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10/09/2007

The Bates Dynasty has moved

So I finally took the plunge and setup a website.

I like blogger and could have happily continued to use it as an acceptable blog, but China keeps blocking it and it's just getting annoying.

So I have a fully functioning website now that should be regularly updated and even have lots of media, like photos and videos, hardwired right in.

web.mac.com/thebatesdynasty

enjoy...

Also, if anyone has a clue how I can import some of my blogger posts into my .mac site, let me know...

8/12/2007

Quick History (from an English major)

Little known fact:

Native Americans were known to enjoy ping pong; some even believe they invented this beloved sport.

Equipment:
Ball: Inflated fish bladders, sun-dried for precision.
Paddle: White Oak tree bark; indigenous to North Florida, known for it's strength and light weight.
Table: Buffalo hide stretched between four rocks.

Don't believe me?



Chief 'Stands With Paddle' - 1735


Photo by MOGO

8/09/2007

Quick post

Bet had a nail chip today and it looked like Bobby Brown's hair cut. Sadly, I couldn't get a good picture of her nail, but trust me, it was awesome!

8/08/2007

From the phone, Vol. 3

Public safety is, naturally, very important in a city of 20+million, but how do you 'ring the message out'? Well, Shanghai has recently began a new campaign on it's subway system to promote awareness of some simple measures we, the people, can all do to make this beloved city a little safer.


Safety tip #1:


See, I never would have thought that there was an epidemic of people recklessly trying to take on a whole train by themself. But thanks to this safety tip; Bet is prepared for the fight! (and happy?)



Safety tip #2:


priceless...

Thanks UMTBSPSB! (The Urban Mass Transportation Branch Shanghai Public Security Bureau) These guys have come a long way since their days of 'Mind Your Head'!

From the phone, Vol. 2

Some of you may have noticed that I often post in bundles. That's b/c I finally get around to posting one and then I remember a couple other things I had thought about posting; wah-la, bundle-posting! (I just created that name, it's not great but it'll work)

So this is easily my favorite phone-photo that I've ever taken. These are the only kinds of moments where I think "I'm so glad I have a camera in my phone." This poster only lasted about a day before someone finally noticed why some people were stopping and laughing. Can you spot the mistake?



Still perplexed? I'll give you a hint; there's a letter missing somewhere.

Don't read below if you've still not found the folly.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I've made a lot of dumpings in my life but never once thought about recycling one!

I'm sure they meant well, but 'free' is still too expensive for a lesson from this bunch. And 'survival'? I've seen a lot of those Nat Geo 'seconds from disaster' shows and I don't remember 'eating your poop' being one of the 'survival tips'. So, even though it's free, I'm going to have to pass on this opportunity to 'try the dumping made by myself.'!

What are they talking about?
If you're unfamiliar w/ Chinese cuisine; this should read 'dumpling', as in jiaozi, the famous Chinese dumplings. (they're really good; they don't 'taste like crap!')

Confessions of a Macaddict...

This is just a quick blurb...

Over the last two years I've completely become a Mac nerd, I can't help it, they're amazing!
I mention this b/c the only reason I am awake at 1:30a.m. is to watch a live blog following what's going on at their product launch today.

New aluminum iMacs, the best .Mac ever, and iLife '08 w/ some crazy updates!




Oh the joy!

Yes I'm lame, no I am not ashamed...

pics from Engadget

Brother/Sister-in-law(s) - revised

Two of my three brother-in-laws now live w/in a 5 minute walk from me. That's unusual but not unheard of. Add in the fact they're not siblings and the odds are a little stronger.

One's my sister's husband, Buster, and the other is my wife's brother, Mat {w/ one 'T'}.

But what really makes it unlikely is that I live in China. This might be the smallest demographic I'll ever squeeze into. Seriously, I wonder how many American dudes have two of their brother-in-laws, from different sides of their marriage, living w/in 5 minutes of them in a foreign country? Not that this is very interesting in any amazing way, I just realized that I was in this very select group and wanted to mention it.

Also, it should be noted, that these two guys are my only two regular readers here at Batesdynasty, so I figured I'd give them a hola!

But b/c Mat {w/ one 'T'} is currently new to China and w/o internet, and Buster is busy w/ his new daughter, I feel like I should take this opportunity to say something bad about them while they can't respond!

nah, I'm too nice...

(actually I'm just brain-farting at the moment and can't think of anything to say about them)

REVISED:

After posting this, I realized that my wife has me beat; she's only got two sister-in-laws and they BOTH live here. (married to Mat {w/ one 'T'} and Buster) Coincidentally, they're also both named Amy. Furthermore, one is Amy Beth and the other is Amy Elizabeth. I think Bet really is one-of-a-kind.

8/06/2007

Top 5's

I'm gonna start posting my top 5's in here. These aren't top 5 topics that I just pull out of thin air; these top 5 topics are from a group I'm in on Facebook. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm very obsessive about prefecting/editing myself. (which is why my blog posts are almost unreadable) Thus, these lists take me a long time to create, so I figured, if I'm gonna spend this much time writing it, why not also make it a Bates Dynasty post...

So this week's topic was Top 5 Albums (who could answer that!?)

Here's my post, feel free to comment on/ridicule my choices...


This is a top 5 right up my alley, other than the fact I can’t seem to ever decide what my favorite albums are. My friends will vouch that I’ve said ‘this would make my top 20 albums’ in reference to probably 50 albums. So this will be tough…

To me, this top 5 is a little too grandiose. It’s like saying ‘choose your top 5 days’! I’ve lived about 10,000 days and I’m sure I’ve LOVED over a thousand of them. So for me to narrow this down is just too much to ask. What I will do is write my top 5 ‘impact’ albums. If I ever hope to one day name my ‘top 5 albums of all time’, I’ll need to go through this process of sub-top fives. (not that anyone actually cares)

(Also, as much as it pains me, I’m only including one Pearl Jam album and I’m only using albums released in my lifetime.)

So here’s my top 5 albums…sorta...

5. Pinkerton – Weezer
The Blue album is Weezer’s ‘best’ album, who could deny that? It’s basically perfect in everyway. In fact it was so ‘technically’ perfect that when Pinkerton came along w/ it’s awkward stories and sloppy arrangements, people pulled a ‘pet-sounds’ on the thing and basically banished the band into obscurity. But Pinkerton is like a swinging gold watch, if you stop and really watch it for a second, you'll be hypnotized by it's charm! (or clucking like a chicken in front of your whole school)

Even if you never stop and enjoy it's stories of torture, that we all share, you’ll still fall in love w/ the music. It’s such a fun album! These days every album is so over processed and layered and polished, it’s enough to drive you insane. That’s exactly why this album is still refreshing every time I listen to it. It’s so raw and honest and messy and fun, it’s like a stray dog that wanders up one day and spends the next 10 years just trying to make you happy.

4. Siamese Dream – Smashing Pumpkins
I know, I know, it’s another sophomore album. (stay tuned, there’s two more coming) This album wasn’t drastically better than Gish but it perfected everything you love about Gish and then added a little extra on top. It’s also a portrait of the band before they started taking themselves too seriously. Songs like Disarm give you a hint of their next transition as a band but it’s subtle and interesting. (not that Melon Collie was bad, it was just a little too much diversity and self indulgence for my taste)
I’ve kinda grown out of this phase in my life now. When I look back at this album and The Bends, I realize that they’re a little too serious for everyday listening. In recent years, I’ve totally fallen in love w/ the lighter side of music, but that’s not to detract from the perfection of these albums. It’s just that if I’m going to be sitting in the dreary reality of a rush-hour subway car in a city of 20+ million, I’d rather be pumping a bouncy little number by the White Stripes or Black Keys. Kinda like the reality of sitting in crap isn’t as bad when you got nose plugs. But you can’t live your whole life in la-la land, and this album is an adequate dose of reality. (wrapped up in a fuzz-box distortion peddle w/ some really really crappy singing!)
I could bang on about all the reasons I think it’s great but I think I’ll just leave it be and say that it helped to turn me into the complete music weirdo that I am today!

3. The Bends – Radiohead
I can’t say that Pablo Honey was a good album, and not many would argue that point. And sophomore albums tend to be a let down, so after a mediocre debut, expectations weren’t very high for number two. But this album was such a departure from their first; it was interesting, rough around the edges, dreamy, noisy, and, basically, just well written. It was like they collectively had a musical epiphany. Tracks like Fake Plastic Trees and Street Spirit show the band’s ability to write spacey melancholy songs that can not only carry your attention for 5 minutes, but also take hold of your imagination. (Who hasn’t fully imagined the characters in Fake Plastic Trees?) The album also has the middle ground covered w/ mid tempo pop songs like ‘High and Dry’ and ‘Nice Dream’ but I have to say that the thing that first caught my attention was the feedback driven, volume on 11, all out swaggering wall of noise that you hear in songs like Iron Lung, Bones, Bends, and Just. Radiohead has made some astounding albums since this one, possibly even better albums, but this one definitely stands out to me, it just caught me at the right time.

2. Elephant – The White Stripes
Kiss (and Stryper) said “God gave rock ‘n roll to you” and I think God gave The White Stripes to rock ‘n roll! Seriously, not since Pearl Jam has a band come a long and hit me at the EXACTLY PERFECT moment! Rock was getting monotonous and dreary; I mean I was even listening to Pearl Jam as a ‘pick-me-up’. Not that PJ’s depressing; they’re just consistently dwelling in realism and honesty.
So along came the White Stripes w/ their ‘Muddy Waters meets Capt. Kangaroo’ style of punk rock and I fell for them like Wesley for Buttercup.
Why Elephant? I’m not sure… I mean; their first three albums were great, but Elephant just seems perfect. The only reason I’d skip a song on that album is to save it for last; it’s just perfect!

1. Vs. – Pearl Jam
This is a band that is near and dear to me. Picking a favorite PJ album is like picking your favorite child; you couldn’t and shouldn’t! But since this is ‘top 5 impact albums’ I suppose I can ‘categorize’ my children, er, I mean albums.
Some people don’t love PJ and some are bonkers about them, I fall into the latter category. To start this off, I should say that Ten should be on this list b/c it is what truly turned me onto music. At the end of the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s, I was listening to rock music, regretfully that meant lots of hair and lots of make-up. I loved to rock but can’t say that I was totally in love w/ the schtick of the time. So one night I’m at my friend’s house and he’s got Mtv, this is back when they played music videos, so on comes this ‘fresh out the oven’ video and its Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’. At that moment I officially hated all of the music I owned b/c this was what music should be. They weren’t wearing tights, or make-up; they just got up on stage and rocked b/c it was the right thing to do, not b/c it could make them rich or get them laid. Ah, what a wonderful moment in rock history!

So why Vs. and not Ten? Well to be honest, Vs. is a better album and it validated my love for this musical movement. It told me I wasn’t crazy, this wouldn’t just be a flash in the pan. Another reason is, Ten was musically written by two guys and Vs. was written by a band, (sort of, it was actually about 90% Eddie Vedder) so it was well rounded and seemed more cohesive. Also, Vs. shows the band writing about normal life, something they’ve continued to do, it’s just that after April of 94, they got a little paranoid and abstract for a while. (see also: Vitalogy) While there are a lot of artsy songs on Vs. that serve as a precursor to Vitalogy, it was toned down enough to make the album palpable to the common rocker. Also, the 'art' songs were usually quirky and interesting, like Glorified G and Rats. Those songs are much more normal than songs like Aye Da Vanita and Bugs. To me Vs. is one of the greatest rock albums ever, in terms of longevity, album sales, quality and validity. When you can put Leash, Indifference, Elderly Woman, Blood, and W.M.A. on the same album and there’s still a balance, wow!

Honorable mentions:
Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
Goo and Murray Street – Sonic Youth
YHF and Summer Teeth – Wilco
(ya, I know that they have albums that are just as good or better, but these are my ‘impact’ albums)
Gold – Ryan Adams
Rubberneck – Toadies
Rubber Factory - The Black Keys (should be in the list!)
Odelay - Beck

Crap, between Odelay, Rubber Factory, and Summer Teeth, I’m rethinking my list! Hmmm...Swap out Siamese Dream w/ Odelay and The Bends w/ Summer Teeth. These two albums found me right after those two and helped bridge my transition between serious rock and an appreciation for quirky interesting music.

In fact, ditch my whole list b/c I could never make a proper top 5 in anything music related, it’s too difficult!

8/04/2007

From the phone, Vol. 1

I mentioned a little while back that I was planning on adding photos of random stuff I stumble across while out and about here in Shanghai. Now b/c I don't have a nice small camera, these little 'looking glass' moments will be brought to you by the crappy camera in my phone. So don't complain about image quality! Also, I'm to try to not talk to much about the photo. I'll just try to set up the moment.

Today's installment is from a store front we passed recently. In China there's always some kind of construction going on and many times a whole row of shops will close due the pending demolition of the building housing them. For some reason they always cover the windows w/ newspaper; like is there some epidemic of people crowding around to stare into an empty store? But that's beside the point. So yesterday we're walking along and Bet notices an interesting article among the pages of (all) Chinese newspaper that were plastered to the store window. That's about all the introduction I should have to give...


Dog the Bounty Hunter? Now, I'm not too good at reading Chinese, but I think the '#1' is talking about him winning the recent Mr. (worst hair in the-) Universe contest.

For perspective sake, here's the store front:


Hope you enjoyed volume 1...

7/29/2007

Barkley vs. Godzilla

I don't remember things from when I was young. Some might say that there's something wrong w/ my memory when it comes to recalling events from my 'childhood', we're talking 0-16 years old. I don't know why, I just don't remember little things. But there is one thing that I remember VERY well, and that's when Nike came out w/ the Barkley vs. Godzilla ad campaign.

Some of you might have realized by now that I love basketball, you also might have realized that Charles Barkley is my favorite player (refer to my dog over on the right) so it should come as no surprise that this ad campaign was a magical moment for me. But it's not just the association of two things I love, I also think this is one of the most genius commercial ideas ever! Later that year Barkley hosted SNL (Nirvana was the musical guest and it was their last appearance on SNL) and so they did a sketch 'Barkley vs. Barney', man I wish I could find that on Youtube!

Recently, to re-cash-in on an old cash cow, Nike reissued the t-shirts from this commercial and, of all things, I found one here in China. Now I probably won't wear the shirt very much, but come on, I had to buy it; I was like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory!


This is the original campaign poster graphic on the T-shirt. I took this w/ my cellphone so it's not 'hi-def' by any means.

So w/o further ado, and w/ the help of Youtube, here's those two commercials:

Barkley vs. Godzilla (the trailer)


Barkley vs. Godzilla (the feature, which is shorter than the trailer...)



Here's a promo for that SNL episode I mentioned above. It's kind of a cool little moment even though I'm not one of those Nirvana crazies.



and this is the closest thing I could find to the Barkley vs. Barney clip. Some one used the video from the sketch but covered it w/ the Barney song, man I wish I could find a clip of that complete sketch.

7/28/2007

From the www, Vol. 19 (not from Youtube)

I came across this funny little video while reading my friend's blog. It's a short little clip (or you could call it a lesson) showing why some people shouldn't 'sky to the rack' b/c sometimes the 'rack' fights back.




My favorite part is the textbook ai-ya you hear when it falls, after playing ball countless times in central China, you hear this (and English cuss words) a billion times! Another laughable angle to this is when you consider that the goal was most likely already damaged. (note the excessive flimsy shaking) So they were dunking on this goal b/c it was tilting forward lower and thus more 'dunkable', but none of them thought, "this thing is broke, this might not be safe." This guy is lucky to still be alive b/c until he hopped up, I thought the thing landed on his head!

What's crazy is that I had a similar thing happen to me when I was 15, backboard and all, and it will scare the 'fecal matter' out of you! Before you call me a liar I'll note that the goal that broke and fell on me was 8'6". But in my case there was no indication the goal was gonna 'go'. I'll never forget the feeling of falling straight to my back w/ the rim still in my hands and how disorienting it was to see the backboard and rim following me to the ground.

7/22/2007

ONE MORE NOTE! ONE MORE NOTE!!

This isn't another 'Youtube' post, I promise!

So you might be vaguely familiar w/ my love of a little band called The White Stripes, well recently they set out on a tour of 'The Great White North' w/ the ambition of playing every province and territory in Canada. A side cursor to this is that they also played a small secret show before every concert in the town of the tour stop. So they finished up this tour in the little territory of Newfoundland and, of course, every Newfy alive expected to also get treated to a 'super secret small venue show'. (that's not an illogical assumption) Now I don't know the whole story, but I do know that 'super secret' location was being leaked through the local rock station, but someone was having fun w/ the whole situation. To make a long story short; after 3 hours and 5 incorrect location 'leaks' The White Stripes' road crew showed up and told the wandering mass of people that "The White Stripes will arrive in 20 minutes and treat you to a 1 note show." A one note show? What is a 1 note show, many wandered, just as I would. Surely it wouldn't only be one actual note. Well 30 minutes or so later, the crew shows up and sets up all the guitar amps, drums, and musical gear you'd expect a highly respected world class band to use. A little while after that, out comes Jack and Meg, just as they said they would. Things are looking pretty good so far for the average little Newfy rocker...

press play:


I love the chants you hear at the end of the video "One more note! One more note!" In the end Jack says it all "We've now played every province and territory in Canada." Oh man, that's hilarious! I'm sure there's some reason for this, like maybe they were running late getting set up that day and literally didn't have time for a whole show, or maybe they just thought it'd be good for a laugh, either way, it got me!

If you were one of the 300 in attendance, can you actually be mad about this? I mean, it was free. Not to mention, The White Stripes played a 2+ hour show a few hours after this '1 note show'. Also, it's not like The White Stripes charge much for their shows and Newfoundland isn't very big, so I'm certain that everyone that wanted to see them that night had their chance that night. The setlist on Youtube reads:

"1. F"

Hey, who can complain about a free F note from the strings of Jacky White? I myself have never had the honor of attending a White Stripes show, but I will definitely see them soon and I look forward to lots more Fs from Sir Three Quid himself! (hopefully I'll also get some Ds, Cs, Gs, Bs, As, Es, among other chords)

From the www, Vol. 18

I'm sorry, I really don't mean for this to be a blog of only Youtube commentary, but it's digressing into one! I've been entertaining myself w/ Youtube a lot lately b/c my wife's been in America for over a month now. I am amazed everyday by what I stumble across but my newest fascination is the hordes upon hordes of viewer reply videos. These are just webcam responses to real videos and they're chopped full of unintentional comedy.(and tragedy, as we saw in Vol. 16) But this one made me laugh even though it's not really funny, it's just so not funny that it's funny. In fact, it's not really worth posting but I've already typed this all out, so here it is:



I just feel embarrassed FOR this person...

From the www, Vol. 17 (Bet's number)

I 'enjoyed' this website...

Don't be afraid to 'fish around' in there, lots of good stuff.

Here's a preview:



I think this photo is located in that website, not sure though.

From the www, Vol. 16

Ok, before you watch this video, I have to say that I'm not making fun of the guy. Seriously, I'm not, I mean I can't, I just can't. If I did make fun of him I'm pretty sure I'd be scuba diving in a lake of fire for eternity. So don't watch this thinking that I'm making fun of the guy b/c I'm not! This is more of a train wreck type thing. You know, like you can't look away and you can't help but point and say 'look at that'; that's what this is. It's not like you're happy there's a train wreck you're just acknowledging the rarity, the catastrophy, and exercising natural curiosity and amazement. Yes, it's possible that this dude isn't 'playing w/ a full roster' but I don't know, that's for you to decide. He does know how to operate a computer better than most people I know. (and he has made 748 of these beauties!) Either way, I came across this on Youtube and I was like a deer in headlights, I couldn't look away. I don't know who Ashley Tisdale is but I'm guessing she's really famous right now and this dude obviously has a huge crush on her. So now that I've cleared my conscience and fully rationalized posting this, here's the video.

This is BeeBee, Ashley Tisdale's #1 fan:


More of BeeBee
, he does these viewer replies like ten times a day!

7/18/2007

From the www, Vol. 15

My friend John Taylor mentioned this radio station and, frankly, I'm in love...

Click on the 'listen' tab near the top on the right and you will download a radio file for your iTunes that you can play at anytime from your playlist.

They play a good mix of music, mostly non-mainstream, but always interesting. They don't delve too far into heavy rock, dreary music, noise rock, punk, rap. Basically put, it just plays middle of the road, non-pop radio, quality music; the best parts of every genre. If you dig a little further, I think you can also find their playlists, which is good incase you hear a song you want to hear again and again.

Hope you also enjoy it.

Thanks John!

7/10/2007

Ok, back to blogging (it's a long post)

So I've been a little derelict in my duties...

In my defense, I had a crazy busy schedule the past three weeks getting everything squared away at the end of school. I had to do a bunch of stuff for Bet on top of all the stuff I was supposed to do.

On top of all that, I had to do all this purchasing, reserving, and moving of household items for a certain couple moving here. (one half of this couple is an avid Batesdynasty reader and the only frequent commentator)
So as he frequently passes judgement, I'll just continue to take the high road and turn the other cheek... j/k

So this is going to be a brief 'all encompassing trip.' (nice Pearl Jam reference, eh?)

Ok so Bet has been in Connecticut taking grad school courses at Wesleyan for three weeks now. (ya she's smart)
It's been tough b/c:
a. We're not used to being apart this long. (not that anyone should be 'used to it')
b. School's out so no one's around. So I'm stuck eating by myself a lot.
c. The afore mentioned purchasing/reserving/moving of a certain sibling-in-law's future belongings. (cough-cough)
d. My dog has/had a chemical burn on his back end from the shampoo used by the Chinese vet, (awesome right?) so I have to take care of him by myself; I have to wash him twice a day and prepare his medicine. This wouldn't be so bad if my dog weren't so squirmy and I had a little help. I'm not whining, I'm just saying it's difficult by myself...

I'm guessing it didn't help matters that they put him in this 'oven' for 20 minutes after his bath. I don't want to sound mean, but the Chinese medical profession is highly questionable at times...
e. This hippo...

This hippo could probably make the list as well... Not really, but the last two photos lead me to a quick preview of what's to come; I'm going to start a new 'Periodical' called 'from the cellphone camera' b/c I see some crazy crap here so it's worth a little mention on the ol' blog from time to time...

I've been opening the gym for basketball workouts and there's been a decent turnout. The schedule has been sporadic so far but starting next week we have the gym reserved three nights a week 7-9pm. (and three mornings a week as well, for the girls that can't come at night) Some of the girls seem to be benefiting a lot from this extra training time. While I am super stoked about doing it, it's still 'another log on the fire,' thus helping explain why I've more busy the last few weeks than I am during the school year.

Lastly, a large portion of my days have been spent tutoring. I'm currently tutoring a Chinese business woman 2hrs/5 days a week for some extra cheddar. (pretty nice) Tutoring in English is usually bothersome but this hasn't been bad at all. The woman I tutor is really nice and she works really hard.

So that's been my daily life, now on to blog type stuff...

Music:
The White Stripes had an album come out (Icky Thump) which I might have mentioned before... It's pretty solid; it won't dethrone their last two albums anytime soon but I'm enjoying it and it's got the potential to pull of an upset. Highlights include Effect And Cause, Little Cream Soda, Bone Broke, Catch Hell Blues, and Icky Thump. But to summarize; it's very solid, there isn't a mediocre song on the album, go buy it!


Ryan Adams put out a new album 'Easy Tiger' and I haven't listened to it as much as 'Icky Thump' but it is a really solid album. It seems to be a culmination of his previous albums w/ some really great songs. After I listen to it some more I'll talk about it in further detail.


Due to a combination of my location the last 5 years, and this particular band's lack of mainstream coverage, I totally missed the release of 'Live From Paradise: The Best Of The Toadies.' I LOVE THE TOADIES, not many people would agree w/ me but I frickin' love them. My love for them mixed w/ the fact they only have two full albums, makes this an awesome discovery! To explain this album I'll just give you a summary of the media blarb that was written up about it: This album was recorded, for better or worse, as a 'warts and all' live performance. There's no edits, no overdubs, no exceptions or additions, it's just a show recorded straight through. So there's lots of horribly off key vocals, some missed chords on the guitars, some regrettable audience banter, and LOTS OF ROCK! It packs a lot of energy and a lot of what I love about the Toadies, ROCK! Did I mention it ROCKS? Hey it may sound like a hair-band cliche but I love when a band just cranks out some loud, screaming, grooving, rock that swaggers along like a drunk tiger. (did I just say drunk tiger? I might be losing my mind...)


Another little gem I found, while trying to use up all my eMusic downloads for the month, was a b-sides/remixes/live cuts album from one of my favorite bands, The Violent Femmes. I haven't had adequate time to rummage through these 22 tracks but I'm loving the stuff I've heard so far. There's some great covers on there like 'My Way' by Elvis and some great live takes on older songs I love like 'Waiting For A Bus.' If any of you out there are actually VF fans (which I doubt) drop me an email or a comment and I'll email you some songs from this album. (is that legal?)

(not album cover)

Movies:
I went and saw Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 two weeks ago; it was entertaining but admittedly lame. (how's that for a review?)

I'd give it '1 thumb up' as well

Life:
I mentioned a bunch of stuff already but two other things that happened since I did a proper post were the 'closing ceremonies' of our men's 'Ping-pong and pizza' guys' nights. We had a weekly crew of dudes that, you guessed it, got together once a week for ping-pong and pizza. It was a great year and deserves a proper post, but I don't have it in me right now so you'll have to check out what 'The Senator' wrote about it over on his blog. Here's a preview...

'The Kid' is missing from this picture but you get the idea...

Also in the last month, we went on an awesome trip to Yangshuo. Me and Bet have been to Yangshuo 4 or 5 times now but this was by far the most enjoyable of all our trips there. Numerous reasons:
a. We went w/ John and Mandy Taylor, two really great people and friends
b. We flew there (nuff said)
c. We stayed in a hotel room instead of a hostel room that could double as a POW 'box'
d. We rode electric scooters everywhere instead of bikes
e. We did a 'greatest hits' type trip, meaning we just did our favorite things

Check out John's post for a different perspective.
Here's some pics (probably from John and Mandy's collection b/c we didn't take many pictures this time)

Water cave


Moon Hill


Ladies


Gentlemen (possibly in my top 5 favorite pictures ever)


Mid air high five (children, don't try this at home)


Not a flattering picture of John, but it cracks me up! If you know John, this picture is a lot funnier. But you probably don't, so you'll just have to trust me...


Bet w/ some monkeys


Me and the Wifey

I'll post more of these pictures on Flickr when I can. (China is blocking Flickr right now and I really can't figure out why)

Well I'm going to wrap this one up for now but trust me, I'm getting back into my blog form so I'll be posting more soon, stay tuned...

6/22/2007

I've been slacking

Bet's brother told me I'm slacking so I'll get back to business. In my defense, it's the end of the school year and not only was I trying to wrap everything up, I was also helping Bet get ready for her trip to grad-school.

For the next 6 weeks I have no excuse for not posting b/c Bet is in America and I'm off work, so if I don't post now, I'm slacking!

First off, as I just mentioned, my wife flew out of Shanghai today headed off to grad school at Wesleyan in Connecticut. It's gonna be really weird being apart that long, I don't think we've spent more than a week (total) apart since we were married 5 years ago. She was really nervous about leaving for a few reasons: She HATES flying, she's nervous about grad school, she's gonna be in a city she doesnt' know around people she doesn't know, and she's gonna be away from me. But she powered through all that somehow and got on the plane. I know she'll do great though b/c she is seriously the most amazing person ever born!

Next topic de-jour we have our Ping-Pong banquet, that's right, Ping-Pong banquet. This year we've had a weekly ping-pong night at my friends house and it was pretty successful. Basically, few of us guys would get together for pizza and ping-pong every Thursday night. One of the fab five wrote a nice little blog about our guy's night so I'll just link to his instead of typing it all out. You can find the post by John Taylor here. (if you're reading this in China you'll have to anonymouse that page) But back to the banquet; we went to an awesome restaurant w/ an awesomely bad name, Naked Cow. This place serves kind of like western tapas. All the men gorged on the feast and filled our bellies, we all agreed that it was possibly the best meal we had ever had in China!

Lastly, the WHITE STRIPES! So this won't serve as a whole album review b/c the jury's still out. My first impression is that it is a GREAT album! I don't know if it will dethrone 'Elephant' or 'Get Behind Me Satan' but even if it were their worst album, that's no insult, so far this band has done no wrong.

It's midnight and I'm unusually tired so I'm going to bed. I'll write more later.

6/18/2007

From the www, Vol. 14 - KICK

These two things are completely unrelated other than the fact they both involve kicking so that's what I'm going with.

This home video, of questionable quality, is a highlight reel of one of my 10th grade students. He's a REALLY good soccer player but the thing he does vastly better than anyone else in our league is long distance running. He's won the varsity city wide Cross Country tournament three years in a row. (since he was in 8th grade) But this video is pretty insane, enjoy. (It's hard to tell due to the video quality but in the parts where he's juggling w/ his feet, the ball never touches the ground. He kicks it w/ the bottom foot after throwing his leg over the ball in mid air.)

Hiko



This video is flat out amazing! The 'unintentional comedy' rating is easily 10 out of 10! Watch for the body hair, ripping of body hair, kitten, and Bruce Lee's 'sound effects'.

Chuck vs. Bruce

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you're only a day away!

There's a little 'Annie' reference for John Taylor, who is not only a huge fan of 'Annie' but also a huge fan of 'Anne Of Green Gables' and 'Anne Of Avonlea'.

Tomorrow's the day!

Icky Thump will be in my hands (or iPod) around lunch time tomorrow and I'm a little excited about it if you haven't noticed. The White Stripes have quickly become one of my top five favorite bands and tomorrow they release their sixth album. (that's pretty crazy considering they've only been around for about 8 years)

I saved some of these videos for the last days of the count down but I went out of town for three days so 'the last days' became one; this one. WS have become pretty well known for their imaginative videos and that's mostly due to the genius of Michel Gondry. Michel Gondry is a weirdo to be honest, the guy is so creative in a child like way. It's like he took all your weird childhood dreams and put them on film exactly the way they looked.

He's directed films like Eternal Sunshine and Science Of Sleep and legendary music videos such as the Foo Fighters' 'Everlong', the Chemical Brothers' 'Star Guitar', Bjork's 'Human Behavior' and the list could go on and on. But this post isn't about him, it's about the White Stripes; I'll do a post about him next month. I mention him b/c he evidently loves the White Stripes b/c he keeps doing these amazing videos w/ them.

This first video is somewhat like a cartoon; it's made frame by frame w/ a picture at a time, the catch is that each 'picture' is made of Legos! To pull this off they filmed the band doing all these things w/ an old digital camera and then blew the frames up really big so that they could see each pixel individually and thus map out the Legos. Everything you see is Legos, pretty crazy...
This was also their 'breakout' video and introduced the band to the world.

The White Stripes - Fell In Love With A Girl



Next we have a video that uses projectors and silk screens to bring a two dimensional version of each frame. They're projecting video of 'what happened' on to Jack walking around in various rooms. This was all done w/o computer effects, so it has a very real look to it and makes no effort to hide the simplicity of the whole thing. Which is one of the main reasons I love Gondry's work so much b/c it all looks like something any Joe Shmoe could have pulled off if they just thought of it.

The White Stripes - Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground



Here's a video that takes the previous 'cartoon' idea into the realm of video. This video takes one second (and shorter) shots of video and puts them together like a cartoon frame by frame. They used over 30 drum sets to make this video and if you watch closely you'll notice that each burst, which happens to the rhythm, only contains the exact pieces of the drum kit that she is playing during that beat of the song. i.e. when the drum beat is 'kick-snare-kick-kick-snare' that's exactly what you see laid out across the frame. And if you're catching onto the theme here: No special fx were used in this, everything you see is actual film.

The White Stripes - Hardest Button To Button



This last Gondry video is pretty trippy, Gondry takes a camera/lens that distorts one side to be small and the other to be large, and vise versa. Then he constructs a sound stage full of props that work into that lens scheme and makes for a really weird ride of sizes shifting and changing. It's a lot like when Alice was following the rabbit into Wonderland.

The White Stripes - Denial Twist



Finally, we have a video that wasn't done by Gondry but it has a really cool kaleidoscope effect that I'm sure he'd find a way to do w/o using any special effects. This video won tons of awards and pushed the White Stripes even further into mainstream popularity. Who hasn't heard this song?

The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army (the audio is a little off)

6/14/2007

We're going-going back-back to yangshuo-yangshuo

Friday morning we're flying out to Guilin for a little three day trip to Yangshuo w/ our good friends John and Mandy Taylor. This will be our 4th trip there but it should still be fun. It'll just be nice to get out of the big city for awhile. I'll post some pictures and stories on Monday or Tuesday.

Oh ya! The White Stripes new album comes out Tuesday, I'll get a review up of that too!

China's blockin' blogger like LeBron blocked Duncan!

So the past two days or so I haven't been able to access my account page and thus, can't 'blog'. Today its working again and so I'm trying to get this in before the next random swat comes down. So if you ever wonder 'man, he's getting lazy' it's probably just a 'no access' issue.

6/11/2007

8 days

One of my favorite White Stripes songs is Hotel Yorba, a nice little folk ditty from their third album, White Blood Cells. I have quite a few live versions of this song that are a little more up-tempo and, in my opinion, are better than the album version.

Here's a good example of how good this song can sound:

6/09/2007

Why do I teach at SMIC?

While teachers in the states have to worry about fights, drugs, pregnant students, and all kinds of other violence; I have these kids...



Now you know why I'd rather teach here, SMIC kids are pretty good kids.

6/08/2007

From the www, Vol. 13

I am all for teaching kids that underage drinking is wrong and dangerous, I'm all for teaching kids the dangers of drugs and all of that. I myself was the victim of a hit and run by a drunk driver and could have easily died that day had it not been for God looking me out.

BUT

This picture was TOO HILARIOUS to pass on!



Where do I start?
1. It looks like the girl is about to have a seizure.
2. You can barely even tell there's a drink in her hands.
3. That's a martini right? What kid starts w/ martinis? They'd have to have a working knowledge of how to mix drinks. (and they'd have to have access to an olive and a martini glass)
4. The tightly braided pigtails. How can we expect the parents of this young lady to talk to her about alcohol when they've obviously not talked to her about her pigtails yet. She's probably been rocking these since she saw Pocahantas or Anne Of Green Gables. (which we all know how Anne and Diane got drunk whilst jabbering about Gilbert)
5. How old is this girl? They couldn't have picked a more ambiguous person for this; I could guess this girl to be anywhere from 14-23.

I guess, in the end, I'm just baffled (like w/ the album covers) that this passed through various levels of production before it became an advertisement. I mean, someone got paid to make this; this is someone's job. They came up w/ this and then someone else, who gets paid to do this for a living, said "ya, Bob, that looks great! Get it to the printers." I guess, even in last phase of the process, the printer should have said "I'm sorry, I have too much integrity and pride in my job, I refuse to print this turd-burger."

Please don't anybody get angry at me for joking on this picture; I fully encourage and support this cause. In fact, go to this website and check out their causes; they do a lot of good work.

6/07/2007

12 days

This is a cool little video.


Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground - Live on VH1

From the www, Vol. 12

Smoke and mirrors baby.

I just came across this, it's pretty funny in a deadpan way. It's really sad that their series was stolen from them; imagine Nash and LeBron in the finals, that's what basketball should look like. That'd be more like the 130 point games of the 80's playoffs, back before cheap shots and boring basketball ruled the day.

6/06/2007

LeBron James

Before I get to the subject at hand, I wanted to let you know that I posted like 4 new posts today, very unusual after that sparse month of May. So feel free to scroll down after this.

Ok, back to LeBron:
This is amazing! This guy plays basketball like it's 1987 and he's going toe to toe w/ Bird, Magic, Jordan, and Barkley. This is one of the greatest performances I've ever seen in basketball. He scored 29 of his teams last 30 points, and scored the last 25 outright. He did all of that in about 17 minutes. (from 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter through 2 overtimes) And they were throwing 2, 3, or 4 guys at him! I personally think it wouldn't have mattered if they threw all 12 at him; he wasn't going to be stopped. Now the Cavs play the spurs in the NBA Finals and we get to look forward to Bowen throwing cheap shots at him and trying to end his career.

Now before 'ballhog' can pop into your head (Jordan) it should be said that LeBron only did this cause he had to; he had over half of his teams assists in the game and leads his team in assists in almost every game.

Game 5 on May 31, Eastern Conference Finals, Cavs vs. Pistons
enjoy...

From the www, Vol. 11

I guess you can all tell that I'm done coaching b/c all of the sudden I'm posting like wildfire. (yes, wildfire has a blog)

A friend of mine came into my office and mentioned the name of a comedian I hadn't thought about in a while, Mitch Hedberg, so I hopped on Youtube to find some laughs. If you don't know who he is, that stinks for you. I love his humor b/c he looks at things from a different angle.

If you ever hear him you'll immediately notice that he has isn't exactly 'sober and proud', which might attribute to his askew view, but most definitely attributed to his death two years ago and the ripe ol' age of 37.

Here's a sample of Mitch late in his career, this is from Letterman.

From the www, Vol. 10

I love when I find something cool when I wasn't looking for anything remotely connected to it; today I did that twice. Youtube is like a maze, but there's not really any wrong turns; you see something they think is related and you follow it to things you didn't know you wanted to see or didn't know existed.

That happened to me today and here's the three things that caught my eye.

This is one of my favorite Wilco songs, admittedly it's b/c it refers to Florida a lot and b/c it's upbeat. (just like the sunshine state)
Monday - I believe this is from their DVD 'I Am Trying To Break Your Heart' but I'm not certain about that. (who cares right?)


This is only for people that already like Wilco b/c it's a little rockish and disorderly.

Kicking Television - Live on Sound Stage (from their tour w/ Sonic Youth)


(if you don't like Sonic Youth, you probably won't like this but the last 5 minutes are so good!)
From the same tour, same show, same magical moment in time, here's Sonic Youth w/ Rain On Tin.
Jeff Tweedy stands in on guitar on this one but what I find interesting is that there are four Fender Jazz Master (I think that's what they're called) guitars, making five appearances between the last two videos. (three are identical) One is being played by Wilco's Nels Cline, twice by Jeff Tweedy, one by Thurston Moore, and Lee Ranaldo is playing a red one. Is it some underground secret that this is the best guitar for cool bands?



I also came across a great version of California Stars, one of my favorite Wilco related songs, but the audio/video was off sync. That bummed me out.

Revision: After posting this I watched the videos again and I don't think that's Jeff Tweedy w/ Sonic Youth. I watched/taped this show when it came on TV and I don't remember Tweedy being on stage for a Sonic Youth song. Who knows, either way the guitar thing is still right.

What A Year!

I mentioned in the last post that I'm finally finished coaching for the school year but that doesn't do this year any justice.

I don't mean this to sound like anything other than reference:
(most of you already know this stuff)
It was 15 years ago that I first picked up a basketball and fell in love w/ it. Since then, I've played on undefeated teams, been a team captian twice, had tripple doubles, won 2nd place in the state of Florida, and played w/ D1 basketball players as my teammates; but this season was up there with or above all of that stuff. This year, basketball wise, was one of the best years I've ever had and I don't even get to play anymore b/c of my back.
(I mean this year was also amazing in my general non-basketball life too, it's just that I'm talking about basketball right now)

This season, all of my teams exceeded my expectations and, at times, completely surprised me. I still get goose bumps when I think back to our games in the SAS Holiday classic or the game at SCIS or the 5 threes we hit on Suzhou in the SISAC tourney or the two middle school tournaments. I couldn't be more proud of my girls this year, they worked so hard and improved so much! I've been known to ramble so I'll end this quickly. Girls, you were so awesome this year and I can't wait to coach you again next season! GO SHARKS!!

My Varsity Girls








My Middle School team
(John and Mandy coached these girls too; there were two teams)


This is 'my team' out of all the girls above


This is the 'elite team' I mentioned before which consisted of a select group of girls from the two middle school teams pictured above. We took 2nd place.



GREAT JOB SHARKS!

6/05/2007

14 days

So I'm officially done w/ all sport related projects, coaching/misc, for the year. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. I mean, I love coaching but I coach 70% of the year, so I'm a little tired and need some rest.

One thing that will definitely put a smile on my face is the White Stripes' new album, which brings me back to the countdown.

(like that segue?)

Denial Twist - Live on VH1
(this version is very different than the one from last week but I like them both)

5/31/2007

19 days

I won't be counting down over the weekend (I don't think) b/c I have to make a movie for our sports banquet.

So I'll post two today:

Both songs are from KCRW's 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' which you can get as a free podcast at iTunes.

Denial Twist (A very rocking version. I have another version of this song that's just as cool but very different; I'll post it soon.)


Folk Singer (Brendan Benson cover)


Have a nice weekend...

5/30/2007

20 days

Today I bring you one of my favorite songs by The White Stripes, "Death Letter", and it's possibly the best version I've ever heard of it as well. This song was written by Son House around the time my dad was in elementary school and it has aged VERY well. I found a video of Son House playing the original version and included it for good measure. I have to admit that I like the original a little more, but I enjoy the WS version more. (I like to rock)

Death Letter/People Grinnin' - White Stripes



Death Letter - Son House

Music Player (finally)

I finally have a working music player for the site! (in the right hand column) A big thanks goes out to my friend Kellie for pointing me in the right direction.

I'm going to start (randomly, NOT weekly) talking about songs stuck in my head and I'll be sure to add them over there so you can hear that which I speak of.

It's a pretty cool media player w/ more features than I care for but if you want to check it out, go to Stickam.com.

5/29/2007

21 days

'Ugly As I Seem' - live on KCRW's 'Morning Becomes Eclectic'

5/28/2007

22 days

While looking for the new White Stripes video I stumbled across dozens of spectacular videos of them on youtube. Some are live and some are music videos, but all of them are great. Instead of posting them all at once I'll spread it out over the next 22 days as a count down of sorts.

Why 22 days you ask, because their new album comes out on June 19 and I have a sneaky suspicion it'll be amazing.

So every other day or so I'm going to post a video or two so you all can get as excited as I am.


Here's a little taste:


Let's Build A Home/Going Back To Memphis/John The Revelator live on Conan O'Brien

From the www, Vol. 9 - Icky Thump

Bet's brother posted the new White Stripes video over on his site and guess what, it doesn't play in China. So I jumped over the youtube and it wasn't up so I just got all frustrated and pissy that I don't get to see their new video.

back ground info:
a. I LOVE the White Stripes
b. They make great videos
c. Their new song rocks

A month or so ago I heard their new song and thought "I should talk about this on my website" but I can't for the life of me find a music player that works on a blog site, suggestions are welcome. So I got this idea yesterday to make a bare-bones video for this song and put it on youtube so that my 'vast loyal reader base' could hear it. (ya right, there's like four of you) It only took a little while to make the video and put it on youtube. That was last night so before I posted it on here I decided to give youtube another try and WAH-LAH, there it was.

Things you should know before you watch this:

If you have strong opinions on immigration, don't get all up in arms; I think the song is more about a singular incident they might have experienced (or thought up) during their crazy South American tour. It seems to be more of a story than anything else. But ya, it has some other themes that I don't really care that much about so I'll just enjoy the rock.

That weird bagpipe/Indian sound (other than the keyboard part) is from a guitar pedal effect.

Icky Thump


The new album comes out June 19 and its gonna be good. (understatement)

5/27/2007

BOTW has died, I think...

Ok band of the week has been missing for three weeks now; I think BOTW is dead. If you happen to see him, you might want to run b/c he'll eat your brains...

I'm just joking; but BOTW is dead. Don't get out the paddles and yell 'clear', or tear your clothes and put on sack cloth and ashes, just yet; I'll still be spotlighting great bands in the exact same format.
(Don't you all just love when I pretend that there's actually people that read/care about this blog?)
Back to BOTW; I'm just killing off the 'weekly' portion of the whole thing b/c the stress of posting weekly was shortening my life. (ya right)

In the meantime this will mean more 'From the www' posts b/c there's a lot of times when I find a good video or some album news that I save it for a BOTW post.

So lets 'poor some for the hommies' and cherish the times we had w/ him; besides, there's always memory lane over on the right in the 'previously mentioned nonsense' section.

5/26/2007

From the www, Vol. 8

I won't taint this w/ too many words; this is 6 minutes of guitar perfection!

Ball & a Bisquit

5/25/2007

THE CAVS GOT ROBBED! (revised)

Rasheed pushed off and James got fouled. It doesn't get anymore obvious. The refs decided that game, what a shame. I have a feeling I'll be able to post a video about this soon; someone's cooking up a youtube video about it right now I'm sure.

ok I haven't seen any video yet but I did find this highlight from the game:

5/24/2007

Basketblah, blah, blah

I try to avoid talking about basketball too much on this blog b/c I think most people don't care to hear about the NBA and my middle/high school teams. Yet for some reason I seem to believe that you all would care to read my ramblings about music, I'm clearly delusional.

For closure's sake, I'm going to talk about the Suns-Spurs NBA playoff series that went awry. This was a series that seemed to be going the Suns way and then it was ripped away by the NBA and their illogical rule interpretation. If you don't know anything about how dirty the Spurs played (and benefited from their dirty play) then you'll have no idea what I'm talking about and frankly, you wouldn't care. So I'm going to post this link for those of you that know a little about it so you can take joy in the knowledge that the vast majority of the world also thinks its a shallow victory to 'win at any cost' and take comfort in the reassurance that there's still a high value in doing what you do w/ some class and respect for your fellow man.

A quick summation of my views on the Spurs:
My friend says they're a classy and honorable organization w/ only one or two dirty players (one of which is known to be the dirtiest player in the league) my reply to that is

"If they're so classy why don't they bench their teammates for taking cheap shots like the ones in the video below? Is aiding and abedding a known felon classy? Is being an accessory to a crime honorable?"

That's the way I look at it; back in the day when I was the captain of a basketball team, or today now that I'm a coach, if I had a teammate or player pull a stunt like this I'd have been all over them, zero tolerance!

The evidence:






This one's a joke; Tony Parker of the Spurs is 'from France' (even though his dad's from Chicago and he spent a lot of time in the states) and he loves hip-hop. So, logically, he made a French rap album. Here's a video from one of his songs, the thumbs up at the end and the Spurs players trying to act like rappers, is HILARIOUS!!



Now for my team:
When my girls won second place two weeks ago, that team was made up of 'the best' of our two 7th and 8th grade teams and we played against the best of the other schools. Other than that weekend, our two teams haven't been having much 'fun' on the court. Yesterday was our last day of regular season games and the girls played well. We tied one team, lost by two to another team, and beat the school that never loses at girls bball, so ya, it was a fun day for them. (We missed some shots we usually make or we would have won the other two games as well. But that's no big deal b/c it's middle school basketball and winning's not the point; they played hard, played well, and played right. They did great this year!) Hopefully we can carry this over to Saturday so they can have fun at the season ending tournament.

GO SHARKS!

5/22/2007

Worst Album Covers (May 22)

Ok I'm getting back on track...

Sometimes I have to really click around for awhile to find 5 albums for this post but this week's WAC post was an easy one!

First we have gaudy art:

This is bad, really bad! I've said this before in previous WAC posts but I have to say it again; how does this happen, who signed off on this album cover? It passed w/ the band, w/ the 'artist', and w/ the record company. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? I'm not all for 'big government' but I might be ok w/ some kind of 'department of common sense' if it'll keep this kind of crap from happening.



Now this band has been around for a while and has a mild fan base so there's no excuse for this. I can't even figure out what this album cover is supposed to mean. Is it saying that a diamond is a 'light at the end of the world'? Do any of you single ladies out there take offense to this?



Next we look at a very sizeable chapter in the 'Worst Album Covers' book of history, the 'Band photo' which seemingly always involves photoshop, one of the band members looking off into space, and one of them holding one of their arms like it might fall off if they didn't clutch it tight. Sadly, these two only have the photoshop part, but there's always next week:

This band is one of those shtick bands; they started out playing bluegrass versions of ACDC songs. (if you say their name a few times you'll get the pun) This seems to be a joke but I went ahead and included it b/c I have a weird story to go w/ it.

Hayseed Dixie is a little band out of Huntsville, Alabama but I've come across their albums all over America and I even found one here in China, but that's not the weird part, what's weird is that one of these dudes is the uncle of a guy I went to school w/, no lie. (I think it's the one in the front)



This one's not singularly horrible, I think what drew me to it was a combination of photoshop, one dude is missing half his torso, and that the words 'funk tango' are tied to this pack of straight laced computer techies.



Lastly there's this clever little album cover from Candye Kane; notice the title that perfectly matches the oh so wonderful photo. I'm guessing this album is a high-art 'concept album' along the lines of Tommy, Quadrophenia, and Kid A. Actually its probably more along the lines of Kilroy Was Here. (which will be featured at the bottom of this post as my classicly bad album cover)



History lesson; back in the day STYX was a pioneer in the 'worst album cover' community and this 'concept album' was no exception to that rule. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you 'Kilroy Was Here'; not only was it a bad album cover, it was also a bad album.


All photos are from Amazon.com

5/21/2007

What A Weekend!

I mentioned in the last post that we were going away this weekend to celebrate our five anniversary, here's how it turned out.

So we stayed in a 5 star hotel suite all weekend and it was AWESOME! We checked in late so they bumped us up to a more expensive top floor suite for no extra charge. The room was like an apartment, a super nice apartment!

We went to dinner at this little back alley place and it was so good; they gave us this private table in a window sill, really cool. The food was great and when we ordered desert they brought us a chocolate mousse cake for free. It was so rich we couldn't even finish a quarter of it.

What a great weekend!

Here's some pics from the weekend:


Dinner



View of the city (a VERY small portion of the city) from our hotel room
(sometimes I forget that Shanghai has more people than Australia)

5/17/2007

5 YEARS AND COUNTING!

Today 'The Bates Dynasty' celebrates its fifth year in power! I'm not refering to this blog, I'm refering to May 18, 2002. On that day Bethany Brewster decided to marry me, poor thing, and the rest is history.(or 'crap that happened', that's for Dan)

So this is my indirect way of telling you all that I won't be blogging this weekend; I'll be chilling in a 5 star hotel suite for three days!

I promise, I'll get back to my regular posts next week. I'm gonna start a new weekly too, ya it's music related. I'll post more stuff 'From the www' in the future as well. (this is my best sales pitch)

Till then, root for the Suns against those cheap shot thugs in black and silver!

GO SUNS!!!

5/16/2007

From the www, Vol. 7

So this week is me and Bet's 5 year anniversary (crazy!) and we're going to a hotel for a 'getaway' this weekend; which means there may not be a BOTW this week, and there probably won't be a Worst Album Covers post either. I already know who this week's BOTW is, it's just a question of whether or not I'll have time post it before Friday. We'll see...

But since I've been slacking on the posts the last two weeks (really busy w/ bball) I figured I'd throw in this video I found today. This is the perfect collision of two things I distinctly remember from my childhood. (it's kind of low quality and dorky but it made me a laugh)

5/14/2007

No BOTW This Week

My middle school team had a tournament this weekend so I didn't get it together. But since I mentioned it; my girls played their butts off this weekend! We were definite underdogs going into the tournament but we came out w/ a 2nd place trophy.

Highlights of the day:

(useful info; each game was 22 minutes of running clock so it was like two quarters of a real high school game)

Game one we were down 0-4 at the half but turned it on in the second half and won the game 17-6. Late in the game one of my girls hit the only three pointer I've seen in MS bball. This game was against YCIS, the team that beat my varsity girls in the HS tournament. Their coach is kinda crazy; he's always cussing out the refs, acting like a jerk to other people, and his high school team was the only dirty team in the league, so it felt really good to beat them. (he coaches every basketball team at his school; boys and girls middle school, j.v., and varsity. kinda weird)

Game two was a tough one b/c some of the teams we play use a full court man-to-man defense but they don't know how to do it so they just foul the whole game. The thing that sucks is that the refs suck and just try to balance the calls even though my team is playing a zone and fouls less. We stayed neck and neck the whole game but came up short in the end.

Game three was a crazy little dog fight for the champion of the pool. We had the same reffing situation as the game above so I sent out my biggest, toughest bunch of players and battled to a 2 or 3 point win in double overtime.

We got a bye for winning the pool but as luck would have it we ended up playing the same team that we battled in game three. This time we had the good refs, b/c it was a semifinal game, and the game wasn't even close; they called so many fouls on the other team that we coasted past them to the championship game.

In the championship game we played the perennial powerhouse, Concordia. The game wasn't even close but we fought hard, had fun and went home w/ 2nd place. Considering how much my girls had to fight through, I couldn't be more proud of how they kept their composure and got the job done. (well, they almost lost their cool a few times but they are only in middle school and they were getting beat up pretty bad)

So I'll get back on the BOTW train this week. Last week was going to be Dinosaur Jr. b/c they reunited and released a great new album. I'll get around to that one soon but until I do, just check out their new album 'Beyond'.

5/10/2007

Worst Album Covers (May 8)

This week’s theme is Portraits…
(For those that don't get the premise; these are albums released this week.)

first off:
Paula Abdul has spent the last 5 years telling young ‘talent’ how the industry works and what they should do to be successful and then she turns around and puts this on the shelves. This actually isn't that bad of an album cover, for a cassette tape! What is she wearing? And what is she looking at, circling vultures? (she's always so hammered she probably thinks they're magical little fairies) I'm glad she at least named it 'Straight Up' so we could all say it's 'straight up horrible'!



Next we got Streisand who is on the list b/c she’s Streisand, a walking nightmare. Great cover idea too; somewhere her publicist said "We need to find one of those big foam headed mics from the 60's so we can cover half her face!" (I think Babs sees the vultures too)



This one can also be blamed on Streisand; I’m sure the liner notes even give her a ‘shout out.’ I love that this is the ‘Deluxe Edition’ meaning that there’s a lesser version of this album on the market. The body language and album title, which I'll avoid discussing, are perfect! Bill Simmons would rank this really high on the ‘unintentional comedy’ meter. Furthermore, nobody ever wanted to see her in that dress... But Carole gains a little street cred for her audacity to smile at you and look you in the eye before slapping you w/ this hot loaf.



Here we have the unexplainable, oops, I mean the inexplicable, or, the inconceivable, the unbelievable, the… oh you get it. Its a monkey pope!? Is this connected w/ the airport Krishnas? And what does any of this have to do w/ a flow of grace.
Just to take inventory; we have a chanting harry Krishna monkey bishop oozing abundant grace. I'm completely lost; if this is some religious thing, someone tell me so I'm not completely offending the world.



The last three are artists that cranked out albums comprised entirely of other people’s music, yet they felt the need to plaster their mug on side A of the jewel case.

First is Lang Lang; poor guy, he can't be 30 and the vultures are already after him.


Lastly we have Richter, who decided the best way to sell cover albums is to slap a floor to ceiling shot of yourself looking worried on the front of each one. (which he did at least three times)




This week's throw back comes from over 15 years ago. I enjoy some songs from this album but no amount of 'riffing' can undo the lameness of this cover.


photos are from Amazon.com