Sunday, March 11, 2007

From Norway with Verve

Just got back from seeing 120 Days at Mercury Lounge. Seeing a band live can be a real hit or miss experience. It takes a certain skill to sound good live -- a skill that isn't a necessary consequence of being a good musician. 120 Days definitely has that skill.

Perhaps all that gear they travel with helps. The stage at Mercury Lounge is tiny, so it's a wonder that all the synthesizers, drum machines, effects boxes, amplifiers and what not managed to find space. One gizmo was stacked atop another gizmo and yet another, creating what looked (and sounded) like a wall of sound.

Before tonight, I hadn't realized that they don't make much use of any guitars. When I first came upon them, they struck me as very reminiscent of Joy Division, which is a band that's decidedly non-electronic. I had assumed that much of the source of 120 Days' atmospheric swirls were the result of effects-processed guitars. But that's just not the case. They bring out a guitar every now and then, but it's the synthesizers that do the bulk of the work. Quite surprising for a band that has such a hard-edge sound.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Have You Tried Standing?

Work has afforded me quite a few opportunities to travel to interesting places lately. Last weekend, I was in Keystone for a retreat put together for my firm's Intellectual Property Practice Group. The main purpose was for people in the group from our various offices to get to know each other better and integrate their practices more effectively. The slightly-less-main purpose was to have lots of fun.

We were welcome to invite guests so long as they paid their own way, and I took full advantage. (I found it amusing that the only two associates who invited more than one guest were both Asian. We sure do know how to maximize value.) I've got one friend from Orange County (California, that is -- as in the O.C.) who's an avid snowboarder, and another from Dallas who just got started. So I asked them to come along and show me the ropes.

From Keystone
Guess which one's the beginner? Yup. That's right. The dope without a helmet who's futzing with a camera on the lift. I'd never snowboarded, and it was definitely a challenge. Take a look below for a recurring theme from the weekend.

It's no surprise that the parts of my body that ached most were my arms -- from picking my ass off the ground so many times. But a jolly good time was had by all. Thanks, O.C. friend, for documenting my ineptitude.

Crying Man Child Lives

A short while ago, I recounted my run-in with the Crying Man Child and my friend's brilliant idea of registering Lo and behold, he did it, and Crying Man Child is alive! We should each quit our jobs now and move on to bigger and better things, like coming up with yet another thing that no one will understand or care about. And we wonder why we slave away at a law firm ...

We Met in a Chat Room

I've been shamefully delinquent with the postings. It got so bad that I was mocked from Hong Kong today. Of course, the mockery was unnecessary. It's embarrassing enough to see that I went through all of February without writing a damn thing. And the two entries since then consist of a placeholder and an article pilfered from the AP. Good thing shame has a way of getting you off your ass.

There's quite a backlog of things to write about. But, for the moment, the backlog will have to remain undisturbed, because I just read a rather strange story about Mew that deserves to jump the queue. (They're playing Irving Plaza in a couple of weeks. Woohoo!)

The journey started on Myspace, as I curiously hopped from one band site to another to see the people each band features as friends. Robin Guthrie has Rachel Goswell, who has Saint Etienne, who has Annie, and so on and so forth. You could probably get a pretty good game of "Six Degrees of David Bowie" going. Anyhow ... I eventually worked my way over to Mew's site and was reminded that Frengers finally became available stateside a few weeks ago. (Hokey, yet catchy. Not quite friends, not quite strangers. Frengers.) Because I'd been on Pitchfork earlier in the day to get a glimpse of what they had to say about The Arcade Fire's new album (out tomorrow -- woohoo!), I figured I'd stop by to see their take on Frengers. (Not that it matters, because I bought Frengers as an import long ago, and who really cares what Pitchfork says anyway. Yeah, I do see the non sequitir.) No review of Frengers, but there was this interesting blurb about the female vocals on "Symmetry."

Basically, the female vocals were provided by a 13-year-old American girl whom Jonas met online when she was all of 11. As she tells it (read the Biography and the interview), she met Jonas in a chat room while looking for others interested in Hanson. Jonas said he wasn't interested (phew!) but asked her what else she liked listening to. One thing led to another, and eventually the little girl was flying off to Copenhagen with her mom to record "Symmetry."

A bit creepy, yet kinda sweet. Let that be a lesson to ya. There's no shame in meeting a girl online, or in professing your love for Hanson.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Please Excuse the Intrusion

Couldn't help but laugh when I saw the headline for this story.

Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein

Published: March 2, 2007

Filed at 8:43 a.m. ET

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.

''We've spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it's not a problem,'' Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.

Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles but no ammunition. ''It's not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something,'' he said.

Liechtenstein, which has about 34,000 inhabitants and is slightly smaller than Washington DC, doesn't have an army.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

And Now, for Something Completely Different

Just a short entry to displace the last one. A bit too eerie to have an entry about death hang around at the top for such a long time. Of course, the better solution would be to write more regularly. But this will have to do for now. Sometimes, "not horrible" has to be good enough.