Counting Sheep

1 comment

Well, what do you think about when you sleep? 

Many years ago, someone told me how to sum numbers from 0 to 100.  Essentially, just count by 100’s.  0 and 100=100, 1 and 99 = 100, 2 and 98 = 100, etc.  So, there 50 100’s, right?  0-49, plus the 50 left in the middle.  So 50 x 100 = 5,000, plus the 50 stuck in the middle = 5,050.

Easily done.  0 and 200?  100 x 200 = 20,000 plus the 100 in the middle = 20,100.  Keep the series going and you get 45,150, 80,200, etc. 

So, I can’t sleep.  Thinking it through is fine, but it would be pretty cool to have a formula!  Not useful, but… it’s something to think about.  So, converting how I explained it above to more mathematical terms, I take 100, divide by 2, then multiple it by 100.  And don’t forget to add the stray 50 in the middle.  That makes sense, but you can’t really have a formula without a variable, so… I’m essentially taking half of x, multiplying it by x, and then adding the change, which is x divided by two.   So x/2 (x) + x/2.  More properly:

… where x = the upper limit of the series, which begins at 0. 

So, 100 x 100 = 10,000.  Divide by two and add the change = 5,050.  It works, and I cede to sleep, my work completed.

It laid there a while, satisfied.  I go to sleep pretty quickly, so it was months later before I gave it another thought, expecting I’d have to move on to some non-mathematical thing before falling asleep.   Yeah.  But, wait…   There’s still the utility of the thing.   Where would I find that, exactly?  Well, back in grade school, I guess.  Math class.  The teacher asks for the sum for extra credit, and I can quickly do that.  They want a formula for it?  Ha.  I’m ahead of you on that one.  And then there’s another quiz, we’ll say, for summing numbers between, oh, 60 and 170, and well, I haven’t actually tried that

Those numbers are too much to deal with, so… I can handle a range of 10 to 20 without a calculator while noodling over this.  One might think, and hope, that just adding those particular sheep in my head would put me to sleep.  It didn’t.  The answer is 165. 

Now, admittedly, I didn’t actually add them.  Counting from 10 to 20, I have 11 base values of 10, and I can use my little formula for the change from each number (0 from 10, 1 from 11, 2 from 12… 10 from 20).  So, 11 x 10 = 110 from the base value, then my little formula works for the 0 to 10 of the leftover digits:  102/2 = 50.  Add the 5 left over, and we get 55.  110 + 55 = 165.  Maybe I should have just used 2- 7 for a proof?  

Anyway, following my original formula, 202/2 + 10 = 210.   Not good.  My little formula is no good for anything other than a very specific parlor trick.    

So, let’s backtrack and see what can work.  I need another variable, resetting to:

  • x = lower number
  • y= higher number

The numbers in the series no longer add to the upper number in the range, unless the range starts with zero, but the same “easy math” matching process is the same – 10 and 20 = 30, 11 and 19 = 30, 12 and 18 = 30, etc.  So, there’s a strong similarity to what I was doing before as that is the number I’m multiplying against, x + y.  Now I need to figure out how to express how many times I’m multiplying against it.

From 0 to 100, the midpoint happens to be the number of times to use, but that doesn’t apply in the range of 10 to 20, because there’s only 11 number being summed.  How many counts are there before I reach the midpoint?  Well, the midpoint is 15, so… 5.  So, it’s the difference between the two numbers, divided by two (y – x)/2, not the average (y + x)/2 which was implied when I started at zero in the original formula.   

So, the number of times is (y-x)/2.  Multiplied against the sum (x+y), then adding the change, which is now more properly described as half of the sum rather than the number in the middle of the range (x+y)/2.  Let’s test that. 

  • 20 – 10 = 10. 
  • 10/2 = 5. 
  • 5 x (10 + 20) = 150.
  • Plus the change, 30/2 = the 15 left in the middle.
  • 150 + 15 = 165.

Bingo.  And no bothersome “squaring” a number, either.

For not-yet-asleep fun, back to my original problem of 0 to 100:

  • 100 – 0 = 100
  • 100/2 = 50
  • 50 x 100 = 5,000
  • Plus the change, the 50 left in the middle = 5,050.

For your math quiz needs:

Capture5

Perhaps the more notable thing is that my blogging is at such a standstill on thoughtful content that this is what I felt most compelled to write about.  I don’t plan on losing sleep over it.

Note: My smarty-pants daughter informs me that my original formula is commonly known by smarty-pants people to be ∑ = n * (n +1)/2… 

1 comment :

Post a Comment

Grizzly Bear – Live at Tabernacle

No comments
The night began with an expectation of mediocre Mexican food with friends who refuse to relocate from their weekly gathering spot.  Ah, the sway of margaritas.  A phone call changed all that, and off I went to battle traffic to downtown Atlanta for this show.  Note:  Surprisingly, there are not that many great spots for a pre-concert meal around Olympic Park.  If you’re in the area, try Der Biergarten, and perhaps the Jagerschnitzel. 

Grizzly Bear – I bought their 2012 CD, Shields, soon after it was released.  I was teased by a few of the songs, but it collected dust ever since.  A friend had bought tickets and someone dropped out, so aside from trading up on a meal, I was curious to see what the band was like live, especially coming off their latest release, Painted Ruins.

We arrived to find a full crowd, noticeably younger than my typical shows and also approaching gender equity.  In other words, it’s date night for a lot of folks.



Overall, the sound was pretty good.  Instrumental clarity was fine, and the vocals were probably suitable for those more familiar with their lyrics.  Each singer has their own style, Ed Droste fairly straightforward and Daniel Rossen with a penchant for a fairly unconventional delivery, ala Tim Smith of Midlake.  This provides good variety in their songs, which were roughly evenly split.

So, what is left is the performance.  Instrumentally, I liked what I heard.   Bassist Chris Taylor added sax and flute, which added good variety to the band’s keyboard heavy sound, not to mention his backing vocals which are key when then their songs are at their best. 

Drummer Christopher Bear was a pleasure to hear, playing a variety rhythms generally categorized as “things Ringo wouldn’t play.”  On the other hand, Ringo could play a big beat, and as “Indie” as this band is, an occasional sprite melody wouldn’t be unwelcome.  The band’s big hit, “Two Weeks,” isn’t their best song, but it was by far the biggest crowd pleaser – perhaps from familiarity but also because it has a simpler structure.



Visually, the band does not lack stage presence, but there’s not much to watch as each member stays close to their kits.  The Tabernacle’s lighting worked well, as the only visual focal point in the band was the drummer.



The band played a variety of songs from their last four albums – Veckatimest (4), Yellow House (5), Shields (3), and Painted Ruins (5).  As for their latest, I’m not certain that they chose the best songs.  That album closes well, and I was particularly surprised that they didn’t play “Neighbors.”

untitled-15

Highlights included “Cut-out,” “Fine For Now,” and “Mourning Sound,” but most disappointing was the encore.  “Colorado” drones on and on repeating the song title and “What now, what now, what now?…” Answer?  Another song please.  “While You Wait for Others” is a fine song, but it’s not a parting gift.  I might have preferred a “gun-shy,” “Half Gate” combo.  Heck. Make it a triple with “Speak in Rounds.”



Overall, this was a very good concert.  Grizzly Bear is fully an Indie band, which might mean that from track to track, some people get it and some don’t.  I’m one of those, but I’ll remain curious for future releases to pick out their little treasures.

Setlist:
  • Losing All Sense
  • Cut-Out
  • Lullabye
  • Ready, Able
  • Four Cypresses
  • Mourning Sound
  • Sleeping Ute
  • Yet Again
  • Fine for Now
  • Two Weeks
  • On a Neck, On a Spit
  • Foreground
  • Knife
  • Three Rings
  • Sun in Your Eyes
Encore:
  • Colorado
  • While You Wait for the Others

No comments :

Post a Comment

King Crimson – Live at Center Stage

No comments
One King Crimson to Rule Them All!  Or, so the thought occurred to me while enjoying their Tuesday performance in Atlanta.  Looking at the audience, it was clear that some who attended enjoyed KC during their early years.  I was a relative latecomer when I saw the mid-period band play in June, 1984, and I didn’t see them again until their 2003 Power to Believe tour.

Both of these concerts were undeniably good, the former generally “strange” as contrarian as it was to the current music trends, the latter focused on their 2000’s “industrial” work.  There’s a lot of history to their lineup changes, but suffice it to say that while I enjoyed Adrian Belew’s guitar, I found his voice, at best, curious or, at worst, distracting.

Currently, the band has eight members who are more than capable of playing music from any of their various periods and with a singer, Jakko Jaksyzk, who does justice to any of them.  Thus, One King Crimson…

This show was their second in Atlanta, well attended by people who had seen the show the evening prior.   I had read some of bassist Tony Levin’s road diaries over the years, and this was my first concert with the three drummer line-up.  Sound… interesting?  Well, then imagine putting all three drummers at the front of the stage.

untitled-3

As one may expect, it was a percussion-heavy performance, but not one that lacked for visuals.  Actually, the remaining members were fairly static, so the drummers were the visual focus through much of the show.  My son pointed to “poly-rhythms;” I just absorbed three drummers mostly playing different things at once, fascinated not only by musicians who knew when to play but also when not to play.  A little reading finds that they practiced separately well before the full band began rehearsals for the tour.  This was not a surprise given the deftness of trading parts even as they all three played. 

Center Stage is a great venue, without a bad seat in the house.  However, there are worse seats.  We were next to the back row (Row L, hardly a far distance) in the amphitheater styled seating.  Those to our far right would be blocked from seeing Robert Fripp, the leader/guitarist mainstay since the band’s founding in 1968.  Likewise, those that paid for the pricier seats on the floor may have hardly seen anything beyond the front line of drums.  In the cheap seats, we had a clear view of all.

Worth mentioning, the sound was excellent.  Intermission comments from those around us indicated that the sound level was good the prior night but much better for this show.  No complaints here, except that Tony Levin’s bass/stick were difficult to decipher particularly during the first set.

And about that, yes, sets.  The last time I saw them, they played 12 songs and a three song encore.  This time around, there were nine songs in the first set, 10 in the second, plus a two song encore, encompassing about three hours.  This gave the songs ample room to stretch out, though just a “hello” to the audience would have been appreciated. 

Fripp did comment on their policy of no photos until the end of the show, which was enforced to several folks’ discontent (spotlight with a bonus of Fripp pointing to the offender).   Even those who activated their cell phones for messages were confronted by ushers.  That said, it was nice not be distracted by all the camera/phone screens, and this was an evening of music that required concentration by both the band and the audience.  That attention was most obvious in quieter sections, when not a word was heard from the crowd.

untitled-1

Highlights.  As much as Robert Fripp was the draw, our vantage didn’t allow watching his hands on the frets, but that was okay – he was clearly heard, at times with blistering guitars and quite frequently on keyboards.   He has an evolved kit to shape his guitar so that were you not watching him, you might assume the notes were from a keyboard.  Time and again there was a beautiful handoff from guitar to Mel Collin’s brass that melded perfectly.

untitled-7

And Collins stole the show.  Sax, flute, whatever – his was the extra dimension that was missing from the previous versions of the band I had seen.  After a particularly splendid solo following preceding hours of great play, the audience gave their approval to which Collins grinned and tugged his bowtie in minimalist appreciation. 

As for the drummers, I don’t know enough about the art to comment about the various styles, but visually, Gavin Harrison seems to inhabit his drums as opposed to “masterfully play,” “command” or other words I might put to it.  There’s a beauty in just the way he wields his drumsticks and owns the space. 

Lacking in the evening’s set list were two standouts played the night previous, “Larks’ Tongue in Aspic” and “One More Red Nightmare.”  That’s okay – we didn’t suffer, but I’d happily trade “Neurotica,” the misfit of the night, for just half of either one.  That said, “Islands” hadn’t been played on tour since 1971 – it’s too rich a catalogue for one night.

In any case, it was a phenomenal show.  They rarely play Atlanta, and I’ll probably have to travel to see them again (and go consecutive nights to maximize the opportunity).  And, per the set list below, what a finish to a show!  Draw the line where you like, but from the start of Set Two going forward… wow.


Set 1:
  • Hell Hounds of Krim - Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind, 2016
  • Pictures of a City – In the Wake of Poseidon, 1970
  • Cirkus – Lizard, 1970
  • Neurotica – Beat, 1982
  • Lizard (Battle of Glass Tears, Dawn Song, Last Skirmish, Prince Rupert’s Lament) – Lizard, 1970
  • Epitaph - In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969
  • Meltdown – Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind, 2016
  • Level Five – The Power to Believe, 2003
  • Islands – Islands, 1971
Set 2:
  • Drumson Outbreak of Wonderment, Joy & Bliss Arising - New
  • Discipline – Discipline, 1981
  • Fallen Angel – Red, 1975
  • The Letters – Islands, 1971
  • Indiscipline – Discipline, 1981
  • Easy Money – Larks’ Tongue in Aspic, 1973
  • Breathless – Exposure (Fripp Solo album), 1979
  • Moonchild - In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969
  • The Court of the Crimson King - In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969
  • 21st Century Schizoid Man - In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969
Encore:
  • “Heroes” – David Bowie track on which Fripp originally played, 1977
  • Starless – Red, 1975


untitled-5

No comments :

Post a Comment

Garth Brooks–Live at Mercedes Benz

No comments

Full Disclosure:  This was a free ticket for me, and I’m not a Country/Garth Brooks fan.  Going into this show, I’d seen him on TV and knew he was a good showman.  He’s also the #1 selling solo artist in U.S. history, with 149M albums sold.  My wife has his Greatest Hits CD, but it never gets played. 

The ticket did cost a friend $150, though.  Here’s the view – lower bowl, sort of corner end zone.  For a stadium show, this is a pretty good seat.  It’s Thursday, a weeknight, and traffic in downtown Atlanta is its usual hell.  Ergo, the stadium fills slowly.  The opener was Mitch Rossell, an enthusiastic performer fairly overwhelmed with the opportunity and the space.  Regrettably, though visibly enjoying his performance, the sound was much like listening in over a Public Address speaker.  We quickly became worried about the sound prospects.  The second opening act, Karyn Rochelle, was similarly muddled, though she was at least more visible by playing to our side of the up-to-now curtained in-the-round stage.  Still, ‘twas awful audio.

untitled-13

Speaking of a PA, an announcement is heard that Garth will be recording the show, and the audio folks need our help in setting levels.  The crowd cheers as instructed.  Translation, they turned the volume up when Garth took the stage.  That entrance was electric.

untitled-4-2

It’s a huge stage.  The center core is surrounded by floor seats, with runways that reach towards the end zones.  Garth is an energetic guy; he’s going to play to the crowd.  Helpfully, from this distance, the Mercedes Benz circular graphics board helps zoom in on the action, else most folks would be left with “just” the audio.  Oops, rather, just the “audio.”

untitled-25

Curiously, the “halo” video ring at the top of the stadium was pretty well synced with Garth, while the video in his own stage was a tad behind.  In any case, it didn’t freaking matter.  The music reverberated in Atlanta’s now hallowed structure, taking any musical enjoyment out of the experience.  All it left was Garth, warming to crowd, soaking in its adulations, and energetic presentation.  That would have to be good enough.

untitled-18

I went for a beverage and found other people similarly complaining.  One in the upper deck actually said she came down to a lower level – the speakers around the perimeter were not functional.

IMG_9850[953]

Hey, what’s there to do in a terrible sounding concert?  Surf.  Thanks Twitter.  It isn’t just me, and it wasn’t just those in the upper deck, per a perfunctory post-concert announcement by Mercedes-Benz operators that “we have heard some fan concerns about sound quality in certain sections of the upper concourse…” 

Well, let’s look at that upper concourse.  If you’ll click the picture below to expand it, you’ll see many empty seats (red) for this sold out show.  Ample tickets were available up to the start of the show in the $30-$40 range, which suggests that many, many seats were originally bought by resellers (no evidence for this, but seat licenses for stadiums are gold mines for resellers), without anyone to grab them. 

"Two Pina Coladas" graphics scrolling by.

I’m not going to place the blame fully on the stadium.  Garth shares in the lousy sound audio.  Though intended for sports audiences, the facility was built with an expectation of hosting concerts as well.  Whatever acoustic properties you consider in a concrete and steel structure, they either were not good enough or were not related adequately to Garth’s audio team.

On Garth’s part, his stage is obviously built for basketball arenas.  In the cavernous Benz, it looks small, and the speakers that surround it are pointed towards the floor and level audience.  By other reports, the sound quality on the floor was sterling.  Some people got their money’s worth, at least.  But I’ll refrain from a show there until I hear of a few that people actually compliment.  None of those people were on the MARTA train home – everyone seemed thrilled to have seen him and deeply disappointed that it wasn’t a concert to remember.  Fondly, or as fondly as the should.

untitled-26

On the plus side, the stadiums graphics were sizzling, the seats are generously sized and comfortable, and I’d hop, skip and jump back there for a sports event.  Speaking of Garth, he may have done just the same getting to the ends of the stadium.

untitled-29

I can see why people like Garth.  He writes good songs, everyone, it seems, can relate to them, and most of those gathered knew the words and could sing along.  He’s not like most performers who settle for a “Hello, Atlanta!” and “Here’s one you might remember.”  Instead, almost every song was introduced in some context, and his appreciation for his audience seemed both gigantic and heartfelt.  There’s a lot to like about a celebrity who interacts that way.

His wife, Trisha Yearwood, took the stage for a couple duets and solo songs, surprisingly giving wa to an honorary Georgian award presented by Jimmy Carter.  Not every concert features a Presidential address, but it was a good one, as well as seeing him spryly descend a ladder without assistance.

untitled-37

untitled-38

Other notes:  I enjoyed the solo-acoustic songs, “The River” song/cellphone lightshow, his “I got a guitar to hide my gut… but I did learn four chords” – intro to “Friends in Low Places,” a rocking “The Thunder Rolls,” and the familiar but appropriate “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Oh, and Der Biergarden pre-show!  Good friends, audible conversation.

Setlist:

  • Devil Went Down to Georgia
  • Rodeo
  • Two of a Kind, Workin’ of a Full House
  • The River
  • Two Pina Coladas
  • Papa Loved Mama
  • Ain’t Goin’ Down
  • Unanswered Prayers
  • That Summer
  • Ask Me How I Know
  • The Thunder Rolls
  • In Another’s Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood)

Trisha Yearwood:

  • XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)
  • How Do I Live
  • Prize Fighter
  • Georgia On My Mind
  • She’s in Love With the Boy

Garth Brooks:

  • Callin’ Baton Rouge
  • Friends in Low Places
  • The Dance

Encore:

  • She’s Every Woman
  • The Change
  • The Red Strokes
  • Piano Man
  • Standing Outside the Fire

No comments :

Post a Comment

Alison Krauss–Live at Chastain Amphitheater

No comments

I receive many emails from promoters and venues regarding upcoming concerts.  I saw one that mentioned Alison Krauss at Chastain and immediately plotted my entertainment plans.  The only problem was that my wife isn’t really a country or bluegrass fan, but the opener, David Gray, was a seasonal favorite back in 1999 when “Babylon” held sway on the radio.  I also knew that my stepmom was a fan, so invited her and my dad; a foursome was made.  Now committed, I joined her website fan club to get a presale code, which paid off.  Good seats! 

Capture

Fast forward. 

David Gray has a good interactive manner and a strong voice.  Despite a limited vocal range, he bleeds earnestness which is important as his songs generally center around relationship challenges which call for just that.  I had two problems, though. 

1) He has a consistent trait for taking a good 4:00 song and extending it with the refrain until the repetition dulls the senses.  Given Chastain’s aggravating but understandable 11:00 p.m. sound curfew on concerts due to its location in a residential area, after about the fifth or sixth song, I’m thinking, “Play ‘Babylon’ and exit the stage, please.”  Not so.  After playing unaccompanied for a while, he brought in several of Krauss’ band members to support him, which helped, though I was wondering why Krauss would share a pretty good light show on the opening act.  That’s typically not done.

AK-4

2)  That’s because he wasn’t an opening act.  It was a co-headlining tour, I find after the event.  This was not obvious in the marketing or evidenced by the slowly filling crowd during his set.  Had I known that I would get 1:15 of Krauss, I would have passed on the (not inexpensive) show. 

It is what is, right?  For one, it was a perfect, early fall night for watching an outdoor concert. 

So, David Gray.  Credit to him, he played like everyone was there to see him.  He’s an engaging performer, and on a song by song basis, he was pretty good. The unaccompanied songs featured his voice well, which does not seem to have suffered in strength over the years.  Still, one song like that is a treat, but by the time his band joined in (not Krauss’ obviously), the crowd was more than ready for a little pulse to his music.  He played pretty heavily from White Ladder, but most regrettably he included “Say Hello Wave Goodbye.”  At somewhere beyond halfway of his set, we agreed in post-concert thoughts that we were hoping that his long goodbye was his final song.   Not to belabor the point, but even on the record it’s 9:04 long.   In any case, “Sail Away,” “Please Forgive Me,” and “Babylon” were excellent.

AK-9

Through the intermission, the stage was changed over, including his stage lights (which were superior to Krauss’ minimalist presentation).  The house music, by the way, featured some old Herb Alpert tunes, which didn’t fit the music of either artist, but was kind of fun.  Amazon has a CD on its way… In any case, it was clear that we would not be getting the duration of Alison Kraus for which we hoped – but we didn’t know that we weren’t getting the show we had hoped for either.

Krauss managed to squeeze in a lot of songs.  Part of this is is due to the brevity of her songs.  The other is that she included a good number of traditional/spiritual songs which in addition to being brief were almost presented as a suite. 

Another disappointing aspect was that this is a tour without Union Station, her killer bluegrass band.  Her touring band shared two of those musicians, but the direction of this tour is more towards traditional songs, which would be obvious to fans who appreciate the Cox Family, who accompany her on this tour and were a large part of her early career.   Sadly, the show was absent much in the way of bluegrass instrumentalism or Krauss’ fiddle playing. 

AK-10

The show featured five songs from her new album, Windy City, which fit pretty well with her other latter era songs.  Krauss has a special voice, and every nuance could be heard clearly, but this is especially appreciated on unhurried songs that allow space for her voice to soar.  The sound system was crystal clear for both artists, but songs like “The Lucky One,” “I Never Cared for You,” “Stay,” and “Ghost in This House,” the last literally causing goosebumps, indicate that her recording engineers can just hit “record” and leave it alone.

AK-12

The concert ended with some irony, as clearly the fans were caught short on the co-billing, and her last song was cut short when the house staff pulled the plug. 

Hey, Chastain.  Maybe start shows a little earlier?

(Likely) Set list:

  • River in the Rain
  • I Never Cared for You
  • Stay
  • Forget About It
  • Baby, Now That I’ve Found You
  • Broadway
  • Ghost in This House
  • The Lucky One
  • Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us
  • It’s Goodbye and So Long to You
  • Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
  • Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby
  • I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)
  • Down to the River to Pray
  • Restless
  • Gentle on My Mind
  • Losing You
  • Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues
  • When God Dips His Pen of Love in My Heart
  • Walk Over God’s Heaven
  • When I’ve Done the Best I Can, I Want My Crown
  • When You Say Nothing at All
  • A Living Prayer





No comments :

Post a Comment

Anachronism

1 comment

It doesn’t take Hilary Clinton, the DNC, or any number of companies under investigation to understand that emails hang around a long time, on one server or another, unless extraordinary efforts are made to be rid of them.   Handwritten letters? Tossed in the trash, or tossed in a drawer or a box or somewhere.

Several years ago, when my mom downsized from her house to a retirement apartment, the transition was a rushed affair with my mom focusing on the few belongings she chose to keep while turning a blind eye to the myriad of things donated or thrown out without close examination.  Firm closing dates force that, as well as a lifetime of accumulation. 

There were a few things I pulled aside as I plied through her things, including a letter from my grandmother to my mom.  It looked old, and the first few lines drew my interest to preserve it and read it later.  I recently re-discovered it and read it in full.  My mom would have been 20 years old when she received this:

Thursday Oct. 8, 53

Dear Doris,

I am glad to hear you have work to do.

Sometimes we may wonder why things happen as they do when we did not think it should be that way or was not what we wanted, but there is a reason.

We are born not knowing sorrow nor gladness, labour or love, hardship and prosperity, hate or vanities, war or peace.

Through out our life we experience each of these then we die as we we were born, except that we have shown God how we can accept each of these, how we suffer or rejoice with each one.  That must be our trial as we enter the Gates of Heaven. How can we rejoice if we have not known sorrow.  How can we know love if we have not seen hate.  How can we enjoy the peace to come if we have not known hardship.

“As he came forth out of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he comes and shall take nothing of his labour that he may carry away in his hand.”

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the Heaven.  A time to be born, a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to pluck up.  A time to weep and a time to mourn.  A time to break down and a time to build up.  A time to get and a time to lose.”

“What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?  I know that there is no good in them but for a man to rejoice and do good with his life which God giveth him for it is his portion.”  Eccl.

So it is Doris.  We must find some enjoyment out of what we do, no matter how much we dislike it.  There is a reason for each of these things, some lesson in it you must learn before you go out.  If you have a smile and a good thought for each one you meet and look for that something good in everything you do, then your days work is done and tomorrow will come in its own way no matter how you will it.  Happiness always comes in the most unexpected ways.  Enjoy what you have to do, Doris.  I believe that is the key  to happiness.  Let God walk beside you and you will never walk alone.

Love,

Mother.

I mailed this back to my mom and asked her what she remembered of it.  She was very pleased to receive it, as it was at least one precious letter that she obviously had kept for many years.  She’ll keep it still.  I gather that this letter was a reminder of much advice received and possibly the best traits of her mom that she remembers.  I could wax poetic about the power of words, but, I don’t need to, right?

1 comment :

Post a Comment

The War on Drugs – Live at the Tabernacle

No comments

Sold out.  Maybe there were more people than that, or else the abundant youthfulness of the crowd drew more to the floor rather than for the balcony seats.  We sat.  Thanks, kids.

WOD-19

This was my second show by this band, and both times I walked away… liking them?  I do like most of the songs on their last two CDs.  It’s rock, but it’s easy on the ears – not junk food by any means, but not a heavy meal, either.  The songs that succeed best generally start slower or with a relatively muted blend of instruments which build gradually to a moment where the catharsis happens – maybe it’s a strong guitar lead, maybe it’s just the drummer striking his kit rather than tapping them – but at that moment the aggression of rock ‘n roll is due, and it finally breaks through. 

WOD-18

In concert, it’s similar, except you trade the audio clarity from home speakers or a earbuds for the visuals, the shared experience, the pulsing vibrations from music played loud… and auditory processes that take a while to sort out the sounds in the venue. 

This is actually a strength for seeing this band live.  The drummer isn’t asked to do anything beyond sophomore level metronome classes, the keyboards (up to three at once) are easily heard because they don’t compete for sonic space, and the rhythm guitar is, well, pretty much not heard.  But an aural palate with this in the background leaves ample foreground space – Adam Granduciel’s voice, his lead guitar, and the particularly splendid moments when a baritone sax claims the venue.

Imagine, perhaps, a mid-80’s E-Street band backing playing “The Boys of Summer” with a vocalist who is not seeking attention and whose words, live anyway, are mostly indecipherable.  But that’s okay, his voice is the emotive influence that leads to the aforementioned guitar pyrotechnics or the bari-sax.

WOD-32

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good singer with good lyrics, but you need to know the lyrics if it’s important for you to enjoy hearing the songs live – at this venue anyway.  In any case, this show started out hot.  The first three songs (“Holding On,” “Pain,” and “An Ocean Between the Waves”) set a pace that makes one think, “We’re in for a helluva night!”  And, that, of course, is unsustainable.  After the fifth song, “Red Eyes,” the show settled into an enjoyable and listenable evening.  Located elsewhere, you might be listening to those songs while playing cards with friends and tapping your foot.

WOD-49

“Eyes to the Wind,” the closer for the regular set, picked up the pace and made for a decent sendoff, but it wasn’t until “Under the Pressure” in the encore that the band reclaimed an elevated audience enthusiasm.  The finale, “In Reverse,” is a fine song, but it served as a reminder of the inadequate pacing of the show and, well, gee, it’s a work night.  Time to leave anyway.

Setlist:

  1. Holding On
  2. Pain
  3. An Ocean in Between the Waves
  4. Strangest Thing
  5. Red Eyes
  6. Knocked Down
  7. Lost in the Dream
  8. Buenos Aires Beach
  9. In Chains
  10. Up All Night
  11. Nothing to Find
  12. You Don't Have to Go
  13. Eyes to the Wind

  14. Encore:
  15. Burning
  16. Under the Pressure
  17. In Reverse

No comments :

Post a Comment

DragonCon 2017 – By the Numbers

No comments

Hello, SurveyMonkey.  When I don’t know what I thought about this year’s Labor Day geek fest known as DragonCon, I now have objective data.  Granted that this may be only a 5% sample of registrants, but… let’s see how this supports my view as the Con unfolded.

This was the 9th DragonCon for my wife and me, a span that has seen the crowd increase from an estimated 30,000 to 80,000+.  As the Con is conducted primarily in host hotels, something has to give.  And it has.  Three host hotels expanded to four, then five, and now also includes the AmericasMart, all within a reasonable walk.   I’m not sure what may have changed this year, but I think more panels filled up (and sooner), and there was a general improvement in movement through hotel lobbies, the chokepoints of the Con.

Well, Survey Monkey, tell us about these 80,000+ people?

Capture1

So, a quarter of those are essentially newcomers, over half are regulars, and after 10 Cons, it appears people start to lose interest.   Sadly, there is no demographics included, but I’ll just say that observationally, it’s gotten younger in the last few years, and not just because I’m getting older.

That begs the question, are we prime candidates for the attendance drop off?  Well, not next year, as the early registration price is too appealing, but the idea of skipping the next one did enter our mind, whereas usually we leave somewhat tired but somewhat aggrieved that we have to wait a full year to the next one.

We also changed things a bit this year as we chose to stay in a hotel rather than commuting daily.  Due to the four night minimum stay, we arrived Thursday, the day before the Con kicks off, to find a large, already in costumed regalia, on the streets, in the lobbies and in the bars, party started.  Seeing which day of the week that the Con began for respondents verified this, though I had no idea it would shape this way.

Capture

For one, regardless of how they advertise, DragonCon is a three day convention, Fri-Sun.  Thursday night there are a number of gatherings for like-minded people, but very little programming from a presenter standpoint.  And while Monday morning and early afternoon have a fair number of panels, sorry.  People are packing and getting out of their hotels for the close of the holiday weekend.  A peek into a near empty Battlestar Galactica ballroom confirmed this.  While factually true that the Con touches five days, it’s still a lie.

Also, these stats surprisingly uphold my Saturday observation that while the streets were full, the lines and press of people was not particularly worse than Friday.  One day passes, I think, had limited availability this year, particularly pre-Con, so either more people chose to attend the whole thing or skipped coming at all.  That’s a win.

And then there’s the overall opinion about DragonCon 2017.

Capture2

I don’t know that I have an opinion on these statistics, as there are so many things that attendees may seek in the Con that I don’t share.  For me, it was “Good.”  For being a volunteer event that the industry doesn’t really support like, say, Comic-Con, there remains a lot of untapped potential to draw interest, and the SurveyMonkey asked for suggestions. 

No comments :

Post a Comment

DragonCon – 2017

No comments

Hello, Nathan Fillion.  It’s been a while, 2008, actually, as you skipped the ensuing years filming “Castle.”   Welcome back.

What started off as an “easy” Friday morning decision for a 10:00 a.m. panel became rather interesting.  First, Fillion was only on site Friday, so fans only had a choice of two panels.  Translated: large crowds, especially for the beginning of the Con.  We got in line early, about 8:40 a.m. or so.  It was already lengthy.  As it turned out, some 2,000 people would gather in an another ballroom to watch his session on a screen.  Actually, this isn’t a big deal because even in the larger conference rooms, people can say they’ve “seen” the celebrity, but many in the back watch the screens as well.  In our case, we didn’t settle for the queued seats but found an empty pair of seats closer to the front.

A couple of memorable moments include a question about how he maintains his rugged handsomeness…  In infomercial voice, “My secret is really simple.  Keep your distance. (dramatic pause) My secret to good hair… don’t fight it, man… (dramatic pause) Gentlemen, always smell good.  I don’t mean Axe body spray… If you’re going to wear cologne, two sprays in the air and walk through it.  (dramatic pause).  Be clean man.  April breeze.”  Then he couldn’t keep a straight face any longer.

DC2017-25

Throughout the session, he paid particular attention to each questioner, asking their names and relating them to relax their nerves.  This prevailing kindness was also reflected in his closing comment, “I can’t imagine my life without days like this.  You guys warm my heart. Thank you.”

Maybe it’s not so good to start off a Con at the pinnacle.

Lord British, or Richard Garriott.  Garriott is a regular at DragonCon, and this appearance seemed to slightly push his autobiography, Explore Create.  And he has plenty to tell. Garriott created the online game Ultima, and reaped the financial rewards to enjoy life on his terms.  He continues with game development, and among other subjects, demonstrated the research and thoughtfulness he puts into any subject, such as the development of languages, written or visual, for use in his video games.  He reportedly paid $30M to follow his father, a Skylab astronaut, into space, visiting the  International Space Station, where it seems he interred some of James’ Doohan’s ashes and created a registered geocache.  Garriott has took a deep sea sub to the Titanic, where he recounted the dangers of being too trusting of safety features, as well as a rock climbing descent for which he was unprepared and untethered.  In any case, a very interesting person and well worth a listen.

DC2017-79

Attack of the Celebrity Improv.  After doing other things for the afternoon, we watched this, sort of an amateurish “Whose Line is it Anyway?”  I didn’t know any of the “celebrities,” but it was entertaining, though often stifled by ridiculous audience suggestions for roles and situations.

Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Surprisingly, I hadn’t been to a panel of this cast, who attend periodically in ones and twos.  Like many favorite shows, there is obvious camaraderie and friendship that remained well beyond the show.  All the questions were common and predictable but answered in comedic ways.  The only “new” factoid was that Brent Spiner revealed that a crew member forgot a second Data suit when they filmed in the desert, and the stunt person had already used it, leaving it soaked in sweat.  You can read the full summary here, but it was obvious the other actors were pleased with both the revelation and how he handled it. 

DC2017-124

Starship Troopers.  I liked the movie, which barely resembles the Heinlein book after which it is named (because Heinlein references were adapted to the script after it had been written).  The plot has a relaxed approach to sexuality and nudity, and, twenty years later, it seems the actors were perfectly cast, as in, they haven’t changed much.  In fact, it doesn’t seem like they aged much either. In any case, it was an entertaining hour.

DC2017-137

“Unbelievable” the Movie.  Okay, you tell me it’s a lighthearted “Star Trek” parody featuring 40 Star Trek actors from its various versions over the years.  I’m interested!   Several people take to the front of the room -  equipped with two flat panel TVs for a movie screening (ahem) – I admit I have my doubts.  For one, they don’t strike me as producers.  Or actors.  It’s amateur hour.  But that’s okay.  It’s DragonCon.  It’s a parody.  It’ll be fun.  I mean, it’s got to be, right?  After all, the producers go on and on about how “they” – the movers and shakers at Paramount apparently – don’t want this film to be seen! 

Well, it’s not because of brand damage, that’s for certain.  It shouldn’t be seen because it is a stain on the resume of anyone who participated.  “Unbelievable” is aptly named. It’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, only without an excuse.   Vegetation will kill you folks.  Maybe this would be a better global warming activism movie, where rampant CO2 causes green matter to snuff human lives.  Though, for those of you who find comedy curtailed by political correctness these days, anal sex jokes are abundant here and you can delight in them.  A “Star Trek” parody and they were without show content to find humor?

Okay, here’s the best thing about it.  They had to be very, very careful not to use any licensed or trademarked terms that might offend Paramount, but they managed to feature Kirk.  You know, the womanizing captain from our favorite show, only, he’s not called Captain Kirk.  In full irony, he has the best lines and the best acting chops.  This, even though he’s a string puppet interacting with human actors.  Kirk sitting on a lounger with two bathing beauties beside him… that’s the high point of the movie.

The low point is that they reportedly spent $2 Million on this piece of ____.  (I try to keep this blog family friendly).   And I blame myself.  Knowing there are other things I wouldn’t mind doing at DragonCon in the evening, I suffer through the 20 minute “introduction” – the only audience interaction the producers will ever have – and, perhaps due to a personal tendency to see things to their end (think Iron Fist), I stay.  I was in crisis mode after five minutes, when a guy seated in the front had the “nerve” to walk out, visible to all those gathered.  I suffered through it.  Shame on the actors who gave this any chance of being made, never mind actually previewed. There were other panels we were considering afterwards, but we left drained and ready for bed.

Just go see Galaxy Quest.  Or drink lemonade under the shade of a tree.  Or clean the cat litter box.  There’s better things to do.

Crypto Wars. Call this work-related and generally of interest.  Let’s check the notes.  Netscape Navigator, which I used in the day, was built with weak encryption so that intelligence services could monitor traffic.  WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has encrypted communications.  Many foreign governments hate that, like Brazil, who is demanding back door access.  China requires companies to comply with information requests (I.e. your data), Kazakhstan requires a back door in software used in their country for censorship purposes.  Australia wants back doors for international data to assist law enforcement.  There are a lot of political motivations, and it’s less about actual security issues.

Fiveeyes… yeah, read about that.  Should they agree on a backdoor, that’s the end of any expectation that encryption will ensure privacy.  Any company on the internet will have to build to permit their requirements, or otherwise write specific software for each country in which their software is sold.  Essentially, you don’t know what backdoor access comes with every software upgrade that comes your way.  Then it was on to the Investigatory Powers Act.  No problem, we can’t spy on our own people so much, but we can just get the information from the U.K. who can.  Also, as there is no anti-hacking law, the FBI says they have sufficient authority to do so.  No one really knows what data is being collected.

It’s the kind of panel that leaves you wanting a warm puppy.

Chuck – Zachery Levi.  Remember the TV show, with the Intersect?  Well, Zachery Levi attended his first DragonCon, and while he was much more serious than I imagined, it was obvious that the hopefulness and concern that Chuck had in each episode directly reflects the life and goals for Levi, who is wounded when things don’t work the way they should.  This summary from an earlier panel is similar to what we heard, but like most Chuck fans, I hope he finds continued success (in the context of something I really want to watch) and am disappointed he hasn’t already found it.

DC2017-177

Additional photos of panels and costumes can be viewed HERE.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Forecastle Festival 2017

No comments

Crowds, summer heat, portable bathrooms.  These were the reasons against accepting my concert buddy’s invitation to Forecast Festival, located in his hometown of Louisville, KY.  They weren’t compelling reasons to not go, just part of the deal.   It’s not so different from going to a concert in Atlanta and dealing with standing on concrete floors for hours after sitting through congested highways.  You do what you gotta do.

Forecastle is a three day festival – neither of us had a desire for a full weekend, so we picked the third day – my concert buddy’s favorite due to PJ Harvey, mine because of Spoon, a fairly lackluster Saturday lineup, and, hey, don’t argue with the Cruise Director.   So, let’s begin. 

#1.  Where’s the line?  A quick frisk and we were in.

FF2017-100

#2. Hey!  A beach party!  Well, the festival is located on the banks of the Ohio River (as I gaze from KY to IN, but, then, the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota so I guess it’s okay).

FF2017-103

#3.  Stuff.  I like stuff.  If I went to the whole festival, maybe I’d drop the cash for the $30 souvenir T-Shirt.  But for only one day… nope.  And, nope again for the $10 boxer.

FF2017-104

#3.  Festival goodwill. Bring in your own sealed water bottle and you can refill it for free at the hydration station!  Well played.  Didn’t use it once.

FF2017-105

#4.  It’s a music festival!  What the?  (consults the Festival app)  Oops.  Wrong stage.

FF2017-106

#6.  Right stage.  COIN, “bright, synth-spiked indie pop.”  Yeah, not for me, for what they do, they do well.  The show was delivered with a lot of enthusiasm and with a surprising strange presence given the seeming youth of their lead singer.

FF2017-113

All of that goes to show why there was no one at that other stage and were gathered here, almost all of them 25 years old or younger.  A band on their way up, I’d say.

FF2017-118

#7.  Well, it turns out the average age was probably south of 25. Therefore, these guys’ wardrobes make sense in context.  For their needs, they were later seen with girls on their arms, soooo, good investment guys.

FF2017-122

#8.  Sierra Nevada was a sponsor for the festival, and this collaboration with Treehouse brewing, East Meets West IPA, was a great surprise.  This is why I didn’t visit the hydration station.  Treehouse is my fav, and it begged repeats.

FF2017-126

#9. Aaron Lee Tasjan.  He/they were the next band up and… they won “Best of the Day.”  Tasjan is a singer/songwriter at the core, but compared to his recordings (which I listened to afterwards), this was much more a rock show.  Even his delicate songs sounded strong with the punch.  He definitely held the over 25 crowd, but he deserved more.  His latest CD should arrive at my door Tuesday.  Thank you, as always, Amazon. 

FF2017-178

FF2017-158

FF2017-207-2

FF2017-166

#10.  Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires.  We left a show that we were very much enjoying to go to one that we expected to very much enjoy.  There has been a resurgence in funk/soul bands of late, many of them anchored by a previous generation newly “discovered” and now finding an audience.  It was a completely different vibe from Tasjan, of course, but I don’t think that influenced my opinion.  This band didn’t rise to expectations.  

FF2017-219

#11.  Foxygen.  I listened in advance.  Decent.  In person… Decent.  I probably should have listened to them more carefully, as they demonstrated that they have a variety of music styles well suited to festival audiences,.  As the photo below shows, he’s got a bit of McCartney in him, mime face notwithstanding.  I wouldn’t pay to see them as a headliner, but they were a good addition for the day.

FF2017-241

FF2017-238

12.  Big Thief.  Stole my time. 

13. Conor Oberst.  Critics darling.  But if I want earnest, I’ll just skip to Damien Rice, who fills that niche in a single CD.  Good band, but didn’t really hold my attention.

14.  PJ Harvey.  My concert buddy said she was good.  I took a break in the shade, reflecting on my IPAs.

15.  Spoon.  I’ve wanted to see them, and now I have.  I like a good number of their songs – simple, upbeat.  And dang if they don’t sound just the same in concert (not a good thing for simple music).  And, with zero stage presence, I’ve no need to see them again.

15.5 We skipped Weezer, the closer, just because.  Well, because we had to get up, and, really, other than that odd song on the radio (like “Buddy Holly”) I really have no use for them.  The under 25’s appeared to rush that way after Spoon for the “oldies” act though.

16.  Elsewhere around the show… given the demographics, I expected a lot more tattoos.  Here’s a couple.  The left one says “Welcome to the tragic kingdom,” no doubt No Doubt. Nevertheless, it might be a warning sign to guys?  I would have asked the one on the right what the story is, but it’s kind of hard to hear at these things anyway, but, given the detail, I don’t think I’d be disappointed in the story.

  FF2017-282untitled-1-3






Here’s where all the cool kids hang out… Yeah, in the shade.  Where they had to listen to a DJ.  Sense the excitement?

FF2017-134

The even cooler ones hang out here.

FF2017-253

I saw this guy a few times during the day.   A lot of work for a little advertising.

FF2017-278

Overall, the festival was a lot less crowded than I expected (the crowd built to the evening, but there were no lines for anything), and other than people holding cups of beer, it was very much a G rated affair.  One benefit of the great weather (mid 80’s, low humidity) was that someone was able to comfortably wear her mom’s jeans from the real festival days.  Well, okay.  Maybe these were made in China, but it’s the spirit that counts.

FF2017-197

Overall, glad I went, and this particular festival overcame my initial fears – no overwhelming crowds, no oppressive heat, no lines at the portable johns – which were cool because they were placed under the bridge.  This festival did everything well.

One the better songs from Tasjan.

No comments :

Post a Comment