Could it be?

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My blood pressure spiked today. Reports are coming in that Led Zeppelin is hitting the road on a reunion tour next year and by Led Zeppelin, I mean Jimmy, Robert, John and Jason (John’s son). There is a reason why the Led Zep website’s URL for the O2 show back in Dec 07 is “/reunion” – I think Jason is legit – he’s family.
I first heard this rumor last Saturday – that John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page were in the studio rehearsing with Jason Bonham along with a mystery vocalist for a possible 09 tour. It made sense to me: Jimmy and John were tight when they played with Dave Grohl back in June but where was Robert?
On the Led Zep Reunion Tour, The Sun reports that,

They even rehearsed with stand-in singers — and one American was so impressive they were confident they could hit the road next year without Plant. That was what finally persuaded him to return. A source revealed: “The rest of the band had all but given up on Robert joining them, but they were determined to go ahead so had started to seriously explore other avenues. When Robert realized the band were serious about doing it without him, it made him think long and hard.

NME and MTV are quoting piece in the Sun but nothing official has been reported as of yet. In a New Yorker review I mentioned back in December, Sasha Friere-Jones mentioned,

“Rumors have floated that next summer Led Zeppelin is going to play at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, in Tennessee. This might seem like a good idea, but Led Zeppelin is a cover band now, covering its own material. Without John Bonham, the band can only sound like Led Zeppelin; it can’t be Led Zeppelin. The band should turn down the money and let its record stand.”

That sounded really good at the time, especially when she had been at the show and I was merely reading about it and wishing I had been there, but now I am thinking that maybe it would be a good idea for me to see them in person and see if I agree with her, you know, see what the facts on the ground are. That would probably be best for all those involved.
Via Keith


Bail Out!

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Last week I was too busy praying for our entire financial system not to collapse to even think about posting about the debacle that was unfolding on Wall Street. In case you still do not know, the system is completely broken and it started to fall apart last week. Banks: Where The Money’s Not neatly acts as a refresher course on how everything “works” today and in the end sums up why I have been thinking of taking all my investments (currently sitting mostly in cash) and buying hard gold bullion. It is very possible that the dollar is going to be seriously devalued as this plays out over the next 3-10 years. When a plain slice of pizza costs $8, don’t say nobody warned you.
Many of the Fed’s recent actions literally reverse hundreds of years of previous economic policies. They have turned the US into a walking economic hypocrite. For example, the US is doing exactly what we told South Korea they could not do during the late 90’s Asian financial crisis. We, the US, made the IMF put certain restrictions on the aid that was given to South Korea and these restrictions are being flat out ignored right now (i.e. government interfering with markets to prevent certain companies from failing) and South Korea is probably more than a little pissed at us. I’ll try to cover all of the things that fly in the face of convention (i.e. now French protectionist economists are praising how much the Fed has gotten involved) in a future post.
For now, let’s focus on how our fearless leaders are jamming a “solution” down the throats of all Americans without a proper review process taking place. Let’s concentrate on how our lovely President all but said that Congress is unpatriotic if they do not pass his bailout package in one week’s time. Does this sound familiar? It should.
There are echoes of Iraq in the way Bush is handling the mortgage crisis. The analysis is that another ‘trust me’ remedy is getting rushed before lawmakers. Tom Schlesinger, head of the nonprofit research group Financial Markets Center in Howardsville, Va. boils down to “give me the money and trust me.”
One issue is that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came up with a three-page plan to spend $700 billion on toxic mortgage debt that was very spare on key details. James Angel, a professor of finance at Georgetown University, said the White House appears to be “flying by the seat of their pants.” Doesn’t that inspire confidence?
The WSJ Marketwatch article goes on to say that,

Economists said there was a central problem to the Paulson plan. Most of the toxic waste in question does have some price, but it has been too low for the financial institution holding them to accept. So the government buyout would only work if taxpayers overpay for the assets.

Who doesn’t like to overpay right? You have a policy that automatically adds a 25% gratuity for parties bigger than 6 that I cannot do anything about even though your service sucked? Sure! At least in that instance you have the option of never eating in that restaurant again. Here, we have no option except to either become a citizen of another country or to not pay taxes and as Wesley Snipes has shown, if you don’t pay taxes, the Man will eventually bring you down to Chinatown.
One link via Neu


Rebooting The Muppets

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I try to read the NYT to my daughter each weekend. It’s extremely important for a child, not matter how old, to be read to and damn if “Goodnight Moon” doesn’t get boring the 50th time around.
One article I read today was about how Disney is finally trying to reboot the Muppet franchise and that I say “Its damn about time!” All sorts of things are being done, from having Miss Piggy tape “Desperate Housepig” sketches which will be included on Desperate Housewives DVDs to having Kermit the Frog interview athletes on ESPN. Of course, filming and releasing new skits to YouTube is in the mix – we are living in the 21st Century after all and that is the “low hanging fruit” of any new marketing initiative, right?
While I didn’t know if they would be Classic Muppet Show good or Muppets in Space bad, I was pleasantly surprised by them. So was the Muppet Central site which had this to say about the new videos:

“These shorts left me tickled. Not just because I was passingly amused, but because they give me a glimmer of optimism for a franchise I’d given up on years ago. In their ephemeral way, these shorts drill down to the same substance that’s on display in all those old Muppet Show clips: musical sketch comedy, well sung and absurdly executed.”

Don’t believe me? Check out the four new ones below and (hopefully) enjoy. As election day is getting close, I’m especially enamored with the first one. Said Sam to a young Scrooge in “A Muppet Christmas Carol:”
Sam the Eagle: Oh, you will love business. It is the American way.
Gonzo: Uh, Sam?
Sam the Eagle: Oh. It is the British way!
Stars and Stripes Forever:

Ode to Joy:


Classical Chicken:



Happy Birthday Emoticon

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Twenty six years ago today, Scott Fahlman posted the following electronic message to a computer-science department bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman 🙂
From: Scott E Fahlman
I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:
Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use:

As any teacher who has received a paper from a student in the past 5 – 10 years will tell you, the world has never been the same since.
To honor the occasion, Wired has an article about the founder of the emoticon movement and a slide show as well.
Smile – it’s Friday!


Foo News

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Two huge developments from Foo land. Working backwards, Foo Fighters have decided to take a holiday. It seems they want a break – and after 14 years of ass kicking music, they deserve one. I’m looking forward to them coming back better and badder than before. When Phish returned after their hiatus, they were rocking before Trey’s drugs got in the way and I have no doubt that Grohl and Co. can pick up where they left off.
Where did they leave off? By kicking ass and taking names in England, that’s where. One of their last shows was on June 8 when the Foos played Wembley Stadium and at the 55 minute mark it got very interesting as Dave said,

“Playing here at Wembley Stadium is the fuckin….its an honor…and if we take advantage of this opportunity, the greatest fucking night in our bands’ lives, to do something special, for you motherfuckers, all you 86,000 motherfuckers who came out to see us play tonight…
We knew from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be any other show. We’ve been planning this shit for fucking six months, a long time – we knew that, this country, you guys, you made us the band that we are today…
So we’d like to invite a couple very special guests: Mr. Jimmy Page and Mr. John Pual Jones from LED ZEPPELIN!”

They played “Rock n Roll” and “Ramble On” (though only “Rock n Roll” for some reason made it onto the MSN site – more on that in a bit) and while Grohl was no Plant / Bonhaim (yes Dave jumped behind the skins for R n R) and Hawkins was no Plant / Bonhaim that definitely was not the point.
The point was that in the English National Cathedral (Westminster Abby is only it by a technicality), the Foo Fighters were able to play homage to and along with two of their childhood heroes. Led Zeppelin inspired them to start playing music in the first place. Grohl and Page rocking it out – down right sick. It really happened. Ka is a wheel.
The Foos were so fired up about the show after it was over that they quickly edited together a concert movie (the show was filmed by multiple cameras) and released it in 50 theaters in the UK. If it ended there I wouldn’t have known about it. Luckily for those who do not live in the UK, MSN picked it up and has had it on their site since July 17.
Yes, so I’m two months behind time times and it took me looking up news about the Foo break up “rumor” to learn that this collaboration even took place. Then again, before I even get into my eternal “am I slipping?” debate which I seem to air anytime anything cool escapes my immediate notice, this event didn’t happen in NYC so its not like I could have gone. Therefore, I’m just glad I found about it now and not a year from now. I’m also glad I can pass it on to you.
RO is my second favorite Zep song (it comes after “Stairway” – duh) but again, for some odd reason the Foo / Zep version, it didn’t make it up on MSN, very odd especially since the song is on the concert DVD. That just means I have to buy the DVD now (though I’m not sure if it will play as the country code will be different). Is it legal to grab a bit torrent stream of the show if I own the DVD and it won’t play in my Region 1 players? Hmmm. I just love our stupid copyright laws…
Regardless, whenever I get around to waiting all 18 tracks, not just the 13 tracks that are on the MSN site, I’m sure they will be classified as “kick ass.”


An Advertisement About Nothing

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To my amusement and delight, one of my favorite comedians Mr. Jerry Seinfeld has filmed a number of Microsoft ads with Mr. Microsoft himself Bill Gates which are perfectly Seinfeldian. The first takes place at the mall where Jerry spots Bill buying shoes. The second takes place at a residential home where Bill and Jerry have moved in with a random “normal” family.
As PC World writes, the ads are “all just stuff to make you react. Whether you chuckle, guffaw, scoff or spew, you’re doing something — and that’s ultimately the point of the ads about nothing.”
They are funny to watch and almost like a traffic accident – though I may not want to look, I simply cannot not look. Plus, seeing Bill do “the robot” is quite enjoyable, though English striker Peter Crouch does the robot much, much better.
Over time, the ads are supposed to get more and more “specific” about Microsoft products and service. When that happens, who knows if I will feel the same way about Jerry shilling for MSFT. For now, I will just simply enjoy Jerry swapping George Costanza’s companionship with yet another major icon’s as he goes through the banal moments of life.
First he hung with Superman. Now he’s hanging with the richest man in the world. Sounds pretty fun to me.

Shoe Circus:

New Family:


David Foster Wallace, Dies at 46

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Sadly, I learned from of all places a friend’s Facebook status that one of my favorite authors, David Foster Wallace, died at age of 46 of an apparent suicide this past weekend.
The NYT obit on DFW is a well written, well researched piece on the author. As they put it, he wrote “prodigiously observant, exuberantly plotted, grammatically and etymologically challenging, philosophically probing and culturally hyper-contemporary novels, stories and essays.” That is quite a mouthful but I couldn’t agree more.
Infinite Jest, the book that he is most well known for, is one of my all time favorite books. This is due in large part to the effort I expended and the difficulty I had in reading it coupled with the satisfaction I gained by finishing it. I would equate the experience with climbing an arduously steep and rugged mountain which at its apex gives way to the most extraordinary view imaginable. Other than The Silmarillion, which took me three attempts to read, I cannot recall a bigger literary challenge that I faced and won.
Not only was he a terrifically inventive novelist, he a great essayist (which is a dying – no pun intended – art) as well. When I went to the US Open for the first time last year to see Andy Roddick play Roger Federer, I brought DFW 6,000 plus word essay from 2006 titled Federer as Religious Experience with me to re-read on the train. Luckily the train ride took awhile because like all DFW pieces, it was dense, fun and damn good.
As Gawker notes, this terrible occurance was sort of preordained. In a 2005 speech at Kenyon College implied, he was not unfamiliar with the heft of existence:

[L]earning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.
This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

Thanks Dahlia for inspiring me to read Infinite Jest.
Goodbye David. The world just lost a brilliant mind.


O'Reilly interviews Obama

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Bill O’Reilly, everyone’s favorite person to either love or hate, recently interviewed Barack Obama and the interview is posted in four parts on the Fox News site.
I’ve been debating my brother-in-law for the past two weeks on the merits of Obama’s platform versus McCain’s platform and it was interesting to watch this exchange because Bill was asking many of the same questions that my BIL did. I find the way that Barack answered O’Reilly enlightening.
Part 1 is about security and the wars we are fighting. Part 2 is about the economy. Part 3 is about his dubious connections to people like Reverend Wright. Part 4 is about drilling.
Overall, I think Barack did a fine job answering Blowhard O’Reilly. Check it out yourself.


Who You Gonna Call?

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If the first thing you think of is “Ghostbusters!” when you read this post’s title, it means that either that you are a member of Ray Parker Jr.’s family or you are a huge fan of the Ghostbuster movies (or maybe just the first one as number two was just so-so).
It seems that a new GB movie is in the works and I am both very excited and very scared. While I think the premise is good, I’m not sure that having the 40 Year Old Virgin / Knocked Up / Superbad crew taking over for the “old guys” (aka Akroyd, Murray, Ramis and Hudson) as a sort of Ghostbusters: TNG will work out well.
As the latest Rocky, the latest Rambo, the latest Die Hard and the latest Indiana Jones all sucked donkey balls. I pray that the new Ghostbusters movie is at least as good as GB II, which isn’t saying that much mind you.
For your viewing pleasure, below is one of my favorite parts of the movie. I just have two words for you: mass hysteria!

Via Neu (once again)


7 Years Later

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I’m staring out my window right now, just staring at the blue sky that’s mixed in with white full clouds, clouds that can resemble plumes of smoke if you want them to. No plane is flying right at me as I stare out across Houston St eight floors above the ground. I’m not going to have to run out of this building as it burns, praying that I make it out before it collapses. Just like last year, I notice that no one is really acknowledging the solemness of today in my office. I am listening to co-workers laugh as they eat lunch and conduct business as usual.

Today is not normal. Today is September 11. Seven years ago I ran frightened up 5th Avenue as a plane roared overhead, thought about diving under a car to protect myself from the immanent crash because I was next to the Empire State Building and the Towers had fallen already but then someone screamed “Its one of ours!” and I saw that it was an F-16 and knew that I was okay for now. “One of ours.” The four American and United planes were ours too, that is before they weren’t.

A comment to a City Room post about the ceremony at ground zero reads, “To this day, when a plane passes overhead, I look at it with trepidation and feel my blood chill just a little.” and I feel the same exact way. Time marches on but we should never forget. I was working in NYC that day and so was my wife. One day our daughter will ask us what it was like and I will not know where to start. Before I left for work today I asked my wife, “What is our family disaster plan?” Just in case.
While walking my dog, I placed my annual bouquet of flowers – lilies this year – in front of my local firehouse and reviewed the plaque of the nine fighters who lost their lives that day which reads,

“There was a time when the world asked ordinary men to do extraordinary things”

Engine Company 22 and Ladder Company 13 lost 9 men on September 11th, 2001 and I felt like an intruder as I dropped off my flowers. The first moment of silence had passed and a large crowd was out front. I wanted to say “thanks” – thanks for making it your job to risk your life to save a stranger’s because my job is to manage web projects and that job feels so trivial on a day like today – but I didn’t know who to thank. I hope my presence said it all.