Who’s Correct?

I read a lot of news coverage but rarely do I read the same article appearing in two different media sources when one is just a reprint of the other.  Today I happened to read two versions of an article talking about the impending execution of Saddam Hussein.  The original appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the reprint in the Seattle Times.


Sad that the news media does not agree on even two facts that are clearly verifiable.  Check out this paragraph from the article and note how the two versions differ on the number of codefendants and the number receiving death sentences.


The Los Angeles Times version:


Hussein was sentenced Nov. 5 to hang for crimes against humanity in connection with the killing of 148 men and boys from the Shiite Muslim town of Dujayl
after an attempt there to assassinate him in 1982. Two of his seven codefendants also received death sentences.


The Seattle Times version:


Saddam was sentenced Nov. 5 for crimes against humanity in connection with the killing of about 100 men and boys from the Shiite town of Dujail who were suspected of attempting to assassinate him in 1982. Three of his six codefendants also received death sentences.

Musical Treat

Aimee’s been a long time Frank Zappa fan.  Not so for me.  Quite honestly I’ve never really had much exposure to Frank’s music beyond the times Aimee’s playing it.  Even then I guess I tend to notice only the more humorous lines and tunes from his work.


Tonight we went to the Zappa Plays Zappa show at the Paramount theater.  Dweezil Zappa is taking his father’s music on the road in this show–both trying to give something back to existing fans and expose a younger audience to Frank’s music.


Initially I thought this would be one of those experiences that one tolerates but wasn’t really expecting much.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.


Writing any kind of formal review would be impossible for me.  My lack of familiarity with the Zappa catalog for starters would make it all but impossible for me to describe something as simple as the set list.


Still, as a music fan who enjoys a reasonably wide range of music, I have to say that this was one of the most entertaining 200 minutes I’ve spent in a concert venue.  There wasn’t a single time during the more than three hours of constant music I felt like leaving.


The musicianship on display alone was worth the price of admission.  Sure it was rock so it was loud but it was top shelf quality through and through.


And in some ways it isn’t fully accurate to say this was rock.  Zappa’s music is really a mixture of genres that includes jazz, pop, rock, classical and more.  There’s often a rich musical texture behind the main thrust of any song.


In an article about the show, the rehearsals for this show are described as a “musical boot camp”.  Practice definitely made perfect in this case as this was one of the tightest groups of musicians I’ve ever heard.  Solo performances by Zappa tour veterans Steve Vai (guitar) and Terry Bozzio (drums) were simply breath taking.


Bozzio did about 10 minutes alone in the middle of a tune that ran through multiple rhythms and ranged from some of the loudest drumming I’ve heard to a soft section that was so quiet you could hear the heat circulation system in the hall.  The solo cranked back up like some kind of charge off to war.  Incredible is the best way to describe it.


Good live music is something special.  The music reaches out and touches you physically.  It surrounds you and reaches into the depth of your being.  Tonight’s concert was a definite treat and one I’d recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to see this tour now or in the future.  Dweezil’s trying to establish something more permanent with this grass roots movement to expose his father’s music to newer audiences.

A Shell Game By Any Other Name

The daily flood of advertising promising to get you a bigger house, lower your mortgage payment or otherwise basically give you free money astounds me.  I counted tonight and in 30 minutes of radio and television I was offered no fewer than 10 different opportunities to lower my mortgage, get cash back and the rest of the wild schemes the mortgage industry has come up with to keep the housing shell game going.


The LA Times has a good example of what a problem many of these quirky mortgages can be.  One can only wonder if folks will stop and realize that at some point the shell game does come to an end.

Where’s The Off Switch?

Computer gaming is one of those areas of technology that’s never really held my attention.  From time to time I’ll play a card game over on All inPlay or try some of the games described on AudioGames but I find myself quickly losing interest.


Then too when I read about people doing things like selling their virtual characters for thousands of dollars or paying folks to play the entry rounds for them in games I find myself wondering if these folks know where the off switch is in these online games.  I do recognize it is a rather uninformed thought, based largely on my lack of experience in the area.


I read articles like the one in InformationWeek today talking about a growing collision between virtual games and real laws and I quickly recognize that the fact is that there is no off switch any longer.  We are squarely at the beginning of a period in history where the “virtual” will soon be removed from “virtual reality”.

The New Frozen Tundra

Sports journalism is an interesting arena. Where else does new grass make headline news. I read ESPN reporting about a new playing surface for Lambeau Field.
Then too I still have a box of packaged dirt from a previous resod of Lambeau back when the Packers were playing in Super Bowls. The team sold boxes of the dirt at $10 a pop and donated the money to charity. What won’t sell when a team’s doing well?

Farewell to a Familiar Place

Each time I visit Madison I’m astounded by the changes happening in the city. The neighborhoods I once knew like the back of my hand have changed dramatically since I left the city in 1994. Oh sure, I know change is inevitable and all that but each time I read about another of the places I used to visit closing, I feel a twinge of sadness for the city as I knew it.
I now read that the Mifflin Street Co-op is closing. I lived just down the block from the place for two years and used to grab a few items from the store from time to time.
I suppose if Mifflin street in Madison can now have a building with 300 condos, it isn’t surprising that the co-op can close. Back when I lived on the street it was largely a dump filled with student housing run mostly by slum lords.
I can only wonder what the students just starting off at the UW this year will think of the Madison they visit some 20 years later. I’m sure the city will have changed as much for them as it has for me in the past 20 years.