ahh, the smell of paper mill…

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whenever we make a trip out to visit the mother in law, part of our drive takes us along US route 58 in southern virginia. it’s the part that i dread the most when driving to and from virginia beach. there’s no other way for us to get there but through US 58. not only are the state troopers always out in full force ticketing speeders on that particular stretch of highway but every single time we pass near Franklin, VA there this awful hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs) smell that is thick and unavoidable and lingers about for a good twenty minutes of the drive through the area. how on earth can folks live around a paper mill??? it’s not like the paper mill is out in the middle of desolate area. you can see the plant off in the distance overlooking the whole town which includes residential homes, restaurants, hotels, stores etc. do residents just get used to the smell? does it not bother them after an extended period of exposure? what are the health risks associated with living near a paper mill? i can’t imagine living with the stench like that. it’s horrid.  how do paper mills manage to continue to operate when they are obviously polluting the environment with toxic chemicals? and now that we as a society are relying less and less on paper, are plants like these finally going to shut down?  when will our drive through south east virginia finally be stench free?? 

van halen put on hold???

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holy crap. van halen is definitely a living, breathing soap opera!! every week there’s some update from the wacky world of David Lee Roth and the Van Halen brothers. the latest news is that the summer reunion tour is postponed indefinitely. … ummm, whatever that means. who knows, this could all be some big publicity stunt to keep Van Halen/David Lee Roth in the headlines until they finally do make an official tour announcement down the road. it could all be simply some twisted way to build up the hype…. no one seems to know for sure at this point…

as per usual with the van halen rock n roll circus, there’s definitely more to come…

fresh new music

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you know in this day and age with ipods, multiple cd changers in our cars, mp3 jukebox players on our computers, we constantly end up with the need for new and fresh music. things get a bit stale when you’re working out and you hear the same old batch of tunes day in and day out. or when you’re stuck in morning traffic, listening to the same set of CDs in the car CD changer just adds to the frustration. well time to throw out the obvious and be bold and go for the unknown. the unsigned. how about some up and coming Latin Bands? rock, hip hop, metal or jazz? hear them all before they make it big and go all corporate on us. the website is set up so that we can easily browse through different categories and stumble upon something we like. all the while listening to some fresh, unique, exciting and new music.

This post was sponsored by unsigned.com

would you like cheese with that pledge?

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i caught the tail end of the Sarah Brightman: Diva broadcast on public television last night. who was the genius at the local PBS affiliate that thought that showing a bunch of old Sarah Brightman music videos would garner donation pledges from viewers? watching her outdated videos from the eighties and nineties, i couldn’t really fathom that there would be a broad viewing audience for this type of material. i don’t consider myself an all out fan of Brightman’s but i do enjoy listening to some of her recorded work (i tend to cherry pick from her catalog b/c there are times when her voice seems to have the scary ability to crack windows and eardrums). anyway, i had a good laugh watching some of Brightman’s CHEEZY old videos. the worst offenders (at least from what i viewed last night) were the videos for Amigo Para Siempre with Jose Carreras and the Phantom of the Opera video directed by Ken Russell. In the video with Carreras, you can tell it was a rush job.  simply a montage of unrelated shots with Brightman and Carreras acting so awkward together. it’s hilariously bad. as for the Ken Russell video, good lord, when was this one made?? it’s so amateurish-ly edited and shot and Brightman’s doing some major “Barney Fife’s bug eye” imitations in this one. har, har.  the video almost crosses over into the Kate Bush-type weirdness but more on the campy side of things.   simply awful.  If the local PBS affiliate somehow managed to collect any donations last night it was probably viewers in desperate need to get these taste-impaired video clips off the air!!

pipes of peace remastered import

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Recently, I was intending to upgrade my old CBS/Columbia issued CD of Paul McCartney’s Pipes of Peace with the UK remastered import but sadly the so called remastered version isn’t all that superior to the standard version of the CD. Pipes of Peace is one of those often overlooked McCartney albums but for me personally it’s probably in my top ten if not top five of my all time favorites albums by Sir Paul. Yes, it’s partly due to nostalgia but you can probably say that about any McCartney or Beatles songs. Back when it was first released (when i was around 13 or so) i listened to that album constantly. studying all aspects of the songs, the way they sounded, the layers of harmonies and instrumentation, the interesting percussion work and of course the lyrics and wonderful melodies. Songwriting-wise, i do agree with most of the critics about the album being a bit inferior to his all time classic - Tug of War. but there are still some quality tracks on the album including Pipes of Peace, Keep Under Cover, So Bad, Sweetest Little Show and Through Our Love. as for the sound quality of the remastered CD, I have to say that i’m disappointed. It sounds like the record company simply re-EQed the existing master (boosting the highs and the low end with no attention to detail) and repressed the CD and charged the unknowing public double for it. not a lot of care went into this reissue. at times the sound sounds harsh or tinny. on some songs the bass sounds a bit unbalanced. take for instance, Keep Under Cover. there’s some great bass guitar work in the song with the bassist Stanley Clarke doing some nice runs in the lower register as well as the higher register. the way that they EQed the CD, the bass notes in the upper range disappear in the mix and the very low end boosted a bit too much. overall we lose a lot of definition in the midrange b/c of the screwy EQ they set on this thing. The original CBS/Columbia issue didn’t sound all that great either in terms of overall CD fidelity but at least the digital transfer wasn’t over EQed. so for now i’m going to keep both versions of Pipes of Peace in my collection but i’ll be waiting for Sir Paul (and/or his recording company) to reissue his back catalog again hopefully with more care in the improvement of  sound quality. but it may be awhile since it has been known for years that McCartney doesn’t seem to be interested in his back catalog at all.

wirefly

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i’d be interested in knowing what the average lifespan of a cell phone is nowadays. i’ve only had my current cell for about two years or so which doesn’t seem all that long in owning a cell phone but i feel that familiar itch starting again which is basically telling me it’s time to upgrade my phone. i don’t necessarily need to switch phones but man, have you seen the latest cell phones with the sleek new designs and all the neat high tech features? it all makes my current phone look like it was manufactured back in the dark ages. check out wirefly for all the latest models as well as the best plans available from all the major providers. a couple of phones that i’m interested in are the Motorola KRZR K1m and the Samsung A990. The KRZR features a 1.3 megapixel camera, video capabilities, a music player and GPS service support. that’s definitely a big upgrade from my current cell. but look at the Samsung A990 - it’s got a 3.2 megapixel camera which is more resolution than the digital camera that i currently own. the samsung features EV-DO technology which brings the phone to near broadband quality in speed, you can stream videos and music and it even has voice recognition capabilities. now that’s something to get excited about. find these two phones along with a vast selection of the latest and greatest at wirefly - the #1 cell phone shopping site on the net. and while you’re there be sure to check out the latest plans being offered through all the major carriers. i’m actually looking at the various multi-phone family plans myself. there are some really good deals being offered at the moment.

This post was sponsored by wirefly.com.

rhymes with runt

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OK, how many of you caught that Todd Rundgren reference during last night’s episode of 30 Rock? Being a lifelong Rundgren fan, i almost choked on a mouthful of dorritos when Tina Fey’s character told Frank and Pete that she’s been called a word that rhymes with Frank’s favorite Todd Rundgren album. and Frank goes “something that rhymes with Hermit of Mink Hollow?” she actually meant something that rhymes with Runt but that was the joke. sadly i don’t think a lot of viewers understood that Todd reference. most people were probably asking “Todd who?” or “what? something that rhymes with Hello It’s Me?? huh?”. anyway, it was totally cool to see that a writer (maybe even Tina Fey) on one of my favorite NBC comedies actually knows (and maybe even likes) who Todd Rundgren is. way cool. and you know, it was pretty brave of Tina Fey and staff to even put that reference in knowing that less than half of the general viewing public (maybe even less than that! yikes!) would even know that Todd had an album called Runt. even as a fan, i wouldn’t place it on my top five albums of his. …and since we’re on the subject, here’s *my* top five Todd albums. …you know, just for the record.

1) Liars - Todd’s most recent solo album and probably one of his most satisfying. incredible songwriting and performance from start to finish. man, after all this time releasing album after album, the man still has something to say. topics run the gamut including politics, religion, relationships and even the afterlife.

 

2) Nearly Human - his most soulful and emotional album. this was my top pick until Liars came along. songs like Parallel Lines, Can’t Stop Running, Hawking and Fidelity are true Rundgren classics. it’s a shame that the album is currently out of print. the CD is a must have for any music fan.

 

3) Something/Anything? - This is classic 70’s Todd at his most accessible. this is probably what he’s most known for. the double CD’s got - Hello It’s Me, I Saw the Light, Couldn’t I just Tell You, Black maria and It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference.

 

4) A Wizard a True Star - this is Todd’s Sgt. Pepper. tons of ideas, sometimes bizarre, other times tuneful and catchy. but pure Todd. definitely nothing like it. this was released back in 1973 but it was way ahead of its time. for sure. the album is a good example why he’s called a musical genius. highlights include: Zen Archer, International Feel, Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel, Just one Victory.

5) The Definitive Rock Collection - it’s the latest compilation from Rhino Records. there are a lot of compilations out there but if i had to pick one, this one would do the trick. it does a good job in covering all the bases of Todd’s long and eclectic career.

 

To find out more about Todd Rundgren, head on over to the ultimate fan site - TRconnection.com

XTC and dolls

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now i see why one of my favorite groups XTC ain’t recording albums anymore. they’re too busy playing with dolls!! here’s the youtube link for a puppet show actually performed by Andy, Dave and Colin of XTC. it’s a sort of history of the group up until 1989’s Oranges & Lemons album. with dolls. *blink, blink. crickets chirping in the background.*

in all seriousness, Andy Partridge has been quoted recently in saying that it is highly unlikely that there will be any new music by XTC. apparently Colin Moulding doesn’t want to write music anymore. and so Andy is pretty much on his own. click here for the pitchfork article.

oh and before i forget, here’s an article from the defunct magazine Tracks that confirms that Andy does indeed play with dolls. er, umm, toy soldiers.
and here’s the XTC puppet show -

drinks on me!

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those that know me, know that i’m your basic beer kind of guy. i’m not totally into complicated and outlandish mixed drinks. if we are out at a party with a large group i may somehow end up with the basics of mixed drinks like rum & coke or the long island iced tea. people tell me that i need to open up more and try new things. you know, a time for change and to break out of the norm. well, now that i think about it, there is a new type of Vodka that I heard about recently called X Rated Fusion Liqueur. it’s a french vodka mixed with Provence blood oranges, Brazilian mangos and passion fruit. The name and the color definitely catches your eye. since i’ve been told to be bold and open-minded i might have to try out some of their interesting drink recipes that have up on their website. hhhmmmm, you know what, i think change will do me some good…

This post brought to you on behalf of Daucourt Martin Imports

the good husband

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elaine and i (plus our two year old) had a nice valentine’s lunch over at the carolina ale house today. the kitchen was a bit slow in getting us our food especially with our impatient two year old at the table. but it was all worth the wait. elaine had a surprisingly good specialty pasta dish with nice sized scallops and i had my usual bleu cheese burger. i so love blue cheese on a burger. yum.  oh and the two year old had the chicken nuggets but mainly had the fries. but that’s OK b/c they have some great fries over there. so with a bouquet of tulips (elaine’s favorite) and a nice lunch out, i do believe i’ve earned some points over valentine’s day. hooray for me! :)

look sharp!

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you know, as i get a bit older, I’m noticing that what somehow worked for me in terms of clothes back in my twenties, don’t seem to look right on me now. the *don’t care what i look like t-shirt and jeans* type look just doesn’t really sit well when i’m now at an age where respectability and proper appearances factor in a lot more than before. so a major overhaul of my wardrobe is long overdue. so, where should one look to get the latest tips and advice on current casual wear and business attire? well in the age of the internet, Belisi’s Sharp by Design blog is a great site to turn to. a recent post focuses on the fall lineup in men’s fashion - Belisi Blog: Menís fashion heads in a new direction. Belisi’s got the pulse of the fashion world and he reports that the retro-futuristic look with a dash of femininity is what’s *in*. he mentions seeing a lot of microfiber cotton and wool leggings in a variety of colors which is a bit surprising to read. i can’t really imagine myself sporting violet colored leggings. especially to the office but hey if the boss comes in one day with those on, i’m sure it’ll open the legging floodgates!!! Belisi also reports that skinny jacket/tie/slacks look is coming back. if you think back to the early eighties with the Knack, Utopia and other power pop bands, you’ll remember the look. anyway, Sharp By Design is a great site that i visit frequently and gleen lots of fashion information from. if you’re interested on updating your fashion sense, be sure to check it out.

greatest show? eh, not so much…

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from what i can tell, Raleigh either got the B (or C) level touring group of the Ringling Bros. Circus show at the RBC Center this past week or the quality of talent/creativity has severely declined over the years. fortunately what they did have was enough to keep Alec and his fellow kindergarteners happy. so for anyone older than the age of six, we here at DLee.us highly recommend that you NOT waste your hard earned money on this year’s version of the travelling circus. it’s simply NOT the greatest show on earth!!

here are a couple more photos from the circus:

random grammy thoughts

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man, after that newly reformed Police’s rendition of Roxanne, everything pretty much went downhill from there don’t ya think? was Sting singing the song in the original key? i didn’t get to verify but it’d be amazing if he could still sing in the same register. I love watching Stewart Copeland on the drums. the man can really play!! God i hope the promoters for their summer tour won’t overinflate the ticket prices! pppbbffftttt, who am i kidding? oh, Corinne Bailey Rae’s song was nice. I hate the way John Mayer appears to be so full of himself. yeah, i like his guitar playing but that’s about it. oh, either Luke Wilson is short or Mandy Moore is pretty tall. heh. man that Eagles tribute was a bit too long and needless i say. they ain’t dead or nothin’, right? OK, mark your calendar… this is the day that i no longer have any interest for the Dixie Chicks. man, they could have taken this opportunity to not only be graceful, thankful and humble but also reiterate what the group stood for and fought for these past few years but NO, the girls, especially Natalie Maines looked like babbling idiots that really didn’t appreciate winning the awards. so, they are crossed off my list. i was even considering watching their new documentary on DVD before but not anymore! wow, smokey robinson pleading to the millions of tv viewers to take a good look at his botoxed face. freaky! heh, i bet Lionel Richie hates singing *Hello* sooooo muuucchhh. probably as much as James Blunt hates singing *You’re Beautiful* for the ummpteenthhh time. double heh. and what was Quentin Tarantino *on* yelling the nominees like that at the end there. his face got red from yelling like that. i couldn’t tell if he was joking or if he was simply high. end of rambling.
check out the highlight of the evening [via youtube]:

Asia, Styx and Foreigner to tour together!

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OK, here’s the latest word on the street for fans of early eighties AOR (the eighties radio format called Album Oriented Rock) - a big tour package for this coming summer is in the works. It looks like there might be a tour with Asia, Foreigner and Styx together on the same bill! They’re still working out the details but a couple of dates have popped up on livenation.com already. I’m sure the big official announcement from management will be sent out in the next couple weeks. OK, so pull out those old members-only jackets, the acid wash jeans and aqua-net your hair b/c it’s time to rock out with some old friends from the big 80’s!!!

*update 12Feb07* here’s the updated list of dates for the tour so far:

Thu 06/14/07 Atlanta, GA Chastain Park Amphitheatre
Fri 06/15/07 Raleigh, NC Alltel Pavilion @ Walnut Creek
Sat 06/16/07 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amp. Charlotte
Sun 06/17/07 Bristow, VA Nissan Pavilion
Thu 06/21/07 Mansfield, MA Tweeter Center
Fri 06/22/07 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center
Sat 06/23/07 Wantagh, NY Nikon At Jones Beach Theater
Thu 06/28/07 Scranton, PA Toyota Pavilion @ Montage Mountain
Fri 06/29/07 Camden, NJ Tweeter Center At The Waterfront
Sat 06/30/07 Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Hotel Casino / Spa
Sun 07/01/07 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun
Tue 07/03/07 Milwaukee, WI Summerfest

 

 


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