Sunday, April 22, 2007

Zune Download of the Week: Second Edition

When we have the XM Satellite radio on in the car, the kids always want to put it on the "Top 20 on 20" channel. If you aren't familiar, this a channel that constantly runs a top 20 countdown, based on listener votes. As soon as the finish with Number 1, they start all over again.

One evening, the channel was on but we were having a conversation. I remember thinking to myself that whatever song was on sounded a lot like Freddie Mercury and Queen. I looked at the display and saw the artist's name: Mika.

The next day, I hopped on Zune Marketplace, and found the CD called "Life in Cartoon Motion." Mika is a pop artist who is fairly well known in the UK, and making a splash in the US.

The Queen-like tune is called "Grace Kelley." The second song ("Lollipop") reminds me of the Indigo Girls' "Iko Iko."

Also, much like Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls," Mika pay homage to the larger ladies with a fantastic song call "Big Girl You Are Beautiful."

In all, "Cartoon" is a fun romp of a CD that relies on influences from all kinds of music.

Tracks to Download

  • Grace Kelley

  • Love Today

  • Big Girl You are Beautiful

  • Lollipop

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Zune Download of the Week: First Edition

I'm currently enjoying my second month of my Zune Pass subscription. With the subscription, I can download as much music as I like for one monthly fee.

I've decided to share with you some of the new music I've discovered as well as old favorites I've rediscovered. I will try to post something new each week.

I've downloaded a bunch of music, so I have plenty to write about. This week, though, I'll fill you in on an album I downloaded yesterday.

"Dusk and Summer" by Dashboard Confessional

My 13 year old son, who's always tipping me off on cool new tunes, asked me yesterday if I'd heard "Stolen" by Dashboard Confessional. I had to confess (pun intended), I had never heard the song and had never heard of the band. I sampled a few of the songs and decided to grab the entire album.

Apparently, Dashboard Confessional isn't as unknown as I thought. Their song "Vindicated" made it on the "Spiderman 2" soundtrack, and they've toured with Weezer.

I've listened to "Dusk and Summer" several times and I'm really liking it. I'd compare it to a cross between Counting Crows and Train, but with more of an edge. Very enjoyable.

Tracks to dowload

  • Don't Wait
  • Reason To Believe
  • Stolen
  • Slow Decay

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Really Do Love My Zune… Really!

According to the Zune Insider Blog, Microsoft is prepared to launch a new ad campaign in May. This corresponds with news that there will be a new color for Zune: pink.

This got me to thinking, as I cleaned the kitchen while listening to U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" on my Zune: it's hard to feel good about being a Zune owner.

First, the original ad campaign didn't relate to me. I'm not a big fan of the brown/pink/orange colors that dominate the Zune's aura. The ad campaign features a bunch of youthful, happy people listening to their Zune in dark basements. I'm sure that the music they were listening to was obscure, unknown indie bands or booming, repetitive dance mixes. And then there's that tag line, "Welcome to the Social." That has to be the worst slogan. Ever.

I'm 39, I'm a computer geek, I don't wear my jeans halfway down my ass, and I get fairly regular haircuts. I'm not who Microsoft envisioned selling the Zune to.

I bought the Zune because a large part of my well being is due to Microsoft. I work with Microsoft technologies every day and Microsoft is vastly responsible for my salary. (I do not work for Microsoft, but I do work with Microsoft.)

So, I was willing to give the Zune a shot when I found myself ready to replace my three year old iPod. There are features of the Zune that I really like: the big colorful screen, the ability to customize the background, the built in FM tuner. And as a technology person, I could envision some pretty cool uses for the built in Wi-Fi capabilities.

I've had my Zune for about three months. In that time, I've fallen in love with the Zune Marketplace subscription service. It's an unbelievable feeling of freedom to be able to download any song or album at any time without feeling the pain of paying for each one. If I don't like it, I simply delete it.

It's not hard to appreciate the Zune. It's just hard to feel that pride of ownership. The TV ads have dried up, removing that feeling of "yeah, I got one of those." I have seen a magazine ad here and there, but again, they don't reach my demographic and they are vague, confusing, and ugly. I don't see anybody around me with a Zune.

I've tried to spread the love. A friend was over at my house with his high school daughter. She had just purchased a 30GB iPod. She was showing it off to me, but then she started complaining that it had scratches all over it, after only a few days. She had even purchased a fairly expensive case for it. I showed her my Zune and how it resists scratches. She started tinkering with it, and was very impressed. She loved the big screen and the fact that it had an FM tuner. She was a little put off by not having a scroll wheel, but I explained that I thought it was easier to scroll by just holding a button down than by spinning my thumb around and around. She reluctantly agreed.

She told me that she was going to take her iPod back to get a Zune. The store she had bought it from allowed 10 days for returns.

I saw her a week or two later and I asked if she had gotten a Zune. She said she didn't because somebody told her that Zune didn't work with Vista (she pronounced it "Veesta"). I just shook my head.

The anti-Microsoft engine is very formidable, and unless Microsoft can aggressively market this device and its capabilities, it is going to have a very difficult time making a dent in the marketplace.

I just hope Microsoft keeps its word and doesn't give up on the Zune leaving us first generation owners in a lurch.

In the meantime, I will anxiously await the new ad campaign. Maybe I'll buy a pink one!

Fallen Angel

Please check out Dan Fox's column on the decline of Angel Berroa at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required, but well worth the money).

Dan has more info at his blog.

Don't forget to check the Breaking 100 blog to track the Royals.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Breaking 100

Yes, I am doing the Breaking 100 blog again this year.

In this blog, I track the Royals and thier pursuit of a sub-100 loss season. Last year was the first year for the Breaking 100 blog, and the result was exactly 100 losses.

This season is off to a great start, with the Royals already projected to win 159 games. This could be a fun season!!!

Keep checking the Breaking 100 blog all season long...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Blue Men

My family and I enjoyed Blue Man Group's "How To Be A Megstar" show in Kansas City over the weekend. I had never seen a Blue Man show before, but I was familiar with them. My family was less familiar with the group.

I thought the show was fantastic. The show, of course, was quite a spectacle, with the three blue men pounding on homemade instruments made of PVC pipe and a hard rocking 8 piece band backing them.

The highlight of the show was their cover of the Who's "Baba O'Riley." Below is a video. Very cool...