. I will be joining Soul Track Mind either this week or next week. Depends on how the bass player reacts to his dismissal.