Blogs are so 2000′s…

Hellooooooo.

You know, sometimes I forget I still own a blog. I get comments now and then, especially on that Weird American Shit post (check it out. The comments are hilarious)

Anyone still read this? Do people still use Bloglines, or Google Reader or something?

I miss blogs and the people I’ve met through them. Although one of those people is now my fiancée :)

Leave me a comment if you’ve read this. Would be interested to see how many oldies are still out there :)


Why I don’t like Apple…any more

If you know me, you’ll know that I am quick to bash the Apple brand. You will often hear me say, “Apple Sucks!”, whenever something ‘i’ related is brought up.

People have asked me, why do you hate them?

It was not always this way….

Let’s go back to 1986. It was the start of the computer age for me. I was 10 and I went to a relatively small primary school in Western Sydney. The school had 2 computers. They were both Apples. The Apple IIe was the educational computer of choice. To be honest I have no idea what the school used them for, but for me it was ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego’ and ‘Choplifter’. Now, if you were born in the 70′s, you would have definitely played ‘Carmen Sandiego’ . Surely it has to be educational to travel to Paris to find the clues as to where Carmen has gone next! There were days where Mum would be late to pick us up from school, so I would happily spend an extra hour after school trying to find Carmen, playing Choplifter or Lode Runner.

This was my first experience with an Apple, but as I moved into high school, I would start to use them more.

My high school had a room full of Apples, and this time it was the Macintosh Plus. Yes, those drab beige all in one rectangular boxes with, oh my god what is that?, a MOUSE!, turned out to be my weapon of choice for several years. Not to mention that the mouse was handy for playing ‘Shufflepuck Cafe’ or MacCricket, not to mention the classic, ‘Defender of the Crown’.

I spent a lot of time in that room of Apples, and although I had a Commodore 64 at home, I found that the mouse lent itself to a whole plethora of excitement I could not experience with my joystick. (pun intended)

There was another computer room at my school. It held the dreaded ‘IBM Compatibles’. (the school obviously couldn’t afford real IBM’s!). These monolithic PC’s were my first taste of a BIOS, DOS and the overly stimulating, very boring LOGO software. (Look! I drew a circle!).

Ultimately the ‘IBM’s’ were shunned and we played Apples to our hearts content for those few years.

This was all to change, however, as Apple started to slip.

Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I was an Apple fanboy at this stage, but, yeah, I liked them. They were easy to use as a kid. There was a ‘windows’ like operating system. Just point and click! They were fun, with quick to play games, and there was no boring programming. Win Win!

As I grew older, however, I discovered that there was more to computing than fancy gimmicks, icons and games. The power of the PC became more apparent. I could get more programs (and games) for them. I could make it do what I wanted it to do. I could write programs for them.

And most importantly, I could convince my parents to buy me one because it didn’t cost the earth.

So, my Commodore 64 started gathering dust as the family bought our first PC and I never looked back.

In the meantime, the Apple’s went from bad to worse. No-one can deny that the 90′s were mostly a bad decade for the Apple brand. Failed attempts at laptops, portable devices and operating systems.

It wasn’t until 1998 that Apple produced the coloured novelty-looking iMac and suddenly the game changed. Here was a PC that was ‘all-in-one’. No ugly box, plus monitor, plus keyboard, plus mouse. This all in one machine came in PINK and you didn’t have to plug in your own hard drive or work how to to attach this and that…etc..

Gimmicks, my friends, and it worked! PC’s have always been popular in the realm of the nerd because you can upgrade, customise and make it do what you want it to do. Apple realised that couldn’t compete in this space, so they brought out the simplified version of a PC. It worked for them and they started turning a profit and became a player again.

It was also at this time that Apple  started giving me the shits. I liked to think I was pretty handy with a PC. I could fix problems with the family computer, as well as other requests that came from aunties, cousins and friends. I could pull it apart. I could put it back together. I could write script and code to do fancy things. I was a guru!

Then my sister got an Apple… “What the Fuck were you thinking?”. Her answer was that it’s what all the Graphic Designers use. This excuse is still used to this day and I’m yet to be proven that an Apple performs graphical tasks better than a PC.

All of a sudden I was a n00b again. I didn’t know my way around an Apple and it was like someone had redesigned a computer to be used by an 8 year old…which was good when I was 8, which was the way to solve a problem. Just think like an 8 year old and you could work out how to connect your iMac to a printer.

It was also around this stage that the iPod was released and this is the point where I have to confess, I own an iPod. I am loathe to admit it, but it comes down to my love of music. There is no other device that lets me store all of my music in one place (20,000 songs)  and let’s be honest, the iPod interface is very good at what it does.

The problem is, Apple just won’t quit. They seem to think that they can overtake the world with their i products. The iPhone came out to make people think they could be cool and hip AND talk on the phone and then the ridiculously named and un-useful iPad came out.

Seriously, don’t get me started on that.

It’s the transition that Apple made in the 90′s from realising that it couldn’t be seen as a serious computer contender to becoming a ‘Computer for Dummies’ that pissed me off because people bought it.

Look, I understand that not everyone is a computer geek and most people don’t want to know how many Megabytes they are using, or the CPU speed, or the Operating System, but the fact is that you should. If you are using a computer, you should know what you are using. Computers are EVERYWHERE and they will always be everywhere. We can’t just blindly go out buying the flashy new and next big thing just because Joe next door has one. Especially when it is NO DIFFERENT TO THE OLD ONE. Apple is trying to cash in on novelty marketing. 1mm thinnner! 1 inch wider! (not the mention $200 dearer).

I haven’t even started to elaborate on Apple’s unethical marketing practices, prevention of free speech, secrecy, arrogance, no admission of guilt, inflated prices, design flaws,  lack of compatibility with anything, Steve Jobs and iTunes hell. Need I go on?

Someone said recently that people like Apple because it makes them feel smart.

Why dont’ they just GET smarter?



My Hottest Australian Album Short-list

Here’s the ‘Short’-list

How am I supposed to break this down to just 10?

12th Man, The – Wired World of Sports
AC/DC – Back in Black
Cog – The New Normal
Crowded House – Woodface
Cruel Sea, The – The Honeymoon Is Over
Grinspoon – Guide to Better Living
Herd, The – An Elefant Never Forgets
Hoodoo Gurus – Kinky
Icehouse – Man of Colours
Josh Pyke – Memories & Dust
Living End, The – The Living End
Midnight Oil – 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust
Powderfinger – Double Allergic
Presets, The – Apocalypso
Ratcat – Blind Love
Regurgitator – Tu-Plang
Regurgitator – Unit
Screaming Jets, The – Tear of Thought
Skunkhour – Feed
Whitlams, The – Eternal Nightcap
Wolfmother – Wolfmother
You Am I – Hourly, Daily


Metallica, Muse and U2. A review.

So, following on from my rants about the year in music, I went to a heap of big concerts this year.

Faith No More, Metallica (twice), Muse, U2

Add to that; Children Collide, Regurgitator, Big Day Out, Illy, Little Red/Sparkadia, Grinspoon, and you have a pretty good year of music!

But over the last month or so I went to 3 of the big ones.

Metallica

I have never seen them live before. I always wanted to be in the Snake Pit back in 1993 but couldn’t afford it. So I made up for it in 2010 by seeing the Kings of Metal, twice. The first time was standing up on the floor about 5 metres away from James Hetfield. What can I say? AMAZING. They are the ultimate professionals. Their stage setup is great, with the audience surrounding them as they pelt around the stage non-stop giving every angle of the arena a piece of the ‘talica. Their music was the biggest highlight. They varied their setlist for both of the gigs I went to, playing old and new stuff and only ONE ballad. (you know the one)

The 2nd time I saw them I was up in the upper level of Acer Arena, but having the front row was great as I got an excellent view of their on-stage shenanigans and the sound was probably better than the first gig. They even played Last Caress and Leper Messiah which went OFF.

It’s bloody awesome to be able to see a band that you have been idolising for 20 years finally in the flesh and soak in your favourite songs being played RIGHT THERE. That’s the key to seeing live music. It’s LIVE. It’s happening. Awesome shows

Muse

Having seen Muse twice already at the Big Day Out’s of 2007 and 2010 I thought I’d know what to expect from these giants of UK rock. I had tickets to see their headline show in 2007 as well, but couldn’t make it, so I was dead keen to finally see them do their own thing on stage.

First, their stage set-up was great. We had seated tickets (that’s what I get for letting old fart mates get tickets!) and were seated almost side of stage. 3 big skyscrapers were positioned on stage and I wondered whether we’d be able to see anything at all.

Yeah, I shouldn’t have worried. The sounds of ‘Uprising’ began and huge cloths dropped off the towers revealing the guys lifted up off the stage on individual platforms. AWESOME.

Matt Bellamy is a real showman, which is funny because he hardly spoke for the whole gig. Dom (drummer) said a few things on the mic, but that was about it. Matt had the clothes (think mirror-ball jacket), the moves (spinning around during Plug in Baby or  shining light over the crowd) and the attitude.

Overall the show was good, but not as great as I’d expected actually. They played most of the hits. Their stage show was great, but I was a little disappointed with the constant filler music between songs, including the symphonic songs from Resistance . Too many extended intros and pissing around between songs. They didn’t play Bliss or MK Ultra, 2 of my favourites and they could have easily fit them in if it weren’t for the theatrics. I’m all for a stage-show and some theatrics are good, but not at the expense of more songs. 15 songs in an almost 2 hour set? Not enough when you have 5 albums worth of material. I think they probably almost played the same amount of songs in their Big Day Out sets.

EDIT: In fact, I confirmed this. They played 15 songs at the Sydney Big Day out 2010 as well!

Of course there were massive highlights. Starlight absolutely went off and Knights of Cydonia to finish was massive. They are a tops band, but in retrospect I actually think I enjoyed their Big Day Out shows more than their headline.

U2

Is there a bigger band in the world than U2? I mean, I know The Rolling Stones are still kicking around, but they’re too crusty to count any more. LaLa had seen U2 3 times previously and made sure that I came along to the 360 degrees tour outside at ANZ Stadium.

Firstly, I was stoked to be at grass level in ANZ Stadium. I have seen many a footy match in there, including the great Socceroos vs Uruguay game of 2005 and to actually be in the centre of that massive stadium was a big thrill. Then I saw the stage. Holy crap! It was the biggest stage I’d ever seen, and I remember the Guns n’ Roses stage from Eastern Creek!

We made our way up closer, around 25 metres or so from the stage and settled in for Jay-Z, who was the support for the Australian leg of their world tour (Muse did their US leg!). Jay-Z had an impressive setup. I counted 12 people on stage including a sweet looking bari-sax and other horns. The drummer was elevated and it looked very cool. We caught half of their set including ’99 Problems’, ‘H to the Izzo’ and ‘Empire State of Mind’. He was ok. I am not much of a fan, but it was good to see him live for a little.

At 9pm U2 made their way, slowly, walking up to the stage. The tension and atmosphere were great as they made their way up. No theatrics to their entrance! I felt myself getting quite excitement at seeing Bono and the boys in the flesh after all these years. Beautiful Day was their 2nd song and it set the tone for an extremely fun and entertaining set. Bono didn’t do his expected preaching at all other than to comment on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi which was commendable. He also noted that more than 2000 Burmese are still detained for their political beliefs which is a good point.

They played ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Pride’, my 2 favourites and rolled out 24 songs in their 2 hour set. They just played hit after hit and for the old blokes that they are, it was great to see!

Vertigo was a highlight of the night as the ever-evolving stage move the big screens from the top right down to just above the band’s heads and rotated lights all the way around (hence 360 degrees!).

The massive tower that rose up from the middle of the stage had a disco ball on it and both this and a lower ball spun during the encore to an amazing effect over the packed out stadium. It really looked spectaular.

Clearly, this was the best and most elaborate stage I had ever seen. The music was very solid and you really couldn’t fault anything from the night. They did play a number of songs that I had never heard of, but then again I am not a huge fan so I wouldn’t expect to know them all.

Needless to say, U2 fans were happy and they’ll surely return to the next show in 4 years!

I might as well…

….and just for the hell of it, here’s a pic from when the Gurge hit the Maram Bar in Canberra in August.

Quan, Ben, Pete. They rocked it. They always do.


The 2010 Music Round-Up

Hi kiddies!

It’s that time of the year again. Time to round up the last 12 months of music and collate some sort of obligatory list that gives you all my musical impressions.

It’ll either make me come off as a music-snob, a music-nerd or a music-wannabe-nerd-snob. Take your pick :)

As any avid reader of my blog would know (Hi LaLa), I delight in making the end of year Top 10 Album list. I also delight in ranting about the music that I love. Note that the music I love generally gets played on the one and only Triple J and usually blasted through my car radio (thanks LaLa) or through my speakers at work.

I also like to play whole albums when I can, either at work, at home on the weekends or in the car on the way to Sydney.

Although playing whole albums gets to be a harder and harder task nowadays. Firstly. They’re too freaking long! Who has 45+ minutes to listen to an album from start to finish. Who listens to an album from Song 1 to song 10 in one sitting?

We all know that if you like the first 4 or 5 songs on the album you’re going to play them at a ratio of 4:1 over the rest of the album.

Regurgitator have taken the right approach. Screw ‘The Album’. There is no place for 10 track albums in todays society. Flick out a few songs as you write them here and there and let the public digest them regularly rather than waiting 3 years for 3 great songs, 3 decent ones, 2 ok ones and 3 fillers.

Having said all that, I love albums. Actually, let me rephrase that… I love GOOD albums. The albums that you CAN listen to from start to finish and not want to change to some schlock 90′s grunge. That is the all important criteria here (thanks to Triple J’s Zan for the inspiration).

So here we go. The List, in no particular order because it changes in my head every 15 minutes.

Children Collide – The Theory of Everything

This 3 piece Melbournian band takes me back. Yes, all the way back to 1991, reminding me of a little band known as Nirvana. The talented blonde erratic guitarist lead singer. The long haired tall bassist with strange moves. The hard-hitting drummer. It’s all there and these guys aren’t a one album wonder. Their sophmore album is every bit as good as their debut, if not better. They play a mean live set and they consume everyone in their path. These guys should be huge, but ironically their path to hugedom entails appealing to the commercialist public which probably means losing their edge. I’m happy for them to stay on the edge. It’s where they sound best

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

What can be said about this band that hasn’t been said by everyone else that has picked them in their Top 10 list? Tame Impala have taken a direct path to stardom.

Sign an international deal with Modular before you even release anything. Check.
Release a debut self-titled EP to critical acclaim. Check.
Cover a corny 90′s pop song (Remember Me) and land in the Hottest 100. Check.
Support the hottest new US act’s tour around America (MGMT). Check.
Release debut album and win The J Award. Check.

This year has been their year with a psychodelic, 70′s-esque wah-fest album that somehow feels right at home in 2010. I love the way this album feels when I listen to it. It surrounds you with warm colourful sounds that make you wish you were old enough to appreciate the first time this sort of music came out. Listen if you haven’t..

Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way

This one is too easy to pick. Yet another Australian band that is making it massive overseas and at the same time making us proud to own them. Haunting alternate vocals from the sibling duo give this album a dual layer of listenability with each one’s vocals adding something different to their song.

The words, the melodies and those damn fine voices make this an unforgettable album which somehow eclipsed their debut. Getting to see them live at a festival in London was also pretty damn special.

Sia – We Are Born

Oh Sia, your album title is poignant as it is like you have been born again. Your time with Zero 7 and your more soulful jazzy days have passed and you are re-born as a pop queen with amazingly catchy melodies, pulsing beats and very cutesy video clips. You’ve reshaped yourself and I defy anyone to be upset by that. I admire your will to turn against your record company and make the album you wanted. Surely they would be regretting their decisions now.

I love the fact that Sia does what she wants, says what she wants but still comes out smelling like roses.  Highlights of this album have to be ‘Bring  Night’ and ‘Clap Your Hands’ (both favourites for my kids), but the whole album has a happy feel to it.

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

This band came out of nowhere for me. I heard snippets of  ‘Ambling Alp’ near the start of the year and thought it sounded cool. Sort of an MGMT-esque, electronic/rocky pop sound. And then ONE came out and we all blew our collective loads. 4 months later I would be front row at the Latitude festival in London watching their amazing set. One of the real highlights of the year for me and a fantastic album to boot with enough good vibey catchy tunes to keep you coming back

Mark Ronson & the Business International
- Record Collection

I was a minor fan of Mark Ronson from his previous album but I was never convinced that he could pull off an album of music that I would listen to. I was wrong!

This album pulls amazing melodies, marching band drums and smooth lyrics together to make a completely addictive album. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and  ‘Lose It (In the End) are standouts on this album that makes you feel good when you listen to it. He collaborates with some random artists on this album as well.  Ghostface Killa, Simon Le Bon, The Drums, Boy George. He doesn’t hold back. Somehow this mish-mash of songs just works.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Rush to Relax

I discovered this band about a century after everyone else. A small stage at Homebake in 2009 whilst Powderfinger drew the majority of the audience in the main arena.  There we were, my mate and I, about 3 rows back watching a front man(with a glove) singing in fits and starts while jumping about the stage in some sort of spasmodic fashion. A guitarist with an intense love of speed riffs and a non-plussed bassist banging out fast rocky punkish 3 minute songs.

I was blown away! 2010 saw a new album from this Melbourne 3 piece and it picks up from their previous work. Edgy, raw and ready rock that has to be seen to be believed. Anxiety ranks as one of my favs of the year, but you can listen to this whole album again and again and feel like you are there…without the glove.

———————————–

Now, I know that’s only 7 albums, but I have a confession to make. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of albums that blew me away this year. I listen to the radio predominantly. If I hear a couple of songs from the same artist that I like, I source the album. These are the 7 that I really enjoyed from this year.

I also enjoyed Koolism, Two Door Cinema Club, Surfer Blood, Little Red, LCD Soundsystem, Illy, Gorillaz and Vampire Weekend, but couldn’t say that I listened to their albums enough ALL THE WAY THROUGH to include them in the list.

So should I be making more of an effort to listen to full albums, or should I just keep listening to Triple J, letting them create a compilation album for my listening pleasure?

A lot of Top 10 Album lists have included albums from The National, Arcade Fire, Kanye, Deerhunter, Sleigh Bells and Parades to name a few, but a lot of it just isn’t my bag…. ESPECIALLY Arcade Fire, which was ironically selected as the No. 1 album by Triple J listeners.

I just don’t get them at all. I sat through their set whilst waiting for RATM at the 2008 Big Day Out and I was less than inspired. Is something wrong with me or do others share in my ‘meh’ feeling for them?

Almost time to think about my voting for the Hottest 100 as well. I think that will be an easier list to collate….


Cricket. What happened to you?

Is it just me, or do others feel that cricket has lost it’s lustre?

I remember the days, back in the mid 80′s. Lillee, Border, Marsh (both), Boon, McDermott, Merv, O’Donnell, Jones.

We had a magical team back then. Cricket was THE national Australian sport. Played everywhere. Watched by everyone.

What’s happened?

We’re facing a 7 game losing streak in One Day Internationals. We don’t hold the Ashes. Crowds are falling. Match Fixing allegations are flying.

It feels like the game is self-imploding. If it weren’t for the big money coming from India, I think it would be even closer to death.

We lost to Sri Lanka the other night because we couldn’t get their No. 10 and 11 batsmen out! Sad sad sad.

The last few years have really been disappointing for me as a cricket fan. I’ll go as far as to say that I’ve lost interest in most aspects of the game apart from test matches. 20/20 matches, for me, have ruined the original shortened version of the game, the 50 over ODI’s. The everyday fan is so keen to see players attempting to smash every ball and to have the game wrap up in 3 hours that they’ve given up on the laborious 50 over match.

At least test matches still hold that traditional feel, but when the Pakistani’s start to mess with match fixing, it even ruins the pure perfect version of the game.

I went to Lord’s in July and watched the Australians play Pakistan on the hallowed turf. It was a fantastic atmosphere being at the ‘home’ of cricket. Listening to poms around me, taking in the MCC members, drinking the English beer. It really hits home as to what cricket is about.

How can it recover? How can cricket come back to what it used to be?

Maybe McDonalds should start giving out posters of the teams from the ‘World Series of Cricket’ again. Maybe we should ditch 20/20′s and focus on the One Dayer again. I mean, did you see the 20/20 the other night? We were crap. We couldn’t slog to save ourselves, and if you don’t slog in a slogfest, what’s the point??

I still love the sound of leather on willow, the voice of the Channel 9 commentators and the local ABC radio covering the tests, but I am getting close to giving up on the shortened bastardised version unless something changes soon.

And to those that say 20/20 is the future, take a look at yourselves. It’s nothing more than a short, talent-less money grab. You don’t need a lot of skill to swing the bat and hope for a 6 or to bowl slower balls every 2nd ball to confuse the batter that has pre-determined his slog (shot).

I would be happy for 20/20′s to disappear from the game altogether, but of course that’s not going to happen whilst it is making more money than ODI’s and Test matches.


The Social Network. We’re all in one.

Thanks of a very generous twitterer I was given the chance to see The Social Network on Monday night.

Quick Synopsis:

Nerd from Harvard wants to be popular.

Nerd makes popular website.

Nerd gets into trouble.

Nerd makes even more popular website.

Nerd gets into even more trouble.

Nerd makes a billion dollars.

Nerd is popular….but still a Nerd.

The End.

Yes, it’s the story of that little website that rose from obscurity in the mid 2000′s to become the No.2 website in the world (after Google). It has also made Mark Zuckerberg, the founder/creator/nerd the youngest billionaire in the world with a worth of around 6.9 billion dollars. (click here to see what that could buy)

The film is essentially about the court cases surrounding the inital boom of the website, but we are taken back in time to see what occured during the pivotal moments of Zuckerberg’s rapid rise to riches.

You wouldn’t think this would make an especially enthralling film….but that is where you’re wrong. This film is exceptionally made in almost every way. First, you have David Fincher directing it. I’ve loved this guy since Se7en, which was also beautifully shot in almost every way. (also Fight Club, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac, Benjamin Button and the new Dragon Tattoo US version). He gives this film an almost gritty edge to it. Surprising seeing as though the majority of it is filmed on a campus location (actually at Johns Hopkins Uni, not Harvard).

Secondly, you have Aaron Sorkin writing the screenplay. He wrote the 90′s hit, ‘A Few Good Men’, but is better known for his work on ‘The West Wing’. This would explain the incredible wordy opening sequence (which took 99 takes), in which Zuckerberg and his gf discuss their relationship.

The film itself just works. It’s fast paced, it has excellent performances from Jesse Eisenberg and particularly Justin Timberlake, who should definitely pursue acting a lot more. He plays the inventor of Napster, Sean Parker, and portrays him brilliantly, assuming that the actual person is paranoid, boisterous and charismatic.

When I walked out of the cinema I couldn’t help feeling that this is a movie for our generation. I specifically mean, for Gen X and Y. The Internet generations. We’ve all grown up with the Internet. We use it every single day and many have since the mid 90′s, but it wasn’t until Facebook appeared that we all joined together so whole-heartedly to create an online community that consumed so many.

My first experience of Facebook was early in 2006 when I was living and working in the US. I befriended a girl from Georgetown University who showed me the site. Of course at the time it was restricted to Universities and High Schools. It was until September of that year that anyone could create their profile.

The film goes a long way to show how the ideas for the site originated. Primarily the idea was taken and massaged from other students into what would become the original ‘TheFacebook.com’. The addition of personal information, relationship status and the infamous wall made it similar to MySpace, but it was the clean interface, speed and unique ability for added applications that helped it grow.

Whether you’re Gen X, Y, Baby Boomer or old fart you should enjoy this movie. If you’re like me you’ll also enjoy the awesome soundtrack provided by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame. Does industrial themed music work with this movie? Yes and suprisingly well. It adds that layer of depth to the scenes that Fincher would have loved and makes this more than a movie about a court case or a web site.

Well, stop reading this tripe and go see it already!

(funny)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.