In Rainbows Live

Saturday night, we went to the Radiohead show. In a word, it was amazing. They played in an outdoor theater and the weather was awesome which is somewhat unusual for this time of the year. As we were driving up we talking about how many weirdos would be there, but surprisingly enough, it was a pretty tame crowd. Make no mistake, an inordinate amount of weed was being smoked, but all in all, a pretty tame crowd.

Anyway, they were incredible. They're definitely not one of those bands that you hear live and realize that they're all a studio creation. Thom's voice was dead on, and it's amazing when you see all of the things they do to make the sounds that come out of their instruments. They played everything from In Rainbows, quite a bit from Kid A, some Thief and two songs from The Bends, but only Lucky from OK Computer. I always think it's interesting to see what songs the band picks from their albums because I think it kind of shows what songs they like. The light show was really cool too. All in all my favorites were Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Reckoner, National Anthem, and Planet Telex. Here's the set list:

15 Step,
Morning Bell
Nude, Pyramid Song
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
The Gloaming
National Anthem
Faust Arp
Where I End and You Begin
Everything in Its Right Place
All I Need
There There

Encore 1:
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
House of Cards
Climbing Up The Walls
Planet Telex
Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Encore 2:
You And Whose Army?

So here is one of the videos I shot. They aren't that great, but you get the idea. We really weren't as far from the stage as the video looks! Our camera also cuts out after 3 minutes, and the memory card filled up pretty quick. If you want to see some better one take a look at these.

Also, apparently Radiohead soundchecked a cover of Portishead's new song The Rip, but they didn't play it at the show. They've soundchecked it one other time, so maybe they'll be playing it later in the tour. Radiohead covering Portishead--it really doesn't get any better than that!



It was fun. Nobody got eaten.


If you play with your Benelli button, your legs will fall off . . .

With the recent account about the visit we had from our friend Tom posted on that other blog, and the subsequent purchase, and the subsequent onslaught of anonymous comments, I figured I'd weigh in on the topic. First, let me post a few things about the gun that I purchased. If you're looking for something for home protection, a shotgun is much better than a handgun for several reasons (in my opinion). First, is safety. A shotgun is much more difficult for a child to accidentally or non-accidentally fire. It is pretty much impossible for a young child to be able to load it and lift it up to fire it. It would also be impossible for the child to fire the gun at himself due to the distance between the end of the barrel and the trigger. Also, even though some handguns have some limited "safety" features, they don't have a safety like shotguns do. The second reason to buy a shotgun is the fact that it shoots a "spray" of bullets in a wide pattern. If it comes down to actually having to fire the gun at an intruder, this makes it much more likely that you will actually hit your target. It is very difficult to hit a target with a handgun--especially when your adrenaline is pumping, you're shaking, the target is moving, etc. So those are the main reasons I opted for a shotgun. Now for the fun part--the gun itself.

There are a lot of shotguns made for the specific purpose of home protection--pistol grips, 18.5" barrel, tactical lighting, etc., that make it ideal for protection. I didn't opt for one of these because I like to shoot skeet on occasion and I also go hunting once in a blue moon so I wanted something a bit more versatile. Here's what I got:

It's a Benelli Nova 20 gauge pump. Benelli is one of the best gun manufacturers around, so I knew I couldn't go wrong. I got the 20 gauge because it's a nice versatile caliber that doesn't kick too much. That's important so Leslie can learn how to shoot it without breaking her shoulder! I got a pump for safety reasons--it's next to impossible for a child to pump a shell into the chamber. On top of that, just the sound of a pump action shotgun is often enough to scare away unwanted visitors. It's a bit futuristic looking since it's all synthetic polymer and metal, but I like the look of it. So anyway, that's the low down on the gun. In case you were interested.

This post is getting long, so I'll save my rant about the comments made concerning gun ownership for another day. I know you'll be interested.


Happy Birthday to You

Today is Leslie's birthday. After all this time of me telling her she was almost there, today she turns the big 3-0! Happy birthday, baby!


Strawberries and cream in a public toilet . . .

That's how one person described the so-called "king of fruits." I can't remember where I first heard about durian, but ever since I did, I've wanted to try it. I've always been a bit of an adventurer when it comes to trying odd or off-the-wall foods. When I was little and my mom would let us get a treat at the grocery store, I always managed to find something completely random to get--like a tiny jar of caviar, or sour pickled Japanese plums. I was in good company, though--my older sister would almost always insist on getting a jar of green olives and my older brother would usually opt for a tin of sardines. We would beg my mom not to let him open them in the car on the way home. The grocery store always brings back good childhood memories. I won't go into our obsession with grocery store gumball machines here, though. Charlotte, can you say rabbit's foot? Anyway, back to my story.

Durian is this fruit that grows in southeast Asia and is considered one of the most exquisite delicacies. The problem with it is that it is a bit on the stinky side. When I say a bit, I mean REALLY, REALLY stinky. Descriptions of it's smell abound. Here's how one travel and food writer described it: "... its odor is best described as pig-@#&*, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia." Appetizing, huh? I guess the thing that intrigued me most is how something that smells so bad could possibly taste so good. How is that possible? So imagine my delight when I found it for sale in a local Asian market.

I think I've mentioned before that I moonlight at this Vietnamese office that's in this huge shopping center called the Hong Kong City Mall. When you step into this place, you truly are in a different country. Most signs for the businesses are in Vietnamese and pretty much everyone is speaking Vietnamese. There are some perks to working there, though--well a perk, which is the Vietnamese sandwich shop across from the dental office. If you've never had one, you need to find your nearest Vietnamese bakery/sandwich shop and pick yourself up one of these. So a couple of weeks ago, I had some time to kill between patients so I took a stroll through the grocery store that is in the Hong Kong City Mall.

Much to my delight, there next to the check out was a big crate of spiky durian. The glaring red sign that said "No Returns" should have been a warning, but no, I pressed on. I thought the price was $4.00 for the whole thing, but when I got to the checkout I quickly learned it was $4.00 per pound, and this is no small fruit. But, I thought, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to try the "king of fruits," so I shelled out the 20 bucks to buy the stinky thing. The checkout lady again reiterated to me "no returns," as I paid.

I had to ride home with my windows open. At first the smell was almost overpowering--even with the windows open. But strangely enough, after a while it started to smell not-so-bad--almost good. I was getting excited that it was actually going to be good. So I got home and cracked the thing open.

Let's just say that the smell of the unopened fruit didn't even compare to the smell when I got wind of the white, custardy clumps that were inside. It's hard to describe the smell--almost like an over-ripe fruit smell overlaid with maybe a bit of poop and garlic? It truly is something you have to smell for yourself. So I pulled out a couple of the clumps. I brought it in the house and needless to say it sent Audrey and Parker running--they wouldn't try it, let alone even come near it. Even Moe pushed it away without hesitation. So I tasted it.

You would think that since it is a fruit, it would taste, well, fruity. Au contraire mon frère. Nothing fruity AT ALL here. To me, it tasted kind of like really intense roast beef with garlic with again, poop. Not that I know what poop tastes like, but I can imagine. And the consistency made it even worse--like a squishy custard. Funny that those who like it often cite the texture as part of its appeal. I didn't swallow it, it was just too bad.

So along with a really gross taste in my mouth, I was left wondering what is so fundamentally different about the taste buds of people of Northern European descent and those of Southeast Asian descent? How could one group be so enamored by something so repulsive to the other? I guess I'll never figure it out. So if you ever find yourself in Bangkok, or the Hong Kong City Mall, and you get a hankering for some durian, don't say I didn't warn you. Go for the bánh mì thịt nướng instead.


In Rainbows, In Review


I hate to say Radiohead is an acquired taste, because I think it implies something that really does taste bad at first, but then you start to like it. I don't think Radiohead could ever taste bad--but you just might not realize just how good it tastes initially. I like to think of it as more of a refined taste. And it gets more savory the more you hear. When I first listened to In Rainbows I wasn't quite sure about it. I have to admit I'm one of those people that listens to little snippets of each song really fast to quickly get through the whole album and get a feel for it. After 14 years, I should know that doesn't fly with Radiohead. Even though the first listen is more instantly gratifying than some of their other albums, this one definitely gets better with each listen. I was with Jooj at first--I thought it was good, but maybe not great, but after a couple of listens, I think I would classify it as a whole as one of their better efforts, with a couple of the songs being on par with their best. The first track 15 Steps is amazing. This track could have easily come from Thief or Amnesiac with it's uptempo snares layered over a slightly distorted main beat. The best part is the jazzy guitar riff that seems to run throughout the album. And who doesn't love a song with a sample of cheering children? Bodysnatchers is the hardest track of the lot. The vocals start out almost exactly like Palo Alto from the Airbag/How's My Driving EP--one of my favorite songs of all time. It gets just gritty enough without being over the top like they sometimes get--I'm thinking of The Bends and the later tracks from OK Computer. I didn't really like Nude at first, but after a couple of listens its growing on me. It would fit nicely on a Magnet album and the very end sounds almost like Matt Hales. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi is my favorite track on the album, and may turn out to be one of my all time favorites. I read one review that said that the lyrics are "deeply depressing, even for Radiohead," but then again, no one can sing falsetto about ending it all and then being eaten by worms and weird fishes quite like Thom. It's got the almost panicked drum beat of some of their more recent stuff, but it's melodic like their earlier material. It kind of reminds me of some of the tracks from The Bends, but doesn't get corrupted by the hard guitar/heavy distortion like (nice dream) or high and dry--it builds just enough. All I Need is my least favorite track. Nothing really stands out about it. Does the synth loop at the beginning remind anyone else of Nothing Better by The Postal Service? I thought so. Faust Arp is a great song. It could almost be the second half of A Wolf at the Door (It Girl. Rag Doll), with its run together, stream of consciousness sounding repeated lyrics. Reckoner is another great track. It features the jazzy guitars again--over tambourines that sound a lot like the beginning of sulk. I swear the unintelligible vocal track at the beginning of House of Cards is a sample from Cocteau Twins' Treasure. OK, I know it's not her, but it sounds a lot like Elizabeth Fraser. And who would have ever thought the lyrics " . . . I don't want to be your friend/I just want to be your lover . . . " would come out of Thom's mouth. Jigsaw Falling Into Place is a good track, doesn't really stand out. Videotape would be a lot better without the disconnected drumbeat that starts about halfway through the song.

So there you have it. My take on each track. Overall I like it--a lot. It seems to me to be kind of a mix of The Bends, Airbag, and Hail to the Thief but without some of the negatives from those albums. Leslie once told me that she wants her own iPod because "it would have way less Radiohead on it." Well, there are now 10 more tracks on it that will be in heavy rotation. My picks--tracks 1, 2 and 4. There you go.

And, by the way, if I'm on anyone's Christmas list, the £40 boxed set can be ordered for December delivery. Just FYI.

Radiohead Update

I finally got the confirmation email yesterday, and I successfully downloaded the album this morning. I haven't finished listening to it yet--I'll let you know how it is later!