Thursday, January 31, 2008

I finally did it

That's right. After more than four years of stubbornly clinging to my comfort zone, I've given in and upgraded to Windows XP.

No, not Vista. XP.

My custom built machine suffered an awful crash on Tuesday morning that made it impossible for me to launch just about any non-Microsoft application. To make matters worse, my Windows 2000 disc had some scratches on it that made it impossible to run a new installation. Worse still, my old system was corrupted to the point where I couldn't even run the Windows XP CD to do a standard upgrade and migration of my user settings and applications, so I had no choice but to boot up with the CD and install XP anew.

So now I am re-installing applications and drivers bit by bit, as needed. I'm just glad it happened after I had already completed the Ornette guide for Popdose...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Popdose Guide to Ornette Coleman is here!

Ornette Coleman 'The Shape of Jazz to Come' album coverHead over to and check out the Popdose Guide to Ornette Coleman. Fifty years and nearly 40 albums covered... with about as many recordings to hear. It's the first guide I've written for the newly minted Popdose, with more to come. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A small delay

Today was the expected day for my debut on Popdose. However, the length of the piece made editing and formatting a bit more difficult than anticipated. Plus, today's excellent guide to Material Issue was already done, and it was an ear opener for me. I had never heard them before, and it turns out they were another band with a tragic ending and since I'm drawn to those stories for some odd reason, it made for a good read. Plus the music's pretty excellent. Go check it out.

So next Tuesday it will be. Reserve some time because you'll need about 4 hours to hear all the music accompanying the guide...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bursting out the gate: Popdose, reviews (of course), and more

In which the new year gets off to a running start...

Popdose launched on January 1 as the new, improved, much more content intensive second coming of jefitoblog. Some of my fellow Bullz Eye writers have been contributing regularly, while unfortunately my current circumstances only allot me enough time to be an occasional contributor. I just finished my first contribution, which should probably be running next week. I was asked to write what would have been a "Complete Idiot's Guide" in the past, but what is now a "Popdose guide," to the catalog of the artist who, among other things, was a recipient of both a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and the Pulitzer Prize in music last year. It's a long one, so short attention spans need not apply. Stay tuned...

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Meanwhile, I have three new reviews up on Bullz Eye (actually they're 5 days old now, but who's counting?):

The Brother Kite 'The Moonlit Race EP' album cover
The Brother Kite's new The Moonlit Race EP contains one of my favorite songs from last year, an alternate mix of the title track of their second album, Waiting For The Time To Be Right. Every fan of Pet Sounds era Beach Boys needs to hear this one!

The Dicky Comstock Show album coverI included the Spring Heeled Jacks Original Swinging Jass Band's first album The Dicky Comstock Show in my top ten album picks of 2007, but didn't get around to submitting a full review of the record till after the first of the year. It's an amazing album, musically diverse, well produced and arranged, and the price is right too.

Leigh Marble Red Tornado album coverMy review of Leigh Marble's Red Tornado prompted the first artist response to one of my reviews, where Marble called me on misquoting one of his lyrics. The misquote has since been corrected.

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I have one new review in Performer this month:

The Purrs' The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together turned out to be my favorite album reviewed for Performer to date. They sound like drunk yet disciplined Americans who have a thing for the same British influences of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Big difference though is that The Purrs can write concise, catchy, fully formed pop songs. I'm very curious now to hear their live show.

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And it looks like I'll be playing music again as well as writing about it, getting back into the bass groove in a new band workshop, starting on Saturday. Which means another performance coming up in late March or early April.

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Finally, on a non-musical related note, I'm scratching my head over the fact that it took a chance stroll through a Waldenbooks during my recent trip back East to discover What Color Is Your Parachute? Seems nearly everyone knew about it except me! OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the number of people who have responded "oh yeah, the classic" when I tell them what I recently read has astounded me. How is it that nobody ever recommended it to me before? No matter, I found it at the right time, and the exercises have begun. My goal now is to have my own personal strategic plan in place by mid-year. And then, the real action shall begin!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Flashback: laughing into the new year, Bee Gees style

Happy New Year, one and all!

2007 was a brain blast, for sure. I lost count of how many people have said to me that 2007 just plain sucked. As for myself, I'd say it was about half great, half not-so-great. I've had better years, but I've had worse too. Fortunately, the year was bookended with fun new year's parties. This year's party, at my friend Brian's new house in Westerly, RI, even had a theme drink: "2007 sucked nuts," which consisted of Bailey's Irish Creme, Kahlua, almonds and cinnamon in a shot glass. The party was also my opportunity to finally try out this Guitar Hero video game that I've heard so much about. It took a negative perspective on a musicology group blog to really get me primed to try it, and in the end, I felt it was just another game with a shiny surface. Real guitar actually felt easier to me, and more rewarding in the end. But I can't say the game wasn't fun.

On the way to the party, I was listening to the Bee Gees, which is something I've been doing a lot lately. Mostly pre-disco, mind you. The disco stuff is great too, but Mr. Natural and Odessa are my favorite albums these days. Which got me to thinking...

...back in December of 1993, Howard Stern was hyping this great big pay-per-view television event he dubbed "New Year's Rotten Eve." Doug, being the biggest Stern fan I know, bought the program and invited his closest friends over for a fun night of watching Stern's outrageous parade of goons make asses of themselves on national television. There was a mock beauty pageant, and one of the celebrity judges drafted for the event was none other than John Bobbitt.

Bobbitt, of course, was the guy whose wife Lorena chopped off his penis. So, Howard being Howard, had to not only have Bobbitt as a celebrity judge, but also used the occasion to make lots of penis jokes. The best of these jokes he orchestrated, in my humble opinion -- the one that still makes me belly laugh -- was having the Bee Gees sing the funniest version of their '60s hit "To Love Somebody" that we're ever likely to hear. And joy of joys, it's on youtube! Actually, the whole 4:25 bit surrounding Bobbitt's member is there, so if that's too much joking about severed genitalia for you, simply skip over to 3:19 for the Bee Gees bit.

I guarantee you will never hear "To Love Somebody" the same way again!