Tag Archives: iTunes

Paula’s Picks Presents You Have To Be There From Kristina

If you are lucky enough to live in the Portland, Oregon area, or happen to have an Internet connection (which I suspect you might if you’re reading this) then you had the opportunity on Thursday May, 6th, 2010 to tune into the Paula’s Picks program on KBOO FM during her program and hear her present “You Have To Be There” performed by Helen Sjöholm from the musical “Kristina.” “You Have To Be There” is written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA. Paula Small is a friend of mine that I went to high school with and she moved to Portland and one of the fun things she does out there is host a radio program on the first and third Thursdays of every month for KBOO.

The last time I saw Paula was when she was back in town to visit some family at the end of 2008, so I took Paula to see the Xanadu production at the La Jolla Playhouse, and when I saw her online on Facebook and I said hello using the chat feature of Facebook, we ended up discussing some music. I was so excited about the live album “Kristina At Carnegie Hall” coming out and I’d just gotten it in, I sent her “You Have To Be There” to share my excitement about the show. Paula really liked the song and we both commented about how it starts out similar to “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” but ends up being a much more powerful song. Paula thought it might make a great addition to her show the following night.

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Kristina At Carnegie Hall Hits Stores Finally

Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA first let audiences in on their masterpiece, “Kristina Från Duvemåla,” in Malmö, Sweden on October 7, 1995, then record buying audiences were able to obtain the 3-CD cast recording in September of 1996. Almost immediately there was talk about translating the work to English and bringing it to an American audience, particularly because the story of “Kristina Från Duvemåla” (translating to Kristina From Duvemåla) is just as much a story about Sweden as it is a story about America. However, it seems a lot of the work in bringing “Kristina” to America would have to wait due to the surprise success of a little show launched in London in 1999, called “Mamma Mia!” would demand a lot of time and attention for Björn and Benny.

The story for “Kristina” is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s “Emigrants” series of four novels, which follows the lives of a group of Swedish settlers which include Karl Oscar and his wife Kristina, as they make the tough decision to pack up and take their chances settling in the unknown wilds of America in the mid 1800’s. While the books follow the group, the show has singled out Karl Oscar and Kristina to be the central focus of the show. The novels are considered to be some of the finest works in Swedish literature, which is what attracted Björn and Benny to wanting to tell the tale of Kristina. Their earlier musical effort, a collaboration with Tim Rice on an original idea by Tim Rice resulted in the musical “Chess.” As much as “Chess” is praised for it’s incredible songs, it’s also panned for its relatively weak plot, which left Björn and Benny looking for a well crafted story to transform into a musical. Björn and Benny felt for their second musical, they didn’t want plot to be one of the problems to plague the show.

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Words With Friends Taking Mobile Scrabble To New Heights

One of the things I think that was inevitable was being told about Words With Friends. I was initially told about this Scrabble like game for the iPhone and iPod Touch through a few friends, but soon it was taking over the iPhone owners at work too. There’s no escaping Words With Friends. No doubt this due to the fact that Apple’s iTunes App Store carries both a paid and free version of the software, so there’s no excuse to not try it.

I consider Scrabble one of my least favorite games, as it was always one that my Dad liked to play. As a young child who loved games, I quickly grew to hate Scrabble as my young vocabulary never had a chance in hell of beating my Dad because he would never play it so that there was ever a chance I could win. While I’m sure some Scrabble grand masters would wipe the floor with my Dad, at such a young age I grew annoyed and frustrated that he’s never sacrifice a few top scoring words for the sake of giving the impression that he could be beaten or even sacrificing a game or two here and there to give a little victory and ensure those around him would still be willing to play with him. So I was a reluctant player drawn into Words With Friends due to this mostly hateful relationship I had with the game of Scrabble over the years, sure my vocabulary is greater than it once was, but I am no where near the type of player who truly masters the game with high scoring unusual words that only Scrabble grand masters know.

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Press Your Luck Comes To The iPhone and iPod Touch

Press Your Luck was one of my favorite game shows from the early 1980’s. As a child I loved all the game shows of the period but one of the ones that always stood out was the short lived Press Your Luck with it’s host Peter Tomarkin. My brother and I used to enjoy the show, probably more for the Whammies than the actual game, as we were kids at the time. We loved to see the contestants hit a Whammy and have their money taken away so we could see one of the animated Whammy graphics come on and make the money disappear. They had so many wonderfully creative ones from ones that blew up a little dynamite detonator, to Whammies dressed like Boy George and the Beatles coming in to sing a little line from a tune before taking the money away. I also loved the sound effect from when the Whammy was hit, it just sounded like a dramatic electronic “Uh-oh.”

The game consisted of a round of questions where three players compete for the right to spin on the big board and earn cash and prizes, then a round of playing the spins followed by one more round of questions and then a final round of spins on the big board. The winner at the end of the game was the player who collected the most money in cash and prizes. Part of the strategy for the big board was to spin a few times to collect enough cash and prizes then to pass on the remaining spins to another player who would have to play those spins in the hope that the passed spins would force that player to hit a Whammy to steal their cash and prizes. It was a fun and high energy show that got quite competitive and a player could hit three whammies and stay in the game. A fourth Whammy eliminated them from the game.

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Target’s Interesting Packaging For Star Trek DVD & Blu-Ray

Star Trek Target Blu RayAs retailers coerce manufacturers into getting exclusive versions of products to try and attract buyers without having to actually compete on price. In a way it’s kind of a dirty way to get fans to buy multiple products when exclusives are offered to multiple retailers and to extort the highest prices on the “Limited Edition” versions.

In the case of the latest Star Trek film, here in the US, Paramount Pictures, authorized several exclusives options. One set of retailers, FYE, Coconuts, & Suncoast, (all owned by the same parent company) offered the film in a collectible steelbox shell, Hollywood Video is offering a chance to win an autographed poster with a purchase or rental of the movie, Best Buy is offering a set of four pins to cover the various departmental delta shields seen on the uniforms in the movie. CVS Pharmacies are offering the chance to buy the movie for a discounted rate with the purchase of an iTunes gift card. Allegedly Wal-Mart is or was offering a Blu-Ray set that included the standard DVD as well, but I’ve not been able to confirm that one. And both Amazon and Target are offering Enterprise models as their exclusives. The Amazon one is certainly the higher ticket one, made of solid metal with chrome, textured steel and pewter finishes as well as being limited to only 5,000 pieces but at $100 a pop, a little too pricey in my book, albeit very nice looking.

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Alcazar’s Unecessary Remake Of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”

AlcazarAlcazar is one of Sweden’s pop bands that have carved an interesting niche for themselves. They are a European dance music act that over the years since their debut have an interesting career that’s been pretty hard to define. Some of what they’ve done is breathe new life into older songs such as their 1998 cover of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” In other cases they’ve borrowed old melodies and given them new lyrics such as “Crying At The Discotheque” uses the melody from “Spacer” from Sheila & B. Devotion, and have even taken the lyrics from one song and set them to the melody of another such as “This Is The World We Live In” which sets the lyrics from Genesis’ “Land Of Confusion” to the melody of Diana Ross’ “Upside Down.” And they’ve even had a few songs written especially for them to perform.

Every album released to date has seen a change in the lineup from the previous album, but one of the consistent features of the group has been the lead vocals being performed primarily by Andreas Lundstedt. I was very impressed by his amazing voice since the first time I heard their debut album. In fact, I truly hated the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” song because I thought the original had such horrible sounding vocals until Andreas’ much better vocals convinced me the song was a lot better than I gave it credit. Andreas’ voice has been wonderfully supported by Tess Merkel, Annikafiore Kjaergaard, and later joined by Magnus Carlson and then later by Lina Hedlund. And together they’ve produced some really fun pop dance music to keep the first decade of the 21st century interesting.

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Hooked On Classics – Blast From The Past

Hooked On ClassicsHaving hit a little bit of music boredom with the more limited selections on my iPod Touch, I decided to bring out the iPod Classic which is loaded with over 11,000 audio files. I let it play on random and one of the things that came up was “Hooked On Classics – Part 1 and 2” from the original “Hooked On Classics” album by Louis Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

I ended up taking the iPod off random and played the full album. It’s been a very long time since I last listened to it. I don’t remember when exactly I added the Hooked On Classics albums to my iPod as the last crash of my iTunes wiped out the date added for every track I added prior to December 10, 2008. In any case, I was happy I had it on my iPod to enjoy without having to dig out the CD.

I remember having worn out two cassettes of this album back in the early 1980’s. I loved it. To me it was all the good parts of classical music without so much of the really boring stuff. And I suppose a disco-esque drum track didn’t hurt either for helping keep those classics going at an upbeat pace. I remember Hooked On Classics being very popular when it was originally released in Canada. It was released on the K-Tel label which I always had some collections of popular music from them. Probably my favorite of which was “Raiders Of The Pop Charts” which capitalized on the Indiana Jones theme which was current at the time.

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David Carroll’s United Airlines Song Sequel Is Live

David CarrollIn probably one of the most unique ways to express outrage at poor customer service, David Carroll has posted to YouTube the second music video of the three he promised United Airlines he would make after baggage handlers for the airline damaged his guitar and their poor customer service has done nothing to make amends for it.

As some of my readers will recall, I posted about his first video which garnered Carroll a lot of media attention for his unorthodox method of sharing his complaint with the airline to the world. Click here to read my original blog entry on the matter.

The new video is below. Be sure to watch to the end of it as there’s a really funny bit at the very end after the credits in the video.

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Roxy Monoxide Rocks The Beauty Bar For CD Pre-Release Party

Roxy Monoxide Beauty BarOne of my favorite local bands, Roxy Monoxide, announced they were going to have a pre-release party for the CD entitled “Another Day, Another Episode” at San Diego’s Beauty Bar located near the intersection of El Cajon Blvd. and Euclid Ave.

Having never been to the Beauty Bar, I looked them up online and comes to find out they are a chain of locations with Beauty Bar’s in a variety of cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Austin, and Brooklyn. They seem to have quite the concept. In style reminiscent of a 1950’s or 1960’s style beauty salon, it’s a full service bar. Think “Beauty School Dropout” from Grease crossed with alcohol and you’ll get the idea. Go to the bar and get your martini and sit under an old style salon hair dryer. Let’s just say, the B-52’s would never look out of place here. (Check out the photos of the venue here.)

San Diego’s Beauty Bar consists of a main bar area and a tented performance space in behind the bar that is connected via a roll door. It definitely wasn’t the most modern looking venue, but I liked the them of it. You have to appreciate the double meaning of calling the place the Beauty Bar, as it was certainly a bar in the alcohol sense of the world, and wouldn’t have been out of place with bar as in bar of soap. Personally I’m surprised the venue isn’t in Hillcrest.

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