I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

Posted in Music on March 29th, 2012 by byronkho

Well, AdTech SF is happening in a few days and guess who’s not going… but that’s okay. I can pretend to be there via Mayer Hawthorne. Amazing how this song makes me wistful for a place I have no real attachment to. And by the way, skateboarding is illegal in San Francisco.

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Kyla LaGrange. Ren Harvieu. Lianne La Havas. Haim.

Posted in Music on March 29th, 2012 by byronkho

Kyla LaGrange is wonderfully haunting and obscene. She’s gonna leave the world in one massive OD and possibly shoot up a post office at the same time, but damn. Sometimes you just need that kind of crazy. (Only for this song, though. Not sure if I like the rest of her stuff as much.)

Ren Harvieu BROKE her spine and recovered. Crazy. She’s been compared to Shelby Lynne, which I do see. She was actually going to record a duet with Nas (yeah, what?) but the accident threw that one off.

I really love the Take Away Shows from La Blogotheque and wish more US-based blogs would do something of the sort. Solid production values and great artists doing customized videos wandering the streets. One would hope she wasn’t miming and lip-syncing during this one because man, doing a performance like that in one shot is HARD. Lianne La Havas, everybody.

I don’t even know what Haim is supposed to be. They’re doing the whole rock thing with the 90s vibes and all but they’re totally hipster ready. If you listen to their other stuff, they could even pass for a folk 80s disco band. Not a specific niche band by a long shot.

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Some stuff from the last few years piling up in the memento drawer.

Posted in Personal on March 29th, 2012 by byronkho

Mrs. Langton’s last card to me. I never got to watch the Metropolitan Opera’s Ring trilogy.

Where did she go???

I apparently played on John Peel in February with the Orpheus Club.

Monty’s last Xmas card to me. Well, last one that I still have. Lost the more recent one. Plus, his poetry and puns and whatnot.

Helping out the Glee Club 150×150.

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While still blazing through The Hour…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 29th, 2012 by byronkho

While I do keep up to date on all my US network shows via Hulu (I did enjoy B*** in Apt 23 but it seems to me that show will be short-lived), the CBS site (The Good Wife is amazing), MTV.com (I did watch Teen Wolf all the way through) and, er, other means (yes, all those great cable shows)… I tend to appreciate the high-quality production and, even more so, the “roominess” of British shows. By that, I mean the tendency to take more time to tell their stories. Camera shots are longer (aka scenes are longer), and emotional arcs are not whittled away (well, at least not all the time) to 5-line maximums (aka really damn quick) for characters to fall in love, become deadly enemies, untangle the gigantic conflagrations in the cosmos of their souls, etc. That generally doesn’t happen here in the US unless it’s cable and very rare at that (ahem, The Killing, though the Danish original is better), or God forbid, an independent movie.

I feel that a high proportion of UK dramas fill a manic-depressive need to analyze the state of English society – something US shows don’t feel a need to do to any close extent (for American society). Some shows are frenzied, Bacchalian spectacles (ie. Hustle and Hotel Babylon, where big piles of tosh get traded back and forth all episode, every episode, by bigger than life conmen, movie stars, nobility and spoiled royals); and others are painfully focused on the continuing degradation of English society from some Edwardian high point (ie. Luther, with its filmic palette of blues and grays and depraved serial killers in the infestation of slums and housing projects in the poorer neighborhoods of London). Their commonality rests in the dual worship and deriding of wealth and upper-class frivolity. Not unexpected: the continual struggle for class identity and the interactions between the haves and have-nots have been ample pools from which to draw drama, all the way back past Jonson and Shakespeare, past Chaucer, past some poor monk on the west coast of Ireland in the early 100s complaining about the nobles who buy their souls while the poor starve in cold and sin… currently, my favorite inner class struggle on TV is the straddling of the blue collar and high society worlds by a journalist who maintains an outward disdain for class in The Hour – but vaguely suffers from a psychosexual envy for its representatives.

I could go on, but I’m not really intending a social critique with this post. I was only supposed to be mentioning a few British shows I like to watch. And none of them are Downton Abbey.

The Hour is a much more entrancing coverage of the 1950s than Mad Men. Bleaker, more serious. Cooler. Conspiracy theories, espionage, journalism at the BBC, clash of the classes, the Suez crisis… and Romola Garai.

Black Mirror is a great spin on the Twilight Zone-type show. 3 episode Charlie Brooker show that covers the possible future, including our fixations on total and constant media coverage and entertainment and the dark places that it can bring us to. A pig even makes an appearance.

Anna Friel gets a lot of work with the BBC. Some boring shows, but Without You works. Husband dies in accidental car crash with a mysterious woman in the passenger seat. Wife disagrees and investigates. Friends think wife is delusional. Ooh, suspense. But it’s honestly played and the story can and does take a backseat to the grieving process of a widow who believes her husband was who she thought she was.

Four dudes go to Mallorca to celebrate their buddy’s retirement. He turns out to be a dick. And then dies. And they’re stuck cleaning up, clearing their names and getting home. Mad Dogs all the way.

BBC Sherlock lives in the modern-day. They make fun of Watson and Sherlock being much too clubby. Sherlock is a complete ass, but he’s tempered brilliantly by this production’s John Watson. And it’s better than the two Guy Ritchie flicks (though I admit those two were fun). Though Rachel MacAdams and Noomi Rapace…

Misfits. No show like it. Best superhero series on TV yet. Great all the way to the end of this past season… hopefully it continues being good. I’m sure it will: it got past Nathan Stewart-Jarrett leaving the show and that was a pretty massive cast change-up.

Honestly, the Hotel Babylon production designer on this show did an amazing job. Aside from that, the cast (and writers) did a fairly decent run depicting the classy hijinks of a high-end boutique hotel. The drama coming, of course, from having to cater to their rich and famous clients’ every need. Season 1 was best, but the following were still very interesting, if not only for the expensive fashion budget.

Hustle is an uneven show but when they do the right cons, it’s great. Plus, you can never get enough Kelly Adams. Robert Glenister does a great job as the fixer on the show, and he’s somewhat of an anchor – having been there the entire run of series.

Spooks is sadly done for, but great while it lasted. Well done espionage with some gritty realism thrown in, and some great betrayals. Sometimes overly melodramatic but usually well-written. Astonishing lack of blood… but perhaps that’s what is required for TV.

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Nicki Bluhm. Nneka.

Posted in Music on March 28th, 2012 by byronkho

Just got intro’d to Nicki Bluhm and her band. She’s fantastic with her producer/husband.

But also driving in the van with her crew.

Nneka at Johnny Brenda’s tonight! If I make it. Pool at Green St. Pub first.

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Brand New Mozart Single, That Ain’t Classy!

Posted in Music on March 28th, 2012 by byronkho

Apparently some guy found a new Mozart piece, written when the prodigal lad was 10 or 11, inside a notebook in his attic. The new number has a lot of notes, and is premiered by Florian Birsak. Voila – the Allegro Molto in C Major.

Classified’s new album has a ton of great songs. Including this classy number, which I found yesterday. Better than the other ones I thought were the bomb.

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A little bit of country.

Posted in Music on March 21st, 2012 by byronkho

I was put in the mood for country music with that bit of the Hunger Games soundtrack. Soon after that, I heard the Geico commercial for the umpteenth time and was motivated to actually find the song. It’s a good one.

I’m no square dancer – I’ve forgotten everything I learned in 8th grade. Yes, we actually had to learn how to do all the line and square dances plus the do-si-dos, and the cowgirls weren’t as pretty as they are on the Dukes of Hazzard, and… yeah, so I’ve forgotten it all. Then it’s a good thing that you don’t really need to remember all the dance steps to actually jam to some good Southern rock. All I gotta do is wear a wifebeater, have a mullet and clap my hands in such a manner:

I can be a little less embarrassed about liking some examples of the country genre when fellas like Reckless Kelly come along. His Wicked Twisted Road is just… amazing.

Then there’s moving over to alt country with Jason Isbell.

Those lovely dulcet tones of those beautiful Lovell sisters… when you stoppin by Philly again? From Larkin Poe’s upcoming album for Summer 2012, Thick as Thieves.

And last but not least, a more classic country artist singing about that which I feel very fondly about. Also, an amazing music video. Seriously.

Were any of these really unpalatable country numbers? No. I used to detest country for no really good reason as I never tried listening to much of it. True, I still don’t like listening to too much of it at a time, and it’s rare that I actually go on any country binges, but a little bit every now and then is warranted. Some of these guys got mad music skills, yo, so gotta have respect.

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Waxing poetic on Trayvon Martin.

Posted in Opinion on March 20th, 2012 by byronkho

The Trayvon Martin incident is so far a scandalous disgrace for Florida and for Sanford County. Unfortunately, their non-movement thus far is likely because George Zimmerman is (according to the evidence produced so far in the media) protected by law.

Florida and Sanford County law allows for an expansive Castle Doctrine interpretation that permits self-defense shootings not only in your castle, aka your home, but wherever you are. Florida law, as of 2005, authorizes the use of defensive force by anyone “who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be”, and that said person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” Forcible felonies include home-invasion robbery, burglary, and “any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.” Furthermore, said person can expect civil and criminal immunity if acting under that belief.

Meant to protect possible rape victims and battered wives, the law looks like it’s being twisted to defend vigilante murderers. Zimmerman did not act according to the Neighborhood Watch guidelines as he was carrying a weapon; he was following an individual who also had a right to be where he was; he was himself peeping into people’s homes and carrying on like somebody about to commit a possible felony; and finally, his victim didn’t seem to ask for or incite any part of the supposed self-defensive action until the point at which he was shot. Sounds like a vigilante murderer to me.

Rather luckily for Zimmerman, it’s impossible to claim that it wasn’t self-defense unless there was an actual physical witness – of which there aren’t any. The media reported a phone call from directly before the murder in which the victim implied he was being followed by his comments on the phone and to his attacker. The call ends with the phone being dropped on the ground during a struggle. A shot followed at some point after, since the victim was dead when the authorities arrived 5 minutes later. Now, it would make perfect sense that the kid was followed and murdered, but it is also perfectly possible that he lunged at Zimmerman at the moment of the struggle and Zimmerman was forced to shoot him to stop the attack. Thus, self-defense. But even if this was how it went down, Trayvon Martin would be perfectly in the right for responding as he did. A suspicious man following him and then turning a gun on him for no apparent reason… and since Martin had a right to be there, he could attempt to use deadly force to protect himself. In this way, both parties could be utilizing self-defense.

The federal government should step in, but in what respect? They would have to claim that he violated some federal statute, as otherwise it would remain Florida and Sanford County jurisdiction. The easiest one would be that there was racial profiling involved in a premeditated murder. I’m not sure how possible that is – given the fact that a lot of the public is outraged but the federal government hasn’t stepped in. I would assume that there are actual legal barriers, otherwise they would have done so already. Additional possibilities include not wanting to step on state jurisdictions and pissing off Florida, or perhaps angering the NRA for some reason. The NRA is probably antsy about how this case turns out, as how do you advocate gun rights when a legal gun-carrier murdered a minority using neighborhood protection as his defense? Sure, claim he was crazy… but you can’t always use that as an excuse for gun crime.

The one example that the local, state and federal government should look to in this situation is Berlin in the 1930s. Hundreds of Communists (among others) were murdered by civilian and police authorities, stating that their victims were disturbing the peace or about to commit some sort of violent crime despite being unarmed and reasonably nervous and suspicious after being followed for blocks or watched in their homes and workplaces. The crimes were followed by non-activity on the police’s part, claiming that prosecution was impossible given self-defense and “no” witnesses. What witnesses there may have been were intimidated (rather brutally and definitively in many cases) or ignored into silence, leading to easy open and shut cases. This case seems to be something similar – you let one case like this go by, and then it becomes a trend. Whether or not the authorities intend it to, they will have been guilty of legalizing extra-judicial murder and thus making it possible to become common and everyday.

(BTW, I am not a lawyer or law enforcement and this is just a layman’s view of the case so far. There may still be evidence that I don’t know about, and it is possible that authorities are implementing legal strategies as I type this.)
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Say Chance. Taylor Swift and Hunger Games.

Posted in Music on March 20th, 2012 by byronkho

Band of high schoolers out of Baltimore (and formerly California). Maddie is particularly friendly and personable - she was forthcoming about their glut of "sick days" from school in order to go on tour and how they would study for exams after shows in their hotel rooms. They hitched up with Eisley and Tallhart for their swing through the Philly area this month, and are continuing to do that with other bands touring the East Coast; their last big (section of) tour was with Dashboard Confessional. They have beautiful pop voices and a kickass guitarist, but they do need to put in some songs on their lineup that are more moderate in tone: they aim for loud volumes all the time! And perhaps a few songs that let them alternate singing so that they have different textures. They do the melody-harmony thing almost the whole way through their set, which is pretty but more interesting in smaller doses.

I had to include one more video, since it reminded me of the live basically-debut performance of “So High” that I was lucky enough to see at Penn when John Legend did a private concert on campus for Counterparts & friends. Pretty great cover. By the way, they are clear evidence that meeting other musicians on the Interwebs can translate to good touring bands – knowing your way around Garage Band and iVideo doesn’t mean you have the charisma for a live show.

DOWNLOAD: http://limelinx.com/files/b2806901ea72d6949b4a0928887b56f9

Everyone’s waiting for Hunger Games to hit theaters, though I’m strangely unexcited about it. I’m pretty sure they’re gonna understate the over-the-top fashion statements described in the book for something more 2012 palatable – and as far as I can tell from the trailer, that seems to be the case. But who cares about the fashion or a white-person Battle Royale (though hopefully much better…)? And the fact that Jennifer Lawrence seems to me much older than I see Katniss as… But whatever. It’s all about the music, duh! The soundtrack seems to be pretty cool; another winner from T-Bone Burnett and the diverse artists he was able to pull in on the project. The fact that the soundtrack is so Appalachian-inspired kind of gives me hope for the movie; I can see what parallels they may draw and I do believe that Appalachia makes for a good dystopia. Signal one: a quality folk number from… yes… Taylor Swift and folk/country duo the Civil Wars.

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New single from Amy Regan.

Posted in Music on March 15th, 2012 by byronkho

I’ve been to see Amy Regan a few times already on her swings through Philly. If you don’t know her, she’s a singer-songwriter out of New York who was featured in a Hertz commercial last year (below). She’s playing a gig at the Tin Angel with Sonja Sofya on Friday night, which I sadly cannot attend due to, well, being in Canada for the weekend. In any case, she let me know tonight that she’s also releasing a new album by early summer this year. Here’s one of her new singles: Haven’t Changed Yet.

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