Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Concert -- Judas Priest

Judas Priest
April 28, 1984
Convention Center Arena
Opening act: Great White

Another great show. This was the tour supporting the Defenders of the Faith album, which is one of JP's best, featuring such metal gems as "Freewheel Burning," "Love Bites," "Some Heads are Gonna Roll," and "The Sentinel." Every song absolutely rocks, and the live show was a faithful rendering of the album's sound. It's a show I will never forget.

This was also the first time I had heard Great White. They were a new band back then, and, if I remember correctly, they did a good job opening for Priest. Since this concert, Great White achieved success and fame (especially with the platinum albums Once Bitten ... and ... Twice Shy), and it's neat that I got a chance to see them live before they hit it big.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Concert -- Black Sabbath

I used to go to see quite a few concerts back in the 1980s and 90s. Hey, I was young with few responsibilities, no dependents, and a bit of disposable income. But today you can reverse all those, and then you'll see why I don't go see live music much any more.

But the other day, I chanced upon a stack of old ticket stubs, and the memories came rushing over me. Of course, the stubs I saved were ones that could actually identify which concert I had attended, not the generic ones that are marked "Admit One". I used to go to clubs and smaller venues to see a lot of acts as well, and these places often used the generic types of tickets. But the arena shows had better tickets, and I saved as many as I could to preserve the memories.

Please indulge me as I share a few with you.

Black Sabbath
February 4, 1984
Convention Center Arena
Opening act: Girlschool

There it is, the first big concert I went to. I was young, and I was impressionable, so when the lights went down, the crosses were lit, and the sounds blasted forth, I was duly impressed. And this wasn't even one of Black Sabbath's better tours (or albums). Ian Gillan from Deep Purple made this his one and only tour with Sabbath, and actually I thought he was pretty good as their vocalist. Though he was no Dio, he still did a bang-up job on the "Heaven and Hell" song. I came away wanting much more.

Except for the opening act. Really, Girlschool? The font of all information that is called Wikipedia doesn't even mention this band as being part of the tour, and, given that this concert was in the last days of the tour, perhaps they were a last minute replacement that wasn't given much thought at the time. I know I sure haven't given them much thought since. To this day I can't remember a song of theirs.

Other than that, a very good concert. As I said, I was young and eager to rock, and this just whetted my appetite.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Moon Crater Has More Water Than Parts of Earth"

More good news from the water-in-space department:
A frigid crater at the moon's south pole is jam-packed with water ice, with some spots wetter than Earth's Sahara desert, boosting hopes for future lunar bases.

That's the picture painted by six new studies that analyzed the intentional moon crash of a NASA spacecraft on Oct. 9, 2009. The agency's LCROSS probe was looking for signs of water when it smashed into Cabeus crater at the moon's south pole last year, and the spacecraft found plenty of it, as scientists announced last year.


Water ice makes up about 5.6 percent of the total mass on the floor of Cabeus — making the crater about twice as wet as Sahara Desert soil, according to LCROSS mission principal investigator Tony Colaprete.

"That is a surprise," said Colaprete, who works at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "And it has a lot of ramifications in terms of our understanding of water and other volatiles on the moon."
(from Mike Wall on Space.com)

It wasn't a showy crash, but that impact last year is resulting in some good science. Well done.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Iron Maiden + harp

= an unexpected gem of coolness from some guy in Brazil: "The Trooper," like you've never heard before.


ADDED: You know, this video is something that I think would really have been unexpected back in the day. When I was just getting into heavy metal back in the early 1980s, I already had an appreciation for some classical music. As time went on, I kept headbanging, but I also fully immersed myself into classical music, and I even learned a couple of instruments (classical guitar and some piano). I used to think that I was a little unusual in my fondness for both musical styles, but nowadays -- especially given this guy's get-up in the video -- not so much.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oh crap!

More at Oddee. (That link is definitely NSFW!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why I think MSNBC sucks

Because of this:

Seriously, that layout is so bad it's almost unreadable. Sprinkling the text with pop-up links (the underlined words) is bad enough to make me want to curse the webmaster, but interspersing the article's body with line-long links in different fonts of different sizes and all bolded and set off with little cutesy icons to draw your attention to them rather than to the text that is supposed to be the main focus of why you are at that page to begin with!! ---- why, it's enough to make me swear off MSNBC.com forever. Thanks, marketing-dude- who-thought-this-was-a-good-way-to-keep-readers. Thanks a bunch.

(Source. Yes, I was reading a story about the Liberace museum closing. What can I say? Liberace was flamboyant, but he was kind of cool, too. And it's sad that his museum closed the way it did.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Water Ice Common on Asteroids, Discovery Suggests"

This is very good news for anyone who thinks we have a shot at a serious presence among the stars.
Scientists have discovered water ice on an asteroid for the second time, suggesting that it is more common on space rocks in our solar system than previously thought.

Two research teams have found evidence of water ice and organic molecules on the asteroid 65 Cybele, just six months after discovering the same stuff on a different space rock — asteroid 24 Themis — for the first time. The results suggest that asteroids may have delivered much of these essential materials for life to the early Earth, the researchers said.

"This discovery suggests that this region of our solar system contains more water ice than anticipated," said Humberto Campins, of the University of Central Florida, in a statement. "And it supports the theory that asteroids may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water and the building blocks for life to form and evolve here."
Let's just hope there's a substantial amount of water in the asteroids. And then let's get up there and mine the heck out of them.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Another musical observation

Here's something else I found in my misfit CD bin.

That's Steelheart, another short-lived glam metal band. And this, their first and self-titled album, is from 1990. Though they are in the same time period and classification of music as Shark Island, I actually enjoyed Steelheart much more. Still do, as a matter of fact. Sure, their sound is typical late 80s/early 90s hair-band fare, kind of schmatlzy and close to corny, but it has a bit of a hard edge to it, too. And, after listening to this album again, I found myself thinking this belongs in the close-at-hand rack, not the misfit bin.

And I got this free! I know this for sure because of that hole in the lower right corner of the cover. That means this copy was a radio promo, and I probably got it at some club event, though I don't remember when or where.

But, on to my observation. A hallmark of hair bands from the time (besides the hair, of course) is the flashy wardrobes. The duds were sometimes simple and sometimes complicated, but they always carried an air of exaggerated style, marked glitz, and careful selection, and you got the sense that each outfit was as carefully planned as a costume.

Witness Steelheart:

Knowing how carefully such artists put together their performance gear, it struck me as a little odd to see this ring prominently displayed on the finger of the guy on the left.

That's drummer John Fowler, and he was sending some kind of message with that ring, but I don't know what it is. Generally music in the Western world is characterized by its expressive nature, and with rock music many times rebellion or subversion serves as a theme. And the Soviet Union was hardly the bastion of musical expression beyond what was sanctioned by the establishment. It seems odd that any rocker from America would actually support the Soviet ideal of officially-approved music.

So, I think Fowler had to have been one of two things back in 1990: He was either very naïve in thinking Soviet communism was a happy conduit of artistic values (though it would not surprise me a bit if he was a liberal, as many musicians are), or he was being wryly ironic in displaying the symbol of a system that, even then, was obviously well on its way toward collapse.

What do you think? Naïvete or irony? Should I belittle Fowler or give him credit for a subtle commentary on global politics?

While you discuss it, I think I will put this CD in the drive and take myself back twenty years.

ADDED: Well, guess what I found out? After looking at the back cover of the CD, I found out that this album's executive producer was none other than this guy:

That's right. Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson helped craft Steelheart's sound. No wonder I like them better than Shark Island.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Random musical observation

The other day I was going through a bin filled with CDs I don't really listen to anymore. (And, to be honest, there are a few that I never really listened to when I got them!) While I was rummaging -- just to see what was in there, I came across this:

Do you remember that band? That's Shark Island, a little flash-in-the-pan, late 80s hair band that was popular for about all of 13 seconds. But they did make one song for this album, Law of the Order, that I really liked back then and that I still like now called "Paris Calling." That song got a little airplay, and the band got a little fame, but the magic didn't last and Shark Island faded away. They faded even though the singer, Richard Black, got together with people from other outfits to form a nonce band of glam-hair supergroupness called Contraband. Yes, they faded, and no one missed them.

So, "Paris Calling" and the band's cover version of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" were the only two songs I ripped off Law of the Order, and then the thing went into my bin of misfit CDs. To tell you the truth, I don't even know where I got this CD. I'm pretty sure I didn't buy it. Back in the 80s and 90s I used to get all kinds of weird CDs for free from friends who didn't want them or just thought I would be interested.

But Law of the Order isn't really weird; it just isn't good. I even listened to the whole thing again yesterday just to give it another chance, and I found that my opinion has not changed over the years. It is a weak album.


Law of the Order does contain one incredible bit of awesomeness that I never noticed back then, and I'm glad I took the time now to look over the liner notes so that I could notice it. That cool bit is from the band's publicity photos, and here it is, the glam shot of the guitarist, Spencer Sercombe.

Dude totally looks like Val Kilmer's brother.