Saturday, July 10, 2010

Idle Hands

Quick work of passing fancies.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Alone, each piece is useless, but together, it saves my life.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ramblings for the Evening (7/8/2010)

Haven't done this in a while.
So, without further ado: Together!

LeBron Feels the Heat:

I'll be honest about this even though I'm a Knick fan (or used to be before the NBA changed into no fun):

I'm really not surprised, and I really don't care.

Look, this is a great thing for the NBA. It's making people (yup, even me) talk about it. Now, you have a super team that people are either going to REALLY cheer hard for...or REALLY hate. This will generate buzz for a league that is in serious denial about the trouble it's facing. It also shows a couple of interesting things.

1. Months ago, a sports pundit (can't remember who) mentioned that these three guys might meet to discuss what to do. They were all drafted in the same year (2003) and all three talked about how much they wanted to play together (which they did during the Beijing Olympics).
So here's your conspiracy theory. All three of these guys used this time brilliantly to build publicity to create a super team that will be talked about. The media, needing a story for the 24/7 news cycle ate it all up. Hell, ESPN aired a one hour special that will make LeBron a ton of money (it's his advertisements) and ESPN will get the ratings.

2. This proves that the players, not the owners, dictate the league. These players are getting tons of money and the owners can't tell them no, or they will lose their fan base and then lose money. Years ago people were outraged that Alex Rodriguez was given a contract to pay him close to 25 million dollars a season, but no one bats an eye (no pun intended) at an NBA player getting 20 million a year? As long as your team wins, who cares? Now pay your $60 for the upper level ticket, your $9 for a beer, and shut up... of course the owners are fine for now because....

3. The NBA is in trouble. The collective bargaining agreement is almost up and the owners are being crushed by the amount of money they have to pay, so the league will probably be locked out. The economic troubles of the times are going to mean trouble for the owners, so things will need to change. Lowering the salary cap and such, will do that.

4. And poor Cleveland. You go back to being a city of nothing. You have a terrible football, terrible baseball, and, now again, a terrible basketball team. This is going to hurt for awhile. And LeBron's leaving is also going to really hurt the economy of Ohio.

In the end the story will die now. LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh will go on and dominate the Eastern Conference (with a team of 5 guys, because that's all they can afford), and that's fine. They will have fun and enjoy the ride...until they lose to Kobe and the Lakers....

Thom Pham on the Lam:

Ok, so Azia is closing, and he's opening a new restaurant in downtown. (
See here) Why are people surprised by this? Azia is fine, but it's now in a bad location. If he opens a restaurant that can bring in even an 1/8 of the Twins fans during every game, he's going to make a good amount of money.

I used to work with a guy who became a restaurateur. I told him I was heading to the Heart Walk at the Twins stadium and he started talking to me about how he wished he had enough money to open a restaurant.

"Why?" I asked.
"Can you imagine the money?" He replied. "You get a ton of people in during the season and that can last until September. You also get people in who can't get into the games. Then, if you've done the job right and make good food...they keep coming back during the offseason."
"Ok," I said, "but what if you're food is bad? What if you don't get them in?"
"That's the risk you take."

So Pham is taking that risk. Maybe it is because he has money issues. Or maybe it's because he recognizes that he can get more people right there in a more central area. Either way, you should be surprised.

And finally...

Shirts Up:

I've talked about this before, and I'll say it again: There are no really cool shirts for young girls out there.

For example:

Here's a girl's
shirt. Ok, it's ponies, which girls like (apparently), but has a twist that seems almost insulting.

Same store, but here's a boy's

Why can't girls have shirts that are cool but don't have to deal with ponies and shoes and shopping?

I just don't understand. Here I was at Target the other day looking for a t-shirt for my daughter. I look over at the boys and there's a Beatles shirt, a Grateful Dead shirt, and a Paul Frank Monkey shirt. Glancing to my left, I see the girls' shirts. There's a super glittery shirt that reads, "It's all about ME," with the "ME" in big pink glittery letters. Next to that was a shirt with an ice cream cone. Why can't my daughter have a Grateful Dead shirt without me having to buy her a boy's shirt? It's frustrating.

Look, I get that boys are supposed to have the Star Wars and Batman shirts, but do girls really only get Wonder Woman on a rainbow? And the problem is if I buy her a Junk Food t-shirt (which are the cool shirts that aren't super girly), I'm paying about $30 for a shirt that will last only a few months.

It may make her be considered a nerd (and that's not necessarily a bad thing), but I bought my daughter a Boba Fett shirt. Yes I did. She'll be able to wear it soon, and I'm excited.

Of course what do I know? My daughter wears a sundress when her mother dresses her, and she wears Batman when I do.... I could be wrong.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Dairy Air

I need to go back to my Flickr account.

There was something so sad in this cow's eyes. I could almost imagine the conversation we could have.

Ironic Teachings: Hello there!
Cow: Moo!

Damn. That was boring. Let's try using the patent (pending) IT cow translator.

IT: Hello there!
C (sounding like Snuffalufagus, but drunk): Hello.
IT: How are you?
C: It's hot and humid, buddy. And everyone who comes along just looks at me and attempts to low like me. It's kind of annoying. I mean how would you feel if every cow passed you and yelled 'Hey!' at you?"
IT: I'd be glad someone cared? Besides, you look li
C: Fuck you! You would not. You'd be all, 'Why is that cow yelling at me? What did I do to it?' And of course you people only think about eating me and turning me into shoes...
IT: I don't.
C: Suuuuuure. Whatever. But I wouldn't make a good steak, pal. I mean you can see my ribs. Is that the kind of animal you want to eat? One that has been sitting out in the hot sun so fools like you can come along and take pictures of me? Huh?!
IT: Well I can't pet you...and I can't feed you...and my daughter loves you. I think she wants to take you home more than a dog. She hates those chickens over there...but that's because the one rooster tried to eat her finger. It was adorable watching her contemplate the evil act the chicken did....
C: Hey, hey, HEY! This is about me here, dude. I'm just saying...where's my love?
IT: What do you want from me? I took your picture because I find you captivating. What else can I do?
C: Besides letting the world know about the plight of cows and our desire to be seen as more than just food and belts? Can I have that Coke you're drinking?
IT: ...No. You're a cow. Cow's don't drink Coke.
C: How the fuck do you know?
IT: You swear a lot for a cow.
C: I'm angry. It's like 95 degrees and really humid, and I'm mostly black. So of course I absorb so much more heat than you do. I'm allowed to swear.
IT: True, but you have less fur and black on you than a black bear...that's something.
C: I hate you right now. If I could get you in this fence, I would kick your ass from here to Des Moines.
IT: You know we're in Kansas, right?
C: What?! When did they move me...oh my G..yes I know I'm in Kansas. I'm a cow, not a sheep, idiot.
IT: Ok, my kids are running away to go look at the steam tractor. Have to go. Good luck with the heat, and I hope you aren't bought by McDonalds.
C: You're a jerk, but I like you. Thanks for letting me swear at you. I'm going to just lay here with these flies for a while. Don't

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

An Ironic Thought (7/6/2010)

I was reading the beginnings of my blog the other night and came across some interesting comments from one Jason DeRusha. Now, Mr. DeRusha, though he might deny it, once upon a time read my blog. This is because, when Rex started MNSpeak, Jason and I were neighboring blogs. On Thursday, September 15th, 2005, I made a comment that Jason had left a comment on my blog, and felt important.

The following is his response:

"1. You guys think I'm a local celeb? D-list at best.

2. You guys think I have an intern? I wish."

Now, go to Jason's WCCO blog page. Here, I'll help you.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen...after 5 years (and I know it was well before this too), Jason does indeed have an intern.

As for being a D-list celebrity. Well let's start here: Singing at a Twins Game.

Then there's the monthly article...Seen here.

And I could go on and on.

Hey, I like this guy...even though I've never met him. I tried once, but he ran away at warp speed from the dude yelling his name. And if not for him, I never would have had the opportunity to meet Katie Couric and watch Matt get his pen taken away...among other things.

I don't think he reads my blog anymore, and that's ok. He's moved beyond it (as most have, dear reader), but I'm glad that for a little while, he and I were e-neighbors...and that I could prove that his comments made on my blog would ironically come back to bite him.

You have to love the interwebs.

So thanks, Jason.


Monday, July 05, 2010


On June 21st, I was lucky enough to go see Sting with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Xcel Energy Center.

I had never seen Gordon Sumner (Sting's real name) before, but I was told the concerts he puts on are quite fun.

This one was...and wasn't. It's not that the show was bad, but it just

Upon entering the XEC, the entire arena was filled with smoke. Not, "Help, help! There's a fire smoke," but, "Obviously set up to create ambiance through lighting later," smoke. While not overly problematic, it did make looking around and just sitting a little difficult.

The first thing that really struck me, however, was that I was twenty years younger than almost all the audience members. It was all silver hair (or no hair for that matter). Stuck in-between pentagenerians was the occasional teenager. None looked excited. It would turn out a teenager was sitting three seats from me as I sat on the aisle of row 6 in the left section. When I asked him why he was there to watch the show, he replied, "My mom made me. I have to..." and he paused and looked at this woman standing near us in a sundress that could almost barely stand. Then he said, "I have to watch her." It would turn out that he most definitely had to, as she would later try to get close to Sting.

I read in the Star Tribune that maybe 6,000 people showed up, and I believe that number to be fairly low. While there were empty seats (and the show did start late as they really wanted people sitting), there was closer to 10,000 people there. I used to be a season ticket holder for the Minnesota Wild and have seen the XEC sold out. It was not that packed, but the floor was full, the lower bowl was mostly full, and the club level was almost completely full. Of course it's true, from what I was told, The Police concert was almost as full as a Wild game. Still, this wasn't a bad audience...for the most part.

After starting late, the audience was treated to Philharmonic orchestra coming out on stage and beginning the show with Steven Mercurio firing up the "band" before Sting himself walked out on stage. And it was his beginning with "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," that made me realize: This man is old. He's 58, and though he looks good, he doesn't have the same sound as 15-20 years ago. I listened to Ten Summoner's Tails when I was in high school, and Mr. Sumner could WAIL on the chorus of that song. He sounded strained that night at the X. He also didn't move. Understand, this is a man who came out half naked in David Lynch's version of Dune and slithered like a snake. Beyond that, he just oozed appeal from his movements. During this show, Sting spent his time at the microphone with a tambourine on a stand for him to hit to follow the beat. It made him look (no pun intended) fragile.

The lack of backup dancers and Sting's movement, however, was made up for by Mercurio who conducted with such passion, that he was like a backup dancer moving around the orchestra (so to speak) to get the best performance.

Where I was really bothered, however, was not in the fact that Sting has grown older (that's a given for anyone), nor was I bothered by the set list (more on that later), nor did security bother me (as they chose certain people to take away their recording devices, but not all). No, my issue, as a theatre geek of sorts, was the set, sound, and lighting most of the time. When I was in college, my lighting instructor told me that I tended to light shows like concerts. This meant I had a knack for moving lights and knowing when to light the speaker (or singer). Thus, I was incredibly frustrated that Sting began almost every the dark. He'd sing and get into the verse only to have the light pop on about three or four seconds too late. It was frustrating to me. I can only imagine what the Stage Manager thought.

Beyond the lighting, the mix wasn't the best (maybe it was because I was close), so that Sting's voice was occasionally drowned out by the orchestra. During one of my favorite songs, "A Thousand Years", there were times when the musicians completely overpowered Sting's voice so that he was below the strings.

And the set.

I don't quiet understand the panels. There were three giant panels that were raised and lowered throughout the show. It felt kind of pointless at first, though toward the end of the first set they did show Sting being soulful (see above), and some art pieces (some of which were during "Tomorrow We'll See"...a Freaking out Lucha Libre is not what I see during that song).

And yet there some beautiful numbers on the set list.

During the first set, we were given:

Here is what Sting played with strings:
"If I Ever Lose My Faith in You"
"Englishman in New York"
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
"Straight to My Heart"
"When We Dance"
"I Hung My Head"
"Shape of My Heart"
"Why Should I Cry"
"Whenever I Say Your Name"
"Fields of Gold"
"Next to You"

I've never really been a fan of "Fields of Gold", and here it was played as saccharine sentimentality to the point of being hard to hear. We had to have a history lesson for the youngins' in the audience to understand the song "Russians" (and still had a teenager near me say, "Who is Reagan?"). I've also personally never been a fan of "I Hung My Head", but many people near me really liked this take on it. "Englishman in New York" found Sting obviously annoyed with the audience as he kept trying to get them to sing with him and the lack of participation was obviously annoying him.

During his explanations between songs, Sting was unfortunately heckled by a fan who yelled (not kidding), "Freebird!" Like a good showman, the former Police singer stopped, looked at the man, and said, "No, sir, I didn't write that one...and I remember my first joint too." Unfortunately, that man would yell, "Freebird," again later.

It was at this point I was surprised that the band and Sting took a twenty minute intermission. Maybe they knew their audience. However, they returned early. It was as if Mr. Sumner wanted to get the heck out of dodge.

Returning five minutes early, they played:
"A Thousand Years"
"Tomorrow We’ll See"
"Moon over Bourbon Street"
"The End of the Game"
"My Ain True Love"
"All Would Envy"
"Mad About You"
"King of Pain"
"Every Little Breath You Take"

"King of Pain" is always an enjoyable song, and he made it even more fun with the orchestra behind him. While Jo Lewis is a beautiful woman (who has nailed the back up singer sway) and quite talented, she's no Alison Krauss. This was seen when she sang "My Ain True Love" with Sting and most of the audience members around me said, "Better with Alison Krauss," out loud.
Where Sting almost lost me was when he turned "Moon over Bourbon Street" from an incredibly lovely jazz tune into a strange horror piece, complete with pointless costume change and a theremin solo. While I applaud Sting for trying something new, the theremin proved to be annoying, and to play it while clips from Max Shreck's version of
Nosferatu played on the panels made it feel as though Sting was playing to the Twilight crowd. In my book, it didn't work. It's a jazz number...period.

There were four encores:
"Desert Rose"
"She’s Too Good for Me"
"I Was Brought to My Senses"

I know the Star Tribune marked it as being only two encores, but the fact that the band and Sting kept leaving the stage and then returning (to me) means four encores, not two. "Desert Rose" was done well, but Sting should not do the opening. "She's too Good for Me" was also well done. However, the highlight of the encore was the actual opening where Sting returned to stage with an iPod on and began singing "Freebird." I managed to shoot this part of the show....

Of course he also sang "Fragile", which was pretty but again had strange visuals. Finally, after long coaxing from an audience that didn't want 1984 to end, Sting returned one more time to sing the opening lines to "I Was Brought to my Senses." While pretty, it almost felt like he was doing it as a quick means to keep traffic clear while he and the orchestra shot out of town in their buses.

It was a nice concert. Probably not as rocking as Tom Petty, who rolled in the next night, but enjoyable. However, it demonstrated that rockers and musicians do in fact change as they get older. Even James Taylor can't sing "Steamroller" like he used to, and Sting is no exception. His voice has changed. I was also sad that he didn't have his Lute with him as "Until" is one of my favorite songs, but I digress.

Yes, it was enjoyable, but different from what I expected. As the tour continues on, I would merely ask those lighting cues be fixed. Do that, and the show will be much better.