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Archive for June, 2013

I think it’s time for a new TV

June 27th, 2013, 2:10am by Jake

The old reliable Westinghouse 37″ LCD TV seems to be on its last legs, getting some weird black streaks in the upper right. Got that in 2006 to replace a Sceptre 37″ that lasted but a year. After 7 years, time for a real upgrade. So where is the sweet spot these days? Don’t really care about SmarTV or 3D features, but I’m guessing every decent set on the market has both. Could use a larger set, somewhere from 42″ – 52″ (anything bigger in my living room is absurd). Thin bezel is definitely a plus, don’t really care about thickness.

Color & Charcoal: Mark Your Calendars & Preview the Work

June 19th, 2013, 5:16pm by Jake

Color & Charcoal, August 3Celebrate the art of Rachel Rome at the book launch party & show on August 3. This is the follow-on to last year’s book & show, A Celebration of Art (you can still order books & prints). That was a huge success, raising $3000 for art programs offered through North Shore ARC. Moving from the east coast to the west coast, Jake is hosting this year’s event at his home. You can find more details & RSVP on either Facebook or Evite.

The title of this year’s entry, Color & Charcoal, refers to both the vibrant colors Rachel used in her painting and the charcoal employed so skillfully in her sketches. The show will feature 60 original works of art, plus prints of dozens more. You can preview the book at Blurb and place an order directly with Jake; later on it will be available for purchase direct from Blurb. While a limited number of prints will be available for purchase at the launch party, prints are available for purchase right now on the website. That includes bonus pieces as well. If you just want to browse, they look great on Flickr.

Just like last year, all the proceeds will be donated to charity. This year, the beneficiary is Mychal’s Learning Place of Hawthorne. The funds will be used to support their arts programs. Mychal’s mission statement is, “to assist children and adults with developmental disabilities to build self esteem and independence by providing social and recreational activities with an emphasis on life skills training in a safe and loving environment.”

While last year’s book focused on the amazing work created in San Miguel, Allende in Mexico, this year’s outlook is broader. Of course San Miguel is well represented, but so is Viterbo, Italy. Truro on Cape Cod, and Ipswich, Beverly, Gloucester & Rockport along Boston’s North Shore. Take a look at the photos below to get more of a flavor of the book. Between now & then, make sure you like the Facebook page to see a new painting each day.

 

Sunflowers Model clothed in black & white

Lady in the red dress

 

 

Collage for Mom's 2nd Book

Sophomore Slump, and Beyond

June 19th, 2013, 8:35am by Mike

I think we’re all familiar with the concept of the sophomore slump — lately, I’ve been thinking about bands who had great first albums, then pretty bad ones after that. So by analogy, they had a great freshman year, then kinda flunked out (at least, relatively). I think the list is probably pretty long, but here are the ones that I came up with while washing dishes last night — in no particular order:

  • Vampire Weekend (OK, this one is first because I was listening to their new album, Modern Vampires Of The City, when the idea for this list first hit me). Their first, self-titled album is truly fantastic — almost to a song, it’s a great summer album. African-inspired rhythm with a ton of instrumentation, NY/New England-inspired subjects, and a lot of energy. According to my last.fm, I’ve listened to some songs from this album north of 36 times (and those are just the scrobbled ones). But then, their second album came out — the same data shows me that I’ve listened to that album approximately 4 times. In this case, I think they were a party band who had about 12 great songs, made a great album, then realized that it was work to follow up with 12 more — and they lost their energy. In fact, in an interview I listened to this morning on the train, they said almost as much —

    On our first record, we could play pretty much every song before we began to record it. On the second album, about half the songs we were able to arrange as a band, and then another half were a product of the studio. On this record […] the songs we ended up pursuing were a product of thinking of the making of the album as a recording project.

    I think this is pretty much the reason behind the sophomore slump for bands — they hone their craft in live shows, tweaking, seeing how fans respond, and bringing the fact that they’re living the dream to the studio when they cut that first album.

After listening to this interview, I’ll give the album a little more time, but it’s definitely a very different vibe than the first.

  • The Stone Roses You have to admit it — their first album is far better than their second (which is, to be fair, also quite good), and their third and final album, and pretty much all the stuff that followed (Ian Brown solo, The Seahorses) didn’t quite cut it. I haven’t actually heard what they sound like since they got back together, but if I were to see them in concert, I would have them play their first album straight through, then about 3 songs from Made Of Stone.

  • Weezer First album — one of the soundtracks to my senior year of college (along with Oasis’ Definitely Maybe). I know it’s hip to think that Weezer’s second album, Pinkerton, was good, but it just wasn’t. Their third album, (the again self-titled, but green, album), had some good songs, and got back toward the phenomenon that was the first album — but by then, the magic was nearly gone, and they pretty much haven’t been heard from since.

  • Arctic Monkeys Word is that these guys didn’t know how to play their instruments when they formed their band, but they clearly wanted to be a very high energy, fun band, and learned about 2 chords in their efforts to realize their dreams. Their lyrics are also totally fun, and I’d happily listen to the album straight through at almost any time. Not to be duplicated, unfortunately. Again, last.fm says that I’ve listened to their first album around 25 times, and their second and third in the low single digits.

  • The Vaccines Another really fun, sort of punky, loud band, whose first album, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? was really great, and I have several of their songs on my running mix. Unlike the others here (but like the next band, Arctic Monkeys), their second release was an EP, and it gave hope that they weren’t a one-album band — but their second album, Come Of Age, was pretty disappointing.

  • The Strokes The near-universal answer to the title of their first album, Is This It, was “Damn right, it is.” Rolling Stone’s 4-star review starts off with “This is the stuff of which legends are made.” They were hailed as rock superheroes on the back of songs like “Last Nite” and “Someday,” which totally hold up over time. Then… nothing happened.


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