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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Netflix Streaming

I received the new Netflix Instant Streaming disc for the Wii this past Friday. After fussing with the wireless network security for an hour or two, I managed to get it going. I had some hopes for it, even if the Wii doesn't support hi-def video. Hey, I don't even have the Wii hooked up through the component inputs on the TV! Regardless, I think Netflix streaming video far surpasses my expectations. When I showed Holly's mom, she even asked if it was legal. If you have to question something's legality, it's got to be pretty darn good!

Now the picture isn't perfect but most of the times it is more than acceptable, just south of standard def cable -- and its all being transmitted via my wireless router (actually, if one were to hook up the Ethernet to USB port on the Wii, I'm sure you could get an improved picture). A few of the programs I dialed up were even enhanced for 16:9. All one does is insert the special disc (supplied for free by Netflix) into the Wii and navigate to the video categories. Users can add movies to their instant queue on Netflix.com. After picking your program with the Wii controller, you wait a few moments while it downloads the stream and voila. Viewers can pause, return to the main menu, browse and resume programs all with the Wii controller. Netflix also streams films unavailable on DVD here in the US, such as Joseph Losey's The Go-Between. I found myself enjoying all the great documentaries including the Up Series. If you are a Netflix user and you have a Wii, do yourself a favor and get on board this free service. It's a no-brainer.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Day in the Life: SXSW 2010

Unseasonably cold weather ripped through Austin, Texas during the third day of this year's SXSW fest. It was the first I'd ever planned on attending in 13 years. Last time I was there in 1997, hawking my own music project and spacing out to the sounds of Wayne Coyne and Friends' insane Parking Garage Experiment. I had only been once before that, 20 years ago in college when the fest was just getting on its hind legs. I heard word that it was packed out this year -- maybe more than ever --  hmmm, maybe the cold weather would reduce the multitude into a mere 'tude. I'm not much of a "crowds" person, but I wanted to get a glimpse of some music trends, y'know, find out what all the fuss was about -- even if for only one day of a four day event, windchill factor be damned. 

Bill Pearis and Chris AllenCombined with the colder clime,  a sickly, flu-like feeling was creeping up the back of my throat, creating a sense of curious discombobulation as I set out from Dallas in the Subaru at 9:00 AM Saturday morning in the pouring rain. My goal was to pull into the Capital around noon, check in with my friend Chris Allen who was putting me up for the night, and then get my arse into the totally free Brooklyn Vegan/M for Montreal Day Party since I didn't have an official wrist band. My friend, Brooklyn-based blogger Bill Pearis was in town and helping promote the event. I knew if I hung around him long enough, I'd get a peek at some of the buzzier up-and-coming acts in town.

Roky Erickson and Okkervil RiverThe Brooklyn Vegan shindig was cool. Literally, with half the acts playing in a windy tent out in the courtyard in 40 degree F weather -- it was a little rough going at times. Among the guest artists was psychedelic legend Roky Erickson, running through some pretty loose versions of his oldies -- and apparently -- newies with local heroes Okkervil River. Media irritant Nardwuar was on hand as compere. The chill was enough to send me into the densely thronged pocket of skinny-jeanned hipsters seeking some non-ironic warmth. Who  won a pair of designer jeans in the raffle?

Local NativesInside off 6th St, it was much warmer, but more packed out. Insiders included Canuck sonic psychos Duchess Says, Plants and Animals and Silverlake's percusive Local Natives who got the crowd going with a Talking Heads cover. All three were pretty good though.  A friend said Plants and Animals sounds too much like Pearl Jam. I dunno...Outside we had Andrew W.K. who amused with a melodic ode to small dogs. I guess the song was called "Small Dogs." Somebody help me here. After several beers, and some back and forth inside and outside, the party wound down  around 4 or 5 ish. Correct me if I'm wrong. Bill suggested a showcase in basement of a wine bar around the corner.  I was dying from exposure, it was time to get going.

We headed over to the Wine Dive at San Jacinto and 3rd and talked our way in. There were free drinks, some free snacks (fried chicken legs that were, I might add, truly appetizers) and not too many folks. Nice.  Noisepop fans probably won't go wrong with LA-based blog favorites  Best Coast. Their sound is reverb-heavy surf rock tweaked out with singer Bethany Cosentino's contemporary uber-indie vocal stylings. I liked it. I was tempted to pick up a 7" vinyl single but I didn't want to have to carry it around for the rest of the evening. I was traveling light Saturday, but I might look it up later. Abe Vigoda were also on tap, with a pleasant enough sometimes-synthy start-stop rock snarll...good, but I'll pass.  Both bands were on their six or seventh gig a piece at the fest. I was worn out after just walking around and drinking beers for a few hours. I couldn't imagine. Anyway, after a few drinks we decided to head out into the wilds of downtown Austin yet again.

Up the street at Latitude, we had Brooklyn combo, Uninhabitable Mansions, first on the bill at the Moshi Moshi Records showcase.  They were a bit more traditional than some of the other bands we had seen up to that point in that they actually included a bass guitar player in their line-up. I really don't remember that much about them (I think I had my first shot of whiskey at this point), but I did talk to the singer and drummer outside before the show and they seemed like very nice, very fashionable folks.  By this time, night was drawing upon us and Bill had in mind another venue...

To be continued...

Friday, March 19, 2010

SXSW Bound

I'm heading down to Austin this weekend to check out the last couple of days of SXSW. I haven't been to the fest in years. Heard it's a madhouse from the locals, but I need to get out of Dallas for a day or so. I'll bring my camera and get some snaps in and put them up here post haste.

Alex Chilton Memorialized in the US House of Representatives

Thursday, March 18, 2010

RIP Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton, the Memphis-born singer-songwriter and voice of The Box Tops and Big Star, passed away yesterday at the age of 59 (reportedly while mowing his lawn). He was scheduled to play a reunion show with Big Star at SXSW in Austin this Saturday. Chilton reportedly died from a heart attack in his adopted hometown of New Orleans.

I was, and still am, a tremendous fan of his work, especially Big Star, although I think his 1978 solo single, "Bangkok," stands out as well. Big Star is one of those bands that needs to hit you at the right time. I might be wrong, but it seems it isn't always easy for a newcomer to just pick up one of their albums and become a fan -- the music needs time to grow inside of you. But, boy, when it does, it's like tapping into the motherload. I was particularly fond of their second album, 1973's Radio City.Standout songs like "Daisy Glaze" and "O My Soul" -- not to mention the oft-covered "September Girls" -- were timeless, stone-cold classics.

Not many people remember, but Alex Chilton was also feared dead during the terrible Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He turned up later. His talent will be remembered and missed. 

Click on the link below for a taste of the Big Star.

Big Star - DAISY GLAZE.mp3

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Look...Same Crappy Website

Decided to give the ol' site a little facelift since moving to Google's dedicated servers. I must admit I was a little afraid of change but what the hey, sometimes it's nice to move things around. As you might notice there are some new features onboard, including some streaming news feeds and expanded archive functions. It's not 100% but I'm still figuring out what to do with it right now. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

What Goes on in Sarah Palin's Brain

Monday, March 15, 2010

Website Migration Issues

Since Blogger is forcing their "heritage users" to migrate to their blogspot site, I'm a migrating my web page...but unfortunately I've run into a few issues that will take some ironing out. All of the links have been broken and I'm working on a solution. Stay tuned.