Monday, May 29, 2006

Another song from the "Memorial Day Weekend 2006" sessions

As Memorial Day Weekend draws to a close here in 2006, I have to say that my self-imposed sentence for writing decent new songs seems to have been a success.

Here is one I started writing Sunday and continued working on today. It kind of came out of nowhere. I mean, it has a horn part. I don't usually do horns (probably because all the horn sounds in GarageBand suck), but the song started out sounding a lot like the Polyphonic Spree so I tried some horns, which at times remind me of those used on the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life." At that point, I think Ben Folds' "Army" also crept into the mix of influences. Another odd thing about the song is that it is surprisingly upbeat, for the most part. I still need to come up with a bass part and some lyrics, though. Here is an unfinished version of this demo:

Untitled 05-28-06 (no vocals)

And, once again, here is the song I recorded Saturday:

Untitled 05-27-06 (no vocals)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Karate Dog?

So I'm watching Comedy Central this morning and I see a commercial for an ABC Family movie called "Karate Dog" that is airing on Memorial Day. As with the much-anticipated "Snakes on a Plane," the title pretty much tells you what you're going to get in this movie...a karate dog.

Oh, and not only does the dog know karate, it also talks...with a voice provided by Chevy Chase. More on that in a moment.

Now, when I first saw the commercial, my first thought was, "Hmm, a karate dog? Where have I seen that concept before?" And then it hit me...

Of course...Hong Kong Phooey! If you're going to make a talking/karate dog movie, how could you not make it Hong Kong Phooey? "Karate Dog" is just a cheap knockoff of the Phoo.

But it gets even less original than that. When I saw that Chevy Chase provides the voice of Karate Dog, I immediately thought back to another of his films from years ago..."Oh Heavenly Dog."

In that 1980 movie, Chase played a detective who is killed while investigating a murder. Before he can gain entry to Heaven, he is sent back to Earth to solve his own a dog (in this case, Benji).

But, wait! That's not all. The late Pat Morita—Mr. Miyagi from "The Karate Kid" films—is in "Karate Dog." The ABC Family site does not mention what role he played, but I am assuming he is the dog's master, whose murder sets the whole "plot" in motion. So let's throw some "Karate Kid" into this hodge podge of unoriginal ideas masked as family entertainment.

To recap, this "Karate Dog" movie is basically "Oh Heavenly Dog" meets "Hong Kong Phooey" meets "The Karate Kid."

And I'm so bored, I just spent all this time blogging about this crap. Sigh.

Time to get working on some more music.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Yet another new song...but no lyrics yet

Instead of hanging out at the Jersey Shore this weekend, I am stuck here in Bucks County, Pa., because I didn't want to risk driving my car long distances until I have the wheel bearing replaced Tuesday night.

Fortunately, with my MIDI setup working again, I decided to use this long weekend to try to write some new songs...and quality ones...not like the "foolin' around" stuff I have been doing lately. Well, I think I came up with a good one today. I just started playing the verse and the parts just came naturally. Now, I just have to write some lyrics for it. For now, enjoy this latest untitled demo:

Untitled 05-27-06 (no vocals)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Good news...and bad

OK, I'll start with the bad news.

I got my car back today...the transmission problem was fixed for a surprisingly minimal expense, which would have been great news...EXCEPT...something else was found. Apparently, I have a wheel bearing that needs replacing and that's going to cost $360. I'm getting that done Tuesday.

The good news?

I managed to get my wi-fi connection restarted...and my MIDI adapter is working again.

UPDATE (5/26/06): And since my MIDI adapter is working again, here is my latest song idea with the bridge included...I doubt anything is going to come of this idea, but I figured I would post it anyway just so it appears I'm at least trying to be creative.

Untitled 2006-05-20 Demo (instr.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

You have got to be kidding me

Well, over the weekend, it was the MIDI adapter that stopped working.

Tuesday morning, my wi-fi Internet connection crapped out.

So, of course, what happens Wednesday? Yup, the car again.

I noticed the ol' VUE making a weird noise while driving it early Saturday morning from the train station after the Apple Store adventure.

I kept hearing the noise this week while driving to and from work and decided to get it checked out. Well, apparently, I brought it in just in time as the service guy who took it around the block to replicate the noise nearly didn't make it back. The car pretty much died.

As I suspected, the problem has something to do with the transmission, which REALLY sucks...and my car had to stay overnight.

Crappity, crap-crap-crap.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Back online, but... Airport Base Station isn't allowing me to wirelessly connect to the Internet for a reason I haven't stumbled across yet.

As noted in the previous post, I woke up this morning and my PowerBook could not connect to the Internet. I even hooked it up via the Ethernet cable (rather than using the wi-fi connection) and it still didn't work. However, while I was troubleshooting the problem this evening, I realized I needed to configure the network preferences on my PowerBook to get onto the Internet through an Ethernet connection.

So I am back online...just not wirelessly. Whew!

Now what?

In my previous post, I talked about my MIDI interface suddenly crapping out on me over the weekend.

Well, this morning I woke up and my Internet connection isn't working. I've tried all my usual tactics to kick-start it, but none are working.

I'm "borrowing" a wi-fi signal in my complex to post this.

Ugh...looks like I'll be making a prolonged call to Earthlink this evening.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Last song idea for a while?

While I dealt with a slight infection of my right eye the day after my Apple Store adventure, I hooked my synthesizer up to my steadily deteriorating PowerBook and recorded what could be a song in the making.

But I got stuck on a bridge so I put it to rest for the night. I woke up and played around with some ideas late Sunday morning. I finally came across something I liked and went to insert it into the GarageBand recording I worked on Saturday. Unfortunately, I discovered that either the MIDI cable I have hooked up between my MIDI interface and my keyboard is bad, or the interface itself has crapped out on me. This happened a couple of months ago, but it was resolved when I just happened to switch out my USB cables as a last resort. This time, though, that didn't do the trick. Since the cable doesn't look bad (i.e., no kinks, no exposed wiring), I suspect it is the MIDI interface (which was a generous gift from my friend, Jason).

So...since any future recording won't be done until I get around to replacing the MIDI interface (unless it suddenly springs back to life), I give to you this very incomplete song idea that, in my mind, was influenced by Keane (since I love their new single so much):

Untitled 05-20-2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

More pics from the Grand Opening of the Apple Store Fifth Ave.

Here are some photos I took at Friday night's Grand Opening of the Apple Store Fifth Avenue in New York City.

A couple of shots of the glass cube entrance to the underground store...

One of the friends Katie made while in the queue to get into the store uses a new black MacBook while waiting outside...

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (with "friend" Robert Smigel) makes fun of the Apple geeks in front of the entrance to the store. To get into a Triumph mindset for a moment, I will say that I love Mac OS X Tiger, but Windows XP is also a good operating system...FOR ME TO POOP ON!

Katie reacts to news from an Apple Store staffer that the free T-shirts being given out to the first 2,500 people in the store should still be around by the time we got inside.

A shot of the sprial, glass staircase and the Jetsons-like elevator in the middle of it...

Looking up through the cube from the sales floor of the Apple Store to the General Motors Building above...

Some pics of the Apple Store itself...

Film director/writer/producer/actor Spike Lee does some shopping...

Actor James Woods, who starred in one of my all-time favorite movies, "True Believer," talks to Spike Lee on the staircase...

Katie tells a guy with a camera about how she nearly elbowed James Woods in the head while walking down the staircase into the store...

John Legend, winner of this year's Grammy Award for Best New Artist and University of Pennsylvania alumnus, picks up some Apple gear...

NOTE: Not pictured are SNL cast member Finesse Mitchell and hip hop/rap/R&B superstar Kanye West. Katie actually bumped into Finesse and told him she thinks he's funny. Meanwhile, Kanye descended down the glass staircase escorted by about a dozen Apple employees after I had put my camera away. By the time I turned my camera back on, Kanye was mobbed by gawkers and whisked away to what I assume is a VIP room (since I also saw Spike Lee go in there at one point).

Two shots of the Apple Store entrance at night...

My Apple Store T-shirt...

And here is a pic of Katie and me with the fellow Macheads she made friends with while waiting for NJ Transit to finally get me to NYC...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Grand Opening at Apple Store Fifth Ave.

Almost there!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Behold the Great Cube of Jobs

The glass-cube entrance to the Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, the new flagship store in New York City celebrating its grand opening tomorrow night at 6 p.m. It will be the first Apple Store to be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

This place looks freakin' awesome. I'm going up to NYC for the opening. If I have to wait until 2 a.m. to get through the doors of the Great Cube of Jobs, I will do so. Besides, there is incentive...the store is giving away a new MacBook each hour for 24 straight hours to celebrate the opening.

Here are more pics from

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New music from Keane

I became a big fan of Keane as soon as I heard the single "Somewhere Only We Know" from the 2004 CD "Hopes and Fears." My fandom reached new heights when I saw them perform at Philly's Electric Factory on Feb. 4, 2005—just two days before the Eagles played...and the Super Bowl. (By the way, that was one of the best shows I have ever seen because it's rare when you get one decent opening act, let alone two...and this show featured two outstanding openers in The Zutons and The Redwalls.)

However, when I first heard "Is It Any Wonder?" from Keane's upcoming "Under the Iron Sea" CD, I wasn't thrilled with it. I told Katie just the other day that the song just didn't do anything for me.

Well, a couple of days later and I can't get the damn song out of my head (which could be the result of that "earworm" intro). I love here's the video, courtesy of YouTube:

YouTube - Keane - Is it any wonder

Monday, May 15, 2006

BBC confuses cabbie for scheduled TV guest

UPDATED (5/16/06)...See note before video below.

The BBC put a cabbie waiting for his fare in the reception area of the Television Centre on live TV to discuss the recent decision in the lawsuit between the Beatles' Apple Corps and Apple Computer, Inc. Apparently, they confused the black man with a French accent for technology expert Guy Kewney, who is white, bearded and a regular BBC contributor.

If you read this story from The Mail, you can watch the actual video of the interview. The cabbie's reaction when they introduce him as Guy Kewney is classic!
Mr Kewney, an IT journalist and founder of, watched as the cabbie, who has not been named, gamely attempted to answer questions fired at him by BBC consumer affairs correspondent Karen Bowerman.

The man, who had been waiting for his fare in the reception of Television Centre, found himself being ushered into a studio and fitted with a microphone after raising his hand when a producer called out the name Guy Kewney.

On his website, the real Mr Kewney, said that the man "seemed as baffled as I felt" when asked about the consequences of the lawsuit live on BBC News 24.

It is unclear why the driver identified himself when Mr Kewney's named was called but it is thought he had been waiting to pick the computer expert up.

What's funny is that this is apparently common at the BBC...even with BBC Wales. During production of the last season of "Doctor Who," a politician at the BBC Wales studio for an interview was confused for an extra and was seconds away from being turned into a tree-like alien creature for a "Doctor Who" episode.

NOTE: According to this AP story (via, the mystery guest turned out not to be a cabbie as initially reported. His name is Guy Goma (same first name as Mr. Kewney) and he was at the BBC Television Centre to apply for a technology-related job. I hope the BBC hires him after all that.

Getting back to the confused cabbie, you can watch the video below that I ganked from YouTube (this was apparently packaged by the BBC to explain the mix-up to viewers).

Friday, May 12, 2006

Aaron Rowand tribute post

Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand walks off the field with a broken nose after running into the outfield wall after making an incredible catch.
I'm sure this video will be taken off YouTube at some point due to copyright issues, but it's there now and I want to share the incredible, face-planting catch made by Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand to end a bases-loaded threat by the Mets in the first inning of last night's game at Citizens Bank Park. Rowand broke his nose and will have surgery today.

Meanwhile, Phillies phenom pitcher Cole Hamels makes his major league debut tonight in Cincinnati. I have been following his Triple-A starts rather closely on my Phillies site on Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch it because Katie and I are going down to South Street in Philly to catch They Might Be Giants at the TLA. And, of course, that means pre-show cheese steaks from Jim's!

Just a side note...TMBG provides those catchy tunes being heard in Dunkin' Donuts' "America Runs on Dunkin'" series of commercials.

(By the way, sorry about the back-to-back baseball posts...that's what happens when the Phillies win nine in a row and 10 of 11.)

Photo by Miles Kennedy/AP.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bonds in Philly

Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer. Aaron did it with class. How did you do it?
Went down to Citizens Bank Park on Sunday night to see the Phillies take on Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. As a Phillies fan, I mainly went to see them go for their eighth straight win. However, I also wanted to see if Bonds—just two homers shy of Babe Ruth's total of 714—could make history.

Well, I saw the Phillies win their eighth in a row, 9-5. And I saw Bonds pull a little closer to Ruth with this titanic home run off the façade of the third deck in right field.

Bonds hits career home run No. 713

Plus, I got to experience a Philly crowd in the presence of a much-despised individual, which is always entertaining...and somewhat embarrassing.

Some more photos and links to additional video clips below...

Citizens Bank Park, just before game time on May 7, 2006.
Bonds gets intentionally walked in the first inning, May 7, 2006.
Barry Bonds on Phanavision for final time in 2006.

More video:
Bonds Gets Philly Welcome

Bonds Whiffs in Philly Farewell

Friday, May 05, 2006

Another voting problem in Ohio

From this AP story via
Two voting-age sons of a northern Ohio candidate didn't go to the polls Tuesday, and their father's race ended in a tie.

William Crawford, trying to retain his seat on the central committee of the Erie County Democratic Party, and challenger Jean Miller each received 43 votes in the primary balloting...

...Crawford was able to laugh about it Wednesday, but he said his sons are going to be getting an earful for skipping the election.

"Oh they will, let me tell you," Crawford said.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Movie Trailer: Superman Returns

I'm not a huge Superman fan (in general, I'm more of a Marvel Comics person than a DC Comics person), but Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" looks like it's going to be pretty darn good...and I think it was a good idea to keep the feel of the 1978 film. Kevin Spacey looks and sounds like a kick-ass Lex Luthor. And I love the play on the whole "it's a bird, it's a plane" thing at the end of the trailer.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

How Opal Mehta Got Copied, Got Exposed, and Got Her Life 19

Wow! Are there any books out there from which this Kaavya Viswanathan DIDN'T outright steal material? I hate to pile on when the subject is a 19-year-old young woman from my home state of New Jersey, but the evidence is mounting that this was grand theft authoring.

Viswanathan's "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" has been basically given a literary death sentence by its publisher, Little, Brown and Company. And since it was "chick lit" and the only thing I read are newspapers and news Web sites, I wouldn't have read it anyway. But if there are any fans of the genre who want to get a copy of "Opal Mehta" now that it has been pulled from existence, it sounds from all these articles I'm reading that you could eventually piece together the entire plot and even specific lines of narration and dialogue just by perusing most of the major "chick lit" books.

As The Harvard Crimson first reported, "Opal Mehta" is full of nearly verbatim passages from two earlier books authored by Megan F. McCafferty. (By the way, Viswanathan is an undergraduate student at Harvard.)

In response, Viswanathan said through her publisher April 24 that she had read both books by McCafferty and "wasn’t aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty’s words." Viswanathan added that "any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious." Little, Brown and Company—which had signed Viswanathan a two-book deal worth $500,000 when she was just 17 years old and still in high school—said at the time it would publish a revised version of the book.

However, it turned out that was just the tip of the literary iceberg for Viswanathan.

As The Crimson demonstrated, it wasn't just that whole paragraphs and scenes were "borrowed." Even specific font styles were copied from the source material. For instance:
From page 6 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Sabrina was the brainy Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or smart. Guess which one I got. You’ll see where it’s gotten me.”

From page 39 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Moneypenny was the brainy female character. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: smart or pretty. I had long resigned myself to category one, and as long as it got me to Harvard, I was happy. Except, it hadn’t gotten me to Harvard. Clearly, it was time to switch to category two.”

The italics were included in the text of both books.

Here are three more similarities pointed out by The Crimson that make the plagiarism going on here blatantly obvious...

From page 217 of McCafferty’s first novel: “But then he tapped me on the shoulder, and said something so random that I was afraid he was back on the junk.”

From page 142 of Viswanathan’s novel: “...he tapped me on the shoulder and said something so random I worried that he needed more expert counseling than I could provide.”


From page 237 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Finally, four major department stores and 170 specialty shops later, we were done.”

From page 51 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Five department stores, and 170 specialty shops later, I was sick of listening to her hum along to Alicia Keys....”


From page 67 of McCafferty’s second novel: “...but in a truly sadomasochistic dieting gesture, they chose to buy their Diet Cokes at Cinnabon.”

From page 46 of Viswanathan’s novel: “In a truly masochistic gesture, they had decided to buy Diet Cokes from Mrs. Fields...”

And if you think that's bad, guess what? It appears she stole from other books by other authors. The New York Times reported today that at least three portions of "Opal Mehta" are strikingly similar to parts of Sophie Kinsella's "Can You Keep a Secret?"
In one scene in Ms. Kinsella's book, which was published by Dial Press, the main character, Emma, comes upon two of her friends "in a full-scale argument about animal rights," and one says, "The mink like being made into coats."

In Ms. Viswanathan's book, Opal, the heroine, encounters two girls having "a full-fledged debate over animal rights."

"The foxes want to be made into scarves," one of them says.

And The Crimson, through tips e-mailed to the newspaper, reported a similarity between Viswanathan's book and Meg Cabot's 2000 novel, "The Princess Diaries."
Page 12 of Meg Cabot’s 2000 novel “The Princess Diaries” reads: “There isn’t a single inch of me that hasn’t been pinched, cut, filed, painted, sloughed, blown dry, or moisturized. [...] Because I don’t look a thing like Mia Thermopolis. Mia Thermopolis never had fingernails. Mia Thermopolis never had blond highlights. Mia Thermopolis never wore makeup or Gucci shoes or Chanel skirts or Christian Dior bras, which by the way don’t even come in 32A, which is my size. I don’t even know who I am anymore. It certainly isn’t Mia Thermopolis. She’s turning me into someone else.”

The italics appear in the original.

And page 59 of Viswanathan’s novel reads: “Every inch of me had been cut, filed, steamed, exfoliated, polished, painted, or moisturized. I didn’t look a thing like Opal Mehta. Opal Mehta didn’t own five pairs of shoes so expensive they could have been traded in for a small sailboat. She didn’t wear makeup or Manolo Blahniks or Chanel sunglasses or Habitual jeans or Le Perla bras. She never owned enough cashmere to make her concerned for the future of the Kazakhstani mountain goat population. I was turning into someone else.”

Again...Wow! And now it turns out The Record of Bergen County (N.J.) is going to review news articles and features Viswanathan wrote for the newspaper as an intern in 2003 and 2004.

What really annoys me about this whole thing? None of this writing is any good! It's like Viswanathan took crap and recycled it into diarrhea. And even sadder is that the source works have been literary hits with "The Princess Diaries" turned into a successful motion picture. Heck, Dreamworks already purchased the film rights to "Opal Mehta" (the studio has reportedly halted production).

Some of us just love to be entertained by crap...unoriginal crap.

Hmm, then again, I guess that's a good thing. If that weren't the case, nobody would be reading my blog.

For Katie...

Image produced by

Monday, May 01, 2006

Feel like a kid again, part 2

Waiting in line to get gas aside, there is another reason why I feel like a kid again...and as you can see from the photo and embedded videos below, it has to do with my biggest geek trait—my fandom of "Doctor Who."

One of the key ingredients to the sci-fi hodge podge that is "Doctor Who" is the role of the companion. While Billie Piper's portrayal of companion Rose Tyler in the current version of the series has been, for the most part, excellent, the yardstick every companion is measured by is Sarah Jane Smith, the investigative reporter played by Elisabeth Sladen who tagged along with Doctors No. 3 and 4 from 1973-1976.

So this past Saturday in the UK, the episode "School Reunion" aired on BBC One featuring the return of Sarah Jane Smith and robot dog K-9 (Mark III) to "Doctor Who." Aside from an appearance in the 1983 20th anniversary special "The Five Doctors," the last viewers saw Sarah Jane Smith was in the pilot for a potential spin-off series called "K-9 and Company" that featured Sarah in post-companion life in 1981 (the year it aired) as an investigative reporter with K-9 Mark III appearing as a gift from The Doctor.

In "School Reunion," set in the present day, Sarah Jane comes to a school to investigate strange happenings that have also come to the attention of the Doctor and Rose. Obviously, Sarah Jane doesn't recognize the current Doctor (he has regenerated six times since he dropped her off for the final time in '76), but the Doctor introduces himself as John Smith, an alias he often uses. When she discovers the TARDIS (the Doctor's ship) tucked away in a remote corner of the school and sees the man who earlier identified himself as John Smith, she realizes it is the Doctor.

OK...I'm rapidly sinking into full-blown geek mode...anyway, it was just fun to see Sarah Jane Smith and K-9 in "Doctor Who" again. It reminded me of being about 11 years old and seeing her and Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor batting the title character in the episode called "Robot" on WOR (Channel 9) one Saturday afternoon. At first, I kept it on because it looked completely silly...and then I looked past the clunky sets and crappy special effects and found it to be delightfully and weirdly entertaining.

Anyway, here are a few clips from "School Reunion," courtesy of YouTube:

Classic Doctor Who: Sarah Jane Smith gets dropped off in 1976

The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith meet again

K-9 to the rescue! Sort of

"You bad dog...AFFIRMATIVE!"

Note: Yes, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans, that is Anthony Stewart Head (aka Giles) as the school's evil headmaster and lead Krillitane.