Tuesday, July 28, 2009

M. Ward for President!

Photo credit here. Unfortunately, photos were strictly prohibited last night, so I have none of my own.

Last night I headed up to the 40 Watt Club in Athens with both "R's" from the R&R Review to see M. Ward perform. While I have been a fan of his music for a while (OK, probably only a year and a half, but long enough), I had not seen him perform. As it turned out, the three of us, all the hipsters in the 40 Watt, were in for a treat.

Doors opened at 9:00 and after a delicious pizza dinner at Little Italy Pizzeria in downtown Athens ($1 for 12-oz. Terrapin Rye draught?? What??) we headed over to the 40 Watt. As we were walking, a small guy escorted by three girls started walking in front of us, and ever the astute observer, Chris Robinson pointed out to BA Roof and myself that the guy about 10 feet in front of us was, in fact, M. Ward himself. This seemed to be a good omen.

We got to the 40 Watt around 9:30, went in, and Chris Robinson armed all of us with 24 oz. cans of PBR and we waited for the opening band, the Moaners to go on. They finally started playing around 9:45 and was made up of just two girls in what might be considered an all-female White Stripes set up with just a guitar and drum kit. They were really pretty terrible, and were hopefully picked to serve as a foil for M. Ward and to make his performance seem even more incredible (not that he needed it).

M. Ward took the stage around 10:45 and opened with a solo performance of "Never Had Nobody Like You." I was immediately impressed by how fantastic his vocals were. They smooth and spot on, and sounded just like on the albums. Considering his stature, it was fairly impressive that that voice came from him. After the first song, his band joined him with nary a word and they got to work. They played a back-to-back-to-back set and only paused long enough between songs to switch/tune instruments before they started the next song. They only played until midnight (about an hour and 15 minutes), but managed to perform an impressive 19 songs. The setlist, obtained from this blog was as follows:

–Never Had Nobody Like You
–Fuel for Fire
–Post War
–Hold Time
–Poor Boy, Minor Key
–Poison Cup
–Stars of Leo
–To Save me
–One Hundred Million Years
–Fool Says
–Big Boat
–Guitar intro/Fisher of Men
–To Go Home
–Chinese Translation
–Rave On
–Roll Over Beethoven
–Magic Trick (encore)
–Vincent O’Brien (encore)

Aside from M. Ward's impressive vocals, I think I was even more surprised by just how talented of a guitar player he is. It was really awesome watching him play, and his bandmates were quite good as well. Overall, it was a really fun concert. After the few quiet songs towards the beginning of the set, the rest was just rock 'n' roll, and the audience loved it. I have to say that it may be the most fun concert that I have been to, and "fun" is not usually a word that I use to describe concerts, no matter how much I like them.

On one critical note, while discussing the concert on the way back to Atlanta, the R's and I concluded that the two encores were really a bit over the top and bordered on pretentious. Plus, in all of the time that was wasted with pretending to take a bow (twice) and going backstage and whatnot, they could have played at least one more song, which I think the audience would have appreciated even more. However, it was a pretty fantastic show and definitely worth the late night last night.

**Note: I would like to thank Christopher Robinson for generously giving me the extra ticket he had. I owe him one after that show. Also, speaking of R&R, I would like to promote the beef that they are attempting to start with Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman. Mr. Gleiberman asserts that anyone who found the movie Bruno to be disgusting or offensive is nothing more than a homophobe, and the R's (and myself, for that matter), believe this to be false. Check it out here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saving Youtube videos as MP4 files

Have you ever been watching a video on Youtube on thought "Man, I would love to have an actual copy of this"? Well, it is much easier than you might think. Just check out the directions on this page and within seconds you can be saving your favorite videos onto your computer as MP4 files which you can watch on Itunes, and, presumably, watch or listen to on your Ipod.t

I love this album cover

I love the cover of Hem's album No Word From Tom. It's just such a great image (be sure to click on the image to see a much larger version). It's great because it really seems to make you want to ask questions like "Is that a photo or a painting?"; "Who is that girl?" (though it does look a bit like Sally Ellyson, the band's lead singer); "What is she doing on the bed?"; "What is her mood?" I don't know, I just think it's great and would love to get a large size version to hang on the wall.

Oh, and while I still haven't gotten around to buying the album, I'm sure the music is great too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

SUV Showdown: Land Rover comes out on top

(I misplaced the image credit for this; if this is yours, let me know)

With 35 votes or 59% of the total votes cast, the Land Rover Defender has been crowned King of (Off-)Road, with the Land Cruiser following up in second. While I'm not really surprised that this was the winner, I did find the overwhelming margin to be pretty interesting. The Defender is an excellent truck with a great off-road reputation, and badass looks to match. The Anglo-factor is also another great selling point, and what could be better than pretending to drive around your Scottish country estate while sitting in traffic on the interstate? Also, the ability to get rear seats that face to the middle (see below), it pretty awesome.

However, I will state that in spite of its awesomeness, the Defender did not get my vote. No, my choice (along with 9 other people with equally impeccable taste) went to the Mercedes G-Class.

Image from here

Yes, it is true that this truck has become a popular choice among rap stars and soccer moms with way too much money to blow (both of who seem to be pretty prevalent in Buckhead), I think that it has several things going for it. First, it is a pretty unique vehicle. While the Defender isn't exactly a common site on the road, I think that the Mercedes might have it beat out slightly. Second, it has military origins as (according to Wikipedia), it was originally a proposal for a light military truck and is used by a number of armed forces (as documented on the Wikipedia page). Military roots are never a bad thing for an SUV (though maybe some shouldn't really be driven by the general public **cough** Hummer **cough**). Third, its off-roading abilities are pretty bona fide since it sports three locking differentials. Now, to be honest, I'm not completely sure how those work, but I do know that off-roaders are big fans, and the ability to get them on a stock vehicle is a pretty big deal.

Getting back to the style aspect, as one reader did point out, they may seem a bit too refined, especially if purchased brand new right off the showroom floor. However, I think if one was to buy one that was about 15-20 years old that has had some of the shine taken off of it with wear and tear, it could look a bit more understated and masculine.

Anyways, thanks to everyone who voted and left comments.

Honorable Mention: ICON

I don't think that this competition would have been complete without at least mentioning the ICON. While I didn't include it in the original vote because it is technically a Land Cruiser, the ICON is essentially an old Land Cruiser built from the ground up with brand new technology and parts right here in the US. Limited to just 24 units per year, they're a *little* pricey, tipping the scales around $100,000 (and up, depending on specifics), but they are available in three models (above) and in two body styles ("Old School" and "New School;" I'll leave it up to you to decide which is better). Anyways, make sure to check them out and add to your "If we ever come out of this recession..." list.

In the News: "Crocs Shoe Company Stumbles During Recession"

"Once-Trendy Crocs Could Be On Their Last Legs"

About time, really. It's a shame to hear about 2,000 people losing their jobs, but I don't think a company that "swung from a profit of $168.2 million in fiscal year 2007 to a loss of $185.1 million last year" is what you would call "financially stable" company that a person might expect to find good, long-term employment. Go, Crocs; join leisure suits in a melted pile of plastic irrelevance.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Poll: SUV Showdown

There are some pretty terrible SUVs out there, but then there are some pretty badass ones. In my opinion, these three are on the top of the heap. Rugged, versatile, boxy, expensive and with terrible gas mileage, these are what you use to run over Priuses.

Since I'm suspecting that few readers here have driven all three of these vehicles, this will be a vote based largely on appearance, or which one you would want to have for a trek through the African wilderness. It should be noted, though, that all three of these have pretty impressive pedigrees, and pretty notorious maintenance issues to match. I've included both 2-door and 4-door/long versions of each to keep it a more level playing field.

Cast your vote in the poll on the right side of the screen and decide which one is King of the Mountain.

Competitor #1- The Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Photo found here

Competitor #2- The Toyota Land Cruiser

Photo found here

Photo found here

Competitor #3- The Land Rover Defender

Photo found here

Photo found here

A "Bruno" review at R&R

I am a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen's Da Ali G Show, but must say I was disappointed with the Borat movie that came out a few years ago. Liking his Bruno character more than Borat, I was pretty excited about the new movie. However, my friend and fellow blogger Christopher Robinson was able to get an advanced viewing and the initial reports are not good. While it has an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes at this point, I think I'm going to stick with Chris' opinion and just wait for the DVD. Go read his review at R&R Review now.