Friday, April 25, 2008

Electric Cafe!

All right, New Wavers! Pop Quiz Time!!

Pictured below is...

A) A Korean-produced knock off of The Blue Man Group

B) "Tron Live!" The latest Disney remake on Broadway; directed by Albert Pyun, with choreography by Twyla Tharp.

C) A new group of Qwest customer service reps helping subscribers jack into The Matrix.

D) The seminal electronic music group, Kraftwerk

If you spent your youth listening to the electro stylings of Depeche Mode or Front 242, or raving to Moby on the stage at Rock Island with a whistle pursed between your lips, or you're a coke-snorting gangster from a mid-80's movie scored by Georgio Morodor, you better answer "D", or risk getting punched in the back of the head by the pop music Illuminati.

On Wednesday night, thanks to fellow blogger (and now friend-4-eva*) Brando, I got to see Kraftwerk perform at the Filmore Auditorium, in one of only 3 U.S. appearances (!)

(though their android doubles will likely continue on until the last Twinkie on earth goes stale)

There weren't any heavily choreographed dance numbers, or spontaneous, free-form jazz saxophone solos... but - sporting a production design inspired by the database at my work, the German post-fab four rocked out the Power Point presentation like NONE OTHER!

(I concur with Ricardo Baca from the Denver Post; part of the fun was trying to figure out when they were actually playing, and when they were downloading the music directly from Limewire and checking their email.)

Now, I was always a clubber, more than a concert goer (which probably has a lot to do with the music I listen to) but I felt right at home, with just my tentative knowledge of the band's music, gleaned from watching Dieter on Sprockets and Turbo's Fred Astaire-inspired dance from Breakin'. Plus, some of my favorite bands of all time worship at the altar of Kraftwerk. But who cracks me up are the concert-heads, the poor souls who never got over Jerry Garcia’s death, who are just looking for another band to groupie-up to. I mean, not that you have to look like a prisoner of the Phantom Zone to go to a Kraftwerk show (kudos, though, go to the 7 foot dude in fetish gear and scuba mask) but watching these cats do the rhythm-less jellyfish out on the peripherals of the stage felt like watching a bunch of Klingons storm the set of Logan’s Run.

Speaking of robots, and computers, and "networking" (clumsy, lumbering segue, there) I’ve been trying to expand my social and professional circle lately - doing things like meeting up w/ people I hardly know at concerts and such: I'm happy to say that it's paying off handily. As such, I'm currently hard at work on a comic book with a really fantastic artist I interviewed for the A.V. Club last year. So, next time you're thinking I'm just slacking off on my blog, keep that in mind.

'Cause, y'know, I may be busy slacking on that comic book, as well. I only have so much free time to slack. Jeez.

*Contrary to what some of our fellow concert goers thought, we are just friends. Seriously. **

**But he does have great hair, and a very nice smile. Just sayin'. ***


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Everything I Ever Needed to know about Coffee...

I learned from reading “Google News”

I got to my son's school too early to drop him off this morning; as the teachers and staff all prefer that parents don’t let their young’uns roam the halls before class like a gaggle of pre-teen Sweat Hogs, we hit up the Starbucks across the street in order to kill some time. The boy has an unexplainable affinity for those unstable little shortbread cookies that dissolve into silt as soon as you bite into them. He also thinks “Transformers” is the pinnacle of cinematic achievement. 7 year olds are such dumbasses.

I got a venti cup of the heavily-advertised “Pikes Place Roast” that they’ve been brewing. Honestly, it’s not bad. From what I understand, Starbucks marketing overlords polled their customers about what they wanted from their morning cup, and the overwhelming majority stated a preference for coffee that wasn’t roasted to the consistency of volcanic ash. I don’t know that it has the “nutty tones” (sounds like a mid-90’s neo-ska group) that Starbucks is boasting about on their website, but it doesn’t taste like Dr. Peyton Westlake’s charred remains after an industrial fire, either. (Which is a pretty amazing feat, considering the temperature of the average cup of Starbucks coffee is roughly equivalent to that of an atomic blast.)

Other changes being made, in their continued effort to recapture that mythological “coffeehouse experience” of yore include -

- training the staff how to make espresso drinks

- a new dress code, which requires all baristas to wear Doc Martens with their long underwear and cut off shorts

- signing all surviving artists from the “Singles” soundtrack to the Starbucks record label.

In addition (for the time being, at least), Starbucks is going back to their original brown logo from the 70s. While I’m ecstatic there’s no more grating “Way I See It” manifestos printed on every cup, demanding my attention with all the urgency a fatal car accident, this “classic” look was a new one on me; I’ve been referring to Starbucks as the “Big Green Label” for so long that it never occurred to me that they could have ever had a different logo.

A quick Google search reveals that the original mascot has been a source of controversy for some time; when they re-introduced it in Seattle in 2006, one elementary school to required all their teachers to cover their cups (due to the clearly visible mermaid mumblies.)

Now, I’m sure you’d expect me to get all up in arms about this sort of thing, but I can TOTALLY see where they’re coming from. It’s a historical fact that mermaid-nips are freaking hot; many dedicated seamen * have paid the ultimate price for falling victim to those slutty mermaids, with their dreaded mer-mams. And how about that yoga stretch, like she’s waiting for the marine gynecologist? Sexy!

Starbucks has decided to placate critics by forcing the mermaid to grow her hair long, in order to cover the offending area. In addition, they will electrocute any mothers who attempt to breastfeed at their US locations.

I sent the following email to Howard Schultz, as an alternate solution.

Dear Howie,

I understand that your classic logo is the source of great controversy, among untold millions of breast-o-phobes. Since you’ve displayed an affinity for 1970’s iconography, may I suggest the following image as an alternative…

Because nobody, not no one, knows "Starbucks" better than Starbuck!

Think of it – this is the ultimate in corporate synergy! Battlestar Galactica is the hottest thing going on the TV, what with all the space-faring bomber jackets and feathered hairstyles. Instead of “The Beverage You Are about to Enjoy Is Extremely Hot”, you could totally have it say “Red Alert! The Lords Of Kobol Have Charged This Drink With The Heat Of A Thousand Supernovas!” (which is way more accurate, anyways)

…and HELLO? – can you say “frak-uccino”?

Plus, Dirk Benedict's agent won't return his calls, and he could totally use the cash.

Your Pal, Ted

Still haven’t heard back, but I hear Howard’s pretty busy.

In other (Google) coffee news, java has been shown to prevent dementia. Unless you drink catshit coffee at 50$ a cup. Then there’s no hope for you.

*heh heh.