"Yes We Can" music video

Inspired by Obama’s speech in New Hampshire, Will.i.am (of the Black Eyed Peas) put together this amazing song and video: “www.dipdive.com”:http://www.dipdive.com/

“We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

Powerful stuff. Check it out.

Schooner Stephen Taber

Robin and I just got back from a four day wine tasting cruise on the Stephen Taber, an 18th century schooner out of Rockland, Maine. It was great being back on the Taber again with Captain Noah and his top-notch crew; last fall I sailed on the Taber with Julie and loved it so much I vowed then and there to come back with Robin for their wine cruise.

The evening before we headed out we got to spend a little time with Julie in the galley of the J&E Riggin where she works as galley hand and deck hand. It was great to see Jules in her element, and only wish we could have had more time together. We’ll just have to go back to see her soon 😉

Each day on the Taber started with hot coffee on deck, with breakfast served at 8:30. Hannah treated us to hearty breakfasts of French Toast, eggs and sausage, grits, and even some delicious scones.

After breakfast, we would raise sails and anchor, and Captain Noah would take us to someplace new. Since there are 4,000 islands or so off the Rockland coast, there is no shortage of destinations! One day we sailed to Deer Isle where we walked around in the town of Stonington (famous for its granite quarries) and shopped for gifts. Another day we explored the lighthouse at Owl’s Head, a small town south of Rockland. There were lots of sights and sounds, from beautiful island homes to various lighthouses, islands (inhabited and not), other schooners, seals sunning themselves on warm rocks, and even a few porpoises!

Every evening we dropped anchor in a different harbor, and Jane led the wine tasting. Each night she introduced us to different selection of wines, starting with some that were light and sparkling, followed by some tasty whites (my favorite), and finishing with to some delicious, mouth-filling reds. One night she ended with a port and a madeira to round things out.


Noah and Jane compare notes during the wine tasting

After the wine tasting Hannah served up dinner on deck. On the night Jane served wines from Italy we had osso buco; another night we had a classic Maine lobster bake.

Thee food on the Taber is first rate. Cook Hannah, assisted by Cara and Sarah, all worked tirelessly in the galley preparing one tasty meal after another. Amazingly enough, all cooking is done on an old fashioned wood stove.

The weather was exceptionally fine, adding to the perfect sail. First Mate Phil let me help out with the jibs when the ship came about, and showed us how to do a “long splice,” where he seamlessly joined two shorter lines into longer one. Deck hands Super Dave and the sprite-like Sarah had brass-polishing competitions in between hoisting sails and anchors and keeping things running smoothly. The amazing Cara (a dear friend of Julie’s) helped Hannah in the galley, where they churned out one delicious meal after another. These kids did an amazing job, and it was inspiring to watch them and learn from them.

Our fellow passengers were delightful, a fun-loving bunch that enjoyed wine, fine food, and sailing just as much as we did. We bonded over stories and laughter, food and wine, and the incredible shared experience of sailing on the beautiful ship that is the Taber.

Each evening, after the wine tasting and dinner, the captain and crew brought out their instruments and entertained us with a wide variety of music, from the captain’s blues and Phil’s touching rendition of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” to Cara and Sarah’s “Amazing Grace” duet, and Cara’s playing Swedish and Norwegian folk songs on her fiddle. The perfect ending to each perfect day.

The hospitality of the captain and crew really made us feel welcome and pampered, and their skill and professionalism made us feel safe and at home.

Casa de Rane

It was great hearing Rane play at Club Metronome last Friday, it had definitely been to long since they’ve been up and the music as always was superb. They all came back to the house afterwards and played cards way later than I could stay up, unfortunately. I love leisurely Saturday mornings with a houseful of Rane and friends, and get a kick out of making breakfast for them. They’d persuaded Wade and Jen to come back, and it was so good to catch up with all of them. They all know me as Unka Dave, a title I’m proud to wear.

Dan gave Calvin a bass lesson, which they both enjoyed, and it was great to see him being a mentor to the boy.

The band brought Kelly and Jordan up with them on Friday, and we got to hang with them and share Nectar’s fries, Club Met, a tour of Magic Hat brewery and a fine dinner at Roque’s before we dropped them off at the train station Sunday morning. A wonderful, full weekend, and it was a pleasure having them up, tho their visit was way too brief.

I had a brief anxiety attack an hour later when Kelly called to say she’d accidentally taken my MacBook instead of hers. I considered trying to overtake the train in my car, but realized that with the lead it had I wouldn’t catch up until Springfield, MA, a seven hour round trip. I realized I could actually work just fine on her laptop, and will only be without my Macbook for a week, since we’ll be visiting them next weekend.

It’s a quiet Monday morning now, gray and cold outside, just me and Julie and the dogs. I miss having a houseful of dear wonderful people, our extended family, and look forward to the next time they’re all up.

France vs. Apple's DRM: A Third Way?

I’m reading today on MacNN that Denmark is considering legislation similar to the law passed in France this past week, which forces Apple to open up their FairPlay DRM to competitors. Conventional Wisdom says that Apple, faced with either
1) allowing songs from the iTunes Music to play on rival MP3 players or
2) leaving France
will do the latter since it’s such a minor piece of Apple business, and the lesser of two evils.

But I’m wondering if it’s possible for Apple to take a third way: dropping its DRM completely, removing the protection that keeps its songs from playing on other players, and keeping the songs from being pirated. Does the French law supercede any agreements Apple has with the music publishers to protect those songs with DRM?

Just a thought…

DDR

Some of my favorite videogames are music-based games. The first was Space Channel Five on Dreamcast a few years ago, and more recently I’ve been playing a lot of Lumines on PSP. Both games were designed by the same guy (no surprise), and each is wonderful in its own way.

My latest game obsession and guilty pleasure is Dance Dance Revolution on the PlayStation 2. The idea of the game is pretty simple. You have a mat on the floor with up, down, left and right arrows. The videogame plays a song, and arrows scroll up the screen in time to the music. When an arrow falls on a beat, you step on the corresponding arrow on the mat. Points are awarded not only when you hit the correct arrow, but also by how close you are to hitting it exactly on the beat. At the end of each song the game grades you (A, B, C, D, or E) and shows you details of how you did (how many perfect hits, misses, etc).

The game starts off relatively gently on Beginner level, with an arrow coming up few beats so you have time to figure out which foot to move, how to balance so you don’t fall over, etc. As you get the hang of it you can bump the level so that arrows come faster, and sometimes you step on two arrows at the same time (appropriately called a “jump”). At more advanced modes the arrows come fast and furious, with lots of jumps and even a few half-beat arrows thrown in.

I’m still on the “Light” level, one step up from “Beginner.” I’m decent at that level, and have been working the last few days on getting my accuracy up (hitting the arrows exactly on the beat). I also discovered Training mode, where you can slow down the impossible, higher-level songs to better practice them.


On the left are two measures of steps at “Light” level from “Break Down,” an infectious J-Pop dance tune that plays at a frenetic 190 beats per minute. The steps are on the beat: Up, right, down, rest, left+right, rest, left+right, rest. At a little over 3 beats per second, that’s some quick stepping, but it’s doable. On the right are the same two measures from the next higher level, which they laughingly call “Standard” level. Same crazy fast beat, but notice that those pleasant little rests are gone, and instead of a couple left+right jumps with a rest in between the second measure is now up, left+right, left, left+down just to make sure you’re paying attention.

The only way I can keep up with the (ha ha) “Standard” level is to slow it way down. Even slowed down it’s exhausting, but it’s still a lot of fun, and a great workout. I gotta say I’ve lost a few pounds because of this game! I took a peek at the highest level (“Heavy”), and they’ve thrown in arrows on the eighth beat (1, 2, 3, 4 becomes 1 and 2 and three and four) for twice the number of steps in the same amount of time. Short of using some kind of bullet time, I can’t imagine how anyone could do that, but I hear people do. And get scores of A and better. Me, just I aspire to being able to do Standard level without dying.

I’ve discovered I’m not the only one who enjoys the game, Calvin’s picked it up and when Tom and Pam came over the other night they had a blast playing it as well. Who’da thought?

A side effect of the game (along with feeling more fit and having sore leg muscles) is all these fast-paced dance songs going thru my head all day. iTunes has some of them, like Heaven and Will I?, but I had to dig harder and resort to P2P to find my favorite little “Break Down.”

Rane

Last night I took Calvin and Gage to catch the Rane show at Nectar’s. Great music and a great performance, they even played a couple songs from their upcoming album. A high point was when Jen Hartswick joined the band onstage and belted out “Pieces of Me,” the song Ashlee Simpson had problems with on Saturday Night Live. The kids enjoyed the show, I’m glad they went.

Afterwards the band came back to the house and I stayed up way past my bedtime to hang with them. I love it when Rane is in town, they’re a great bunch of guys and it makes my week having them stay here.

They had to head out early this morning, something about Bowman picking up a cat for his girlfriend Cory, and they gave him the expected amount of shit for that. It’s too bad they had to leave so soon, I feel bad they didn’t get to have breakfast before heading out.

Thanks guys, I’m already looking forward to your next gig here in VT.

Update 2/21: fixed typo and added links (thanks Robin).

Mashups

I’ve been enjoying the Kleptones’ mashup “Night at the Hip-Hopera” for the last few months, and they’ve just released “From Detroit to J.A.” which sounds great too.

I just ran across a mashup video of the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and The Monkee’s “I’m a Believer;” check it out.

Most mashups need to be hunted down (Google is a good place to start), and require you to learn a little about BitTorrents. But if your ears are tired of the same old thing and you want to hear something fresh and interesting, it’ll well be worth it.

Update March 1: Here’s a video mashup of Rambo audio and Iraqi war footage. Also a nice mashup of the Beatles’ Revolver album: Revolved.

Update March 4: Cool mashup of the Beatles For No One, Scissor Sisters’ Take Your Mama, George Michael’s Freedeom 90 and Aretha Franklin’s Think. It’s amazing how it all comes together: No One Takes Your Freedom.

Update March 5: Discovered CDX2, a great site with dozens of mashup downloads!