Dec 31, 2010

My Blackberry is not working!

Are you up for some British humour? I wish I could have access to more of it on a daily basis. This fruity sketch just aired on the BBC program The One Ronnie. Great work by Ronnie Corbett and Harry Enfield.

Conan O'Brien @ Google

After his visit to the Twitter offices, Conan O'Brien also paid a visit to Google headquearters in Mountain View on May 5, 2010, during his unofficial Silicon Valley tour to promote his other and official tour: the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour. This tour consisted on 30 shows and started in Eugene, Oregon, on April 12. It ended in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 14.

The title of the tour is a reference to the 2010 Tonight Show host and timeslot conflict which resulted in O'Brien resigning from his position as host of The Tonight Show in January 2010. O'Brien's settlement with NBC barred him from appearing on television as the host of a program until September 2010, but it did not bar him from performing before a live audience in a concert setting.

I've just learned about this tour by chance -Conan O'Brien is not that big here in Europe and we don't get much input about what he does if we don't look for it on purpose. But anyway, this show at Google headquerters is fun. Conan shows off his comic and improvisational talents in front of the so-called Googlers, and although I'm not a big fan of O'Brien he made me laugh with this. 

Dec 30, 2010

London sewermen's plea

Thames Water is trying to persuade Londoners not to pour fat down their plugholes. And in their campaign to educate people about sewer abuse they have come up with this original way to send their message. Here, the chaps who have to deal with the "fatbergs" that form as a result of this delinquency deliver their plea in a song.

There is more to it at the Thames Water website.

Dec 28, 2010

Vintage NYC subway ride.

It's about New York City today.
Here’s a video that dates from 1949 of the NYC subway coming from the archives of the New York Transit Museum. It's really interesting to see how the subway was in those years. Enjoy the vintage ride.

Blizzard in NYC: December 27, 2010

Even after watching these spectacular images it's hard to imagine what the New Yorkers are going through at the other side of the Atlantic. That's a lot of snow. And right below, an amazing timelapse of the blizzard with a camera taking a photo once every five minutes during 20 hours:


Dec 26, 2010

An American Civil War message is deciphered 147 years later.


As strange stories go, this is a good historical one, for those of you who are interested in history out there. The BBC has released this piece of news telling how a glass vial from the Civil War has been opened, revealing a coded message to the desperate Confederate commander in Vicksburg on the day the Mississippi city fell to Union forces 147 years ago, and how a former CIA codebreaker has cracked it's meaning. With a bit of extra research, this whole story has unfolded:

The piece of paper with a message for a Confederate leader was rolled up, tied with string and sealed along with a bullet in a glass vial. It remained a mystery for 147 years, until a CIA codebreaker cracked the message after a museum had the vial opened. The dispatch offered no hope to doomed Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, as it basically said: Reinforcements are not on the way. The encrypted, 6-line message was dated July 4, 1863, the date of Pemberton's surrender to Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Siege of Vicksburg in what historians say was a turning point midway into the Civil War, and it came from a Confederate commander on the west side of the Mississippi River across from Pemberton. 

Lt. General John C. Pemberton,
Confederate Commander of the
Army of Vicksburg.
The bottle, less than 2 inches in length, had sat undisturbed at the museum since 1896. It was a gift from Capt. William A. Smith, of King George County, who served during the Vicksburg siege. A retired CIA code breaker, David Gaddy, was contacted, and he cracked the code in several weeks. The code is called the 'Vigenere cipher,' a centuries-old encryption in which letters of the alphabet are shifted a set number of places so an 'a' would become a 'd' — essentially, creating words with different letter combinations. The code was widely used by Southern forces during the Civil War, according to Civil War Times Illustrated. The source of the message was likely Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, of the Texas Division, who had under his command William Smith, the donor of the bottle. The full text of the message to Pemberton reads:

'Gen'l Pemberton: You can expect no help from this side of the river. Let Gen'l Johnston know, if possible, when you can attack the same point on the enemy's lines. Inform me also and I will endeavor to make a diversion. I have sent some caps (explosive devices). I subjoin a despatch from General Johnston.'

The last line seems to suggest a separate delivery to Pemberton would be the code to break the message, and the date of the message clearly indicates that this person has no idea that the city was about to be surrendered.

Battle of Vicksburg: Assault on Fort Hill.
The Johnston mention in the dispatch is Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, whose 32,000 troops were encamped south of Vicksburg and prevented from assisting Pemberton by Grant's 35,000 Union troops. Pemberton had held out hope that Johnston would eventually come to his aid. The message was dispatched during an especially terrible time in Vicksburg. Grant was unsuccessful in defeating Pemberton's troops on two occasions, so the Union commander instead decided to encircle the city and block the flow of supplies or support. Many in the city resorted to eating cats, dogs and leather. Soup was made from wallpaper paste.
After a six-week siege, Pemberton relented. Vicksburg, so scarred by the experience, refused to celebrate July 4 for the next 80 years.

And what is the significance of the bullet in the bottom of the bottle? Experts think that the messenger was instructed to toss the bottle into the river if Union troops intercepted his passage. The weight of the bullet would have carried the corked bottle to the bottom.

For Pemberton, the bottle is symbolic of his lost cause: the bad news never made it to him. The Confederate messenger probably arrived to the river's edge and saw a U.S. flag flying over the city, figured out what was going on, knew that his mission was pointless and turned back.

For more on the battle of Vicksburg follow this link.

The Business of War.

Insightful video about what war really is about these days: money. Worth taking a look. Maybe someone should start wondering what their government is about too:

Dec 17, 2010

Kevin Smith talks about "Dogma"

Kevin Smith, other than being a good filmmaker, is a funny guy. And not only in his movies but also in those speeches that he sometimes  gives in American universities. I didn't get something like that when I was over there. Just got some football player from the Minnesota Vikings who went there to play the guitar and sing some gospel songs instead of talking about his job or his life or something. 

Anyway, we have seen him before when he talked about his role in the never-made Superman movie which was to be directed by Tim Burton. That was really good. And you can't miss this one either. In this video, one of the students of the campus asks him about what was the effect of Smith's Catholic upbringing on his movies, specially on Dogma. This is what happens:

Great anti-theft signs

Gotta love the English language sometimes.

















Dec 16, 2010

Water drop filmed in 10,000 frames per second

This is really something worth seeing. The Discovery Channel, in its program "Invisible Worlds in the Water", have offered us this little outtake showing the work of the guys at MIT.

What they did was filming something impossible to see in human time: a drop of water falling in a shot taken with a powerful camera at 10,000 frames per second. The human eye and brain can only perceive about 25 frames per second, so that is a lot. 

Well, you haven't probably seen something apparently as simple as this action shot in such a way before, so here it is:

Dec 14, 2010

Snowfall causes Metrodome stadium roof collapse in Minneapolis

A fun fact about Minnesota: It snows. A lot. 

I lived close to the Twin Cities for a while although I never got to see one of the Minnesota Vikings games. I bought some Vikings shot glasses though. And pennants, to give my room a more American college look.
Had I gone to see one of the games, it would have been to this place: the Metrodome stadium. This stadium is located in downtown Minneapolis, and even though it is 100% Minnesotan it has been unable to withstand the latest snowfall that the city had to bear.

I'm not an expert in stadiums' rooftops, but I don't really think that an inflatable Teflon-coated fibreglass roof is the best or the most lasting structure that you could choose, especially with the climate that they have for most of the year. But you know the Americans and how cheap they build..... love you guys :-)
Anyway, this is what the cameras inside the place recorded when the snowfall weighed down the roof, and although initially the snow caused the roof to collapse in on itself, then it tore and the snow flooded into the football pitch. It's quite a view. 

Dec 13, 2010

Top Gear Christmas Special Trailer

It's been a while since I saw the last Top Gear season and I thought I was a little tired of it and that after fifteen of them I probably wouldn't bother to see any other episode of this show... but oh my God!! I just saw this trailer and it all came back. I remember why I couldn't stop laughing and the things they did were never really getting old.

Gotta love these crazy brits!!! This special has to do with Christmas I guess, but It's clear that after the Polar Special, the Vietnam, Botswana and US specials, the Winter Olympics and the crossing of the English Channel using home-made amphibious cars, it looks like they've done it again.

After all they are the guys who put a nun into a monster truck, and now they.... well... the Three Wise Men... just take a look at the video and see for yourself. They are back.


UPDATE: After the Christmas Double Bill, Clarkson introduces a little appetizer of Series 16 for us to taste. You don't wanna miss this:

Dec 12, 2010

You know you have lived in Spain when...

It's interesting to see how foreigners see our country (in this case Spain, which is mine) when they visit. On the net there are some sites that have been written by people from other countries who have been living here for a while, and some of the things that call their attention about us are hilarious to read. Especially when we see how we are and what we do from a different perspective. I don't know who was the original author of this specific list because it can be found in a number of places and there is never an original reference to be found. In any case, take a look at these examples and enjoy! And if you think you can add up some other examples just post a comment :-)


You know you’ve lived in spain when….
  1. You think adding lemonade, fanta or even coke to red wine is perfectly acceptable. Especially at lunch time.
  2. You can’t get over how early bars & clubs shut back home - surely they’re shutting just as you should be going out?
  3. You aren’t just surprised that the Spanish plumber / decorator / electrician has turned up on time, you’re surprised he turned up at all.
  4. You think it’s fine to comment on everyone’s appearance. And to openly stare at strangers.
  5. Not giving every new acquaintance dos besos seems so rude.
  6. You’re shocked by people getting their legs out at the first hint of sun - surely they should wait until at least late June?
  7. On msn you sometimes type ‘jajaja’ instead of ‘hahaha’
  8. You’re amazed when Spanish TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.
  9. You’re not surprised that the Spanish TV programme info doesn’t match with what is actually being shown, unless it is “Prensa Rosa”.
  10. You forget to say please when asking for things - you implied it in your tone of voice, right?
  11. You know what a pijo / pija is and how to spot one.
  12. Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: ‘bueno,’ ‘coño,’ ‘vale,’ ‘venga,’ ‘pues nada’...
  13. You know how to eat boquerones.
  14. You know the difference between gambas, gambones, cigalas, langostinos, etc.
  15. You know the difference between jamón pata negra and jamón de York, and you prefer the first.
  16. You eat lunch after 2pm and would never even think of having your evening meal before 9.
  17. You know that after 2pm there’s no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.
  18. You know you must take two days off when you have to do any official paperchasing, for cars, residence, etc.
  19. You know that those astronomical prices they’re talking about are actually in pesetas, and what that means in euros.
  20. If anyone insults your mother, they better watch out…
  21. You know how to change a bombona.
  22. It’s not rude to answer the intercom to your flat by asking ‘Quien?’(or maybe that was just my flatmate…)
  23. You don’t accept beer that’s anything less than ice-cold.
  24. You know Bimbo isn’t a slutty woman, it’s a make of ‘pan de molde’ (which, incidentally, isn’t mouldy)
  25. You know the difference between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao, pollo and polla, estar hecho polvo and echar un polvo...and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!
  26. On some Sunday mornings you have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.
  27. Floors in certain bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a bin?!
  28. You know ensaladilla rusa has nothing to do with Russia.
  29. The doctor says you are constipado you don’t go and buy ExLax.
  30. You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria José, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion…
  31. You know that ‘ahora’ doesn’t really mean now.
  32. When you make arrangements to meet friends at 3, the first person turns up at 3.30…if you’re lucky!
  33. When women think that clear bra straps are in fact invisible.
  34. When it’s totally normal for every kitchen to have a deep-fat fryer but no kettle.
  35. Te cagas en la leche….
  36. To avoid that cheap Eristoff vodka you have to ask for ‘un esmirnoff’.
  37. You think J&B and Ballantines are OK to drink.
  38. When you know what a guiri is and have been called one.
  39. Blonde girls actually start to think their name is ‘rubia’.
  40. If something is great, it’s ‘de puta madre’.
  41. You can eat up to 5 times a day - first breakfast, 2nd breakfast around 11.30, almuerzo, merienda, cena.
  42. You know the jingles for Los Cuarenta Principales, M80, Onda Zero, etc.
  43. If you see someone wearing a T-shirt with something written on it in English, you can almost guarantee it won’t make sense.
  44. When you go into a bank/bakery etc, it’s standard practice to ask ‘Quien es la ultima?’
  45. When you have the habit of answering the above question 'Ahora es Usted'.
  46. Who needs a dryer when you have a washing line outside the window of your apartment?
  47. You are more likely to call your friends tio/a, nena, chaval, machoor even tronco than their real name.
  48. You answer the phone by saying ‘Yes’. Or even ¿Diga?
  49. You prefer UHT milk.
  50. You prefer all the above to the way they do things back home.

Interesting pieces of British journalism.

Miracles happen in Norwich.

Careful if you go hot-tubbing in Edimburgh.

Surrey looks like an exciting place to live.

Top Stories on The Telegraph

What's baffling the experts in Streatham?

Place your bets.

If you are in New York this month...

...you might feel transported to the 1930s if you go to the M train platform any Sunday before December ends. 

The reason for that comes from the decision of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.) of taking out its vintage steel subway cars along the M line from Manhattan's Second Avenue stop to Queens Plaza. Charles Seton, M.T.A. spokesperson, says the historic eight-car trains, which were made by American Car and Foundry between 1932 and 1940, haven't been run since 1977. "It has wicker seats, ceiling fans, which won't be in use this time of year," says Seton. "And everybody seems to love 'em—the people who remember them and the people who have never seen them before." 

However, the subway trains are not the only vehicles that the M.T.A. is taking out this month. As we can read in their official web site, The Vintage Subway and Bus Fleet, they will also be running old-school diesel buses above ground on weekdays in all five boroughs this month. The buses were made by General Motors and Flexible Corporation in the '50s and '60s. As you can see in the pictures below, those old buses look great and are a nice treat to have these days. It's a different way to cruise the city, feeling oneself back in those years.


I don't know if something like this happens in different places as well (I know that sometimes Metro de Madrid and Cercanías Renfe take out and show their old trains as an exposition but they don't take them into the regular lines) but it's something that most people would find enjoyable for some days, maybe on weekends and different days at times with less traffic. 
Have you heard of a similar initiative happening somewhere else?

Dec 3, 2010

Gene Simmons Family Jewels.

I had heard about this TV show before, but just some mentions about it that didn't really call my attention. As far as I know there is no TV station that broadcasts Gene Simmons Family Jewels over here in Spain so I didn't know much about it. Well, now I know. And it's bad. 

I've never been a Kiss fan anyway. I find their music too soft and my brain isn't ever able to make a connection between their looks (which are awesome) and those girlie ballads. I know that they are really successful but I can't really understand why, they should be playing some real heavy metal in my view. But what the hell, that's my opinion and I respect it if you like them. However, I find their leader and bassist Gene Simmons a peculiar guy, one of those "rock legends" whom true rock legends make fun of (jump to minute 2:45). And he has actually copied a format that Ozzy Osbourne made popular: bring a lot of cameras into a rock/metal star that's famous for being eccentric, follow him and his family everywhere and make a show out of it while embarrasing his family, fans and friends forever. You know man, I can't really picture Steve Harris, John Petrucci or even James Hetfield doing something like this. Although I'm curious as to how the houses of guys like these look like.

Apparently, The Osbournes caught someone's eye and they decided that such a show with Gene Simmons in it would also be a success. Well, it looks that they were right because there are already several seasons of it, and it's selling on DVD as well. This is what this show looks like. Do you already feel embarrased? Because I do:

Nov 28, 2010

The Independent Interviews Lemmy

In an interview called Growing Old Disgracefully, the British newspaper The Independent talks to Lemmy Kilmister from the band Motörhead coinciding with the release of the new album of the band: The World is Yours. The interview is a bit long but it's fun to read and also insightful about some aspects of Lemmy's life. Here's the full thing, and it's an appetizer for us in Spain who are going to see Motörhead live next December 19th:

You hear him before you see him, the tell-tale clink of ice on glass, a glass that rarely leaves his right hand. In it, always the same concoction: whisky and Coke. It sees him through the day and keeps him – mercifully, as his entourage down the years will confirm – mostly nice and manageably mellow. You smell him next, the moment a roadie opens the door to the soundproofed rehearsal room to wheel out the drum-kit case. It's an overpowering whiff of nicotine that quickly brings tears to the eyes. And then, through the smoke, you at last see him, sat on a chair, the only static thing in a room full of activity, and you realise it couldn't ever have been anybody else.
It is early on a November evening in an industrial part of north London, a stone's throw from Pentonville prison. Lemmy is winding down for the day. He has been here for several hours now, in preparation for Motörhead's forthcoming European tour, and running through the new songs until he has them down pat. His band are in attendance, of course, but frankly it is difficult to know who, among the roadies packing away gear and getting ready to leave, ' might be the guitarist or the drummer. To the untrained eye, all heavy rockers look the same. Motörhead may always have been a band, but Lemmy was its sole focal point.
The man himself takes a puff on his cigarette as I approach, then looks up. In response to my anodyne greeting of "How are you?", he chuckles and says, obliquely, "I can take it or leave it, son." Up close, he does rather look his age; he'll be 65 on Christmas Eve. The eyes are rheumy and craggy, the skin pallid and slack, the most famous warts in rock (two of them, both on the left cheek) as pronounced as distended nipples. His voice is a hoarse croak, but despite the ravages of time, he still cuts a formidable presence. Fast and reckless living, perpetuated over decades, has somehow not killed him. And if it does some day soon, he later suggests, "I'm ready for it." But for now at least, he remains a prime example of heavy-metal magnificence, hirsute and black-clad and, even in weary exhaustion, robustly lascivious. "I've always had a way with a certain kind of girl," he will say. The phrase "lock up your daughters" could have been invented for him.
Motörhead have a new album out. It is called The Wörld is Yours, and by the strictures of music law, it should be rubbish – little more than a pale imitation of all that has come before it. Bizarrely, however, it isn't. It's actually pretty great, a record of heads-down, furiously delivered juggernaut rock; Lemmy venting his spleen with as much teeth-gnashing ferocity as he ever did. This time, he takes to task the recession ("Brotherhood of Man"), which, incidentally, he believes is little more than a conspiracy to make bankers richer still; women who have wronged him ("Bye Bye Bitch"); and his own mortality ("I Know How to Die"). When Johnny Cash sang about the imminence of death, he did so in a lugubrious, poignant whisper. Lemmy hollers it from the rooftops.
"In your twenties, you think you are immortal," he says. "In your thirties, you hope you are immortal. In your forties, you just pray it doesn't hurt too much, and by the time you reach my age, you become convinced that, well, it could be just around the corner. Do I think about death a lot? It's difficult not to when you're 65, son."
This doesn't mean he is about to take life any easier. Oh no. Motörhead will tour Europe until Christmas and, he hopes, well into the new year. What else is he supposed to do – retire? "Can't see that happening, can you?" he says, emitting a low guttural laugh. "This is how my life was always meant to take place: in the back of a tour bus somewhere, a girl I've never met before in my lap, and who will be gone by morning. It's how I live. It suits me."
Lemmy, to no one's great surprise, is not his real name. (It's a nickname prompted by his early habit of always asking "lend me a fiver?") He was born Ian Kilmister in Stoke-on-Trent in 1945, the son of a vicar who abandoned him when he was just three months old. He would eventually be reunited with his father 25 years later. "Nasty little weasel," was his summation. He grew up with his mother on a holiday resort in North Wales, an only child content in his solitude. Except in summer, when the holiday resort burst into life once more. It was here that he found his true calling in life. And it wasn't music.
"Women," he clarifies. "Girls always did loom large in my life. Every summer, these families would arrive from places like Manchester for their summer holidays. They'd come for a week, and their daughters were always up for a good time. They kept me," he cackles, "very busy."
Music, it turns out, was merely his secondary calling, but he pursued it capably. A budding bassist, by 1965 he was playing in a band called the Rocking Vicars, and three years later was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix. By 1971, he was installed as a member of the psychedelic rock act Hawkwind, and was by now preceded by his reputation: a speed freak whose appetite for the drug shocked (and impressed) everyone he knew. Well, not quite everyone. After being busted on the Canadian border for possession, he was sacked by Hawkwind. No matter – four years later, he formed Motörhead, which became the heaviest metal band of them all.
"We were not heavy metal," he snaps. "We were a rock'n'roll band. Still are. Everyone always describes us as heavy metal even when I tell them otherwise. Why won't people listen?"
Motörhead came into their own in the early 1980s. They were huge. "Ace of Spades" was their biggest hit, and if it sounded fast and loud and lethal back in 1981, it still does today. They toured off the back of its success endlessly, and released dozens of albums. But by the decade's end, they were effectively washed up, suddenly deemed yesterday's men, their time over.
"I never had very good managers," he says, claiming to have been left practically penniless. The band had difficulty booking UK tours, and no longer had a record deal. The singer, disconsolate, moved to Los Angeles, not so much to start again as simply to escape. "I had about £500 left in the bank," he reflects. "I thought that that was the end for me."
Any number of old rockers shore up in Los Angeles, awaiting either inglorious death or remarkable revival. Lemmy revived. "Suddenly, we were this foreign band," he says, grinning, "and that had a kind of appeal." Newer acts also started to revere him as a kind of godfather, an icon, his hedonistic lifestyle the one they wished to emulate. "Icon? Fuck that. Makes me sound like a 500-year-old religious painting. I had no time for that. I wanted to still be current."
By 1995, they were. Motörhead had a new line-up and, at last, a manager Lemmy respected. Finally, he was getting his dues. "That was a novelty," he says. "I liked it."
But if his career was back on track, his private life was still perennially off the rails. The one-night stands may never have dried up, but the man who frequently boasted to bedding more than 1,000 women couldn't find one to settle down with. '
I ask him what he was looking for during his endless conquests. Love?
"Doesn't everybody?" he asks witheringly. "But falling in love is terrible. It makes you act foolish, like an idiot. You sign your life over when you fall in love, and it's awful, it's torture. You end up walking past their house at night and looking up longingly at their window... Who wants to live like that?"
He is speaking, I suggest, like someone who has had his heart broken. "Oh, many times," he sighs. "Women always left me because I wouldn't commit, but then nothing changes a relationship like commitment. If you move in with someone, you lose all respect for them." How so? "All them dirty knickers on the towel rail, all that snorting and farting. Does that appeal to you? Because it doesn't to me. When you first start dating someone, it's all about being on your best behaviour, and that initial magic. I never wanted the magic to stop."
But presumably he gets lonely now, at an age when many seek the comfort and solace of family. He has, as he puts it, "two-and-a-half" children from his various relationships, one of whom, a son, is a record producer in Los Angeles whom he sees once in a while. But otherwise, between tours, he retreats to his two-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood alone.
"So what? I've always been alone. I grew up alone. I like it that way. Even when I'm in an arena surrounded by 10,000 people, I'm alone in my head. It's a state of mind, isn't it?" He insists that, even at home, he rarely seeks out company, "though I do go to bars at night". At these, he sees a few familiar faces in each, and he does have one particular friend, Scotty, whom he regularly meets for drinks at LA's infamous Rainbow.
"But that won't last for very much longer," he says. Scotty, he explains, is engaged to be married. "And so that will be him gone – for a couple of years at least, until the novelty wears out, heh heh."
And now he drifts helplessly back on to the subject of women, and the bond he never managed to form with any of them. "It's funny, isn't it? You fall in love with someone and then they try to turn you into somebody else. Why do they do that?"
Though he couches such sentiments in the curmudgeonly tones of a grumpy old man, this is nevertheless a metalhead revealing an unexpected vulnerable side. In the good old days, Lemmy was a gloriously two-dimensional rock colossus, demonic and proud of it. But now, quite suddenly, he's a grizzled Jack Russell licking his wounds in a cage at Battersea Dogs Home, and praying for adoption. He has even recently shown a mellower side to his music, re-recording "Ace of Spades" as a down-tempo, acoustic ballad for a Kronenberg beer TV ad. It suits him.
Could this mean he is now ripe for reinvention? The man has certainly been around long enough, and become comparatively placid enough to be transformed into a national treasure. This is not as improbable as it sounds. After all, it happened to Ozzy Osbourne, another erstwhile dark knight of the soul, who turned to the healing powers of reality TV to render him cuddly. And even Alice Cooper, an old rocker who previously electrocuted himself nightly on stage for fun, recently popped up on BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing and The Andrew Marr Show. Would Lemmy like to follow in their footsteps? He could do panto.
"No, I would not," he snaps. "I didn't like what they did to Ozzy on that show. They made him look like a victim." An American TV production company, he reveals, did offer him his own reality show, but he wasn't interested. He explained that he lived alone, had little interaction with anyone, and spent most of his downtime playing videogames by himself. "And who'd want to watch that?"
The production company proved persistent, however, suggesting they could make his life interesting, for dramatic purposes. Presumably, I suggest, they also liked the idea of him stomping around his apartment in full costume, looking quite the lonely loon. Lemmy has been an enthusiastic collector of Nazi memorabilia for a number of years now.
"Ha ha, very funny," he says. "Look, as I've always said, it's not my fault the bad guys had the best shit. But by collecting Nazi memorabilia, it doesn't mean I'm a fascist, or a skinhead. I'm not. I just liked the clobber. And let me tell you, the kind of people who do collect this stuff, they aren't yobbos either. They are people with Masters [degrees], they are doctors, professors. I've always liked a good uniform, and throughout history, it's always been the bad guy who dressed the best: Napoleon, the Confederates, the Nazis. If we had a good uniform, I'd collect ours as well, but what does the British Army have? Khaki. Makes them look like like a fucking swamp frog..."
So, no reinvention, then, though he has given his blessing to an imminent documentary film of his life and times. "It's my peers saying how great I am, basically," he says. "Which sounded just fine to me."
Otherwise, he'll just trundle on like he always has, one of the last great rock survivors. But for how long? Ten years ago, Lemmy was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and given strict instructions by his doctor to curb his excesses. He won't discuss today his current relationship with drugs, but it is clear from the evidence in front of us that he still drinks, and still smokes incessantly.
"They did tell me to cut back, yeah, but I thought that I may as well die of something I enjoy," he reasons. "Who wants to live until 102, anyway? I'd be bored shitless."
But doesn't he want to live until at least 66?
He shrugs. "If I do die sooner rather than later, I'll be satisfied with what I've done. I've had a good life, I've been around the world, met all kinds of people. I've made people laugh, I've fucked chicks of every colour, shape, religion and persuasion. I've had a whale of a time out of rock'n'roll, and rock'n'roll has had a whale of a time out of me. That'll do."

Nov 9, 2010

Nicko McBrain's "Rhythms of the Beast"

For those of you out there who love Nicko McBrain, at least as much as I do love this crazy guy with a hard accent to get, this piece of news might interest you: Iron Maiden's drummer's instructional video Rhythms of the Beast has just been remastered and released as a DVD in a limited edition of 3,000 copies in the Iron Maiden online shop.

This video was originally released in 1991 as a VHS, and now it includes PCM stereo and 5.1 Surround sound formats. Oh, and a free Rhythms of the Beast lanyard... not that I'd buy the DVD because of the lanyard though...
During its 90-minutes length Nicko covers tuning, warm-up exercises, choosing cymbals and pedals, and soloing. From rudiments to soloing, cymbals to miking, as well as a live performance of the song Rhythms of the Beast accompanied by other musicians including Iron Maiden's guitarist Dave Murray.

This is an enticing rarity to own and I'd love to lay my hands on it. Here's the trailer that ironmaiden.com has released for you to see:

Nov 7, 2010

Motörhead in Madrid next December 19th!

"If this band moved next door to you, your lawn would die." - Lemmy

Well, after the blast that was watching the Maiden show last August in Valencia, I just got tickets to go see the one that's called the loudest band in the world: Motörhead. They will be playing in La Riviera, and the Spanish band Atlas will be opening up for them.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this concert, as I've been feeling very curious lately to the character and personality of Lemmy Kilmister, vocalist and bass player of the band. He's actually the heart and soul of this group, that's not something hard to notice when you delve a bit into it, and as fans put it, Lemmy is Motörhead. And God... But we are not getting into that right now...

This is how one of their gigs looks and sounds like. Don't you feel like riding a Harley Davidson towards a choppers pub while listening to it?

Nov 4, 2010

Kevin Smith talking about "Superman Lives".

In case you didn't know, there was a time when a different movie about Superman was being planned. The project was called Superman Lives, and it began development around 1994 in order to be released in theatres in 1998.

The project itself sounds a bit crazy nowadays. As you can see in the picture, there isn't much that reminds us of the classic Superman other than the red cape and the shape of the logo somehow... 
However, there is much more. The project was to be led by director Tim Burton, who pictured Superman pretty much like the one in the artwork for the movie in the picture here. And, can you guess who was going to star in the film as Superman? Nicolas Cage himself. Yeah. True. Can you picture him as "the Supes"? It's not an easy endeavour, I know. However, there's proof: in the Facebook page of Steve Johnson, who was responsible for the make up and the special effects of the film, you can see a picture of a sculpture of Nic Cage wearing the suit that was created for the movie. 

Anyway, the important thing here is that the writer who was originally hired to write  the script for this movie was Kevin Smith. Yeah, that guy in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back or Clerks. I've always liked this guy, and I hadn't seen this video before. In it, he explains how everything happened and how he saw himself immersed in the project and how Tim Burton kicked him out because he wanted to have his own writer (even though Smith already had his script written). The video is a little long and some time has passed but it's still really worth it. It's hilarious!:

Nov 2, 2010

Iron Maiden on tour again in 66 Days!!

I just learned some minutes ago that Iron Maiden are starting the Final Frontier Tour over again in February 2011 after the break that they've had since their last concert in Valencia (Spain) last August. 

As their official web reports, they "will once again be boarding Ed Force One in February 2011 to fly 50,000 miles round the globe on their continuing mammoth Final Frontier World Tour, playing 29 shows and visiting 26 cities in thirteen countries across 5 continents with Bruce again in the pilot's seat". They will be starting the tour in Moscow's Olympic Stadium, and after that they will be heading to countries where Maiden has never set foot to play before.

In Bruce Dickinson's own words: "We were taken aback by the fantastic reaction from everyone to Ed Force One during the 2008/09 World Tour. As our fans all know from the "Flight 666" film, which documented the trials and tribulations we underwent in order to get the whole project literally off the ground, the end result was well worth all the effort and complex logistics we had to deal with! The band and crew enjoyed themselves so much travelling that way, it seemed only logical to set up this part of The Final Frontier tour in the same way so we could get to see as many fans as possible all over the World, only this time we're pushing the boundaries even further and going to more places Maiden has never been before... in true Frontier style!! We very much look forward to playing in Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea for the first time, as well as revisiting our fans everywhere else.
The set list will be different to this year's tour. Of course we will play more songs from the new album and some other recent material, but we will include a healthy dose of older fan favourites as we will be playing to so many new faces who we know will want to hear those songs live for the first time. We will cram into the plane as much of the production we used this year as is physically possible, including of course Eddie, and intend to replicate the spectacular light show in as many places as we are able. All in all it promises to be a fantastic trip for everyone!! So see you all soon".

As the website says, Maiden will be undertaking a full European tour in the summer of 2011 of which only a few dates are known so far: those in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. We dearly hope that they come to Spain again so that we can have another blast like the one we had last summer, one that still puts a smile in our faces when we remember it. This is a little bit of what happened there for you to taste: 

Oct 31, 2010

Political Activism from the Future in the U.S.A.

Olivia Wilde, an actress best known for her role in the TV series House has appeared in a political campaign launched by Moveon.org that criticises the conservative Tea Party movement that has been apparently gaining support and influence in the last months in the United States with Sarah Palin as its symbolic leader. Wilde's contribution in this campaign is aimed at preventing the Republican Party to gain power in the next November 2 elections.

In this campaign, which is original at the very least, Wilde pretends to be speaking from the year 2057 to warn the voters of 2010 about the negative consequences for the country and for the whole world (privatization, war, elimination of education funding, environmental destruction...) that would have the Republican Party reaching power in the Congress and in the Senate. She asks the democrats to vote in order to prevent the Republicans from eliminating social rights and stopping Palin from succeeding in her search of political power because, according to her, the most terrifying words of the English language are: "President Palin".

Back to the Future Reunion

If you are a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy you are going to enjoy this video. As a part of the Entertainment Weekly Cast Reunions section we can find Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson, who played Marty McFly's mother in the three movies, hanging with the DeLorean 25 years after the original release of the motion picture.

It is nice to see them both together talking about the film and sharing memories of events happened during the shooting. I've had the chance to see J. Fox more often, for example in the recent remake of the Back to the Future original trailer for the 2010 Scream Awards, but I don't think I've seen Lea Thompson in a long while...

Oct 30, 2010

A Brief History of the School Bus in the United States

Ever wondered what's the deal about those typical United States yellow school buses that we can frequently see on TV and movies? 

Here's an educational video on this matter that answers some of the questions that we might have asked to ourselves sometimes. This video was originally shown on learningmatters.tv, and it answers questions like "why are school buses yellow?", "how many miles to the gallon does the average school bus get?" or "how many miles does the average school bus travel?"

This video was made in 1992, when John Merrow, an education correspondent for PBS' NewsHour, immersed himself with school bus riders and drivers. Around that time, Houston's school buses got a whopping seven miles to the gallon and traveled over 15 million miles each year —and today, it's not much better.
Most school districts still rely on this outdated and resource-zapping mode of transportation, with the age of a school bus in the Los Angeles Unified School District averaging 17 years and still still lacking basic things like seat belts. Meanwhile, a school district in Arizona recently equipped its fleet with Wi-Fi.

Do you know of any other schools or cities over in the US also being innovative in any way involving student transport?

Oct 28, 2010

Sam Dunn's "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey".

A really nice and thoughtful Canadian citizen recommended this documentary to me this very evening. I had already seen it but it brought some great memories back from some months ago when I discovered it. 

Watching Heavy Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is a must for every heavy metal fan out there, and there's probably not a better way to describe it that the one that can be found in its official website: 
In A Headbanger's Journey, Sam Dunn plays himself, a 30-year old anthropologist. He's also a lifelong metal fan. After years of studying diverse cultures, Sam turns his academic eye a little closer to home and embarks on an epic journey into the heart of heavy metal. His mission: to try and figure out why metal music is consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned, even while the tribe that loves it stubbornly holds its ground- spreading the word, keeping the faith and adopting the styles and attitudes that go way beyond the music.

Sam visits heavy metal landmarks as far flung as L.A.'s Sunset Strip, the dirtly streets of Birmingham, and the dark forests of Norway. Along the way, the two sides of Sam Dunn - curious anthropologist and rabid fan - collide, as Sam explores metals's obsession with sexuality, religion, violence, and death, meets his heroes, and discovers some things about the culture that even he can't defend. Part social document, part celebration of a misunderstood art form, this documentary is the first of its kind: a chance for metal fans to speak out and a window into a culture that's far more complex than it appears.

Isn't that enough to give it a try? It took much less than that for me, let me tell you. But if you need a last push, take a good look at this trailer:


And there's something else. After releasing this film, Dunn received lots of e-mails from headbangers all over the world, even from places that he didn't even know metal existed. That motivated him to make another documentary called Global Metal, which provides a radically different insight on metal from what we are used to over here in Europe. You'll probably watch this if you like A Headbanger's Journey

Myself, what am I going to see next? While doing a little research for this post I discovered that Dunn has released a new documentary, this time about the legendary Canadian band Rush called Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. After taking a look at the trailer and seeing that people like Mike Portnoy, Billy Corgan and Kirk Hammet are interviewed, I'm already in the process of acquiring the DVD:

Oct 26, 2010

The Big Four at the Sonisphere Festival

Well, this is something that I didn't know and just learned that has amazed me quite a lot: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax — the so-called "Big Four" of 1980s thrash metal — played together for the first time in history on June 16 2010 in front of 81,000 fans at the Sonisphere festival at Bemowo Airport in Warsaw, Poland. Members of these bands also came together on stage on June 22 in Sofia, Bulgaria to perform the Diamond Head classic Am I Evil?
Metallica's James Hetfield, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine and Anthrax's Joey Belladonna all took turns singing, with various other bandmembers playing guitar, bass and pounding on snare drums.

This was Anthrax's guitarist Scott Ian's comment on Twitter moments after the performance: After 29 years of doing this to reach this apex is just so fucking cool, it was a monumental moment of epic proportions. I'm so high from the experience I can't sleep.

The last time that Dave Mustaine performed with Metallica was on April 9, 1983 at the legendary Brooklyn, New York club L'Amour. He was unceremoniously fired by the band just weeks before they entered the studio to record their debut album, "Kill 'Em All", and was replaced by former Exodus axeman Kirk Hammett. So, it's been a while...

Metallica's setlist at the gig was as follows:

01. Creeping Death
02. For Whom The Bell Tolls
03. Fuel
04. Harvester Of Sorrow
05. Fade To Black
06. That Was Just Your Life
07. Cyanide
08. Sad But True
09. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
10. All Nightmare Long
11. One
12. Master Of Puppets
13. Blackened
14. Nothing Else Matters
15. Enter Sandman
- - - - - - - -
16. Am I Evil? (w/ Big Four)
17. Hit The Lights
18. Seek and Destroy
The "Big Four" show, as part of the Sonisphere festival, will be shown in more than 450 movie theatres in the U.S., along with cities in Europe, Canada and Latin America. In addition, it has been recorded for a forthcoming "Big Four" DVD. Here's a preview for you to taste. It´s worth seeing something like this. Not really happening every day, is it?:

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