A week ago I took off on a 4 day trip with an old friend and a couple new friends to see Brandi Carlile not once, but twice in two different states. Even with the heat, rain, and a run in with a rattlesnake, the trip was amazing.
The opening act at both shows, The Lone Bellow, were awesome, and I'm already singing their songs around the house. Check out the song samples and songs on their website. Not only is the band entertaining live, their self titled album is a worthy listen with many catchy alt-country and rockabilly tunes.
In an attempt to blog more, I'm going to start posting links to some of the articles I've read and enjoyed on possibly a weekly basis. This week:
I spent the weekend lounging around, watching Orphan Black, and outside as the temperatures aren't quite unbearable in Kansas yet.
After watching the last four episodes of Orphan Black season one last night, it is no surprise that I bounced around from one weird dream to the next. But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the series. The concept of clones feels like it could devolve into the obscure and crazy. Like many of the great science fiction series, see Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, Orphan Black focuses on the characters and is set in current time which lifts it above some of the outrageous sci fi shows.
The show follows a handful of women who grew up with no knowledge of being clones becoming more self aware and how they interact with each other to protect themselves. Tatiana Maslany plays the very different clones brilliantly, and she's already receiving awards for her work. The clones go from crazy, to smart, to bitchy housewife, to German, and there's more. Thankfully, there were only 10 episodes in the first season as she's in all but one or two scenes in the entire first season.
As a science nerd, the science is pretty neat too, and it's always fun to see Cosima, the PhD student clone, with her dreadlocks and pot habit talking mitochondrials and proteins and "evo devo" (evolutionary development). (See this article with the Orphan Black science consultant for more about the facts in the fiction.)
The writing and production is great, and there was no drop off in quality from episode to episode. I highly recommend checking out Orphan Black some time before season 2 premires some time in 2014.
My expectations were really non-existent when I downloaded the first book in The Day Eight series by Ray Mazza. A tweet from a friend, @HerrohGrant, let me know the first book in the series, The Reborn, was a $.99 download on Amazon. I wanted to support the author, who not only wrote a trilogy, which is an amazing accomplishment, but he also choose to self-publish it. What I didn't expect was that I would devour the entire series in a short period of time.
The series is about the development and evolution of simulated humans by a technology company in New York City, called Day Eight. Mazza develops the human and simulated human characters similarly, and in the prologue, you don't necessarily know who are the simulates. When we do finally meet Ezra - the most advanced simulate - at the end of the first book, I had to go back to re-read the prologue to fully grasp her evolution. Also at the center of the story is Trevor an employee at Day Eight. A majority of the story is told from Trevor's point of view as he goes from being in awe of the advancement of technology beyond what he thought was possible to the realization that the evolution of the stimulants may not be for the good of everyone.
The Reborn, Of Mice And Hitman, and The Spiritual Singularity are all compelling thrillers. Mazza weaves in the science (which I love) without bringing a halt to the story. The story also makes you think about what lines we can or should cross for the sake of advancements in science. Do you sacrifice a few for the sake of many?
The series reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano in the way it highlights the worst and best parts of human evolution. I highly recommend the series.
I haven't done a top ten bands list in a couple years, but it's back. Sick of Sarah completely dominated as I listened to their latest album 2205 on repeat throughout the year. I highly recommend all the bands listed.
Compiled from my Last.fm profile which is not all inclusive but pretty close.
Tomorrow is the day I hop on a plane and head West to San Francisco. And today is the last day of my countdown to San Francisco.
If I'm being short sighted, I think the thing I missed the most from the Bay Area is the food, but in the long term, it's the sites! I truly enjoy the most.
Did I mention how much I like walking around the city? The colors of the houses. The differences between the neighborhoods. The graffiti.
Of course, there's also the bridges and Coit Tower and walking along the Wharf. And being a Kansas native, the view of the ocean is an amazing site.
Two more days! Another thing(s) I miss about San Francisco is not unique to this city and is really a combination of urban features. The culture! Public transportation!
Maybe you understand why I miss the culture - the museums, the history, the art. But you may wonder about my selection of public transportation. Everyone has a public transit horror story - see Muni Diaries and BART Musings. Regardless of the negatives, I love not needing a car. I just turned in my Prius last week as the lease was up, and I couldn't be happier.
Between BART and Muni, you can get anywhere in the Bay Area without the need to worry about parking or gas prices. It's so convenient. Plus I love walking around the city when I don't want to wait for a bus or riding my bike when the trek to my destination is not far or hilly.
Even if the stolen Picasso has not been returned to public display yet, San Francisco has plenty of other art and history museums to visit. There's also plays, musicals, ballet, comedy, and other entertainment all within close proximity and easily accessible via public transit.
Monday marks 3 days until I'm in San Francisco. And a third thing about the Bay Area I've been missing is the music!
San Francisco is a must stop for nearly every band, and there are so many great venues - Great American Music Hall, Cafe du Nord, Bottom of the Hill. And with all the small and mid-size venues, it's fun to walk into a show not really knowing much about the band playing and discovering my new favorite band.
Tickets to The Velvet Teen show at GAMH on Friday have already been purchased. I hope my second attempt to see Sick of Sarah live on September 6th won't be another missed connection. And I have a dozen other shows marked as maybe in the next couple months.
I'm continuing my countdown of the things I am looking forward to most when I get back to San Francisco on Thursday.
At the top of my to do list when I arrive is to check out the food! at some of my favorite restaurants.
The Mission neighborhood in San Francisco has the best Mexican food. There's typically at least one restaurant or burrito place per block along Valencia and Mission streets. Papalote on Valencia and 24th is by far my favorite, and it will likely be my first stop on Thursday.
Being landlocked in the Midwest, you know every time you order fish it has been frozen for some time. Plus sushi restaurants are few and far between around these parts. I love knowing that any seafood I order at a restaurant in the Bay Area is most likely fresh, and I plan on checking out various sushi places when I arrive in San Francisco.
Falafels. Everyone asks me to describe falafels when I say that I'm craving a falafel wrap. It's Middle Eastern in origin according to Wikipedia. The falafel wrap is fried balls of something indescribable and potatoes and cucumber sauce and hummus and it's yummy. I really don't want to know the specific ingredients. Truly Mediterranean is my favorite place to stop but there are a couple other good falafel places in San Francisco.
On Thursday, I'm flying to San Francisco. After three years of bopping around the world, I'm moving back to the place I enjoyed the most. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and I've been thinking about all the things I'm excited to do in the Bay Area. With five days until my departure, I thought I would countdown the five things I'm most looking forward to in no particular order.
The first thing I expect to notice when I get off the plane is the weather!
After a couple weeks of 100+ degree weather in Kansas, I'm really looking forward to the pretty constant Spring like conditions of the Bay Area and being able to wear long sleeves.
Country music was a topic of conversation by both the opening acts. The Secret Sisters mixed a few original songs amongst country favorites from Patsy Cline and others. Brandi Carlile followed a similar format, including a spectacular cover of Folsom Prison Blues.
From 6th row center, I took the chance and recorded the new song, and it doesn't sound too bad: Raise Hell (right-click, save as) Brandi said that she planed to record it in Kansas City. We'll see if it ends up on an album.
Update: Now that the album has been released, you can download the album version of Raise Hell.
Hopefully Sick of Sarah's tour in support of their new album 2205 has gotten back on track. After an illness led to a few canceled shows, a plumbing problem at their venue in Kansas City resulted in the show I was going to attend being canceled. To say I was disappointed in not getting to attend a live show is an understatement.
read full post at www.whatstheruckus.com
Camila Grey has been playing keyboard on Adam Lambert's tour playing but is now back working with Leisha Hailey on Uh Huh Her's second album.
I love the ethereal sound of Uh Huh Her and highly recommend both Common Reaction their first album and their EP I See Red . I was fortunate to see them live a couple years ago, and regardless of the Kansas tornado warning and the poor sound in the venue, the band put on a good show. (Video from an unknown source of the show.)