Friday, August 29, 2008

If it's pretty, is it still a ringtone?

Who says a ringing phone has to be annoying?

Composer Max Richter examined the medium of the ringtone and wondered why it was considered unfit for creative music. And he composed original music, which he called 24 Postcards in Full Colour.

With names like Circles from the Rue Simone--Crube, Return to Prague, and my favorite, Cascade NW by W, they are evocative of places around the world--both real and imaginary--and meant to be played as ringtones. He writes on his site that the name comes from the idea that we expect news from another place when we hear a ringing phone--as we do when we receive a postcard.

Interesting, that's for sure, especially when somone reevaluates something as mundane and annoying as a ringtone and repositions it as an art form. But I don't know, a ringing phone is annoying, no matter how you cut it.

Sean Neville--composer/producer

Sean Neville is a composer and producer of original music and sound for film, video, games, dance, and commercial media.

Karen passed along this site to me. This is a really good example of a hard-working, talented artist who seems able to make it in the commercial world, yet stay true to his art.

Play the demo reel. You won't be disappointed...

The Story of a Sign

With the stroke of a pen, a tall, dark strangers changes the life of a blind man forever...and those who come in contact with him....

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Richard Shindell is one of those songwriters who make you smile ironically at the story he's singing...

The merge from the turnpike was murder, but it’s never a cinch
It was Friday at five, and no one was giving an inch
They squeezed and the edged and they glared
Half them clearly impaired by rage or exhaustion
The rest were just touchy as hell

Somewhere near Paterson everything slowed to a crawl
The all-news station was thanking someone for the call
It’s a van from St. Agnes’s choir
There’s a nun out there changing a tire
By the time they got by her, tempers were out of control

So they all hit the gas in a dash for position
Bobing and weaving and flashing their highbeams
Fliping the bird and screaming obscenities
A well-insured hoard hell-bent on Saturday

And so they continued west-bound and into the sun
Law and decorum constraining nary a one
By then it was devil-may-care
Not one even vaguely aware
That they had come all the way to the Delaware Water Gap

But how had it happened? They had all missed their exits
How had it happened? Was it some kind of vortex?
And in they all went, bumper to bumper
Faster and faster, no sign of a trooper
In they all went, like sheep to the slaughter
Bankers and carpenters, doctors and lawyers
And in they all went, families in minivans
Ashcroft republicans, weekend militiamen
They followed the river, and rounded the bend
Between minsi and tammany and into their destiny
Lying in ambush right their before them
The angry old sun right on the horizon

Sister Maria tightened the bolts of the spare
She said a quick prayer and put the old van into gear
Thank God that the traffic was light
If she hurried she might not be late
For that evening’s performance at the state penetentiary

She entered the common room and their was her choir
Altos and baritones, basses and tenors
Car thieves and crack dealers, mobsters and murderers
Husbands and sons, fathers and brothers
And so it began in glorious harmony
Softly and Tenderly – calling for you and me
With the interstate whining way off in the distance
And the sun going down through the bars of the prison
They poured out their souls, they poured out their memories
They poured out their hopes for what’s left of eternity
To sister Maria – her soul like a prism
For the light of forgiveness on all of their faces

PETA has its head up its buns

Starving people, put that MacDonald's hamburger down! Tell me these PETA people don't have their collective heads up their buns.

I don't think that obesity is going to deter people who are poor and starving and trying to enter this country.

I mean, wouldn't obesity be kind of a draw? There's so much food here you're gonna get fat.

This is from the Houston Chronicle, but it's all over the net:

"While many view the contentious border fence as a government fiasco, an animal rights group sees a rare opportunity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.

The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: "If the Border Patrol Doesn't Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan."

"We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables," said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA's vegan campaigns."

This falls under the heading of needing to watch the left as much as the right.

PETA is so focused on its own agenda (which, if it weren't so zealous might have a broader appeal to real, thinking people), that it can't see past its own self-serving interest.

I'm not a proponent of MacDonald's, obesity, corporate farming. I'm not that big a fan of PETA, either, though there is something kinda kinky about all those skinny models getting naked and painting themselves up like animals and then getting into cages. But that, frankly, is between me and my therapist.

It's just that, in this instance, PETA is targeting the wrong audience. This is so forced, so heavy-handed, that PETA's marketing director should be fileted, wrapped in plastic, and sold at the meat counter for stew meat. Oh, wait, that's kind of tasteless, isn't it? But still not as tasteless as PETA's idea.

The government has already nixed the idea. There's no advertising on federal property, and anyway, ads would impede the border patrol from seeing all these Mexicans seeing the light and turning around to their paradise of corn tortillas and beans and rice.


Mark Knopfler--who?---the guy from Dire Straits--oh yeah! him!--I love him!...he's been hooking up with some really good singers and songwriters since his broke up his band. It was getting too big. It wasn't a musical experience anymore. How much money do you really need?

That's the thing about bands like the Stones and U2. It's like cancer. It just grows to monstrous proportions and ceases to be music or art, it's just an event.

Anyway, Knopfler's been working with some serious people, and none are more serious than Emmylou Harris. She is a national treasure. Her voice is so beautiful, and you match that up with her natural instincts of interpretation, and as they would say about Sinatra, she could sing the phone book (remember what phone books were?) and it would sound great.

Listen to this song. It's opening and the melody that follows through the song are reminiscent of Dire Straits, of course it is. Knopfler is left-handed, but plays the guitar as a righty. His strong hand is playing the chords and notes on the fret board, and it allows him to really give some vibrato. And he doesn't use a pick, or even his fingernails on his strumming and plucking hand; that's how he gets that unique sound of his. (I read it in the Rolling Stone. Yep, I'm still reading that old rag, which really isn't much more than People Magazine for rock stars now.)

And then Emmylou (can I call you by your first name?) enters the song, just like she's walking into a room, and his deep voice and her soprano just jell, and I think it's because you have two stellar musicans there who really know what they're doing. Again, Emmylou Harris's strength is how she can interpret; she just seems to know exactly what to deliver. And I've heard that she just stands her ground and does what she wants. And now she's the Queen, so producers just do what she says.

And those lyrics are so sweet; Knopfler is a fantastic storyteller. His songs have always been like short stories or plays, with beginnings and middles and climaxes and anticlimaxes. And this is filled with metaphor and images paint the picture of a life washed up on shore.

They say there’s wreckage washing up
all along the coast
No one seems to know too much
Or who got hit the most
Nothing has been spoken
There’s not a lot to see
But something has been broken
that’s how it feels to me

We had a harmony
I never meant to spoil
Now it's lying in the water
Like a slick of oil
The tide is running out to sea
Under a darkening sky
The night is falling down on me
And I‘m thinking that I

Should head on home
Been gone too long
Leave my roaming

Little wild kitten out hunting
To see what he can get
You’re in a big city now
won’t stop growing yet
The sun is going down smoking
A flaming testament
Something has been broken
And it feels permanent

Little seabird flying
He knows where he wants to go
Guess i ought to pack my stuff
And do the thing I know
I turn around and head on back
Along the old sea wall
I felt something give and crack
And now I’m sorry that’s all

Head on home
Been gone too long
Leave my roaming

Monday, August 11, 2008

Getting ready for Austin

Really getting stoked for the Austin City Limits Music Festival at the end of September. I'll close in The Boys of Winter that Sunday, and Wednesday Sue and I will fly to Austin for some much needed and deserved rest and music.

And there, along with seeing the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, Manu Chao, The Raconteurs, Gillian Welch and a whole host of my favorite musical types, I'm also going to hook up with my old music teacher, Colleen Reilly.
I met Colleen at Jack's Drum Shop over on Boylston Street before it closed. I was just in there killing time that night, and also happened to be looking for a music teacher. She and I got to talking and it was one of those things where you say to yourself, what's to think about? All the good signs are there. I borrowed one of the store's guitars and had my first lesson with her right then and there. And that night, she sent me off with the instructions to go home and write two songs. I'd never written a song in my life, but with Colleen, it's that easy. You just do it.

Which is how, I guess, that she and Dave, her boyfriend and the drummer in her band, just up and moved to Austin.

She's working hard right now, getting out her first CD. Check it out (one of Colleen's favorite phrases; she was always saying, "John, check it out," then she'd zip through this riff or bend a note to it just screamed, and then she'd say, "You do When Push Comes to Shove and the solo from Blood Money (hey, where are the lyrics to this one??--Colleen has a great rock voice) and tell me you can't hear the SRV influence. And what I find amazing are the other two tracks on her Myspace page. For DC and the Nardis solo are these straight, sophisticated jazz pieces so you get the idea of what a talent she is because she plays both genres equally well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What kind of accent do you have?

Find out what kind of accent you have.

Living in Quincy and hanging around Boston you hear people just butchering English. Dropping the letter A and adding ER and God knows what else. But that's okay. I love it. I love trying figure out if you're from Quincy or Southie or Revere. And I think you should be proud of who you are and how you speak.

When I first moved to Boston from southern Ohio I worked in an ad agency, full of real "stiff necks." If you don't know what a stiff neck is, you weren't raised in the south, or near it (like I was.) But I was standing in a group of people once, and this one woman asked in front of all these people, "Do you eat opossum?" I was mortified. Embarrassed. I got it, though: She thought I was stupid or something, simply based on the way I talk, droppin' Gs and just sort of drawing words out. And that insult stuck. For the longest time I was careful about how I talked. I'm older now. A lot older. And now I don't give a shit one way or another what you think of me.

Here you can find out what kind of accent you have.

I'm no so sure about the analysis. After all , they didn't ask me if I "warshed my head" or if I fried egss in a skillet or a fryin' pan. And aren't the Midlands in England?

You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.


Becky C, Just A Girl In Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, has a great idea for someone for president. Yep, Alice Cooper.

I listened to a lot of Alice with friends back in high school. Big snakes and gallows. Remember: Dead Babies can't take things off the shelf? When punk came around, I went, uh, yeah??

But first you have to get...elected.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I should just hand my blog over to C...he gives me more content and ideas for content...

Where you gonna hide, sinnerman?...

It's just a hard day at work, and there's nothing like a little gospel music to uplift the soul...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Condi Condi

um, from C...yes, it does seem as if one of my favorite singer/songwriters has a thing for our secretary of state...

this was before he met Allison, though...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sean Chapman/Illustrator

You know how it're just surfing and don't know know or remember how you came across something on the Internet. Yeah, I guess I could look at the browser history, but you know...uh, I'm too lazy for that.

Anyway, found this illustration by Sean Chapman, and thought to myself, yeah, that's Sue and me...that is Sue and me.

I heart Paris

I really do...I think she's a heckuva lot smarter than most people give her credit's real easy to pick on a skinny, white, blonde, rich chick...and did I mention good-looking?

Would I want Paris living next door to me? No. But I don't think that's going to happen in Quincy anyway.

But is she on my short list of people I'd love to sit down and have a beer with? Most def. And I think she'd do it.

And here's her response to John McCain making reference to her in one of his campaign ads. It's so funny, smart, and quick. It's a response reminiscent of a childhood hero of mine, Bugs Bunny. Yeah, I know he's a cartoon character, but in my world that makes him real.

And the great thing about Bugs was, he didn't cause trouble. He just went through life enjoying it. But if provoked, say if someone stuck a double-barrel shotgun down his rabbit hole, he retaliated, and really enjoyed it, too.

See if you don't agree with me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quincy vs. Sherborn

When I took a break at noon during a workday in my old town of Sherborn and went out running or biking or something like that, I figured people thought I was an entrepreneur controlling his life.

Now, when I do it in Quincy, I figure people think I'm out of work.

Neither is true.

Einstein was right. It is all relative.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Death tarot card

This card is commonly misconstrued and does not specifically pertain to physical death.

The Death card signifies change in your life brought about by the ending of a current situation and the beginning of a new one.

While the card itself may be morbid, it actually represents exciting change in your life. Be prepared for new and exciting situations to develop.
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