Welcome to the Sound and Light Show

Sort of a diary for myself ... but you can read it too.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Rum Diary

Wow. Just found this out ...

A film version of the 1959 novel The Rum Diary is already in preproduction with Johnny Depp once again possessing the spirit of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on film.

Bruce Robinson, best known for his classic film Withnail & I, is writing and directing.

Currently Reading: The Joke's Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, and Me by Ralph Steadman

Friday, July 27, 2007

Big Throwback #16

Another month, another Thursday Night and another Big Throwback Dance Party. A hot, sweaty, cramped, all 45's, Funk and Soul Dance Party.


This months Guest DJ was David Griffiths ... resident DJ at the Bumpshop in NYC.


David has worked with the likes of DJ Shadow and is currently working for Little Louie Vega ... I had a chance to sit with David before his set ... we talked about the scene and the music. He was very impressed with Pittsburgh, liking the fact that everyone was dancing and not just sitting around. He said in NYC people are more pretentious, are more worried about how they look and would be embarrassed to 'let go' like we were. Nice to hear. I could tell he was excited to play. He also mentioned that one of his latest projects is an all funk album by artists from around the Aliquippa area; my home town ... the Quip Town Beat Down. He ended up giving me a 45 of a new release on the label he's working with ... a reissue of a Mellow Madness record with remixes by the one and only Kenny Dope.

Anyway ... here are some pics of the crowded dance floor:

Photos courtesy of 'J Mall$'.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Other Happenings ...

Let's catch up ...

Saturday night during an awesome dinner (that I cooked) 'Uncle Cracker' decided that his new nickname should be 'Meatwad'.

and Friday night this was the view from my seat at the Pirate Game ... in the one private row of seats in front of the flower bed on the Keystone Club Balcony ... it was pretty nifty ... the Buccos lost but it was fireworks night so that sort of made up for it.

'Uncl' ... er ... 'Meatwad' made a point by saying that the Pirates Organization could probably stand to cut back on the funds that they spend on Fireworks and use that money saved to buy a player that could actually play baseball.

We all agreed.

Songs at Funerals

My family still finds ways to crack me up.

I just got back into town after spending the last 2 days with my parents and extended family in Altoona, Pa attending my Uncle's funeral ...

Uncle 'Chick' passed away on Friday ... aka Charles 'Lotto' Lovette. (Everyone in my family has a nickname)

Back story: I come from a somewhat large extended family (Italian and Polish) and there seems to be a death in my family every few months ... I'm always going to funerals. Ask my friends ... it's ridiculous sometimes. I once had 3 funerals within 3 months all from the same side of the family, all at the same funeral home. I swear ... we were about to ask the home if they had some sort of frequent shopper plan, you know, buy 3 funerals get the 4th one free or something like that.

But anyway ... because of the frequency of the funerals, my family usually makes light of the situation, creating a cheerful atmosphere full of memories and laughter and not one that is drowned in sorrow and grief.

This funeral was no exception. Yesterday at the viewing, as the day went on, we kept adding things to the casket to be buried with my Uncle ... a ritual that might not seem so unusual to some but I'm sure not every family follows. So along with the regular items such as photos and old army medals, we placed items that we know he would enjoy ... some scratch off lottery tickets, liquor (my Dad and I provided two airplane bottles of Maker's Mark whiskey, go figure) and his Philly Eagles jacket among other things ...

But today was the kicker ... it felt like something out of a surreal HBO original series such as '6 Feet Under' or something ... Today, during the funeral ceremony at the cemetery, it was arranged that the song 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' by Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole be played over a PA system while my Uncle was being lowered into the ground ... and while this was going on, we were all given balloons to let go into the air. What an awesome moment. Everyone was smiling, walking around getting dizzy trying to follow the trail of multicolored balloons as they disappeared up into the sky ...

It was a beautiful, surreal sound and light show ... especially for a grave site.

... and it's very ironic that my friend 'Evil Genius' over at What I Like About the Universe posted a blog today regarding what songs he would have played at his funeral. He had no idea that I was at a funeral today ... and that a song was played ... and that I planned on blogging about it tonight when I got home.

Synchronicity indeed.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Jen Kearney & The Lost Onions

Caught a show at the Shadowlounge last night.

Jen Kearney & The Lost Onions

Sort of like a female Stevie Wonder with some Cuban Funk & Jazz sounds. Very souful. Loved the organ sound. A very intimate laid back show.

Here are two songs:
Pick Yourself Up
Patience Child

Cable TV

I'm officially a cable TV subscriber again and I'm scared. It's been about a year since I have lived in a house with cable TV. I only signed up so that I can once again host Football games on the weekends this fall and winter. It's been over 2 years since I have been able to host a sporting event (read: drink / eat excessively with friends and loved ones for the afternoon)

The reason I'm scared is that I've become very used to finding other things to occupy my time when I would usually just switch on the tube to see what's on. Now I'm afraid I will fall into some rut, wanting to watch certain shows and programs.

Case in point, just last night I was heading out to catch a live band but I switched on the TV before I left and 'The Office' was on ... it's been over a year since I have seen an episode of that show and last night I was reminded how funny it really is. I almost didn't make it out of the house on time because I was drawn in! Dammit!

It's so surreal to be able to turn on my TV and actually see 'TV'.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Flea Market Find

'Clover', 'Uncle Cracker', 'Forest' and I hit the down and dirty flea market this morning and I think I might have found one of the best 'finds' to date. What is it?

A garden globe perhaps?

nope ...


wait for it ...

It's a 6 shotglass pump action shot dispenser!

Just what I need ...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

BTW

The Nomo show on Thursday night was awesome. If you like funky music then I recommend seeing them any chance you get. Their shows are full of energy and every performer (8 of them usually) is incredibly talented. They mainly play Afro beat but they don't strictly stay within that genre ...


They ended their show by coming out and playing in the middle of the audience. It was beautiful. Here is a clip from SXSW where they did the same thing:


I also caught the last 5 songs of the Souls of Mischief show. I wasn't that impressed (glad I didn't have to pay). It was a typical Pgh old school hip hop show. The rappers yapped too much in between songs about how old school they were ... then they all shouted their lyrics at the same time ... blasting the speakers and driving everything, mixer and amps, into the red. Sound was terrible but the sound guy couldn't do anything. I did get to see them perform their classic hit, '93 til infinity, though ...

Landscaping 104

I woke up this morning to find this going on in my back yard:


Apparently the deer like eating the myrtle I planted. Now if only I can teach them how to use a shovel or a rake.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Choke


I love me my Chuck Palahniuk books.
It's cool to hear that the movie adaptation of the the novel Choke is going to start filming next week in Jersey. Starring Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston.
Those unfamiliar with the book; Rockwell will play a sex addict and Colonial War re-enactor who deliberately chokes in restaurants in order to attach himself to his rescuers and con them out of their life savings, all to support his mother (Huston) in a private mental health hospital.

Readymech Series 002


Paper Robots!

Thanks to 'She1be' for pointing these out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What to do?

1. Pittsburgh is a small town.

and

2. There are many, many quality people in this small town that work hard to provide things to do in the city in the form of Art, Music / Cultural Events.

When you add 1 + 2 it's inevitable that many of these events end up taking place on the same night ... and being part of this Art and Music scene in this small town and knowing most of these quality people only makes it that much harder to decide what events to attend.

Tomorrow night for example ... I have no idea what I am going to do just yet:

a. The folks at the Shadowlounge are having two seperate shows on the same night; early 90's old school hip hop group Souls of Mischief are playing the early show and the nationally known afro beat band Nomo will be playing after midnight.

b. A friend of mine is curator over at The Pittsburgh Center of the Arts and tomorrow night he is bringing in the free form Jazz performer, Oluyemi Thomas.

c. The folks at 720 Records are hosting another great old school hip hop dance party over at the Brillobox.

d. Sage Francis is performing at Mr. Smalls Theater.

e. and my friend Christiane D is performing at the City Paper's Sound Kitchen event.

dang ... I'm sure I'm probably missing something.

and some people still try to say that there is never anything to do in the 'burgh.

oh .. .and DJ Jazzy Jeff is performing this weekend too!

Monday, July 9, 2007

5 Favorite Films

Evil Genius has tagged me to list five of my favorite movies. Again, as any film lover will indicate, picking only 5 is near impossible ... but I'll do my best.

Here are 5 that are at the top of my list:

Dazed and Confused (1993) – Richard Linklater

It is 1976 and it’s the last day of high school for a bunch of teenagers in Texas. This was Richard Linklater’s follow up to ‘Slacker’ and arguably his best and maybe his last ensemble cast / day-in-the-life-of type of script he has written to date.

I lived with my mom in my grandparents house in the mid to late 70’s after my parent’s divorce. My uncle was still a senior in high school in 1977. Granted I was only 4 years old, I still have some memories of that time, solidified even more by my mother’s great photo taking and scrap booking skills. This is where photos of me like this and this come from. Back then I can remember my Uncle turning me on to the sounds of Kiss and Alice Cooper … scaring the crap out of me but also engraining a love for that era of music into me. This film brings back those kinds of memories for me.

It’s also a great film to see some actors before they were stars (Ben Affleck, Adam Goldberg, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey)


Playtime (1963) – Jacques Tati

“Instead of plot it has a cascade of incidents, instead of central characters it has a cast of hundreds, instead of being a comedy it is a wondrous act of observation. It occupies no genre and does not create a new one. It is a filmmaker showing us how his mind processes the world around him” – Roger Ebert

This incredible film, with hardly any dialogue, illustrates a comic take on the sterility and confusion of modern urban life in Paris. Always moving and in constant motion, this film is almost entirely shot with long and medium shots allowing your eyes to wander over the entire screen searching for action in the foreground and the background. The coordination of the action in these long shots and takes is breathtaking.

‘Playtime’ has received multiple viewings from myself and I still catch something new every time I watch it.


Adaptation (2001) – Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman

A movie about a fictional writer trying to write a fictional screenplay based on a real novel by a real author that was inspired by an article in the New Yorker. Wow. This film and plot blurs the fine line between fiction and non fiction by telling many different stories at the same time; such as the story of the fictional film being made from the actually real life novel and also true events that actually happened in the novel. The viewer is bewildered and deceived trying to follow what is real and what is not … There are people in this film that are real but are played by actors, like Susan Orlean author of the said article and novel and Charlie Kaufman himself, screenwriter of this film and main character in the movie trying to write the fictional screenplay … then there are people in this film that are really real … actors, such as John Malcovich and John Cusak playing themselves filming scenes from Charlie Kaufman’s previous film ‘Being John Malkovich’ … and then there are people in this film who are apparently not real, like Donald Kaufman (Charlie kaufman’s fictional twin brother).

This film reminds me and assures me of how brilliant and entertaining the art of storytelling and filmmaking can actually be.


City of the Lost Children (1995) - Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro

Part Sci Fi fairy tale and part nightmare, this film brings to the screen a world that includes an evil scientist who kidnaps children for their dreams, a brain that lives in a sort of fish tank, one strong-man circus performer, several cloned orphans who cannot figure which of them is the original, some very nasty insects, and Siamese twins who control the orphans for nefarious ends. There are also deep-sea divers, performing fleas (yes fleas) and some Cyclops men who have one eye removed and replaced with a computerized hearing device that allows them to visualize the sound waves of others. All of these people live in a dark and gloomy universe constructed of much brass, wood, tubing, shadows and obscure but disturbing machinery.

I saw this in the old Rex Theater in the Southside back when they used to still show movies there. This was the film that introduced to me what a ‘foreign art house film with a very limited release’ actually was. I have been hooked ever since.


The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989) – Terry Gilliam

It’s hard to say which Terry Gilliam film is my favorite … but this one is up there. This was the third movie in Terry Gilliam’s trilogy regarding his own life … while ‘Tim Bandits’ was about his childhood and ‘Brazil’ was about his adult life, ‘Baron Munchausen’ tells a story of coping with old age and not letting go of the child inside of you. In this film, the aging Baron tells stories of his outlandish travels – from Turkey to the surface of Moon, to the heart of a volcano, and into the stomach of a sea monster. These stories, even though they are being told by an elderly man, they come across as being told by a child – wonderfully literal and very na├»ve. The brilliant use of simple special effects helps further engulf the viewer into the world of the Baron. The simple approach to telling these stories is what captivates me about this film.

Landscaping 103

My friends, 'Clover' and 'Uncle Cracker' were kind enough to offer their assistance in some backyard chores on Sunday morning. We made one Home Depot run and did some limited yard work but retired early because it was too damn hot outside.

Plan B - Wine tasting 101

Back Story: Every year my father makes homemade wine with his buddies. They buy different grapes to make different reds and whites. It takes them about 7 months, from start to finish, to make the final product. This year, they produced over 1,200 bottles of wine. This is a serious endeavor to these guys. Anyway, I help out by procuring empty wine bottles for them to reuse ... either from the club I used to work at or from my and my friends own consumption. As pay back, I am given my own stash of fresh bottles of wine.

So this year I was given 26 regular bottles and 6 magnum bottles of wine; 3 different reds and 1 Zinfandel and 1 Chardonnay.

I've been waiting for an excuse to dig into this collection to sample this year's wine my father and his buddies made. Sunday afternoon was the perfect time.

'Clover', 'Uncle Cracker' and myself ended up 'sampling' (read:drinking) 3 bottles ... two reds, a Valdepena and Malvoise, and the White Zinfandel. All of them excellent.

Needless to say, no other yardwork was completed that afternoon.

Radiohypno.com

Thanks to 'Hypnotyza' over at Radiohypno.com for the kind words and for giving me the opportunity of being his first guest DJ on his web-radio site. He is hosting a DJ mix of mine that I recorded back in November '06.

You can download my mix/podcast here.

The tracklisting is as follows:

01. The Dining Rooms - Tunnel
02. Harry Nilsson - One
03. Studio Davoli - Gate Must Be Negative Transition
04. Backini - Istanbul
05. I Monster - These Are Our Children
06. Backini - Go Go Killer
07. Husky Rescue - Summertime Cowboy
08. Octet - Hey Bonus
09. Studio Davoli - Superpartner (P.Funk Remix)
10. Caribou - Bees
11. Sixto Rodriguez - Sugarman
12. Margo Guryan - California Shake
13. The Free Association - Effectin’
14. Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford - Nobody
15. Ugly Ducklings - Journey to Anywhere
16. Fat Freddy’s Drop - Flashback
17. Muddy Waters - Tom Cat
18. The Johnny Otis Show - Country Girl
19. Joe Washington - Blueberry Hill
20. The Quantic Soul Orchestra - Hold It Down
21. Stevie Wonder - I Wish
22. Camille Yarbrough - Take Yo’ Praise

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Landscaping 102

Happy Independence Day. I just moved over 800 lbs of stone today. 800 lbs of Landscaping Retaining Wall Stone ... from the Home Depot shelf into my stationwagon ... from my stationwagon at street level, up the 8 steps in front of my house and around to my backyard ... and I'm only about 2/3rds of the way done with the FIRST wall.


ugh. I asked plenty of people last night if they wanted to help me today ... I even offered free suntans ... no one took me up on it (probably better because the sun never even came out today)

So far I'm pleased with the progress.
Slow ... but I'm getting there.
I'll be so happy when I can plant grass.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Dalai Lama

Very excited indeed.


I'm in the beginning stages of planning my trip to Atlanta this fall to attend the Dalai Lama's visit to Emory University.

So far, I have already secured a seat at the First Emory Summit on Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding hosted by the Dalai Lama. His Holiness will be holding conversation with religious leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities. They will be discussing whether religions of the world can work together to reduce violent conflict and build peaceful, pluralistic societies.

I will also be attending a performance of the mystical arts of Tibet featuring Sacred Music and Sacred Dance for World Healing the night before the Summit.

Drepung Loseling Monks will also be constructing a Sand Mandala in honor of the visit by His Holiness. This will be the first time I have ever seen one in person.

The Dalai Lama will then end his visit with a public talk in downtown Atlanta on the subject of "Educating the Heart and Mind: A Path to Universal Responsibility."

The reason for the Dalai Lama's visit is that he is being named a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University. The Dalai Lama first visited Emory in 1987, two years before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, and he has made constant visits to the University since. The Dalai Lama's appointment is the most recent outgrowth of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, which was founded in 1998 to bring together the best of Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions. Emory is recognized as one of the premier centers of study of Tibetan philosophy and religion in the West, primarily due to the university's extraordinary relationship with Tibetan Buddhist institutes of higher learning based in India, including the Drepung Loseling Monastery and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

I wish I could somehow attend the installation of His Holiness and his inaugural lecture but this is reserved for Emory Staff and Students ... we'll see ... Maybe my friend on staff at Emory University can sneak me in. (c'mon 'Bowser')

Should be an interesting and enlightening trip.

PS: All of this AND I'll also be able to visit with the 'Bowser-Kyle' family while staying in Atlanta. Thanks in advance for offering me a place to sleep!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Trader Jacks*

I went to Trader Jacks* in the Eastside tonight for the first and probably the last time. Overpriced and overrated. Another 'designer' grocery store where a good amount of people are more interested in the 'idea' of shopping there, being 'seen' shopping there, then they are interested in actually getting decent food at decent prices. But that's just my opinion.

*Correction ...

Not Trader Jacks.

Trader Joes.

Trader Jacks is a flea market south of the city. In my hurried and disgruntled post about watching hipsters shop (pose) for (with) their groceries I said the wrong name. Thanks for correcting me 'Bowser'.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

So much for staying in ...

Last night 'Mr. and Mrs. Bassclown' invited me to join them for dinner at a Tapas joint called La Casa here in the Eastside. They had a $50 gift certificate that they needed to use for the place ... cool with me ... I'm down for some free food and drinks.

We got there around 7pm and ordered a round of drinks and 4 tapas that we all could share. 'Mr. and Mrs. B' had a pitcher of Sangria while I had a Martini. Two of the tapas came out pretty fast, within a 1/2 hour ... some chicken spring rolls and Beef tenderloin brochette wrapped in ham ... pretty tasty but very small portions. Then nothing happened for about a full hour. Our waiter seemed to disappear. We didn't really notice at first since we were having fun yapping and telling stories, catching up, etc. Finally, it was 9pm, 2 hours since we got there. I flagged down our waiter and asked him what was the hold up ... he said he was going to check with the kitchen but we all got the feeling that he didn't even know what tapas we still hadn't received. Oh well, I ordered another Martini since we were going to have to wait.

20 minutes later the waiter finally came back (sans Martini) and said that they were having problems in the kitchen and that all orders were backed up. Well, it had been close to two hours since we ordered so we said that we would just like our check (plus he failed to bring me my second martini in his 20 minute absence ... not cool.)

He left and the manager came out with our check. He apologized and said that they took the tapas and martini off of our bill and all we had to pay for was the pitcher of Sangria. Alright ... that's cool ... except it was now 9:30pm and we still really hadn't eaten. We slapped down the $50 gift certificate and left.

We then walked up the street looking for a restaurant that had outdoor seating (since it was nice out) so we could finish our dinner. We settled on Bites and Brews so we could grab a slice of pizza and a beer. We each ordered a pint of Franzeskaner and before I could even take my first sip of beer 'Mrs. Bassclown' knocked into our table tipping over her and my full pints of beer into my lap. All I could think to myself was 'Did that just really happen?'. I was soaked ... shirt, pants, shoes ... but there was nothing I could really do ... I went to the bathroom and dried off as well I could using paper towels since the place didn't have a warm air hand dryer.

We got more beer, ate pizza and made fun of each other the rest of the night ... 'Mrs. B' for being a klutz and me for having to sit there in wet clothes reeking of good Bavarian hops.

Eventually I dried up ... but the smell of beer lingered. I just hoped I wouldn't get pulled over on my way home later.

We ended the night on a good note ... we stopped into one of my favorite restaurants, Soba, for some more drinks. We had two rounds but the bartender on staff knew me and she bought us our first round. Very nice since we were drinking $9 martinis.

So anyway ... the moral of this long winded story is ... I've learned that when you are invited to go out to dinner with 'Mr. and Mrs. Bassclown' you should definitely eat ahead of time and be prepared by bringing an extra change of clothes.