Thursday, August 30, 2007
So for you 'Goth Vamp' fans I am going to get back in touch with Jeramiah, he was the screen writer, and see if he can help me track down the director for an interview.
So keep your 'Fangs crossed', there could be more Gothic Vampires From Hell news soon!
I have been angling for an interview with Greg Lake (ELP), but had pretty much thought that it was a lost cause, I had heard nothing from the Greg Lake people, not even a 'We got your email, email', and that usually signals bad times ahead! Mind you, I had a pretty similar time with Rick Wakeman's 'people', until through a circuitous route someone at the record label got involved, in a flash, we had an interview set up.
In what can only be classed as an amazing co-incidence this same record exec knows Greg Lake, and has greased the wheels, so we have a Greg Lake interview being set up! It sure is a question of who you know!
The other bizarre aspect of reviewing is the 'stuff' you get. You would think that with the cost of using delivery services someone would be in charge of making sure that you only send stuff once. This is not the case, I get double of stuff, I get double books, I get double CD's. Trust me, I really only need one copy!
I have a whole pile of stuff en route, and what arrives, another copy of a CD from a band that we are going to see in concert in a couple of weeks!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
The first thing I know is Jan has woken me up and she has a look of shock and disbelief on her face "Honey, get up, Keith Emerson is on the phone, and I think I was just rude to him"!
Apparently Jan had assumed it was her son calling, and had answered the phone with "What do you want?". Keith had spouted out something about Moog synthesizers, to which Jan had stopped him in mid sentence with a "Who the hell is this?" hahahahahaha
Keith is a real nice guy, and we chatted for almost an hour. What really amazed me was after he had answered all of my questions, he asked me about my kids, and invited Jan and I to lunch! he ended the call like we were old buddies, "Call me anytime".
You just never what to expect in the wild world of reviewing! You can check out the interview here.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Of course Pile technology went out the window when Jan arrived. She could not understand the underlying theory and insisted that dirty clothes go in the hamper, and clean clothes go in closets and draws.
I bowed down to her requests, and clothes are no longer in piles. I do try and keep a little pile at the end of the bed, but every couple of days she grabs it! Jan is just not a pile-oligist!
Pile technology is not limited to clothes, you can use the pile theory to almost anything. If I was going after a PHD I would pick piles as my subject. Pretty much you can analyse any situation and end up with between 2 and 4 piles. I run a 4 pile system for my reviews. The to do pile, the working on pile, the I like it pile, and the... argh pile.
The argh pile is without doubt the largest pile, actually we keep it in boxes. And these boxes contain stuff that contravene the latest SALT treaty. If you want to stop the war in Iraq, come visit me. A couple of my boxes dumped in Iraq and the war would be over. Osama would be begging for mercy! "Oh no, not more DVD's"!
I have been under the gun by Jan to get rid of some of the 'Stuff'. so I did, 7.5 lbs of stuff is now on its way to Saipan. You will notice I talk weight rather than content! It is a sad situation when I measure music and movies by the pound! But that is what it has become. I took 2.9 Kilograms of stuff to the post office today. That's about 7 pounds! Ha I thought, I am winning.
Boy was I wrong! Even tho it is Saturday, some idiot delivery company left a box outside my door, and the weight was 3kg! I lost. I am now 1lb more in the red than i was before.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Unfortunately for me, they put on the damn Fed-Ex shipping note that the contents were worth $58. So the Feds bust me with a $7 charge for opening the damn package, and then charge me tax on the $58. It's enough to make the Pope swear!
A couple of weeks ago Dumb as Hog Lard (DHL) played the same game.
Of course, maybe I am being a little harsh, for $10.91 I have 2 new CD's to add to my CD pile, I have $100 worth of concert tickets, an invite to a drinks and munchies session the evening before the concert, and an interview. When you view it that way, I guess I got a deal!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
In keeping with my neat freak approach to life, these piles are everywhere! In fact they are threatening to take over from the computer bits piles, and the typewriter piles.
If we lived in a 4 bedroom house, life would be good, I'd just relocate the piles to a couple of the bedrooms. Alas we live in a small one bedroom apartment, there is not enough room to 'swing a cat', in fact there is not enough room to swing a hamster!
The good news is that I am going to be relocating part of one pile to a far flung place, Saipan! My buddy Bruce explained that they have no off air TV, and in a fit of rage he ripped out the cable TV, so their only entertainment are terrible DVD's from the local Video Rental store.
I am going to be sending a serious 'care package' on Friday!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
As a reviewer you do actually have to read the words, so very likely I do know quite a lot about the plots and subplots.
Without doubt the only real evidence is that grainy home movie that everyone has seen 10 thousand times. In the JFK fraternity it is called 'The Zapruder tape', it is an Super 8mm tape. This certainly is not IMAX quality. In fact it is pretty crappy.
Dan Robertson has just released a new book, it's slim at only 115 pages, but is rich in detail. A couple of years ago the Zapruder family allowed MPI Media Group access to the original 8mm film, this is footage that few people have ever seen. On the day of the event Zapruder went to Kodak and had them develop his film and make 3 copies, it is copies of the copies that we have seen on the TV. This process is not like copying a digital file, I can make as many copies as I like of an MP3, and everyone of them will be exactly the same. When you copy analog you lose definition with each copy.
The MPI guys went one stage further with the original, they used a medium format camera to click each frame (don't be fooled with the term medium format, it is a better camera than any sensible person could afford) and then took the frames and bolted it back together.
You end up with something that is better than the original! Yes I know that sounds bizarre, but it is true.
The DVD has little commentary, it just shows the fateful journey that JFK took.
Dan Robertson adds that missing commentary in his book.
I have always had an open mind to what happened that day. But I have to admit that this combo has got me thinking. I don't think any one that has an IQ bigger than their hat size believes that the Warren Commission did a good job. In fact it is my opinion that the Warren Commission are why we are still fascinated about the assassination 45 years later.
Try it out, my review has links to what you will need.
Monday, August 20, 2007
I also heard from Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer fame. It looks like we are on for an interview on Friday.
With this kind of good luck going for me I have sent out a request to Greg Lake (The L in ELP) for an interview as well, we shall see what happens with this one.
Everyone like a great conspiracy, and what better than the JFK assassination. Somehow I seem to have become part of the 'in crowd' of JFK stuff. In today's mail was a copy of Dan Robertson's new book Definitive Proof. From what I have gleaned, Dan has a new theory that is based on the infamous Zapruder home video of the event. This has to be one of the most watched pieces of home movie making ever. Well some rather talented folks have done a frame by frame digital clean up of it.
In a delightful find, he sent me a copy of the DVD as well! I can't wait to read this book, and watch the DVD. I'll keep you all posted!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
A couple of hours later a Canada Post truck came ambling down the road, it had my name written all over it. Sure enough, a Box for Simon. I could tell by the size and shape it was from my good buddy Clint. I was right, I was now the proud owner of 9 more DVD's and 10 more CD's.
About 2 minutes later UPS made their drop, oh joy, a 4 DVD box set of all 29 episodes of the old Brit-com Two's Company. With a total running time of just over 12 hours!
There are people envious of me, all this free stuff. Well let me assure you it is not really that glamorous, I have to watch, listen or read all this stuff. In fact all of this 'stuff' is beginning to take over the whole damn apartment, there are CD's and DVD's everywhere, boxes of the damn things!
Friday, August 17, 2007
We had to fill out a customs declaration, and we simply wrote 'Spam'. I wonder what the Outer Mongolian customs guys will make of that?
When I got home I examined the can, and found some really interesting information. You do not need to be in a rush to eat it. The sell by date is Feb 2010. This is good, because the combination of Canada Post's Dog Sleds and Mongolia's Yak delivery service Mark should get the Spam days before the product expires!
As Mario Batali from the Iron Chef America show would say....
It is not every 23 year old that sells everything he owns (car and saxophone) to fund the making of a film. Yet that is exactly what he did.
Five years later, and probably 25 years older Jason has brought this project to fruition. Manda Bala opens at the Angelika theater in New York today!
One of the things that really surprised me about Jason was how the interview started. I have no idea how many interviews he has given recently, but a quick google shows it is quite a few, yet he knew all about the review I had written.
"you are the guy that mentions his wife and gives me two frogs up" was his accusation! And I had to admit that I was guilty as charged.
I hope that Jason has a huge success with Manda Bala, and if you see this film playing in your local theater you will take the time to go and watch it.
I was right in my initial review of this band. They do indeed have a very loyal following. They have even tracked me down to my humble blog. I am really impressed with the zealous nature of these folks.
I really like this band and would love to see them get more recognition in the North American market. I am a firm believer that the way to generate some buzz is to show people a sample. If I could find (a legal) streaming video of these guys I'd be happy to do a follow up news article on Bloggernews. So Stackheads, help me out here!
I am putting together an interview piece with Mike Tobin, and I hope to have that up and running over the weekend.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Anyway, I get to interview Jason Kohn the director and force behind this movie tomorrow. It should be fun! I have some interesting questions for him. I have high hopes for this one.
If you see Manda Bala advertised in your city, go out and give it a try.
This morning I noticed that someone had left a comment on it, and had signed it Mike Tobin. Well on a whim I decided to 'google' Mr. Tobin, and I discover that a Mike Tobin was the first manager of this band back in the early 70's, co-incidence? Well I can never resist a mystery, and although his email is address is hidden from public view, I as an editor can dig it out, and that's exactly what I did.
The answer is yes, it is the same guy, and better still, he is back as their manager! So we have an interview in the making! ya got to love it.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
It is not often that you get a #1 hit in Google but I seem to have one with the "canned mutton"!
Even better would be the New York Times....
"Simon Barrett, businessman turns a fifty cent can of potted meat into a multi million dollar deal! Simon makes Spam look like, well Spam. Canned mutton is where we need to be"
Jamie Oliver was heard to say "Bloody hell! I have been been spending all my time playing with Italians and school dinner ladies. I had no idea that canned mutton existed"!
In between beating his chefs and chefettes for Hells Kitchen Gordon Ramsey remarked "What the F*** is this? I wouldn't serve this shit to my dog!" Gordon does have a cute way with words.
I might be in big trouble here, I am pretty certain that Jan reads this blog! OH SHIT!
So I climbed onto Google and went searching! I started with a simple "canned mutton" search, and was blown away by the results!
I got to move up to # 3!
It was right about then that I realized that there are no recipes for canned mutton! In fact few people have even heard of this delicious offering. I am excited, if the 'mutton fairy' delivers I may have the only can in Canada.
One wonders why canned mutton is not already a big hit? Then I discovered what may provide the key to the problem.
I am not daunted by this, in fact it excites me, I think the recipe potential is huge. From a simplistic canned mutton hash, to a version of the french classic Boeuf Bourguignon, the potential is almost endless. My plan is to try it in as many ways as possible, I can already see Japanese Pot stickers, Spanish Risotto, Chinese Sweet and Sour, and maybe even an Italian dish or two, some stuffed tortellinis, or even a lasagna.
I am also wondering how it would work in a Sushi application? I suspect that it would be a great filler for a 'Mongolian Roll'.
All in all, I am jazzed about this opportunity to take an unusual ingredient to new highs. I am expecting a call from the 'Food Channel' in the next couple of days.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I love an adventure!
Of course this is doing nothing to deal with the backlog. And even worse, I just received an email from my good buddy about a whole schwack of new DVD's they are releasing soon. I guess I am just going to have to knuckle down and deal with 'the pile from hell'.
It is a rare treat to actually get to listen to something that you like in this game. Some people are envious when they hear about what I do. But the reality is its a lot of bloody work.
Oh well, off to the world of music purgatory...........
Thursday, August 09, 2007
I am an old hand at Monitor Abuse, you really don't need any special equipment, just grit, determination and electricity.
Take a computer outside in a rain storm, and plug it in, now thats one of my favorites!
Alternatively turn the screen saver off, and leave the same ms word document on for 6 weeks, the results are great! You can read the document even when the monitor is switched off. This is the ultimate data storage method.
You can play this same trick with images, and I have been considering starting up a service for companies, I'll burn their logo into the phosphor coating! Now how cool would that be? Just think how happy almost every company would be? Now that is what I call value added.
I am also thinking of pioneering a similar service with these flat screens that are so popular. I suspect that using a sharp knife and a steady hand you could remove some of the pixels to reveal an everlasting image!
Jan on the other hand is just a beginner. She prefers the more physical approach, she just slaps em till they break. This is an art that she perfected on our digital alarm clock. She has broken the minute adjustment function, so every time we need to reset it, we have to plug it in and wait for 12 noon (the clock flashes 12:00 just like a vcr) and at noon you hit the set button, and its good to go!
I have high hopes for Jan though. I think that now she has mastered the Ninja slap, she may move on to more creative methods, rum and coke poured in, or maybe using a carpet 'steam cleaner' to give it that showroom look.
My punk rocker, tattoo and piercing expert daughter dropped by for a quick visit last night, and gleefully informed me that one of the DVD's in the large 'to do' box is from a guy who likes to defecate on the audience! Boy I can hardly wait to pop that one in the player.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Manda Bala won two big awards at the Sundance Festival, so I knew it would be good, and I was not disappointed. I am not sure when they want the review to go live, so I can't tell you too much about it. I deal with Sony, and a couple of other big studios and they will castrate you with a blunt butter knife if you publish before the day it streets!
Keep an eye out for this one, it is disturbing to say the least, and apparently it has been banned in Brazil! Generally the only reason people want to ban something is to prevent embarresment...
Monday, August 06, 2007
No, not that kind of Apple, the iPod, Mac, iPhone kind of Apple.
The heart of our home entertainment system is an old Apple Macintosh Performa. I would guess that it has a street value of about $5, but it works great for us. It has a TV tuner card in it, and a remote control. Yup I can actually power it on, switch to TV mode, change channel and sound volume from the remote! It's a great party trick.
Up until a few days ago I had a really nice 19 inch Mac monitor to go with it. I was at work, so I don't exactly know what Jan did, but when I got home it was broke. I suspect that she abused it!
"No Problem" I said, I pride myself on having a plan 'B', and my plan 'B' was to use a 17 inch Apple monitor that I had kicking around. After much grunting and hernia inducing exercise I got the 19 inch on the floor and the 17 inch in place. I powered it all up (and grabbed a beer), the Apple booted up with no problems. So I switched to TV mode, and got a rude message that the monitor was not compatible with TV mode.
Now it should be pointed out that I do not give up easily. My next plan 'B' was the 15 inch Apple monitor that I have. So, a couple of hernias later I have the 15 inch installed. I did have some nagging thoughts that their was a problem with this monitor, and I was right! The red gun in the tube is on the fritz! But at least we had a TV again. The lack of red does lead to everything being shades of green and blue, so it is not exactly ideal.
My next plan 'B' was to figure out how to lash up a regular PC monitor to the evil Apple. I found out pretty quickly that Apple monitor to PC is a walk in the park, a $5 adapter is all you need. Going the other way is a whole different deal.
Well, as luck would have it, while I was looking for some White Out for a client, what do I stumble across? Yup, you guessed right, the very adapter that I need! Of course there is a catch, you have to set 12 micro switches to get it to work, but I don't scare easy!
Not knowing exactly how many more hernias I can endure, I take the wimpy way out. The TV is very close to my computer, so to test my theory I just move the cable from my 19 inch monitor. WooHoo we have TV, and the colour looks good.
The next step is to move the blue/green monitor to the the ever increasing pile of useless Apple things that is begining to take over the entire living room. I have a nice Gateway 17 inch monitor, so risking further injury I muscled it into place. By this time I am feeling pretty damn good! I have the problem cracked, and Jan is going to think I am a hero! (which I am hahahahaha)
I know that this will come as no suprise, It did not work! So we are still watching everthing in shades of green and blue!
That is where I find myself right now. I have the green light to interview a musician that I have admired for over 30 years, and I have been wrestling with the questions for 2 days. An absolute key is keep the questions positive, no-one (myself included) wants to field "so what went wrong in the late 70's?". Yet it is a question that I really want to ask.
Sometimes interviews just fall into place, in fact most times that is the case, but not this one!
My solution...... have another beer!
I was already pissed off with my computer that seems to have developed an aversion to running Internet Explorer, now I have Blogger acting up!
It was only 3:30am and already my day was going downhill. Maybe I should have just gone back to bed and tried this day over again.
Life can be tough sometimes!
I have had a fascination with the art of Spying for I don’t remember how long. I have read at least a dozen books about the famous ‘Cambridge Five’. One book that is often cited by authors is ‘The Second Oldest Profession’ by Philip Knightly. This book has been out of print for a million years! I snagged a copy a few months ago but I have never had the chance to get into it. I am only about 100 pages into it, but yes, it gets my recommendation!
The only other literary adventure was an interview with the Colwell Brothers, as in Up With People fame. Interestingly enough very few people know of this movement, yet they have performed 4 times at the Super Bowl half time show.
Actually I did have one other literary item, I know I am not alone in wondering what the real story was with the JFK assassination. An event that happened over 40 years ago still garners great interest. A new book is about to hit the stores. The author Dan Robertson relies on a new digitally cleaned up version of the very famous Zapruder home movie of the event to offer yet another slant on this world changing event. When I read the press release I knew it was a book that I had to read, what surprised me was that Dan phoned me the next day! Now I am no expert on the JFK story but I have read a fair amount, which was a good thing, because we ended up having a 45 minute conversation on it. The good news is that not only is he shipping a copy of his book but also a copy of this new cleaned up version of the Zapruder tape. Good times!
On the movie front I had the opportunity to watch a preview copy of The Contract, staring Morgan Freeman. Great movie, and for once Morgan plays the bad guy, in fact he plays a hit man. I have nothing but good things to say about this one, next time you are in Blockbuster pick it up.
Dave Cousins of The Strawbs has just released a solo album The Boy In The Sailor Suit, for any Strawbs fan this is a must have item. I have to admit that I was not sure what to make of it on the first listen, while it was certainly Dave Cousins singing, it did not quite seem to be the Dave Cousins I remembered, I guess that is what happens when you don’t listen to someone for 30 years! However it is an album that grows on you, I listened again to it last night and I was greatly impressed. Better still, when I checked my email this morning there was one from his management company granting my request for an interview.
I have to admit that this reviewing business is fun, I should have got into it years ago. Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would ever get access to the people that I now have access to.