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Time for a little self-promotion…

Thrillpeddlers – San Francisco’s one-of-a-kind shock and horror theatre company – will be performing my short play “The Torture Of Cavaradossi” this week as part of their “Lovers and Other Monsters” Valentine’s Spectacular. My play features gothic chanteuse Jill Tracy as an opera-obsessed prostitute who re-enacts the famous torture scene from Puccini’s opera “Tosca” with a client. Hilarity ensues when a couple of escaped lunatics get tangled up in the elaborate charade.

“Lovers and Other Monsters” happens February 12 – 17, 2008 at The Hypnodrome, 575 10th Street, San Francisco. (MAP) Tickets are $20 each, or $69 gets you a private “Shock Box” for two. They can be purchased from Brown Paper Tickets.

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The rest of the “Lovers and Other Monsters” program includes:

  • Jill Tracy in concert with violinist Paul Mercer.
  • Former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra and industrial music pioneer Monte Cazazza interviewed live by Re-Search publisher V. Vale.
  • “Zombied” – Yusef Lambert’s classic zombie genre chomper played live before your very eyes! Directed by Russell Blackwood.
  • “The Erotic World of Paris.” – Author Mel Gordon previews his upcoming book, the Parisian companion piece to his “Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin“.
  • “The Music of Erich Zann” – H.P. Lovecraft’s haunting short story adapted for the stage and directed by Jonathan Horton with music composed and performed by Paul Mercer and featuring Eric Tyson Wertz. “Lights-Out” Spookshow!

…And much, much more! Visit the Brown Paper Tickets website for more details about which acts will be playing on which nights.

Russell Blackwood and I started Thrillpeddlers back in the 1990′s as an outlet for our interest in Grand Guignol theatre. Over the years we built up an impressive repertoire of classic Grand Guinol plays and original works in a similar style. Though I haven’t been involved in the operations of the company for a few years, I still contribute some writing. My play “Brush With Death” will be performed this spring (if I manage to get the re-writes finished).

If you’re in the Bay Area, not too squeamish, and looking for a unique Valentine’s experience, “Lovers and Other Monsters” is a show you won’t soon forget.

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If Ritchie Hawtin ever mates with an iPod, their love-child will certainly resemble Tonium’s new Pacemaker portable DJ mixer. The all-in-one hand-held Pacemaker emulates a traditional DJ set-up of two ‘decks” and a mixer. It features a 120 GB hard drive, pitch control, a crossfader, on-board effects, EQ control, and more. Tonium is currently taking pre-orders through their website. The price is 520 Eruos (or about $760 as of this writing). It’s supposed to begin shipping next month.

As a hopeless bedroom DJ and gadget geek, I can’t help but get all tingly at the thought of getting my hands on one of these. However, I’m not too sure what I would really use it for. Maybe on a long flight it would keep me occupied, but otherwise, I rarely find myself at an event that’s looking for an impromptu DJ. And even if I was, plugging in the Pacemaker to a sound system doesn’t seem much more convenient than plugging in my laptop and using DJ software. Anyway, there’s no denying the ‘cool factor’ of this little package, and if you were to whip it out at a dull party, there’s no question that you’d be going home with all the hotties.

And speaking of hotties, Kat from Shiny Media posted a posted a great video demo and review of the Tonium Pacemaker yesterday. If you take your eyes off her cleavage for a moment, you’ll be able to spot the Pacemaker just off to the right.

[Tech Digest via Gizmodo]

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My hipster cred plummets as I admit to never hearing of this band until a couple of weeks ago, but my shame melts away as I crank up the volume on this lush and crunchy collection of lo-fi jams.

“Classics,” released in 2006, was the second album from NYC-based duo Ratatat. It’s all instrumental, and deceptively simple, but I connected with this music instantly and it’s been on repeat ever since. Analog synths, fuzzed-out guitars, and chunky drums rule my world.

You can download Classics from Amazon.com or from iTunes. (Hint: Amazon is cheaper and is DRM-free).

With Apple’s MacBook Air hitting the streets this week, the Internet is awash in Air unboxing galleries, videos, and forum threads. Yes, I’ve been wearing my fanboy pants and drooling right along with the rest of you. But all of that excitement pales in comparison to the unboxing thrills I felt today when my new Saucony Hurricanes arrived on my doorstep.

Saucony ProGrid Hurricane 9, to be precise. And, boy, are they sweet. After waiting weeks for Zappos to get my size 14D’s in stock, I finally found them on Amazon. I’ve been wearing Hurricanes since I started running in 2003, beginning with the 6′s. They’ve consistently been the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. This time around, I thought I’d try something new, and initially bought a pair of Asics Gel-Foundation 7‘s. They always seem to get very high marks from runners, and they’re $30 less then the Sauconys. But the Asics just didn’t fit right; they were the right size, but the arch supports hit the wrong part of my foot and I felt the pronation correction was just too pronounced, making me feel like I was running on the outside edges of my feet. And they were heavy. I sent them back after just a few minutes on the treadmill.

My new Hurricane 9′s fit me like a glove. They’re light, well-ballanced, and perfectly cushioned; when I’m wearing them it feels like I’m walking on a cloud (oooh, these fanboy pants really work). Anyway, what’s an unboxing without documentation? On with the photos…

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Find lost music

Lifehacker’s Adam Pash posted a short piece yesterday on creating a “Best of 2007″ playlist in iTunes. He suggests setting up a smart playlist that finds all music added in 2007 with a play count of 25 or more. It’s a nice idea, but as I thought about it, it occurred to me that I already know my most-played songs from last year, and what’s more, I’m pretty tired of them. I’ve moved on.

A more interesting idea (to me, anyway) is putting together a list of least-played music of 2007. If you’re a compulsive music collector like me, or suffer from an advanced case of M.A.D.D. (music attention deficit disorder) there are probably a lot of tracks in iTunes that you never got around to listening to. Did you buy that Led Zeppelin box set last year? In my case, for example, I downloaded Feist’s last album from Amazon on the strength of the iPod nano commercial. It’s a great album, and I’ve listened to the first 5 or 6 songs several times, but I never quite made it through to the end (M.A.D.D strikes again). I also ripped a handful of old CD’s to iTunes last year (the never-ending project) but never ended up playing them.

There’s probably a lot of great music hidden away in your “lost” tracks, and it’s easy to find. Just set up a smart playlist of all music added in 2007 with a play count of 0. If you religiously listen to every new song at least once, you may need adjust the play count to 1, just to flesh out your playlist a bit. I also add rules to exclude unplayed Podcasts and videos, because it turns out I have a lot of those, too.

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The zero-play-count playlist has been a staple of my music listening habits for years. It’s an essential component of my iPhone music set-up, which I plan to write about soon.

When you’re itching for some new music, don’t forget about all of the lost gems already lurking in your iTunes library. One of your “lost” tracks from 2007 may wind up being one of your favorite songs in 2008.


Watch Report has posted a review of the Nike Amp+ watch/remote control for the Nike+iPod system. The Nike Amp+ is a light-weight plastic band with iPod controls and a cool LED watch display built in. It controls your iPod nano when connected to the Nike+iPod Sport Kit dongle. The review covers all the basics, and ends with a summary of their overall impressions:

The Nike Amp+ is a great concept, and it functions quite well, but there are a couple of drawbacks:

  • You have to press a button to see the time. The advantage of LEDs is that they are very bright and easy to see in low-light conditions or while running, but the disadvantage is that they are power hungry, and would deplete the battery if they were on all the time. That’s why you have to activate the display by pressing a button.
  • The animation is cool, but it takes a bit longer to read the time because of it.

Of course, there are more than enough advantages:

  • Great way to control your iPod while on the move. The Amp+ let’s you keep your iPod safely tucked away where it’s not at risk of being dropped or getting ruined by water.
  • Integrates nicely with the Nike + iPod kit for a very complete music/data/remote solution.
    Lightweight and comfortable.
  • Stylish enough to wear all the time — not just when running.

The Nike Amp+ is a pretty impressive piece of technology. It’s both visually and functionally well designed, and is perfect for any athletic technophile.

One question they don’t answer is whether the remote only works when you’re in Nike+iPod workout mode, or if it also works when you’re just listening to music (provided the dongle is attached, of course). I’m sure the answer’s out there, I’m just too lazy to hit the Google right now. Anybody know?

I’m still not sure whether I’ll be picking up one of these any time soon. On the one hand (get it?), it’s a pretty cool looking watch, and the iPod controls would be nice to have. On the other, I’ve never really found it too difficult to skip tracks or adjust volume while running. At $80, I find it just a little too pricey for the extra utility it provides. Still, the video makes it look pretty cool…

lolcloverfieldAdrien and I went to see Cloverfield on Sunday, and while it wasn’t the transcendent movie-going experience that I was hoping for, it was certainly a whole lotta fun. If you’re a monster-movie aficionado, be sure to stay for the credits. They roll for a minute or two in near silence, but then the movie’s only scored music begins… and what thrilling music it is. The piece is called “Roar,” written by prolific movie and video game composer Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Medal of Honor, Call of Duty). An obvious homage to Akira Ifukube’s iconic Godzilla theme, I found it every bit as exciting as the movie itself… maybe more.

Surprisingly, the movie credits offered very little information about “Roar”. No mention of which orchestra performed it, who conducted, or where it was recorded. On the way home, we popped into a nearby Apple store and I jumped onto a computer to search iTunes for “Roar.” Nothing. Amazon? Nope. It turns out that “Roar” hasn’t been released yet. There are some rumors that it will be released on iTunes soon, and I guess it’s a pretty safe bet that it will be eventually, but why the delay? I’d like to think it’s a clever marketing ploy to whip up movie-score-fanboy frenzy across the Internet, but it’s more likely just some last-minute rights wrangling between high-paid Hollywood lawyers and agents.

But if it’s fanboy frenzy they want, I’m prepared to give it to them. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, you can check out this excerpt, crudely recorded at a movie theater by some chatty cell-phone toting pirates.

The Wall Street Journal just posted this article:

Steve Jobs in Wall Street Journal“Facing a backlash from early buyers of the iPhone, Apple Inc. said it would issue a $100 credit for Apple Stores to iPhone users who paid full price for the product.

The move, announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a letter posted on Apple’s Web site, was meant to assuage the bitterness early iPhone users began to express following Apple’s announcement Wednesday that it was cutting by $200 the price of Apple’s $599 iPhone. Early iPhone users vented their frustration about the price cut in online discussion forums throughout yesterday evening and today.

In the letter addressed to all iPhone customers, Mr. Jobs said he personally received hundreds of emails from iPhone customers who “are upset about Apple dropping the price of iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale.”

He apologized for disappointing iPhone customers and said that anyone who bought the Apple cellphone in an Apple or AT&T Inc. store, who isn’t eligible for a rebate, can receive a $100 Apple store credit. Mr. Jobs said further details will be posted on Apple’s Web site next week.

Read the full letter from Steve Jobs.

Looks like Apple is trying to make sure that today’s iPhone price cut isn’t seen as a sign of flagging iPhone sales. From the New York Times:

On Wednesday, Apple executives insisted that the price cut had been planned long ago and that the strategy had been conceived in part to keep the iPhone’s pricing in line with its new iPod Touch, a music player that looks like the iPhone but lacks the phone-calling ability. The sharp price cut, however, suggested that even Apple, which has long lived in a pricing bubble insulated from other personal computer makers, is not immune from the brutal pressures of the cellular phone business.

Apple can spin it any way they want, but if iPhones were still flying off the shelves at the rate they predicted, there’s no way they would have announced such a drastic price cut.

Hopefully the negative backlash will die down quickly, and won’t do more harm than good.

Today, just two months after its introduction, Apple announced that they were dropping the price of the 8GB iPhone from $600 to $400. This news has set off a firestorm of anger among early adopters, many of whom are Apple’s biggest fans and supporters. I have to admit, I felt the sting myself. I still love my iPhone, and think it’s worth every penny of the $600 I spent, but who wouldn’t want to have bought it for $400 instead?

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, $200 isn’t such a big price drop as it seems. AT&T’s cheapest monthly plan is $70 (after fees and taxes). And then there’s the $35 activation fee. So the total cost of ownership over the 2 year contract is now $2,115 (down from $2,315).

Don’t think of today’s announcement as a 33% price drop. It’s really only a 9% price drop.

Feel better?

New Nike+iPod nano interface

I was a little concerned that no mention was made of the Nike+iPod Sport Kit during today’s introduction of the new iPod nano (known as the “fatty” in some circles). Even Apple’s new iPod nano web page doesn’t mention Nike+iPod integration anywhere.

However, skip over to the redesigned Nike+iPod page an you’ll see how the interface has been redesigned to match both the new nano menu system and the Nikeplus website.

It seems as though not much else has changed. There’s no mention of any new features or functionality, and Nike+iPod still only works with the iPod nano (despite the new iPod touch using flash storage).

More to come when I’m able to get my hands on the new nano.

New Nike+iPod Interface

New Nike+iPod Interface

The September 10th issue of TIME Magazine features a modern take on the classic Rosie the Riviter poster. What makes Rosie modern? Why, iPod earbuds, of course.

Time Magazine Cover

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