Category Archives: Music, Movies, and TV

Dethklok concert canceled due to fire. Brutal.

Mitch and I headed over to the Fillmore tonight to catch Dethklok, the most brutal band in (animated) metal. When we got there, I saw people getting pushed out of the door instead of going in, and the line wasn’t moving. Only a few minutes later, about six fire trucks showed up, including two ladder trucks! Apparently there was a small fire in an upper room during the first few songs of the opening band.

Not long later Mitch noticed that an upstairs light previously visible through a window had gone out. I looked, and the outdoor signs were also off: they’d cut power to the building. The two ladder trucks raised their booms up to the roof and sent a few firemen up to check things about. It was about then that I figured the night was doomed. Once the power was killed, it seemed unlikely that we would be seeing a performance.

The crowd huddled on the sidewalks and passed information about who had seen what. We speculated regarding our chances. Overall, the crowd was in a decent mood and comedic relief came when someone started waving at us from the roof of an adjacent building. With characteristic brutality the chant arose, “Jump! Jump! Jump!”

After about forty minutes, as the cold wind whipped through largely t-shirt-clad mob, word started filtering back: the bouncers had announced that the concert was off. For the most part, the crowd reacted by being a little upset and bummed, but rolling with it as most people do when there’s nothing that can be done. There was a fire! The concert wasn’t going to happen unless the owners were sure it could be done safely. A couple metal-heads started getting pissed off and yelling at the staff, but were met with scores of rolling eyes that said en masse, “Dude, chill. You were here to see a cartoon band.”

The crowd got their parting comedic shot in by joining in a futile chorus of “Free shit! Free shit!”, hoping in vain for schwag.

Oh well, time to check TicketMaster and get my money back. I’m bummed I didn’t get to rock out tonight; it would’ve been fun.

Rhapsody Redux

Support is frustrating. On-line chat support goes beyond that into the realm of “infuriating” by using even less equipped employees who are given little or no training and a click driven interface for providing robotic responses that are at their best ingenuous or, at their worst, simply insulting. Rhapsody, which I love but am frequently frustrated with, uses this means of support for their web service (the only way I can use their service on my work Mac). I was feeling punchy after their player plugin, which seems to suffer frequent problems, was keeping me from repeatedly playing the songs I need to learn in order to further my Rock Band career.

After my first session was interrupted by the instructions of the support person (clearing cookies, of course, destroys the cookie the chat application depends on), I was in a poor mood. As is my tendency, I drifted toward sarcastic and cynical. So, I present to you the following complete chat log with only three minor modifications. First, I removed the email account information I use to log in. Second, I changed the named of the support engineer to “Eliza” to protect the innocent. And third, I reordered two lines so that it reads more easily (Eliza was very quick with the automated platitudes).

Eliza: Hello. Welcome to Real’s Live Chat. How can I help you?
Kyle: First: make a note to your colleagues that “Clear Private Data” isn’t a very good answer for troubleshooting browser problems, since it disconnects the chat
Kyle: Second, I still cannot log into Rhapsody online
Eliza: I’m listening. Please go ahead.
Eliza: Am I correct in understanding that you are having problem in sign in to the Rhapsody.com?
Kyle: Correct
Kyle: email/password combo works fine to log into my account details via “My Account” on real.com
Eliza: Sure I can help you in providing the information regarding this issue.
Eliza: Please give me a couple of minutes while I check your account.
Kyle: And thank you for the dehumanizing and demoralizing use of canned, pasted responses identical to the last support person. It makes me feel like a unique and beautiful flower.
Eliza: Thanks for your time and patience.
Eliza: I could see an active Rhapsody Unlimited subscription under this email address: REDACTED
Kyle: Correct
Kyle: … though “Unlimited” seems to be a misnomer given the frequency of authentication problems.
Eliza: Now can you please let me know what is the error message you get when you try to sign in Rhapsody.com?
Kyle: “There was a problem logging you in. Please check your username and password and try again.”
Eliza: Now can you please let me know the what is the web browser you are using to sign to the Rhapsody com?
Kyle: Firefox 3 on a Mac, RhapsodyPlayerEngine 1.1.0
Eliza: May I know the version of Windows (98, ME, XP, 2000) that you are using?
Kyle: No. Because I don’t run Windows on my Mac.
Kyle: It runs Mac OSX 10.5.3
Eliza: Thanks for the information.
Eliza: Now in order to resolve this problem I suggest you to perform this below listed steps.
Eliza: Please follow the steps for uninstalling & installing Rhapsody online in Mac operating system:

  • Open up your Main HDD (Where OSX is Installed)
  • Find and open up the “Library” folder
  • Then open the folder “Internet Plug-Ins”
  • In this folder, locate the file “RhapsodyPlayerEngine.plugin” and drag this file to the trash
  • Once this file is deleted, please visit http://www.rhapsody.com again and click on sign in to download the plug-in again.

Eliza: Are we in progress?
Kyle: Yes. And it’s working as well as my last experiences installing the plugin.
Eliza: Great! I’m glad it worked.
Kyle: Don’t get too excited there, Eliza.
Kyle: My last experience were not “good”.
Eliza: I see.
Kyle: I shall now restart Firefox, since your guys’ plugin seem to the the only .xpi packaged plugin that silently fails during install
Eliza: Yes.
Kyle: But restarting things several times will often do the trick. It’s a very sad user experience, and great motivation for me to cancel my account.
Kyle: I shall leave you now, to solve the problems of other people.
Eliza: Now can you please try to sign the account and check.
Kyle: And hope that someone in Rhapsody operations finally notices the giant blinking red light that says “authentication is hosed”.
Kyle: Thank you Eliza, it has been robotic and unfruitful. Have a great day!
Eliza: You are welcome.
Eliza: Is there anything else that I can help you with today?
Kyle: Certainly not.
You have disconnected.

Thanks, Eliza. I know you tried. It’s your boss’s fault for providing you with bad tools and no information. Having reinstalled, restarted, rebooted and sacrificed a chicken I am again listening to music. There’s no way for me to tell if I solved a problem or if the time I wasted allowed them to fix a problem on their side. But, if history teaches me anything, I’ll get more data in a few weeks when this happens again.

Stick a fork in hip-hop

I have XM, and I love it. I listen to Charlie Steiner go on and on about baseball, I get my alt-rock fix when I need it, and find out what the world is up to via the BBC. But I, like the masses, enjoy a little pop music here and there. It’s popular because it’s simple and appealing, and I certainly can enjoy a little mindless pop now and again. Lately, though, I’ve been forced to change channels frequently, and not just because of those no-talent ass-clowns in Nickelback. No, the once-enjoyable and catchy world of hook-heavy, beat-driven hip-hop has degraded to a point below even the simple-minded world of pop. Take, for example, the chorus of the Top 20 hit by the self-referentially named “Will I Am”.

Baby where’d you get your body from?
Tell me where’d you get your body from.
Baby where’d you get your body from?
Tell me where’d you get your body from.
I got it from my mama.
I got it from my mama.
I got it from my mama.
I got it got it got got it…
Repeat 2x

Two lines, repeated a 16 times, for each chorus. Hip-hop artists have stopped even being artists: they are merely sample banks for their producers. The only requirements for being a one-hit wonder are 6-pack abs, the willingness to wear “grills” without an hint of irony, and the ability to repeat a catch phrase. That’s it.

So, I bid you adieu, hip-hop. It’s a shame your death throes may come in the form of multiple hit songs whose core message are “Let me buy you a drink” (or possibly “a drank”). May your pristine baseball cap forever be perfectly tilted. Now get off my airwaves, please.

Music continues to overcome

It’s been a good month for music. No, not music companies: music. EMI released their catalog on iTunes minus crippling and consumer-hostile DRM schemes. The RIAA has lost more cases, including one that was dismissed with prejudice (meaning the defendant may be able to recover their attorney’s fees). Plus, a home-made album is topping the charts.

My favorite part, though? General Fuzz released another album, this one called “Cool Aberrations”. And again, he’s doing it for free (as in beer). I’ve had his stuff on long-term-loop before (“Messy’s Pace” is still a favorite of mine), and it looks like I’ll be listening to this new stuff for a while too. Go Fuzz!

Update: I went to the CD release part for my friends’ band The New Up and ran into General Fuzz again. I bought him a beer to say thank you for the music. Karma++.

Tray-shy

I’ve written here a few times about DRM (specifically the Sony “root kit”) and now I realize that, as a result, I don’t quite trust my computers with music anymore. I’ve been a consumer of CD music for a long time now, with several hundred discs overflowing my current storage solution (yes, I still like having jewel cases and liner notes around). When I buy a CD, it usually makes a quick trip to my Linux box that runs custom software I wrote to rip everything to MP3s for my convenience. After that, it usually gets dropped into one of my higher-end home stereo systems for thorough CD-quality listening.

Today I got the new Tool album and was surprised to find that I was afraid to drop it in the CD tray of my Windows laptop at work. Might I be installing software unknowingly? Could listening to this new music damage my computer? What if it installs software that allows my machine to be compromised next time I fire up wireless at a coffee shop? Could that cost my company money or intellectual property?

I’m a huge music consumer, and I feel betrayed by the business that has thousands of my hard earned dollars. I feel like they’re likely to screw me, the customer, at any moment to “protect” themselves against the imagined threat of mass-piracy. Sure, music is being stolen. But does that justify what they’ve done and how that has affected me, the straight-arrow consumer?

Foo!

What a night. I finally got to see Weezer in concert, something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. Although I’m not really a big fan of the new album (it’s no Pinkerton) I had a great time at the show. They played very well, and the crowd just ate it up. Rivers even did a solo/accoustic rendition of Island in the Sun from a tiny little stage set up at the back of the arena. Some hoochie hopped up on the stage and did a little dance during it, but it was still cool.

They were on the bill with Foo Fighters. I haven’t kept up with their recent stuff, but they were just amazing. Dave Grohl is a fantastic front man (just ask my concert-companion Sarah, she’s in love with him). I was truly impressed with how perfect they sounded. And the drummer: wow. The man is a machine. Aaron X. tells me that there was some initial difficulty with drummers for “the foo”, and justifiably so. Grohl is a great drummer and himself, so you’re not going to get past him as a slacker.

Stopped by at Jeff’s birthday party on the way home. “The Flury” was plowed and loud, and many of my friends were in attendance. Damn, I love that bunch!

Serenity, you please me

My friend Katherine once said to me while discussing Firefly that “Joss Whedon gives you what you want, but not necessarily in the way you thought you wanted it.” My movie experience tonight was very much like that. I loved every moment of Serenity. It gave me all that I wanted out of the story and characters. It satisfied my desire for justice and a win by the underdogs. But it gave it to me in a bitter-sweet way that sucked me deeper into the world. Serenity is a great damn movie.

I scored tickets to tonight’s special screening thanks to this blog, so I have to write at least something about the movie. The problem is that I’m nearly speechless. That was the best movie experience I’ve had in ages. Serenity is faithful to the TV series I loved, and tells a fantastically enjoyable story standing on its own. It delivers plenty of moments where the entire theater will laugh aloud, and moments where everyone feels the need to clap or cheer. It also will land a few emotional stomach punches that will leave you stunned only to lift you higher with yet another triumph.

Go see it. And buy the DVD set of Firefly. Then go see it again. I’m going to.

(Wow, this is really uncharacteristically glowing of me.)

Serenity!

I’m in! I just got notification that I have been selected as one of the people to see Serenity on the 27th. As a part of this, I’m obligated to provide you with the following synopsis:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® – and Emmy – nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

I think this is a pretty shitty synopsis. I cut ‘n pasted it exactly, only putting a little markup in place. You’ll note that it was poorly proofed: Whedon never produced a television show named “Buffy the Vampire”. I didn’t watch it, but I’m pretty sure she was quite the opposite of a vampire… a slayer of some sort. It should also be noted that his feature-film debut is based on his TV show “Firefly”. That connection is worth noting. And referring to Mal as “hardened” seems pretty inaccurate. I’d put him in the “dissolusioned” category if any. But maybe this is why nobody has asked me to proof-read a movie synopsis.

Regardless, I think it is important to note that “Firefly” and, I assume, “Serenity” is character-centric sci-fi. Sure, they have spacecraft and super-cool computers, but the show was about the interesting people, society, political sides, and their interactions. The future is just a backdrop for a real story. I enjoyed the story as it was told on “Firefly” immensely, and I look forward to seeing the movie adaptation (and hopefully get some damn closure about several of the story arcs). If the movie is told in the same spirit as the show I suspect that it will be enjoyable to people that aren’t necessarily sci-fi fans (something “Star Trek” never did).