Friday, February 27, 2009

Pig Day!

Sunday is Pig Day. The celebration was founded way, way back in 1972, but I didn't learn of it until a few years ago. It has grown into a much bigger over the past few years, at least here in Chicagoland. Last year, I took my nephew to Brookfield Zoo. They do the whole Pig Day thing up in a big way there. It was a real hoot, too. Both the Hamill Family Play Zoo and the Children's Zoo are free for the day, and between those two places, you can get lost for the day. It was really something special to watch George interact with the other kids, playing zoo doctor and making crafts. This year, there is a Pig Demonstration at 1 and a parade at 1:30. If I weren't on my way to San Francisco, I'd take him again this year. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bruce Springsteen, Alice Russell, and Escaping the Cold!

Next week, I will get to go to San Francisco at the expense of my company. I haven't been west in awhile, and it will be great to go back to the greatest city in the world. It isn't the ideal time to go. I'd rather head to the Bay Area in the fall, when it's nice and warm and rarely rains. But it still beats Chicago. An ice storm is predicted for later this week, and next week the temperature isn't supposed to rise much past the mid-30s. Although it is going to rain in San Francisco all week next week, it at least won't be so cold. It's supposed to be in the mid-5os next week, which ought to be nice. Hopefully, I can get some sightseeing in, and hopefully, the showers will stop long enough so I can roam through Golden Gate park. I might do it anyway. Unlike those on the west coast, who seem to head inside when it rains, I'm not averse to bad weather. And there are enough places to duck into that it usually doesn't bother me too much if it rains. I want to see the ocean again too. How does the song go: "It's been so long since I've seen the ocean..." Anyway, if the weather did bother me, I certainly wouldn't live here where it's been particularly cold and snowy, the way it always used to be before global warming started messing things up.

Let's do a quick rundown of some music stories of interest:

- Springsteen used his website to lambaste Ticketmaster after fans in New Jersey were treated shabbily. Some were sent to TicketsNow where the cost was up to 50 times higher! TicketMaster is making amends to his fans, and Springsteen has since removed the note, but why did he and the state of New Jersey have to get involved in order for action to be taken? It's one more reason why TicketMaster and Live Nation should not be allowed to merge. TicketMaster already has a monopoly and does whatever it wants. Remember the whole Pearl Jam incident? Pearl Jam had to abandon its fight because TicketMaster was going to kill off the band's ability to earn a living since it controlled access to all of the good venues! That was more than a decade ago!

- For fans of classic soul music, Alice Russell may be the next saving grace. Her latest CD Pot of Gold is right on the money in terms of capturing the mood, the feeling, and the sound of the olden, golden days of R&B. I think The Music Box was right in that she hasn't really found her own voice yet, but I also think they were a little hard on the album. It's better than a lot of these types of CDs.

- I guess while we're on a Springsteen roll, I should point out the latest interview with him in Rolling Stone. Springsteen is notoriously shy, though he has found was of overcoming it. In a way, the early tales of how he wouldn't make eye contact and would struggle to talk about himself and his music is refreshing. So many artists have huge egos long before they deserve them. He talks about himself and his work a little more now, but Springsteen still retains his shyness. David Fricke put together a good interview with The Boss for the latest issue of Rolling Stone, though I wish Springsteen would open up just a little bit more. He sounds so reserved.

- Springsteen's latest album is Working on a Dream. Liking this album has not come easily for me. It's too polished and produced. Some songs don't even sound like anything Springsteen typically would have written and recorded. I suppose it's nice that he is trying new things, but I'll take Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town over anything he's done in the past 27 years (since Nebraska). The Music Box makes some good points about it, so I might have to give it another whirl. I know I plug this site a lot, but I think their commentary is frequently insightful.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dumbest Band Name....Ever?

This morning I was looking over an e-mail I received that lists some of the concerts coming to town and the on-sale dates for tickets. With apologies to the band, I had to just burst out laughing. Supporting Lily Allen, apparently on all or most of her upcoming tour dates, is a group from Washington that calls itself:

Natalie Portman's Shaved Head

No joke. You read that correctly. The band calls itself Natalie Portman's Shaved Head.

Now, I'm not sure how far they expected to get when they picked this name, but I'm guessing it was some kind of joke that got out of hand. The name makes them sound like a novelty act, though in an attempt to move past it, they have taken to using an abbreviation (NPSH) to identify themselves. Incidentally, their music sounds like it was plucked from the '80s, which is another thing I thought we had moved past. Oh well.