The Guess Who Music Discussion

Last Friday, B and I made the trip to Memorial Park here in Omaha for the annual Celebrate America concert/fireworks.  This year’s acts were The Guess Who and Grand Funk Railroad.  I’ve been on a classic rock kick lately, so I was pretty excited.  We got down there around 5, and it was HOT.  It had been cloudy all day, so we were not ready for the beating sun.  Luckily, I had made a batch of summer beer (lemonade concentrate, water, beer, vodka), so we managed. 

As for the bands, The Guess Who were great.  They played the songs you expected, and sounded great.  Grand Funk was ok….they jammed a bit too much for me.  I’m definitely cool with a band doing some extended solos and having some fun, but when a jam goes on for so long that you’ve forgotten what song they’re playing, that’s too much.  That happened a couple times with GF.  Overall though, very good.

So, the crux of this blog post was in response to something the Guess Who mentioned.  They played a couple songs as they were released as an A side, B side 45.  Of course, he made a joke about people not remembering those and kids not having any idea of what life was like before ipods.  For some reason, this ignited my mind to think about two things.  One was how has the delivery and availability of music changed the way we view music, the other was why is music from the 60s and 70s, 70s rock that is, so enduring?  For instance, by the time I’m in my 40s and 50s and I think about the music I loved when I was younger, I’m going to mostly mention bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Skynyrd, etc, more than I’m going to mention bands that were releasing music at the time.  Why is that?

The first discussion about delivery is easy to understand, but can be difficult to fully grasp.  In the 60s and 70s when all of this really great music was being released, it was released on LPs and you would listen to it on the radio.  There wasn’t a lot of portability, so if you were going to listen to your favorite music, that’s what you did, you listened to the music.  With the ipod today, actually, it started with the walkman back in the day, we don’t ever JUST listen to music.  Music has gone from being the main focus of our attention to being a soundtrack or background noise.  When was the last time you just sat and listened to music for a half hour?  I’m not talking about listening to music when you’re working out, or cleaning, or studying, just sit and listen to it.  Today, you might be more worried if the music will help you through a workout or if it helps your focus on studying, rather than if it’s something you actually like.  Back in the day, the main focus was to listen to it.  That was something you would do in the 60s and 70s.  “I had some friends over and we listened to the new Led Zeppelin record”.  You don’t hear that any more.  I don’t know if people are having parties to listen to the new Daughtry album. 
So how does this affect our view of music?  I think it makes it more disposable.  We like music now because it helps us exercise, or helps us to study.  With the ease of getting new music from itunes or amazon, we almost feel obligated to continually try new music, rather than listening to an album over and over to really learn it and take the time to think about what the lyrics and music is trying to convey.  Not that much music today has much to say. 

The other idea was what kind of music are we going to be talking about in 20-30 years?  When my parents talk about music they listened to 20-30 years ago, it was the great music of the 60s and 70s.  Are we going to be talking about the great music of the 00’s in 20 years?  For instance, the top 5 albums of 1969:
1.  Iron Butterfly
2.  Hair  (soundtrack)
3.  Blood, sweat, and tears
4.  CCR
5.  Led Zeppelin

1.  50 cent
2.  Eminem
3.  Green Day
4.  Mariah Carey
5.  Kelly Clarkson

Are we going to want to go to a Eminem concert in 20 years?  Are we even going to remember these bands then?  With the disposability of music these days, we will have processed and thrown out all those people.  Let’s try another comparison:

1.  Fleetwood Mac
2.  Stevie Wonder
3.  Barbra Streisand
4.  Eagles
5.  Boston
Just terrific….
1.  Spice Girls
2.  No Doubt
3.  Celine Dion
4.  Space Jam Soundtrack
5.  Jewel
Are those even comparable? 

So what’s the difference?  One thing that is very apparent, you have bands in the 60s and 70s, and single artists today.  Do we not like single artists as much over the long haul?  I don’t know.  Is it easier for a band to evolve over time?  If you’re in a band, there’s 4 or 5 people with the creative juices flowing vs 1 in a single act.  What about how these bands come to light?  If you’re in a band, you probably fought and clawed your way to a record deal, vs a single act that probably got picked by a record company to promote. 

So what’s the point to all this?  Music has, and will probably always play an important part in our society.  Taking a look at how it has changed over time is really interesting.  Unfortunately, it looks like we might be taking it for granted these days with our multitasking lives and our ipods.  Next time you have some time to kill, sit down and put an album on and see if you can just sit and listen to it.  Before you buy a song on itunes, ask yourself why you’re buying it.  Take the time to think about music over time and what music means to you, or if it’s just something you use to keep your mind busy. 


Renaming GM?

With GM hitting the bankruptcy court a couple weeks ago, I've seen several articles talking about whether or not GM should rename themselves. The idea of renaming a company as it exits bankruptcy was been popular lately (Blackwater Worldwide to Xe, GMAC to Ally, etc). This can be a good idea for some companies that are trying to escape bad publicity. Blackwater changing it's name is a good idea, as there were some pretty bad things attributed to them in Iraq. But at the same time, it was not a well known company in the first place. If someone asked you to tell them something about Blackwater, the only thing you would be able to pull out of your mind would be that they were the contractors that got in trouble over in Iraq. AIG is another example of a company that would do well with a name change. Most of America knows them as the huge insurance company that didnt' really know what they were doing, overleveaged themselves, and had to have the taxpayer bail them out.

What about GM? If you ask someone to tell you something about GM, they could very well have a story about an unreliable car, prodcut disasters, or bad management practices. You'll also hear good stories about generations of people being employed there, stories of Corvettes and Camaros, Buick sponsoring Tiger Woods, and how the new CTS-V outpaces the BMW M5. I think that us, as a nation, are more disappointed with GM than anything else. We thing AIG is a bunch of crooks that took advantage of us, we thing GM has gotten lazy. There's a big difference in those views, especially with regards to brand.

I've been thinking a lot about brand lately, after reading Branson's last book, Business Stripped Bare. Branson spoke alot about the value of a brand, and how important it is to protect it. It's a lot different for Branson's Virgin to do that, since the Virgin brand includes things from trains, airplanes, spaceships, and cell phones. But keeping that Virgin idea in all aspects of the business is of the upmost importantce to him. GM struggles with keeping a consistent brand image across it's brands. Granted, that's really difficult when you have Corvettes and Escalades on one side, and G3s on the other side. Overall though, GM has done a lot over the last century or so that has built up its brand. Trying to change a name at this point in a company's history would be a waste of all that goodwill that has been built up. True, things haven't been very well the last decade or so for the whole company, but there have been some terrific successes. The Z06 Corvettes have been awesome, the redesigned Malibu has gotten good reviews, and even though it's not gonna be around too much longer, the G8 GT is a nice vehicle. As always, we look at history in terms of the last 20 years or so, but GM is an example of a company that is larger than the last 20 years. Making a knee jerk reaction to try and drum up business for a few months would be a bad idea.


Where’s the good car movies?

I was running on the treadmill watching The Fast and the Furious.  I know, the movie is ridiculous, but it’s entertaining enough to watch while jogging on the ‘mill.  I love good car chases and generally am a fan of car movies.  As I was running, I got to thinking about what car movies I love.  I came up with (in no particular order):

  • The Fast and Furious
  • Smokey and the Bandit
  • Gone in 60 Seconds
  • Cannonball Run
  • Days of Thunder (I love Days of Thunder for many more reasons than there are cars in it.  The fact that they used the Top Gun script and used the Find and Replace option in Word to produce a movie is just terrific)

And I realized that is about it.  Why are there not more car centric movies made?  Everyone loves cars, this is America dammit!  While I don’t have the sequels listed above, they did pretty well at the box office….well enough to be considered a financial success.  FF: Toyko Drift was pretty bad, but that was because they got away from the “undercover cop drives car” formula.  You could almost categorize Transformers as a car movie, but we’ll leave that out.  I thought The Transporter series wanted to go in a car centric direction, but they liked Stratham’s action moves better I guess.  So, in the last 30 years since Smokey and the Bandit has come out, we’ve only had 4 or so good car movie ideas.  Gone in 60 seconds was a remake, so do we count that?  <sigh>  It’s depressing almost.  With all the crap that people try to come up with for movies….we love cars.  The horrible Knight Rider remake got decent ratings for half the season until they turned KITT into a freaking truck.  (a truck???? NNOOOOO!!!!)  Off the top of my head, the only major car movie bomb was the F1 movie with Sly Stallone.  That was just a ridiculous premise, so I hate to even compare it to these other ones.

I wanted to take a whole paragraph to pay homage to the best car movie made.  It’s actually not even a movie, so didn’t put it on the list above.  The best car movie was actually a set of commercials commissioned by BMW 10 years ago or so.  I was lucky enough to order them from BMW a few years ago and have them on DVD.  The series of commercials is called “The Hire”.  I believe most of them live on youtube in some form or another.  Here’s a link to the best one, it stars Madonna and “the snap turn”.  We spend a couple hours watching that 9 minute commercial over one St Pat’s weekend back at Rolla.  These commercials should be the outline for any car movie made.  The outline is right there!  There’s even a bit of story there.  Why would someone not slip in and pick this up for full movie?  Arg….

In closing….let’s make some car movies!  The car industry is in the crapper right now, a feel good, fast car driving movie could be just what we need to re-awaken our love of cars.       


Urban Wine Company

Another restaurant has come up for discussion, and this week, it’s the Urban Wine Company.  Bridget has been wanting to try it out, and since her birthday was yesterday (yay!), we had her birthday dinner last Saturday night.  We were joined by our friend Natalie.  UWC is down in the Old Market area of Omaha.  We haven’t been down to the Old Market much since we moved here because we’ve been busy trying out the options out west.  We do really like the restaurants and bars down there though.  It’s really only a 15-20 minute drive from our house since we live so close to I-80.  We had a really good time, so I’m sure we will start making more trips there.

Parking is usually a pain in the Old Market, and it was a double pain since the Taste of Omaha was going on as well.  We got the last spot in the parking lot we chose.  The parking guy told us to park in a no parking zone, so we pretty much got the pole position. 

UWC is a pretty cool place.  It has a great setup inside, using the Old Market theme of brick and exposed ceilings.  There were tables and chairs, as well as couches and coffee tables.  Unlike the Reel Martini couches, I would definitely sit on those.  We grabbed a small table and sat down.  Our waitress was very nice, she looked a lot like one of my friends’ wives.  Being a wine bar, they had the option to get wine flights.  Bridget LOVES wine flights, so her and Nat each got one.  Their flights consisted of 3 wines, with a healthy pour in each glass.  I wasn’t really feeling wine, so I asked what they had on tap.  Oh boy, they had Delirium on tap.  I love a good Belgian Ale.  I’ve had Chimay a few times before, and Delirium once before, but it was from the bottle.  Having it on tap is spectacular.  A good Belgian Ale relaxes you like nothing else, except a cigar and a good scotch.  The girls liked their wine, and I liked the Delirium, so everyone started out happy.

The menu is a bit all over the place, but the food we had was all very good.  We started with the spinach artichoke dip (surprise, surprise).  It did come with some phenomenal pita bread wedges.  We got to UWC a little later in the evening, so when we went to order food, the late happy hour had started (9 pm).  I hadn’t really made up my mind yet, but when I realized there was sushi for $4 at 9, I quickly decided.  Nat and I split a spicy tuna and spicy salmon rolls.  We had gone out to Baby Blue the night before, so I had a good sushi taste still on my mind.  The UWC sushi wasn’t quite as good, but it was definitely good (especially at $4).  Most surprising, I could actually tell we ordered the spicy versions of the rolls.  There was some very nice heat coming off them.  I would definitely get them again.  Bridget ended up ordering their version of a flatbread pizza, and she got shrimp and black bean.  I had a couple pieces to help her finish it off.  She really liked it, I was ok with it.  I’m still a traditional pizza guy, so if there’s not any real meat on there, I’m not quite all the way on board. 

We all were very happy with the choice to eat there, and will definitely be there again.  The late happy hour items, sushi for $4, and Boulevard wheat drafts and sangria for $3(the girls thought it was a little too sweet), definitely bring it into play for after dinner drinks or late snacking.  A really cool place with a really nice laid back vibe.  Music at a good volume, good crowd, nice people, Delirium on tap….what more could you ask for?             


Bar rant

I mentioned in my last post that I haven’t been very happy with the bars I have been to in Omaha so far. First off, let me mention that I’m not a “club” guy or someone that goes out to the bars all the time. Part of that, for me at least, is that since I’m married, I’m not out looking to pick girls up anymore (not that I was ever good at that). When I go out for drinks and to have some fun, I’m out to hang out with people, talk, joke, etc.

So, the couple bars that we have been out to that really disappointed me are The Reel Martini Bar, and The Drafthouse. I’m going to really emphasize the word “disappoint”, because I know that I’m not going to go to a place that looks like a club or a place that is obviously looking to cater to kids right out of college. I was very interested in these places because of what it seemed they were trying to do with their image.

The Reel Martini Bar, sounds like a laid back place that has a cool movie theme, serves good martinis, and is kinda geared towards a bit older crowd that wants to hang out after dinner. They have a great logo too. The website is pretty slick too. (especially if they would finish it) As soon as we walked in, the hip hop music comes BLARING out. I have to yell to talk to Bridget who is standing right next to me. There is no movie motif, save a crappy mural that is on one wall. There is a big projector on one side of the bar, but it’s showing the Cavs-Magic game. Granted, it’s the NBA playoffs, but once you’ve committed to a movie theme, ya gotta stick to it. There are a lot of couches and chairs around, but it looks like they got pulled out of the VIP room at an out of business strip club. Again, the music is absolutely blaring. We order drinks by yelling at the bartender. Granted, the martini’s were pretty good. There was a decent selection, but no more than what any place with a decent drink menu would have. We go out to the patio area, which is a nice idea, but it’s too narrow and jammed up with tables and chairs. We got there at 930 or so, when we left at 1130 or so, the music was still blaring and was getting full of drunk people quickly. Granted, there were a lot of people, but the atmosphere did not match what you would expect it to be.
So my problem with this whole thing……why do you just give up as an bar owner? You have this great idea for a bar with a movie theme. Why are there not movie posters everywhere? Why are there not tvs with classic movies showing? People of all demographic groups love movies. You could have movie trivia nights, theme nights, theme parties, etc. Why was the physical bar not setup like a concession area? You know, with candy showing. It would be really easy to setup food items like nachos and hot dogs that you would normally get at a movie theater. There was popcorn, but it was a little popper that I wouldn’t have gotten anything out of. Instead, they have given up and just play loud hip hop music and try and get people drunk. If that’s all you want, just call it something else, paint the walls black and sell shots. I think bar owners underestimate the number of people that like to go out for drinks and such after dinner on the weekends, but don’t want to go to a noisy, hot, sweaty bar. True, it’s not as big as the party crowd, but you can get to those people, you just have to work and keep your atmosphere steady.

The Drafthouse (might wanna update that webpage too. The coupon that expires in 2007 is a little tacky) was similar. It has a cool name that would indicate that you have a lot of beers on tap, and it’s more of a gathering/hang out bar. We got there at 930 or so, grabbed a beer (from a selection that was not impressive. If you’re called the drafthouse, you better have 25 beers on tap, and not just a collection of Bud, Miller, and Coors products with 2 or 3 unique ones). It was cool to hang out there for about an hour, and guess what? BLARING MUSIC. Why do you have to have music so loud that you can’t talk to someone standing next to you. I don’t know if I’m just old, but what’s the point of going out to be around other people if you can’t talk to them? If I wanted to do that, I would just put on some headphones, crank it up, and drink beer while watching Elimidate and The Fifth Wheel. Anyway, like the Reel Martini Bar, using the name of Drafthouse gives you so many options to have a unique bar, and by just giving up and catering to the easy Friday and Sat night drunk crowd, it’s a little disappointing. Granted, I’m being a little hard on the Drafthouse because I was already really worked up about the Reel Martini place. TDH might be fun on other days, or during football games, but I think when you give up on your theme on Friday and Sat nights, you begin to lose the theme and atmosphere of your bar all the time.

or maybe I’m just cranky….


Windows 7 Fun

As you may have seen in my twittering yesterday, I wanted to start using Windows 7 more. I had setup a dual boot system a few weeks ago, but didn’t get around to installing the program we use (photoshop, office), so we weren’t really using it. I had decided to take XP off and only use Windows 7. I asked @christoc about how best to rearrange my partitioned hard drive. He suggested I not take the full dip yet, and made some suggestions that were a bit over my comfort level. So, I decided to just adjust the size of my partitions and reinstall some of my most used programs.

I first tried to use the Win 7 partition tool, but it wouldn’t let me increase the size of my Win 7 drive. I shrunk the XP drive down, but when I tried to expand the Win 7, it was a no go. So, I pulled out my trusty GParted CD and did it there. I moved about 100GB from the XP drive to the Win 7 drive. Easy enough I thought……..

Well, I rebooted out of GParted, and got a line I had never seen before:
ok, maybe the partition misplaced the bootmgr, I’m sure if I restart it’ll be alright.
Oh crap. I should know better to just leave things alone. Luckily, we have a laptop at home as well, so I started searching for how to fix this. I quickly found out that this isn’t the end of the world and it is easily fixable by booting from the Win 7 install disk and choosing the “Repair” option. I rebooted with the Win 7, followed the instructions, it found the problem, and fixed it. So, we reboot again…..

Alright! No bootmgr missing line. Win 7 started right up. Wait a sec…..Win 7 started right up? I’m supposed to get a prompt that asks me if I want to start Win 7 or XP. Where the hell did that go? I started searching online (this time on the desktop) and found some articles that talked about how to help. Evidently, the boot manager that Vista and 7 uses is different than what XP uses. We are quickly moving out of my comfort range. Several of the articles mentioned that EasyBCD can update the Win 7 boot manager without having to dig into the config files. I follow the instructions, but the articles all mention that I should be able to choose XP from the settings screen. I only have Win 7. I know I didn’t delete XP. I double checked and found the drive in file explorer. What the hell is going on?

I did several things at this point, and I’m not sure if any of them helped or hurt, so I won’t mention them. I then remembered that when I was playing with the Disk Management tools, I could make each drive “active”, which it says means there is an operating system on it. Sure enough, the drive with XP on it wasn’t listed as “active”. I switched it back to Active and restarted. The option screen came up and I choose XP and success! I needed to get it done quickly as Bridget had a paper to work on last night. I figured enough was enough and quit playing with it. This morning though….

I restart to get into Win 7 and when I choose Win 7 at the boot loader, nothing. DAMMIT! Now what? I ran the Win 7 install disk and repaired the startup, and luckily, that got us back to even. So, I think what happened……

When I resized the partitions, two things happened. The BOOTMGR got lost somehow and my XP drive got labled as “inactive”. Running the Win 7 install disk and repairing the bootmgr helped Win 7, but resizing the partition caused Win 7 to not know there was an operating system on the XP drive. <sigh>

Windows 7 is pretty cool though.


The Classic Summer Meal

Yikes, I'm getting lazy on my blog posts again.  I've got a couple things on my mind for this week, so I thought I would start off with something easy. 

It was nice yesterday afternoon/evening, so we wanted to BBQ.  I have been on a really nice streak so far this year with my grilling.  I've done several nice steaks and salmon, as well as doing a real good job on the portabella mushrooms.  One thing we have enjoyed a lot the last couple summers was the good ol fashioned hamburger.  I found a good recipe in Men's Health last year, and have been using it ever since.  It is really easy, and really kicks the normal burger up a couple notches.

The Perfect Burger:

  • 1 lb beef (I used 93-7)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • Diced Onion
  • Chopped Spinach
  • shredded cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lettuce, tomatoes, mustard, ketchup

There ya go.  That's it.  I think it took me 5 minutes to prepare and get the mixture all mixed together.  The onion, spinach, and cheese is kinda up to you, I think I ended up with 1/4-1/3 cup of each.  Throw it on the grill on medium-high for 6 minutes a side or so and you're good to go.  We used Sara Lee whole wheat buns.  I'm not always on board with whole wheat buns, but the Sara Lee ones are pretty good.  I also toasted the buns on the grill.  Just put a little butter or butter spray and throw them on the grill for 30-45 seconds.  Don't underestimate the toasted bun.  It makes a world of difference.  It's like the difference between microwave popcorn and popping the corn on the stove.  I guess I always notice because my dad always did the buns and the popcorn like that, so I like to do the same.  Once you're used to things like that, it's tough to go back to regular buns and microwave popcorn.

As we usually do, we like to grill a couple portabellas whenever we grill.  Bridget prepares them for me, and I think she uses a little oil and some seasoning salt.  My grill (gas) has an area above the main grill that you can use to grill the mushrooms.  I actually put the portabella right on the burger!  It ended up making the burger a little too thick.  I need to remember to make the patties a little thinner next time.  Overall, wonderful as always.

Of course, you have to have a couple beers while you're grilling.  Since we go to Costco, I try and get my beer there.  They usually have some variety packs of 24.  Sometimes they have a Mexican pack, there was a Fat Tire variety pack once, and you can get a Leiny's pack every once in a while.  Lately, they have had a dynamite pack of Sam Adams.  It has Sam Adams Lager, Sam Adams Light, SA Summer Ale, and SA Raspberry Wit.  All 4 beers are really solid.  The Summer Ale has just a hint of sweetness in it.  A lot of the other summer ales out there end up being too sweet, trying to copy the Blue Moon.  SA does a good job of not going too far.

Also coming this week, I will tear into a couple bars I have been to since I've been in Omaha.  I might write a little about the GM bankruptcy, but it seems to not be causing any crazy rebuttals from people.  Only thing I have noticed that is pretty funny is that no one is doubting the bankruptcy time.  When Chrysler went into bankruptcy a month ago or so, everyone was declaring that the 30 day time frame was ridiculous.  Chrysler is about out already, so the nay-sayers aren't railing on the 90 day timeframe that is being floated around.  Oh, how the pundits change their tune.  I would have some of these people back on CNBC and such and roll the tape of their rants, see what they have to say now.  Oh well....