Known Johnson

May 27, 2008

Fashion Police

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 12:04 pm

Rock fashion is very often a bad thing. We all know that. We saw the Police (with Elvis Costello opening) Saturday night. It was an incredible show (but Elvis might have slightly outdone Sting & Co.) but I found myself terribly distracted by Andy Summers’ choice of shirts.

Andy Summers’ terrible shirtYou see, it’s kind of one of those “your innards” types of things, but updated for the 21st century, maybe. It looks like the ribs are made of a shiny gold metal and there are bright silvery screws holding everything together. Now, this would be a questionable fashion choice on even a younger guy, but Andy Summers is sixty six years old. I don’t mean to sound cruel, but it looks ridiculous on a guy that old. I don’t want to hear any comments about “he’s a rock star, he can look any way he wants.” You can’t tell me this is a good look.

The biggest problem is that once I really noticed this shirt, I couldn’t stop looking at it. And I’m a creative person. Once I notice something, I start really thinking about them, and with this shirt, I really began thinking about how it came to be at this concert. From Andy picking it out of his closet, thinking “Hmm, this looks great, I’ll wear this tonight!” to him wandering into some Hot Topic-like store in England or wherever and seeing this on a rack, thinking to himself, “Blimey! I’ve got to get meself one of those,” all the way back to someone sitting down and designing this, thinking, “You know what the world needs? A techno update of the old skeleton t-shirt.”

And then I began to laugh. Out loud. In the middle of a concert. A lot. Over and over again. I stopped . . . just in time for Andy to pop back on the screen, shirt filling the view, and then I’d start again. After a while, I had to tell Alissa, who also began laughing when I simply said “Where did he get that shirt?!” and who also began to laugh when I laughed at the sight of him on screen. And then I had to share with my friend who was sitting on the other side of me, who kept looking at me as I giggled, and he started laughing after I yelled in his ear “I am completely obsessed with Andy’s shirt!”

boneshirtAnd just when I thought I got myself calmed down, I suddenly remembered the credits of This is Spinal Tap when Marti DiBergi is asking Nigel Tufnel about his skeleton shirt . . . and it began again. “This is my exact inner structure, done in a tee shirt. Exactly medically accurate.” It’s pretty hard to take anything seriously when you have that running through your head. At least the music was good.

This is my life. I take music as a deadly serious subject, except when I don’t.

Anyway, watch from about 1:04 and you’ll see the scene I’m talking about (or just get the movie – a classic, hilarious from start to finish):

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To a farm in the woods

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:23 am

My parents’ dog, and Amanda’s beloved playmate, Charlie (who goes by “Chuckie” with her,) died this weekend. I am stunned thinking that he was fourteen years old – I can’t believe it, but I start placing events in my life with when he was around and it makes sense. He was my parents’ dog, but he was also my dog for the years I lived there, too. I’ll really miss him. He was a really sweet dog.

As upsetting as his loss is, it’s more upsetting dealing with figuring out how to get a toddler to grasp what death means. I found myself most preoccupied with figuring out how to get this across to her. She simply can’t understand the concept, and we’re reduced to saying that he’s “gone away and he won’t be coming back.” The first day, she just didn’t get it, and when he was mentioned, it was with the condition of him coming back at some point. Sunday I opted to tell her that he had been very sick and couldn’t be with us anymore, and now he was somewhere where he could be much happier and wouldn’t be sick anymore. But he wouldn’t be coming back to us.

Yesterday, I asked her if she understood about Chuckie, and she said he was sick. And I asked, “And he won’t be coming back, right?” She said, “Okay,” followed by “let’s play!” She seemed fine. I shrugged it off, figuring kids deal with things in different ways, if she was dealing with it at all. Who knows what all this means at 32 months?

This morning, as I buckled her up to take her over to my parents for the day, I asked her one last time about Chuckie, to make sure. “You know he won’t be there, right? Chuckie’s in a better place, he’s happy and playing with friends.” Her eyes welled up, but no tears fell, and she said, “He can’t come back.” I kissed her forehead. She understands.

May 22, 2008

Master of my domain

Filed under: Annoyances,Boring site stuff — Tom @ 12:10 pm

And . . . we’re back. Oh, those pesky phishers. Apparently someone hacked into the beautiful lull via a very outdated WordPress install (note to self: update WordPress installs on old sites) and installed a phishing site within its realm. A couple of days later, my host (Bluehost) slammed the cuffs on my site, locking it down until it could be made safe again for the more innocent users of the internet. Imagine that, one of my sites was so dangerous that the world at large was at risk.

Well, it took two days of going back and forth with long-distance tech- and abuse-support (but within the US, one of Bluehost’s pluses) but I got the offending files obliterated with ease, and this morning finds my sites happily humming along as if nothing happened. Now I have to update the beautiful lull and unproductivity to the latest WordPress installs which will have the safety that should keep phishing scams from being launched from at least my domain. If I were more up on this back-end crap, I’d figure out how to wrap those databases into this site and do away with those sites all together, but I’m a visual designer, not a web developer, and I’d like to keep it that way. So . . . not completely master of my domain.

May 16, 2008

Kekich Underwood

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 7:12 pm

Don’t you just love Ticketmaster’s new two-word “security check” captcha? The subject comes straight outta (Compton) one I just got when checking to see what tickets were left for Tom Waits’ two shows here in Phoenix. Sounds kind of like a Tom Waits song title, doesn’t it? Anyway. It appears that my company decided that this week was the week to start blocking Ticketmaster at work. Of all weeks.

That’s okay because it was likely fruitless. I read stories from fans about shows selling out in five minutes (Ohio) and the system just being, in general, “fucked up,” (everywhere.) Gosh, what a surprise. Ticketmaster not having their shit together? That said, by last night I had changed my mind WRT (that’s business speak for “with regards to” – don’t you love that? I do) the Tom Waits show. At $90+fees each, I began to doubt my need to see this. As I said to Alissa earlier today in an email, I’m torn between whether this is simply smart or sad. It’s smart because $200+ for 90 minutes of music is, let’s face it, a damned lot of money for a relatively small amount of returned entertainment. It’s sad because there was a time when I wouldn’t have questioned this and would have looked askance at anyone who claimed to be a fan but turned down the opportunity to see the object of their affection. Look askance upon me, if you wish. It’s too much money. But I looked for tickets out of curiosity anyway. Sold out. Now I don’t have to feel so guilty. Corporate America took the ability to get tickets out of my hands at work and ravenous fans took away my ability to buy tickets, period. So be it.

All I have to say is, why not have several nights in every one of these cities so that a lot more people can go see Waits? It’s obvious the demand is there, and since the paperless ticket route has eliminated the ability of scalpers to do their thing, it means that the fans actually bought all these tickets. The demand is there. The supply is not. A little more balancing is in order.

May 14, 2008

Gunnite

Filed under: General,Music — Tom @ 7:23 pm

Fact: Some people apparently outfit themselves with entire wardrobes filled with G-Unit clothing.

This is making the rounds everywhere (I found it at Pop Candy,) but if you somehow haven’t seen it, you need to. Set aside 7 minutes to be completely amazed. This guy is brilliant.

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Speaking of brilliant, the new Bill Frisell album, History, Mystery, a two-disc, 30 song set of new music (not a retrospective, despite the name) is just that. And it is without a doubt an early contender for album of the year.

May 13, 2008

Moncle’s unky

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:18 pm

Avuncular: a word that popped into my head today and I had no idea why. I didn’t even know what it meant. I looked it up and find that it means “pertaining to, or characteristic of, an uncle.” Huh? Why do we even have a word like this? When was it necessary to describe someone’s behavior as very “uncle-like,” but they never needed to make special words for those behaving in particularly motherly or fatherly ways? What about aunts? Does no one ever behave like an aunt? Words like this are great examples of why the grammar-nazis are constantly hovering over the English language, attempting to protect it from the ever creeping menace of things like l33t sp34k and other atrocities. Sometime, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, “avuncular” was a part of some idiotic clique’s collection of catchphrases that somehow stuck around, and now it’s an official word. Unused, but official.

A Sternly Worded Letter is going to be finding its way to American Honda very soon. My Ridgeline is was in the shop for a second time in TWO MONTHS for the same problem: CV boot replacement. The inner CV boot, which is a little rubber cone-like thing that covers the driveshaft that goes from the engine to one of the front wheels, tore and is leaking its vital grease. There’s four of them, two per side, one on the engine, one on the wheel. It’s a $220 repair to fix this. Twice now, one on each side of the engine. I can understand one getting torn by something that finds its unfortunate way up to one side or the other of the engine and tears the boot. But two . . . in that short of a time period? Something’s a bit fishy. And of course they’re not covered under warranty – they’re “wear and tear” items. Of course.

You know, I’m done. I’m just real cranky today. I’m tired – I have been for a couple of weeks now. And not much has gone right today. Done.

May 10, 2008

Attack of the clones

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 12:44 am

First Journey did it by picking their new lead singer from some Filipino cover band, and now Boston picks up a replacement for the late, great Brad Delp from . . . Home Depot? Scoff if you will, but you have to give this guy a listen. That’s about as close to Delp as any person could ever come. Just imagine that voice surrounded by a screaming crowd and blaring guitars and it would be next to impossible to determine if it was the real deal or this new guy. And guess what? That new dude in Journey is pretty damned close to Steve Perry, too. Check him out:

Does it matter anymore? Do they need to be legit? Who cares? Steve Perry will likely never play with Journey again. His health issues and the grudge he holds against the band are seemingly going to prevent him from ever pairing up with the band again. Does it really smudge either band’s histories to have two very, very similar singers fill in at this point? Most remaining fans just want to hear a reasonable facsimile of the music, and for most of them, the guy singing needs to sound like the original, if not be the original. They want the “close your eyes and pretend” moment. Can you pretend it’s Steve and Brad fronting these bands? You bet. That’s good enough for the majority. I’m not even going to say that’s a bad thing – and I might have a few years ago because these bands were getting subpar singers to stand in. Now they seem to realize that everything rests on the voice, and if they can’t find what are essentially clones, then they’re screwed.

Journey has even gone so far as to re-record a bunch of their older hits with the new guy, which will be bundled with not only the new album but also a live DVD with the new guy. Believe it or not, I’m curious enough that I’ve gone from stunned smirking and joke-making to wallet-open curiosity. Yeah, I’ll likely be picking this shit up. What’s it to ya? $11.88 for three discs, and dude actually does sound like Steve Perry? I’ll take the risk.

Now Boston, on the other hand . . . their new material is going to have to do a lot more than just sound like Brad Delp’s behind the microphone. They haven’t had a consistently strong album in more than 20 years – and they’ve only had FIVE albums in thirty years, and the first two were two years apart! Great singer or no, they’ve still got to have songs. Journey, amazingly, seems to have ’em. I don’t know how, but I don’t need to. They defied the odds twice here – they picked up a great replacement singer and seem to have tapped back into the old power source that made those old songs of theirs so great. Will it sustain through the length of a whole new album? I won’t know until June 3, but I’m strangely excited to find out.

May 8, 2008

It’s true

Filed under: Curiosities — Tom @ 2:05 pm

I honestly don’t know how people spend so much time on the internet if they’re not looking up stuff about music.

May 7, 2008

Ghosts in the material world

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 8:15 am

It’s here!

This was all we saw before:

Ghosts

But now I have some close-up images I can show you from my copy:

I didn’t bother trying to get a good shot of the book – I didn’t want to break the spine trying to open it. You’ll just have to squint at the tiny promo shot above and just trust me that it’s really beautifully put together. This is easily one of the two most beautiful packaging I have ever seen – fighting with Marillion’s Marbles special edition for top spot. It’s on my list of “what to save in a fire” along with that special edition of Marbles and their SE of Anaraknophobia (both of which my name is in for pre-ordering – I’m semi-famous . . . along with a few thousand others) and a few other slightly less important things. You know, after my family, people. I’m not that bad.

May 6, 2008

Maybe she’s been hanging out with Milton from Office Space

Filed under: General — Tom @ 7:24 am

Squirrels and unicorns and holes for the cars for the squirrels. It all makes sense to her.

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