Friday, November 30, 2007

Caught in a Web

As I sit in my car dealer’s service waiting area, with experts working on my SUV’s brakes, I’m feeling like a wise man atop a mountain in China.

I’m getting very philosophical, pondering the value of my time.

I’m not trapped here; I’ve chosen this. Parking my ass in this stale lounge for a couple of hours—instead of out and about in a loaner car—made sense because the waiting area features wireless Internet access.

I predicted I could check my e-mail accounts, keep in touch with clients, get up to speed on world events and sports news, and even look into some of your blogs.

I predicted incorrectly. The wireless portal here, it turns out, blocks a few categories of sites.

Like “News.”

Comment: What are they afraid of? It seems especially odd because I’m watching CNN on the TV screen right in front of me.

Also blocked: “Sports.”

Comment: This one floors me. I hate to be sexist, but … nine of the eleven people lingering here are men, and few things pass men’s time as quickly as reading useless stories about useless sporting events.

I can’t get to my e-mail accounts because “Organizational E-mail” is verboten.

Comment: One might think it’s the most obvious thing to enable customers to access. One would be wrong.

So here I am, shut off from 75% of the Web—about 99% of what I want to do.

I take the plunge into the next level of Internet hell, but “Social Networking Sites” is next on the hit list.

Comment: Blogs? No way. We wouldn’t want our waiting guests to see their time fly by, would we?!?

With a sigh, I resort to the ultimate time-waster. Yes, I head for the free games available on the Orbitz site. (If you haven’t yet checked these out, I recommend you don’t. In particular, avoid "Stacker" and "8-Ball;" don't say I didn't warn you.)

Leaning back in my faux leather chair, I resign myself to 90 minutes or more as a mindless blob.

Nope. The portal blocks access to “Entertainment” sites as well.

Comment: Grrrrr. I think I’d have better Internet access atop a mountain in China.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Quiet Riot Singer Kevin Dubrow: Dead

So, I just got back from a Thanksgiving trip and settled in. I looked forward to seeing your comments and putting together some smart-ass post.

That was before I saw the news today.

According to this story up on, Kevin Dubrow (lead singer of pop metal pioneers Quiet Riot) was found dead at his home in Las Vegas today at the age of 52.

Like many of us that came of musical age in the 1980s, Quiet Riot was my first quasi-metal band. I had no idea that Ozzy Osbourne guitar legend Randy Rhoads had been in the band. I knew nothing about the group, really.

But with “Cum on Feel the Noise” and the follow-up “Bang Your Head (Metal Health),” they got me hooked on that guilty pleasure of the ‘80s (well, at least one of them): hair metal. Say what you will about Dubrow’s scary hair. And argue all you want that his voice wasn’t the best in rock.

But a piece of my past has died.

And the sad part is that he was only 52. Not young, I know—but he wasn’t even on my list of “Most Likely Celebrities To Die.” Yes, I have such a list … and if Dubrow would have appeared on it, he would’ve been far below #95: Dustin Diamond, “Screech” from Saved by the Bell.

I will listen to my Quiet Riot albums with a different mood this week.

And you should all hope that Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy, Crüe’s Vince Neil, Metallica’s James Hetfield, and Tesla’s Jeff Keith stay healthy. I couldn't handle losing more of my past right now.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Music To My Eyes

When I look at fine art, I see beauty.

Well, sometimes. Much of the time, I only see crap. I’m not exactly the most cultured alter ego in the world.

But it’s not often that I hear things when I stare at a painting.

That’s about to change, however, because of a discovery in one of the most famous works of art in history. A computer technician and musician in Italy says he’s discovered musical notes hidden in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

It seems that millions of art historians and interested tourists have missed the clues for more than 500 years. The Italian codebreaker drew the five lines of the standard musical staff across a copy of the painting—and discovered that the hands of those sitting at the table and the loaves of bread on it represented musical notes.

The notes apparently sounded like garbage (I’m imagining something like Nickelback) until he used one of Da Vinci’s own tricks. The master used to write some musical riddles from right to left, you see. Playing the unearthed notes backwards in a slow rhythm—suggested by other clues in the painting—reveals a requiem-sounding hymn lasting 40 seconds that fits the somber mood of the depicted scene.

For years, with books like The Da Vinci Code, we’ve been searching art for things like secret mysteries of the Catholic Church. All this time, we’ve been missing great pieces of music concealed within paintings.

I’m guessing these works actually contain earlier versions of the following songs:

Monet’s Water Lilies: The Commodores’ “Still” and Dave Mathews Band’s “Don’t Drink the Water”

Dali’s The Persistence of Memory: Pink Floyd’s “Time” and Coldplay’s “Clocks”

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes : Rush’s “Ceiling Unlimited” and Poison’s “Look But You Can’t Touch”

Van Gogh’s The Starry Night: Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” and Moby’s “We Are All Made of Stars”

Wood’s American Gothic: John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Small Town” and Pearl Jam’s “Daughter”

Picasso’s Guernica: Iron Maiden’s “Killers” and Slayer’s “Raining Blood”

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa: Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch”

Munch’s The Scream: The entire Judas Priest catalog.