Friday, July 30, 2010

Ellen DeGeneres, ex-Idolmaker

Ellen DeGeneres at the 1997 Emmy Awards (cropped)Image via Wikipedia
Ever since Ellen DeGeneres joined American Idol, some critics have been saying that she isn't qualified as a judge because she doesn't have appropriate skills or knowledge of the music industry. I could say that of most record executives. Or of the industry as a whole.

Because if record executives knew what they were doing,you wouldn't be purchasing CD albums in record stores any more. You'd be walking into "CD Stores" and asking for a digital compilation of songs - singles - that would make up a custom disc (or flash drive). But I digress.

Point is, looked at in a certain way, DeGeneres is actually perfectly qualified as a judge for American Idol, because she's potentially what all of us are - a consumer. At worst she's not able to really let performers have it when she hates them. At best, she's nowhere near as cynically industry-serving as any other judge might be.

And it seems as I write this that they've settled a deal with J-Lo to replace her. And Idol just feels a little more like America's Next Top Model.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Barney Simon's Radio Revolution

Each of the discs has undeniably different appeal to social sensibilities, though this is more than likely accidental – the fact is that the Afrikaans and English artists seem to have generally different motivations in their music. Disc one feels more like a long drive up the coast to discover your country. Disc two is background music to a loud house party attended by your college mates.

At any rate, the result on the compilation is another fascinating way to experience SA rock as a microcosm of the country's varied "markets". Radio revolution allows the listener to hear just how compatible they really are in their differences. Fans SHOULD indeed be listening to all these artists on one radio station.

Macy Gray - The Sellout

Macy GrayImage by ViaMoi via Flickr
If there is a worst moment on The Sellout, it's the guitar solo on "Kissed It", which is blamed on Velvet Revolver, who serve as backing band for this track. Here and there are a couple of lazy lyrics or melodies, but these hardly dominate the album.

Not when there are laugh-out-loud moments like on the retro-funky "That Man" (..."I was so happy 'bout the love that I found till I went to the library and I saw him – mm mmm – Say oh yeah, oh, yeah I want THAT man!").

Indeed, the tunes and their structures are sort of clich├ęd, but that makes them excellent singalongs for groups of galpals driving their top-down Renaults down freeways to winelands, or the beach, or to clubs like Tiger Tiger, whatever gangs of women in their 20s do these days. Scary.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Faye Wong is quite the hotness

I have to say that I'm not usually as overly-drawn to Asian women as some of my friends are (in an internet fantasy kind of way, that is), but I've just looked at a story about Faye Wong, the "Queen of Mandopop", and my goodness! At forty, this lady is quite the hotness! Even for me, Mr. Dead-From-The-Neck-Down-This-Past-Year!

And she's not a bad singer, either. Heard the theme from Ginal Fantasy VIII, "Eyes On Me", and it has far more dignity and is far more listenable than anything Celine Dion's ever done.

So yeah: Faye Wong 2 - 0 Everybody Else Named Celine Who Has Ever Done a 'Love Theme' From a Movie or Video Game.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Delidave vs eracode - Straight Outta Kloof Street

In Cape Town, as in any city, we have a number of youth subcultures. We have our legions of sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads... and even a couple of Ferris Buellers. And in the city centre, there's a particular area around Kloof Street that could be seen to be the trendy, upwardly mobile part of town in terms of socialising, eateries, fashion, and trendoidism.

If you spend some time Kloof Street and the immediate surrounding area, you're likely to spot a particular species of local. I would find it hard to describe to you if you'd never spent time here, but that's where my friend - we shall call him Delidave - comes in...

See, Delidave mentioned in passing that he had an idea for a spoof/homage of the original "gangsta rap" music made famous by the likes of NWA. Dave had taken a fancy to the song Straight Outta Compton in particular, and showed me a few lines of a lyric he'd been working on that would 'parody' not the song.

Except that he was going to talk about the Kloof Street Trendoid. Which I think is hilarious. As it turns out, the song also doubles as a great tourist info guide. Which is also hilarious. Put more succinctly, and in the spirit of the piece:

So check it out. Delidave come down one day talkin crazy 'bout some idea he got for an ho-mage like to the original dope pimp rhyme stuff from back in the day. Sayin' how he gonna come at it with a NWA shout out n' all. I'm down with that, and I offer to lay down some production level Industrial Sound and Magic from my eracode project. Result:

Delidave vs eracode
Straight Outta Kloof Street

And Delidave's inspiration, the otherwise incomparabale NWA - Straight Outta Compton.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A mildly irritating dream on Elm Street,

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010 film)Image via Wikipedia

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown, Connie Britton
Director: Samuel Bayer

It’s a shame nobody’s ever thought about killing Freddy by making him watch one of his own movies. This "re-imagining" might have done it. The technical shortcomings of the film are one thing (Lights, anyone? Did no-one think to hire any lights?), but the basic execution of a horror flick without horror or self deprecation is unforgivable. No surprises then, that it’s from Michael Bay’s production house.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Paul McCartney keeps it real, Sharleen Spiteri kills the cat - wk 26, 2010

Paul McCartney @ FedEx Field, Landover MD, Aug...Image via Wikipedia
Titles click to full reviews

Paul McCartney
Good Evening New York City
Actually, (I'm Down) more than suggests that Paul McCartney is still just a lad who loves rock n' roll. The up-tempo rockers are his obvious delight – cue Back in the USSR, Helter Skelter, and a superb I Saw Her Standing There, featuring a walk-on Billy Joel, obviously taking a break from the backstage jol. But the highlight by far is a rendition of Paul's Bond song Live and Let Die. It’s the one point of the show that looks like money's been spent on it, delivering energetic performance, a crap load of pyro, and a suitably shocked (and singed) front row.

Sharleen Spiteri
The Movie Songbook
The collection opens with big-ass pop and disco arrangements Xanadu and If I Can't Have You, dropping suddenly into a jazz-combo version of God Bless the Child, and then onto a classical pop-bent with Sounds of Silence. What follows is a smorgasbord of variously-approached "classics" that vacillate between "mildly disappointing" and "rage-inducing sacrilege". What's new, Pussycat? Here's what's new – a trip to the vet, who has a nice needle to show you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When the kid calls you 'nigger'...

On an exploratory 'webwalk'  I came across an interesting blog called 'Black Woman Thinks'. Specifically, an older post (link below) drew my attention .

It concerns the author's contemplation of a response when she came across a small child, whom she heard utter the word 'Nigger' in her direction.

I sometimes feel it needs to be said that as a black person, feelings are deep when it comes to words like this. Because, of course, a word is more than just a word. A word is a whole lot of history within itself. And it's a whole lot of true-as-bob real-life ideology that exists in the hedgerows of your neighbours' houses.

In SA we had/have several of our own, and faced with a few in my lifetime, I recognise the dilemma. A child only really knows what it is told by its closest elders. How do you / I respond to that? Awkward and complicated to say the least. 

For my part, I'll give this a bit of thought before I commit an outright opinion. I suspect it will be one of my longer posts when it does happen.

In the meantime, your thoughts on this interesting situation are appreciated... 

Black Woman Thinks...Religion, Politics, Race, Atheism and more...: A Little Girl called me a 'Nigger' Today...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

U2 - 360° At The Rose Bowl

U2 360° Tour stage in Barcelona. The video scr...Image via Wikipedia
In a way, this is more (Bono's) show than the previous concepts have allowed. Edge, Mullen and Clayton are doing more musical work, the visuals above the stage are more complimentary than key, and the design of the stage demands a far more energetic addressing of the crowd.

And so our Bono is in fine prancing form, proving himself the master of mugging, the king of playing to the crowd. At times, he seems miles removed from the band on some remote walkway, while the other three (especially "sullen Mullen") look on with trademark meditation.
Full review...

Macca saved my life. Maybe

Paul McCartney @ FedEx Field, Landover MD, Aug...Image via Wikipedia
I've just written up a review for Paul McCartney's Good Evening New York City DVD. And I was reminded to respect my musical elders, because music is the most accurate and honest chronometer of our modern lives.

I've been a fan of Macca's work ever since I was a little boy. Besides the Beatles, of which I knew the catalogue by heart before I was age 10, one album that found its way onto the player at my house regularly was Band on the Run. Loved that entire album start to finish, much to my mother's irritation.("Well no one ever left alive in nineteen hundered and eighty five will ever do...")

It still amazes me, after all these years, how Macca's music is so deeply ingrained into my psyche and into my emotional memory. Even as a songwriter, I find myself vascillating when I think a song is either too much like a Macca or too little to be considered worthy. His work truly is the benchmark of pop music songwriting.

Which inevitably leads to a question of "what's your favourite macca song?" Honestly it's too hard to pick one, but I must admit that one song gets me in the throat every single time I hear it: "The Long and Winding Road." (croak) Sorry, there's something stuck in my throat.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pass the Dutchie

When I leave work, I walk towards the train station from Greenpoint. Which is not an unpleasant walk on a fine afternoon.

Today, however, it was particularly cool, as it has been a few times this month. N24 is slap bang in the middle of the World Cup Fan Walk here  in Cape Town, and as I left work, the walkers had started walking... the walk.

The Cape Town Fan Walk has been universally praised by visitors and locals alike. I've done it myself, heading to Cape Town Stadium in sheeting rain, and the mood of the people was unbelievably festive. Dancers dancing, drummers drumming, singers singing, and vuvus... er.. vuvu-ing (I guess).

Anyway, I walked against the human traffic today, as I was heading for a bar on the opposite side of town. i decide to whip out me cam and take a couple of random pics.

Of course you'll notice a whole lot of orange being worn. No prizes for guessing who Cape Town was supporting.

I asked a friend why they thought this was so:
"Dude, Uruguay beat us (South Africa) in the opening round, and they got our guy unfairly sent off; Suarez cheated, dude (the infamous handball incident against Ghana);and the ref that disallowed Lampard's goal... where was he from?"

er... Uruguay?

"Fo Sho!"

Anyway, I digress...

Imagine it: Cape Town, estimated 300 000 people in the streets. Football, and not a single miserable face among the lot. Thank you everybody for an AWESOME 30 days.

Alternative Timelines Part 1: The Dutch

Jan van Riebeeck (1619 - 1677), Dutch colonial...Image via Wikipedia
The Dutch have weird and wonderful connections to South Africa. History being what it is, there's a perceived connection between the Dutch colonisation of the Cape, the language settling here, the adoption of the evolved language by the you-know-what government and the 1976 language-sparked uprising. 

On the evidence of Cape Town during the World Cup, I think those connections are now mostly regarded in the light of "whateva!" Or perhaps we've just relegated those thoughts to the dungeons of history. So...

 ...with tea and cake to our Dutch friends, who play Uruguay tonight in Cape Town...  

VOICE: It is the dawn of time...

Pre-history – Some people without flags...

1487Bartholomeu Dias rounds the Cape of Good Hope and opens the Dias Tavern in Caledon Street. He was Portuguese, so there will be no further mention of him in this article.

1652 Jan van Riebeeck (pictured), coach of the Netherlands football team, arrives early to inspect facilities. JvR opts not to return to The Netherlands, instead establishing Ajax Cape Town as a feeder team to Holland’s most famous club, FC Willem II. Interestingly, the BBC omits this from the timeline of Cape history.

1653 – Scientists (and sailors) found a new species at the Cape of Good Hope: Coloureds.

1666 – The Castle of Good Hope is commissioned. It has five points, which become known for regular fights between local gangs The Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys.

1679Simon van der Stel escapes his wife and becomes first Governor of the Cape. Stellenbosch, the famous wine region, is named after him. Need we say more?

UPDATE: Netherlands 3 -2 Uruguay *Hup*

To be continued...

Exes can be complicated

I watched the movie It’s Complicated last night and decided that it’s a lot of what Sex and the City SHOULD have have been, if SATC wasn’t such a load of ostentatious pretence.And crap.

“Complicated” has flaws, obviously, (Kids, what’s with the neutralising? Somebody needs to act out here!) but at least it seems more considerate of a real-world quandary – the one where a person often wonders if the long-term relationship that ended... really ended.

In the movie Meryl Streep starts up an affair with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin in Jack Donaghy mode), who has since remarried. The angst that ensues is endearingly kind-hearted, but needless to say ...complicated.

And, not too put too fine a point on it, I can relate to particular scene when Streep visits her shrink and lists all the reasons she’s afraid she went along with it.

For a long time after I divorced, I kinda struggled with questions around whether it was truly done. And if the occasion arose where I was in the situation described above, would I go there? And if I did, would I be truthful to myself about why? It’s complicated.

Add to the mix a potential new suitor (a superb and against-type Steve Martin), and you’ve got a fairly decent premise, a rare older-cast centric story, and a not-very forgone outcome. Like.

PS: I am happy to say that after all is said and done, I now have a great relationship with my ex-wife D, who I consider still to be one of the fine people. That we are friends is great honour and also a great achievement on both our ends. It can happen.
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