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My music predictions

As a music fan, what do you see in store for 2011?  Here’s a list of my predictions/wishes:

1. U2’s Spider Man musical will never see the light of day
… Even if it does, it’s not going to break even

2. Ke$ha will be found dead, OD’ed on cocaine in a dumpster
… We can all hope at least

3. People will realize how talented Lauryn Hill is and how their inner college/high school self miss her
… Especially when the dumb ass in the previous entry pollutes the airwave

4. More Beattles stuff, like concert DVD’s, even more video games after MJ’s death

5. Britney re-brands herself as a country singer
… Following the buzz of Gwyenth Paltrow’s buzz in Country Strong

6. Following the success of NKOTBSB and Lauryn, more nostalgia tours and bands making a comeback
… like 98LFO-Town and ChumbaAqua

7. The Ministry of Sound puts all Nickelback fans on a boat and deports them to Canada

8. Paramore’s Hayley Williams will go solo
… Produced by Bruno Mars

9. Teenage girls will continue to be dumb as a, well, teenage girl and continue listening to Katy Perry and Justin Bieber

10. More double consonant bands in the indie world after xx and jj
… My bet is on pp or cc, and it’ll probably be another lo-fi band

11. JT will make some new music

12. Fox cancels Glee
… b/c the execs @ Fox are bunch of dumbasses

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Sorry for not posting the links the past two weeks.  I had my GMAT to deal w/ and last Sunday was my birthday 10/10/10.  I just didn’t have the time.

11 ways money can buy you happiness – CNN Money
What happened to hookers and cocaine?

The dim sum guide for dim sum virgins – dimsumpop.com   [infographic] [dim sum] [food]

10 things CEOs need to know about design – JESS3   [business] [design]

How to choose the right colors for your brand – Inc.   [business] [design]

Facebook brand pages pay off – AdWeek   [branding]

Top five leadership mistakes and what to do about them – Entrepreneur.com   [leadership]
This is also why Donald Trump is a shitty leader

7 things you really don’t need to take a photo of – The Oatmeal   [photography] [humor]

Persuasion tactics of effective salespeople – Harvard Business Review   [sales]
kind of common sense if you’ve been properly trained in sales

A salesperson’s seven deadly sins – Harvard Business Review   [sales]
More interesting article from the Steve W. Martin

Four things VCs look for in a star-up – Entrepreneur.com [VC] [Start-up]
The Four M’s

5 steps to better photography – Digital Photography School   [photography]

Famous skulls – artnet

Best photography iPhone Apps – Travel Gear Blog   [photography]

How to get more out of your trip – Lonely Planet Blog   [travel]
By far the best set of travel tips. except #25. Seriously, throw your guidebook away.

Five places for lovers of art deco to visit – BrilliantTrips  [travel] [art]
Mmm… Valencia

No sleep in Reykjavik – Frommers   [music] [travel]
Iceland Airwaves Fest combines two of my favorite things: music and Iceland (duh), and it’s not just Sigur Ros playing 24/7

10 seminal books for world travelers – Flavorwire   [travel]
Wow, I feel dumb. I haven’t even heard of some of these books before

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Inspired by the article I came across on Lonely Planet, we decided to hit up some breweries/pubs before heading out to Red Rocks.

Matthew is a big fan of whiskeys.  I’m not as knowledgeable.  I’ll order a Makers on the rocks when I want to just have something to sip on without going crazy when I go out w/ friends.  Coincidentally he ordered a Stranahan’s whiskey, a local Colorado small batch whiskey for me and we decided to hit it up first b/c they open at 10am.

white oakWe were the only ones on the tour so essentially it was a private tour.  Our tour guide was cool and spent more time just chatting w/ us, tasting, and smelling the whiskey.  I definitely have more appreciation for whiskey now.  It was interesting to learn that they char the inside of the wooden barrel and they’re only allowed to use it once.  Then they sell it to companies like Oskar Blues (more on that later) or other wineries and that’s where they get some of the flavor sometimes.

They had a set of different glasses with some whiskey in each.  We tried smelling the whiskeys from each and you truly notice that the glass makes a difference.  Stranahan’s makes their own special glass for $18, whether it really makes a difference and if the $18 is worth it or not, well… you’re just gonna have to go visit and judge for yourself.

We stopped by Vine St. Pub to get some brunch and tried some of their brews.  This one is not on the Lonely Planet article but Matthew’s recommendation.  I wasn’t too impressed w/ their breakfast burrito.  They were barely bigger than the ones you get at McDonald’s.  They have this Java Porter, which is awesome b/c it has coffee in it.  Even me who tends to shy away from porters loved that one.  It was nice to see all the participants in the Tour de Fat w/ their crazy costumes that were gathering at City Park not so far away.

I got a 24-hr membership of these bike rental in Denver you can pick up and return at a different location.  This is the first time I’ve seen this in the States and I was SOOOO happy to see this.  If you were lucky you’d get one w/ a bell!  Overjoyed, we rode over to LoDo and stopped by Breckenridge

Not too impressed w/ Breckenridge Brewery.  I’ll be honest as well that my stomach wasn’t up for all the beer we were planning to consume.  We tried both the regular ($8) and small batch ($9) flight.  The 471 IPA from the small batch was my favorite.  I know a lot of people talks about the Vanilla Porter but it just wasn’t that memorable for me.

Our next stop was Great Divide.  I wasn’t feeling very “hoppy” before so I did a little “puke n’ rally” to empty out some of the contents of my stomach (I know, it’s gross and possibly TMI).  I had tried their Titan IPA the night before and was looking forward to trying some more of their delicious brews.  First four samples is on the house, the next four is only $5.  They have some really unique brews.  The Samurai is unfiltered and taste a little funky to me; I didn’t like it too much.  The Wild Raspberry Ale is a little girly.  I liked the Yeti, Hercules Double IPA, and Hades.

After watching some of the UT game at Big Game where they have this 30ft projection screen w/ three games on at the same time we head out to Red Rocks.  I was really there more for Ghostland Observatory.  There were total seven of us in the group and we snuck in four flasks.  I’ve seen some pictures of Red Rocks but to see it in person is just an eye opener.  I hate how this sounds but I’ve seen quite a bit of the world and it takes something really special to take my breath away.  Red Rocks is essentially a natural surround sound system.  You see Denver off in the distance.  There is a rock wall behind the stage and two more big flippin’ rocks in the back to bounce sound off.  You see this and you have to say that God must have been a music lover as well.

I had no idea the concert was going to last as long as it did.  Half of our group left at intermission.  Yeah, they had INTERMISSION at a concert!  That was a first for me (plus they played Local Natives over the speakers, whom I adore).  STS9 didn’t stop playing until 1am!  I got separate from my friends who went to the restroom and never seen again.  They were both drunk and stoned out of their minds.  Thank goodness I found them back at where the car was parked.

Well, they also had this other kid w/ them, who was like 17-yrs-old and got separated from his sister.  Somehow the kid decided to get in our car and try to meet up w/ his sister at a place that’s easier to access.  His phone was dead and we had chargers in our car.  My friends were just messing w/ him the entire time… poor kid.  I bet he thought we were going to kill him.

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  • 10 remote island vacations – Frommer’s  [travel]
    I usually prefer Lonely Planet over Frommer’s, but this one is actually pretty cool
  • Favorite Bangkok dishes – Austin Bush Photography  [food, travel]
    Man, I miss Thailand. I have to say, my knowledge of Thai cuisine is somewhat limited to tom yum goong, pad thai and jok
  • 20 meals that are worth the trip aborad – Journey, etc  [food, travel]
    I can understand the pork bun in NYC since they’re talking about Momofuku and maybe even tapas in Miami, but blini and caviar in Lima, Peru?? big head scratcher there…
  • Entrepreneurs who launched companies for under $150 – WSJ.com  [entrepreneurship]
    pretty inspiring. I like the DC food tour guy the best I think
  • Why working at home is both horrible and awesome – The Oatmeal  [funny, entrepreneurship]
    This is hilarious because it is so true
  • Is Facebook worth $33 billion? – DailyFinance  [business, social media, trading]
    This might surprise some people but I’d short Facebook, especially if it’s gonna take them until 2012 to go public
  • Best Trails – National Geographic Adventure  [travel]
    I’ve done 0 out of 30 of these trails.  I should get cracking…
  • College in America [infographic]
    70.7% of Asians between age of 25 to 35 has a college degree.  That’s pretty nuts.
  • What to learn this school year [business]
    By Guy Kawasaki; I especially like #4 to 6.
  • Secret to happiness – Discovery Health
    Spoiler: It’s what you always thought it might be but would never admit
  • Fisheye, macro, and wide angle camera phone lenses – Photojojo  [photography]
    Maybe if I had an iPhone 4.
  • The music of “Inception” exposed – NPR All Songs Considered Blog  [music, movie]
    Big fan of Edith Piaf, but even I had no idea what Zimmern did to mirror the concepts in the film
  • Why Jim Keyes is one of the worst CEO’s in the world – Los Angeles Times  [business]
    I’ve met Jim Keyes before and I was not impressed. If he had stayed at 7-Eleven longer I think he would’ve drove that into the ground. Either he’s really worthless or he makes terrible career choices
  • FRIED BEER at the Texas State fair this year – The Dallas Morning News  [food]
    Goes great w/ your fried salad
  • 40 cool business cards to enliven your creativity – SloDive
    I just recently designed my own business cards… not as creative/expensive as some of these though
  • 10 useful iPhone keyboard shortcuts, tips and tricks – Mashable
    You need iOS4 for some of these
  • INEBRIATION (Inception parody/spoof)
    My favorite parody so far
  • Look at this f**king hipster, dinosaur edition [funny]
    again, funny b/c it’s true, especially that American Spirits dinosaur holding a PBR
  • Who said it: Bush or Obama? -Howstuffworks.com 

    I got a 7/10
  • Lady Gaga @ Iowa St – YouTube
    Thanks for trying Iowa St. I’ve been to your campus, it sucks
  • Two days in Reykjavik – Lonely Planet [travel]
    Technically three days.  Pretty spot on according to my Icelandic friends.  Wanna go so bad.  And kidnap a puffin through airport security like someone tried to do w/ a tiger pup in Thailand
  • Riding the rails in India – Lonely Planet  [travel]
    My Indian friends agree on the ticket booking craziness but this article only skims the surface and a little on the touristy side
  • Stove for the 21st century! – Noob.us [gadget, food]
    Don’t even tell me what the retail price is. I might pass out
  • Insect eggs – National Geographic [photography]
    done w/ the help of a scanning electron microscope

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My Leaks

HOLY CRAP, I just got my hands on the new Arcade Fire and Ra Ra Riot that’s scheduled to release in August.  I’ve been waiting for so long on these two albums and I simply could not wait any longer.

The new Arcade Fire is called The Suburb, which makes me think of their album Funeral and all the different tracks with the title Neighborhood in them.  I’ve gotta say, I still like Funeral better.  I’m not a music editor or that good with adjectives; I’m just a fan that does have some musical training.  First impression was just that Funeral is more complex and packs a lot more punch.  Don’t get me wrong, and definitely don’t stone me to death for saying that, but The Suburb is still an EXCELLENT album.  It just sounds more cleaned-up.  It features the string instruments more whereas on Funeral it was the drums that stood out the most to me.

I got the new Ra Ra Riot from my friend who’s a publicist.  My love affair w/ Ra Ra Riot goes way back.  I first saw them during SXSW one year, in this shit hole of an empty lot somewhere in East Austin.  I immediately thought they had something special, esp with the violin and cello.  And I’m not just saying that b/c I have a crush on Alexandra Lawn.  BTW, cut 6 of the album “You and I Know” features Alexandra on vocal.

Their live shows have so much energy, so light and airy it’s like you’re bouncing on cloud.  When they switch to a slow pace song that’s when you really start to appreciate the harmony this band puts out.

I’m really happy for Ra Ra Riot.  This is their third album now.  It’s like seeing your kid grow up (not that I have a kid, but I imagine that’s what it would be like) and accomplish all you thought they would.  Seeing them open for Death Cab for Cutie, seeing them again later at my bar The Parish when I was still associated with the place, and now I can’t wait for them to come to Austin in October.  I tried to inquire about getting them to play at my birthday party this year (Oct. 10, 2010 or 10/10/10) but they were unavailable.

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My Uninspiring

Austin City Limits line-up was announced on Tuesday.  I put off writing about it b/c I didn’t want it to be a knee-jerk reaction.  The best word I can come up with to describe the line-up is: uninspiring.  If you’ve been to a music festival, a truly great one, like I did back in ’05 at ACL or this year’s Coachella, you know how great it is to get to see all your favorite bands perform at the same place on the same day.  (Of course, you won’t be able to see ALL of them b/c sometime they play at the same time)

Let me first say that I understand.  I understand that Austin’s music demography is different from that of Chicago or L.A.  I understand a lot of younger music fans in Austin have lower income b/c they’re either still in school or their avg salary is lower.  The company that puts on ACL, C3, is simply customizing to fit their audience.  I understand.  But I don’t like it.  This simple economic and marketing fact underlies all the problems I have with ACL for the past half decade.  Unless all these 40-plus-year-olds-in-lawn-chairs suddenly died of old age or the 20-somethings early 30-somethings make a lot more money I don’t see any changes.

Here are some problems I have with ACL in no particular order:

  1. The weak headliners: To suit the old dudes who cling on to dreams of Woodstock yet are afraid to break any hips, the headliner is usually outdated like Windows 95.  This year it’s The Eagles.  Somebody go look up for me when “Hotel California” was topping the charts… I’m too angry to do that.  Give me someone that’s relevant.  TODAY.  Even DMB and Pearl Jam last year was borderline history.  I have never seen people putting their hands up in the air and waving them like they don’t care to flippin’ Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
  2. The lawn chairs: Yes, I said it.  The lawn chairs.  Ban the fucking lawn chairs.  You’re taking up space for us true music fans that want to get closer to our favorite bands and bounce, jump, and dance.  If you’re gonna sit, sit on your couch and watch the PBS broadcast version of ACL.
  3. Too late in the year: Honestly, the 2nd tier bands on the line-up is good this year, if you’ve been deaf the past year.  I believe even an average music fan has gone to a couple of concerts this year and already seen some of the bands.  I love Local Natives, I really do.  Even I don’t really want to see them for I think the 8th time this year, not to mention another rendition of Spoon’s scripted “The Underdog” or The XX’s Snooze Fest “VCR.”  The XX is good music, but they. are. so. meeelllloooowww.  It’s totally unsuitable for music fests.  They drag on your energy.  Plus they’re so green and have no showmanship whatsoever.
  4. The price: My 1st ACL, which was 2003, I believe single day tickets were only $35.  That’s just 7 subway sandwiches!  Practically the tickets have gone up $10 each year and it’s at $85 now for a single day pass.  Mind you Pitchfork in Chicago is only $40 and Bumbershoot in Seattle is only like $25 or so.  It’s not the MOST expensive music festival.  I think Outside Lands in San Francisco is what I can remember to be the most expensive.  This $10/yr increase is clearly faster than normal inflation rate, yet the line-ups have not gotten better.

Do the audience dictate what the line-up should be or should the production company and other gate keepers dictate what music you should consume?  You can categorize marketing as either employ a push or pull strategy.  Pull strategy is where the audience tells you what they want and you go out there to fill that need, while in a push strategy you are creating the need yourself and guiding the consumer to it.  If only I could be one of the gate keepers and put on acts I think people will really enjoy.  And if you’re too old and don’t have the energy that you prefer to sit on your ass listening to Carolyn Wonderland, then fuck you, don’t come.  Of course, I can just hear some of you out there saying exactly that: “if you don’t like the line-up, then don’t go!” You’re right, I won’t.

Lastly, just to clarify.  I’m not ripping on a specific band.  I happen to like The XX and Carolyn Wonderland, but there’s a place and time for everything.  I simply don’t think they belong in a major music festival like ACL.

ACL, I know you can be great.  I have seen it.  I’m only critical b/c I care.  Please do better next year.

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My Coachella

One of the items on my music bucket list for a while now is Coachella.  I’ve always heard about it and people talking about it as well as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza as the big major music festivals.  Living in Austin is convenient to go to Austin City Limit and SXSW and this year I decided to venture outside of the 512 to check out Coachella.

I’m w/ a group of friends  of about 10 others, going the hotel route.  Another friend is going w/ the camping route.  I’m gonna quickly write about some reactions/surprises/lessons, positive and negative, about my experience so far.

  • Palm Springs: Retirement community.  Should’ve expect stores and restaurants to close a lot earlier.  The mountain in the background is really stunning.  Not a view you see everyday.
  • Driving to Coachella: I heard advices for people not to drive b/c it’s just a huge cluster fuck but someone in our group did a little research and found a quick way to get there
  • Empire Polo Club: The grass is a beaut.  I suppose they have a bigger grass upkeep budget than the City of Austin.  There’s also a lot of non-music stuff around or just acts that weren’t on the main billed stages.
  • Lineup: Flat. Out. Awesome. It’s a lot more diverse than the ACL target audience
  • Schedule: I had no idea that they play to 1am.  I believe ACL usually wraps up around 10.
  • Logistics: My theory is that the mess on day one was b/c of the fact Coachella decided to sell only 3-day passes this year. Rumors that some scanners were broken and shut down an entrance.  In the end they didn’t even have enough wristbands for everybody and we stood in a line that was at least a mile long (not exaggerating) for 3 hours.  More on this later.

Word(s) of the Day: Bottleneck  and Clusterfuck, as in Coachella did not clearly identify the possible bottlenecks and lead to a huge clusterfuck of people confused and pissed off standing out in the heat.  (Also spelled as two words, cluster fuck)

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