Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GNR, Slayer, Umphrey's McGee, Google takes down 40% of net, hacking Zuckerberg, autonomous cars, cryopreservation, yawns for coffee, and Paris Creperie

Tweet of the day from Lou Brutus, DJ on SXM: “The original NSync lineup is reunited. The original Guns N Roses lineup is not. Well played, Satan. #Music”

In what I assume is a clever social media marketing campaign, a new or previously unreleased GNR song has been “leaked” online. Guitarist Bumblefoot verified via Twitter that “Going Down” is in fact a GNR recording, and then the tweet was deleted. Bassist Tommy Stinson is singing lead, with Axl Rose in the background.

Slayer graffiti in Commack South Little League’s Wicks Park in Commack, NY (USA) was initially confused by police as a hate crime. What do you think?

Jam/prog-rock band Umphrey’s McGee have always been ahead of the curve with offering their fans unique experiences. Now they are offering concertgoers the option to rent ($40 on top of the ticket price) professional quality wireless headphones so that every note, lyric, and space can been heard straight from the mixing board, instead of being lost in the venue due to poor acoustics. The rental fee also provides you with an MP3 or FLAC version of the concert. I can see more bands offering this in the near future.

Add Pure Connect to the ever-growing list of internet on-demand music services competing in the USA.

What do you do when Facebook security ignores and then denies the bug report you submitted? Hack Mark Zuckerberg’s personal timeline, of course! Less than a minute after Palestinian hacker Kahlil Shreateh posted the bug explanation on Zuckerberg’s page, an FB security engineer suspended Shreateh’s FB account and reached out to Shreateh for more details. Unfortunately, FB won’t pay Shreateh the minimum $500 USD security flaw bounty because Shreateh violated FB’s terms of service by hacking Zuckerberg’s account. Total #FAIL on FB’s part. Shreateh deserves the bounty.

In the “I call B.S.” segment, Navigant Research (who?) is predicting that 95.4 million autonomous cars will be sold every year by 2035, which sounds like a lofty goal when that many cars total are not built every year today.

More B.S.: The Cryonics Institute (CI) is offering science-fiction as a product, specifically cryopreservation.

A company that is getting it right is Douwe Egberts Coffee. Their PR agency Joe Public developed a coffee machine in airports where yawns,not money, pays for a cup of coffee.

You ever have pastrami and bacon on a crepe? The Paris Creperie food cart does crepe lunch sandwiches, and they are delicious. Like them and follow them.

[the end.]

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Device vs. Borg queen, Arkham Witch, Bakken, Chrome Shift, Circus Maximus, Dokken & Ratt down a plane, God Forbid, Yahoo sucks, expensive tech, and Planes is Cars

#nowplaying Device (2013) … finally listened to the full album from Disturbed vocalist David Draiman and Filter guitarist Geno Lenardo. Much more on the industrial metal side than Disturbed’s melodic but heavy nu-metal. With Draiman’s distinct voice and songwriting style, it’s hard not to hear Disturbed in the mix, but that’s nothing to fault this album with. The music is good, melodic, and with just enough heaviness; but the guitars and drums sometimes drown each other out in messy electronic fuzz, and the album losses steam after the halfway point. Maybe Clayton from Celldweller can help Device work out their sonic preciseness on the next album ... that would be an awesome guest appearance!

I didn’t care for Draiman & Lzzy Hale’s take on Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford’s “Close My Eyes Forever” at first listen, but after a couple spins, I really appreciate what they’ve done with the classic song. And the list of other guest appearances are impressive and impactful to their respective songs: Serj Tankian (System Of A Down), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, The Nightwatchman), M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold), and Glenn Hughes (everybody!).  I’m a big fan of Draiman and Disturbed, so this album will certainly get repeat listens from me.

Was this album cover inspired by the Borg queen in the “Star Trek: First Contact” movie?

#nowplaying Arkham Witch “On Crom’s Mountain” (2011) … lumped into the doom metal or stoner metal crowd, this album could have easily been recorded during the NWOBHM. But unlike many of the bands revisiting this sound today, Arkham Witch sound true and original, instead of cheesy, contrived, and boring. Amazing album from start to finish.

#nowplaying Bakken “Death Of A Hero” … power-metal without the excessive keyboards, without the excessive studio production, and with normal vocals, instead of the high-pitched falsetto that began to plague this otherwise fine genre. I hear some James Hetfield in the vocals and an occasional classic Judas Priest in the guitar riffs. Bakken are not breaking new ground here or blowing my socks off, but this is a damn fun album to turn the volume up on. There’s some cheese metal that seeps through every now and then, but I’m really enjoying this traditional heavy metal album.

Also #nowplaying these two solid prog-metal albums…

Here’s a story you ever want to experience first-hand…

…that was Dokken bassist Sean McNabb providing details on why their private jet the band was riding with Ratt on needed to make an emergency landing in Moline, IL (USA). Of course, they still made it to the show by hauling it in SUVs in Wauconda, IL.

God Forbid have decided to disband after Doc Coyle removed himself from the band in an open letter on his blog. Doc’s letter is worth reading. It’s well written, sound in his reasons for leaving the band, and in no way burning bridges. I, for one, am eager to hear his next project. God Forbid had really expanded their sound in the last couple albums, and I hope Doc stretches things even further.

Yahoo! apparently doesn’t believe in free speech or the wishes of a deceased person’s estate, as Yahoo! shut down a website that was prepaid for 5 years because it explained why 60-year-old Martin Manley decided to commit suicide. I don’t agree with suicide either, but I think Yahoo! is wrong here.

I’m sure you love, can’t live without the technology we are blessed to have today, but damn this shit gets expensive. Nike expensive (pay $180 for shoes that cost $10 to product)! And all thanks to marketing budgets…
  • Text messages: Cost to consumer = $0.20 per text; Cost to produce = $0
  • HDMI cables: Cost to consumer for brand-name 8 ft. cable = $45; Cost to produce = $3
  • Smartphone devices: Cost to consumer for 16GB iPhone 5 = $549; Cost to produce = $200
  • Printer ink: Cost to consumer = $80 per ounce; Cost to produce = $10 per ounce
  • Wireless service: Cost to consumer for Verizon unlimited talk/10GB data plan = $100 per month; Cost to produce = $37 per month
  • Cloud storage: Cost to consumer for Carbonite Pro Business Premier = $1.20 per GB; Cost to produce = $0.10 per GB

Saw “Planes” at the drive-thru this past weekend. It’s “Cars” reincarnated with planes and the same jokes. Entertaining kids movie, but “Cars” was better. And watched “The Love Letter” last night. Budget production, mediocre acting, and no character development beyond main character Helen, which is a shame because the story was original and entertaining.

[the end.]

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Worldengine, Arida Vortex, Dream Theater, Guitar World & Whitechapel contests, coffee socks, wake-up lights, and gamers saving the real world

#nowplaying Worldengine “Dark Matters” … amazing crossover prog-rock from Brazil with male and female vocals, heavy darkness, but long atmospheric passages. This is the sound of modern progressive music. Did I mention that the album is “name your price”? So you have no excuse. Download it now!

Also #nowplaying Arida Vortex “Invisible Tension” … melodic power-metal from Russia. Typical gallop, falsetto vocals, keyboards, but some flamenco inspired jazz guitar thrown in here and there. Above average and well produced, and only $5 from Metalism Records.

Dream Theater have released their fourth “in the studio” video promoting the upcoming self-titled album. Here’s all four of them, plus the "Enemy Inside" video…

Guitar World has a Whitechapel guitar contest and a “ton of boutique pedals” contest that you need to sign up for.

Would you like some coffee in your socks?

Do you hate your alarm clock’s buzzer or ringtone as much as I do? How about a wake-up light that plugs into your smartphone?

And lastly, do you think gamers could save the real world? Jane McGonigal and the Internet Response League (IRL) sure think so.

[the end.]

Sun, copper rings around Earth, hacking baby monitors, Allen Lanier, Andy Summers & Circa Zero, Mike Keneally, Stygian, Avenged Sevenfold, New Years Day, Soundhalo & Middle 8

Why can’t it be upper 60’s, sunny, and breezy every day? Oh yeah, because I live in RVA instead of California. Might need to investigate relocating a little bit more next year!

Did you know 50 years ago, the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense started building a ring of copper around Earth? It was the Cold War, the U.S. thought the U.S.S.R. was trigger happy, radio satellites had yet to be scattered throughout our orbit, and the military feared it was too easy for the Russians to disrupt undersea radio cables and the Earth’s ionosphere was too susceptible to solar storms. So MIT Lincoln Labs developed a program of rocketing a cooper wire dispersal module into space. The first mission failed. The second (and last) successfully spread half a million 1.8 centimeter long copper wires into low orbit. And then tests proved that the band of wires created an effective long-range radio antenna until the density of wires spread too thin. Do you think the military still tries shit like this?

In sad news, founding keyboardist & guitarist Allen Lanier of the legendary Blue Oyster Cult died at age 67 after being hospitalized with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. R.I.P. By the way, I need to pick up the recently released comprehensive BOC boxed-set. Looks incredible.

In happy news regarding classic rock icons, former Police guitarist Andy Summers has a new band called Circa Zero that has already recorded an album and is just waiting for the right release deal. I got into the Police late, after college post-1998, and consider them one of my favorite bands, with a highly consistent catalog of albums and songs. Good to see Andy putting out new rock material.

Mike Keneally of moderate Frank Zappa fame has released two free live EPs on his website. No reason not to download them. Keneally has an extensive catalog of albums and collaborations spanning every flavor of rock, from progressive to jam to folk to melodic.

In 2014, Divebomb Records (part of Tribunal Records) will be reissuing Stygian’s “Planetary Destruction,” originally released on Leviathan Records in 1994. I got this album shortly after it was originally released and did not appreciate it during my college years, but I have to say that it now stands as a strong time capsule of 80's/90's thrash metal. Proud to own an original pressing of the CD.

Avenged Sevenfold’s new “Hail To The King” will be more than just an album, but a multimedia experience that includes a six-episode animated series. First single sounds like a good fresh start for the band, and I love when heavy metal is combined with comic books or anime!

Century Media recording artists New Years Day have released a video for “Angel Eyes,” off their recent “Victim To Villian” album. Chris Motionless from the band Motionless In White appears in the video, and the video is pretty lavish in production.

Soundhalo, a new rock concert streaming website, has just released a new online magazine called Middle 8. So far, the magazine looks more promising than the streaming service, but either way, there are good lesser-known bands to check out on both sites.

Here's to the weekend and searching for this mythical beast, possibly at Midnight Brewery in RVA.

[the end]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cluster headaches, Geeks, Ayreon, DJ Ashba, Tom Petty, Carrie Underwood doing GNR, Toad The Wet Sprocket, NIN, Gigantour, ratsnakes, bad driving, and Hunter S. Thompson

Headache has been growing in intensity all day. But I don’t think it’s a cluster headache this time. Either way, it’s exhausting. But onward!

How 1137 a geek are you? Use this infographic to grade your geekdom. I failed with a score of 10, earning me the badge of being a Keeg.

Speaking of sci-fi and fantasy, Arjen Lucassen is doing a contest to promote his next Ayreon release, “The Theory Of Everything.” Guess the guest musician on the song snippet and win a prize. Contest or not, I cannot wait to hear a new Lucassen album!

Congratulations to GNR and Sixx:A.M. guitarist DJ Ashba’s recent engagement to model & actress Nathalia Henao, which was made extra romantic by a helicopter ride over Las Vegas and landing in a field where a table was set up with roses and bubbly. But once Las Vegas police department officials found out that the helicopter used was actually a police helicopter flown by Las Vegas’ finest, a full out internal review was opened to investigate wrongful use of “official use only” resources. Whoops! On the one hand, I have no problem with celebrities getting a joyride in police vehicles and making a special day even more special. But Ashba should have kept the details out of the public eye and not mentioned officers’ names!

In another example of “needing to keep your mouth shut,” Tom Petty called modern country music, “bad rock with a fiddle.” Petty admits classic country music influenced him greatly, and many of today’s country musicians credit Petty as one of their influences. Petty told Rolling Stone magazine, “I don’t really see a George Jones or a Buck Owens or anything fresh coming up … I’m sure there must be somebody doing it, but most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle ‘80s, where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos. I hate to generalize a whole genre of music, but it does seem to be missing that magic element that it used to have. I’m sure there are people playing country that are doing it well, but they’re just not getting the attention that the shittier stuff gets.” Of course, country musicians and songwriters are up in arms over Petty’s comments. I for one don’t disagree. I like country music, but the past couple years have produced mostly dismal twangy pop-rock wannabes wearing country western or beach clothing that have been “designed” by washed up ‘80s designers.

Meanwhile, did you see Carrie Underwood performing GNR’s “Paradise City?” Not bad at all, except that she ran out of breathe at the end!

Toad The Wet Sprocket are releasing their first album in 16 years this October. The title is “New Constellation” and to kickstart the marketing engine, the band is offering a free EP at Noisetrade called “Something Old, Something New” that includes two new songs alongside reinterpretations of three of their older songs.

Since Trent Reznor actually embraces the internet as a marketing tool, no surprise that NIN are offering a new song off the upcoming “Hesitation Marks” album. The song is “Copy Of A” and is available at Amazon asa free download, or watch the video below.

In the “yeah, that’s heavy metal!” segment, a coworker ran across a 4-plus foot long one of these around the lakes in our office park. It’s a juvenile Eastern Ratsnake and it’s not venomous, but she claims it was long. And that head sure looks diamond-shaped.

Luckily, it wasn’t my coworker or a snake that caused this early morning accident in Carytown, VA (USA). A truck struck a minivan and then the minivan crashed through the front window of The Daily Kitchen & Bar, which has only been open for one month.


Maybe the driver of that minivan was trying to live the lifestyle of Hunter S. Thompson. Author E. Jean Carroll’s 1993 biography “Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson” is now availablefor free download.

And finally, here’s your health tip of the day…

[the end]

Monday, August 12, 2013

Drunken geniuses, 21 Eyes Of Ruby, Progify, Phil Baheux, methane bomb, (lack of) privacy, darknet, and Mars colonization

Fun weekend with wife’s family, but my 30-something body doesn’t recover well from sleeping in a bed other than my own. I remember the days of youth where I could pass out on a hard floor and feel 99.9% rested in the morning. Oh well!

Speaking of my youth, new studies suggest that the higher your IQ at age 16, the more alcohol you’ll consume as an adult. Guess that explains at lot. ;) Infographic here.

#nowplaying 21 Eyes Of Ruby discography … one of the best indie, modestly progressive, heavy rock bands that nobody has ever heard of, yet. Seriously, just an amazing band and amazing collection of studio albums and songs. And the live concert video on YouTube just shows another dynamic of this band. One of my new favorite bands.

I’m a big fan of (and Classic) for its simple focused function as an album streaming website for progressive rock and metal music. Well now Prog-Sphere has released a competitor (or complement?) website at Check it out.

R.I.P. Phil Baheux, drummer of Belgian heavy metal band Channel Zero ... only 45 years old!

Nothing says heavy metal like a 50-gigaton methane bomb emanating from Russia (Siberia, actually), right? Well, since the rate of global warming has slowed down over recent years, thus leading to less media coverage, alarmists needed a more extreme catastrophe to rally with.

For all you conspiracy theorists out there, just as the NSA announces that they are firing 90% of their IT system administration staff, President Obama announced plans for the government’s spying and surveillance programs and activities to be more “transparent” to the public going forward. And while the government plays post-Snowden and post-Prism C.Y.A., Kim Dotcom of fame has vowed to create usable encrypted email for the masses. Honestly, I don’t care. I’m not engaged in any activity the government actually would care about. I’m not plotting harm anything or anybody. So, whatever.

But if you feel like just need to get away from Big Brother and you’re not tech savvy enough to hangout below the surface in the darknet, here’s a new option for you: How about a free one-way trip to Mars? The waitinglist is already up to 100,000. That many people are willing to leave their terrestrial friends and family at an attempt to colonize a cold, rusty dust-bowl devoid of usable water and vegetation, where no amount of sunblock is going to prevent an immediate sunburn!

Mars One

Mars One

[the end]

Monday, August 05, 2013

Mountain Dew KickStart, my idea for a TV commercial

After drinking a Mountain Dew KickStart for the first time ever and people around me noticing my increased, almost obnoxious activity level and chattering, I immediately came up with an idea for a television or YouTube commercial for the drink. I emailed PepsiCo inquiring about how to submit my idea, but as suspected, their contractual agreements with their creative advertising agencies prevent the submission of outside ideas. Can you say, "Lame!" or "Closed minded," or "Big mistake?" I say, "Your loss." Below was my idea, saving to this blog and Google's caches for eternity...

Setting: A team of 5 thirty-something technology and graphic design professionals in business-casual clothing sitting in an all-day collaboration session for five days in an open meeting area on 5th floor of an office building in San Ramon, CA in July on a sunny, dry day with Mt. Diablo visible outside the office windows.

The Story…

After a long night of connection flights from the East Coast to California and little sleep, Wes and Doug drive from the airport to their company’s location in San Ramon, CA. After a couple hours of meetings and working sessions, Wes and Doug are both fading, losing focus. Wes walks over to the breakroom and looks at all the juice, soda, and water options.

“What’s this?” Wes asks himself as he reaches into the drink fridge and pulls out a Mountain Dew KickStart, fruit punch flavor. “I’ve never had one of these before.”

Wes sits back down in meeting and starts to gulp back the KickStart. Half the people in the meeting look at Wes with annoyance for stepping out of the meeting to grab a beverage, but the other half look at Wes like they know something is going to happen, like they’ve seen this scenario play out before.

As Wes finishes the can of KickStart, the team takes a break, leaving Wes and Doug at the meeting table. All the sudden, Doug notices Wes perk up. Wes looks out the window at beautiful Mt. Diablo in the near distance.

“I’ll be back,” proclaims Wes.

Doug looks out the window and sees Wes running, with his work clothes still on, through the office parking lot, across a baseball field, and several streets, bee-lining it for Mt. Diablo. In the distance, you see a man effortlessly walking up and climbing up the nearest side of Mt. Diablo. The man reaches the top of Mt. Diablo in what seems like only minutes and proceeds to climb the weather station tower on top of Mt. Diablo.

The others return to the meeting space and, curious of what Doug is looking at, themselves look at the window. “Is that Wes?”

“Sure is,” answers Doug.

Just then, Wes is at the very top of the weather tower doing a horizontal flag stand from the side of the tower. Half the team, including Doug, look on with astonishment, but one team member looks at the table and says, “Wes had a KickStart, didn’t he?”

Doug runs off to get his own can of KickStart.

Wes immediately returns to office building and meeting space, with no sign of dirt or sweat, just invigorated. “Are we ready to get started again?” proclaims Wes.

[the end.]