Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh the Weather Outsides Delicious.

Philadelphia is seeing the second largest snowfall in December ever recorded, look at the table on our back porch, that is a good 18 inches of snow, its up over my knees walking around out there. It has been a couple years since I have been in the snow, and I am loving it. The first thing I did when it started piling high was whip up a batch of some good ol' snow ice cream. Heres how:

You will need
-4 cups snow
-4 Tablespoons milk
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla
-3 Tablespoons sugar

Go get 4 heapin cups of the good powdery stuff right off the top of the snow in a nice big bowl. Add the vanilla, sugar, and lastly the milk. Good substitutions for the milk would be egg nog, which I just tried- delicious, some baileys irish cream perhaps, or an creamy variation you can think of. After all the ingredients are added the powdery snow reacts strangely like flour, it kind of turns into a loose doughy mixture. Just mix it up well and youre done, eat it quick because the integrity deteriorates quickly, though the last few bites when it is just the right amount of melty are always the best. Dont be afraid to experiment, add some cinnamon, chocolate powder, fruit, go crazy. Enjoy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Trans-Siberian Orchestra LIVE!

I am sure that many of you know what the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is and what they are all about. Making Christmas songs rock. Now, this initially seems like a pretty difficult task, one which I thought, in my limited exposure to Trans-Siberian, that they had managed to pull off. They go on a yearly tour around Christmas time, and Philadelphia was lucky enough to be pretty early on the list, just early enough to get your christmas music in before Thanksgiving (woo hoo!). Kari wanted to see them, and I thought it could be good, so I bought 2 tickets and was genuinely excited to go. The day of the concert arrives, and after driving to the Wachovia Center (I wont even say how much I paid for tickets and parking) we walk across the lot and through the crowd adorned in christmas hats and reindeer antlers I realize that I didnt really think about this at all. Did I really do all of this for Christmas music? In general I dont even like christmas music, let alone in the middle of November. I try to keep my hopes up as we take our seats, Kari and I entertained with people watching in the very diverse crowd. The people around us range from 3 to 172 years old and we have fun just observing while Ricky from Better Off Dead (great movie btw) goes up and down the stairs multiple times looking for his seat. The clamor of the crowd is full of excitement as the stage lights up and the emcee walks up on stage to a grateful roar of applause. We are told how the night is going to unfold, with a narrator telling us a christmas story interjected with the rockin Trans Siberian Orchestra. Sweet, lets do this. The narrator comes on, an old black man with a weathered tone and an audible grin, and sets the scene of some stranger going into a bar on a cold winter night. TSO starts into their first song, starting quiet and then... getting louder... and... and... and... oh... thats as loud as it gets. I thought the first two songs were some sort of joke before the concert would actually begin and they were going to wow us with their incredible sound system, but that never happened. Kari and I could carry out a conversation in normal speaking voices for the entire concert, babies 5 rows behind us were drowning out the music when they cried (cant blame them, I was pretty upset too), it was pathetic.

The rest of the concert/story played out with the man in the bar befriending a santa like character that sat by him and following the story that said santa man told. He would tell part of the story, I don't even remember what it was about now, and the last word in a section would be snow, so they would break into "Let It Snow" TSO style. Or something like that. The songs all ended up being the some over done mediocre music played by a bunch of showboating guitar heros headbanging with their long flowing hair, and the rockin violinist doing the same bend over and headbang for 4 seconds then fling hair back and run/dance for 10 seconds, all while "playing" the violin, often over her head or behind her back. The only people with hair less than a foot long on stage were the actual string section, which turned out to be a minor after thought in the concert. Yes, the string section, in the "TSOrchestra", was hardly even acknowledged, they went around to all the guitarists, narrator, pianists, back up singers, lead violinist, all by name and listing accomplishments, pause for applause for each, and then oh, ya, and the 5 members of phillys local orchestra in the dark corner in the back of the stage.

To make up for the less than exciting music, they had the previously mentioned guitar heros and violinist flailing on stage, but also featured dancing backup singers which were also a sad attempt at eye candy, and the most impressive part of the show which was the laser and light display (An interesting side note- they aimed the high powered lasers at the small sections between the sections where nobody would be blinded by them) and the pyrotechnics. The dancers ended up being an exciting repetition of- swing right arm down, swing left arm down, swing right arm out, swing left arm out, even when they were in the lime light center stage. Every song was the same desperate attempts at excitement, and for me just about every attempt was in vain, there were a couple songs that were genuinely exciting, like their best known rendition of Carol of the Bells, complete with fire shooting up with the beat, as well as the demonic sounding O' Fortuna with the entire auditorium lit up with red flames, both real and videos on every screen available. If the entire concert was carried out with the bravado of these few songs, I would have gotten more than I expected, but the few good bits were interlaced with an over hyped plethora of power chords, terrible acoustic originals from the creator of the TSO that put you to sleep (more than one with a Pachelbelian tune), ridiculous stunts (like the mini stage set up in the middle of the audience they were on for 10 minutes and it lifted up into the air and then sat back down)and a sad attempt at a story to give meaning to the whole thing. I think the show was summed up quite well by the character in the story when the old man had finished relating his fantastical tale (whatever it was). The old man asked "Well, did my story entertain you?" and after this story which fueled the whole show and they tried to inject with such excitement, you were expecting the character to say how great and entertaining the story was, however the response came... "It had its charms" and this is how the story was closed. So, was it worth the ticket price? Did it get me into the christmas spirit like it promised it would? Did the concert wow me with its rocking christmas tunes?... It had its charms.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Million Dollar Idea

Everyone has one of those great million dollar ideas. Like the guy who made the pet rock? The guy made a million dollars. Or the "Jump to Conclusions" mat? pure genius! Well we all have these ideas, which inevitably end up just that, an idea. It is rare that... wait... I am sitting in the car with my parents and I just told them what I was writing about, my dad is relating his idea right now: Personal bobble heads. He has a couple different ideas, use a stereo lithography 3D printer to make exact bobbling replicas and hand paint them, or have a stock of general faces and you could personalize the painting. So that is just another example of those ideas that we all have, you are thinking of your million dollar idea right now aren't you? Well, as I was saying, it is rare that anyone actually brings this idea to fruition, and even then the attempts are often swiftly beaten down by the reality of the consumer market.

Every now and then the right idea will surface in the right persons head and they will be one of the rare few who actually tries to make that idea a reality. I am fortunate enough to have one of those few as one of my best friends, and a rare breed they are. It takes a special bit of ingenuity, a gamblers spirit, and a touch of crazy to take that leap. My friend fits that mold, he is actually embarking on a business venture right now, investing thousands of dollars and countless hours into his idea, and I am amazed that he is actually doing it. I know I am not one of those people, I'm never going to do anything with my ideas, so here it is, you knew it was coming, my million dollar ideas.

Just a couple days ago I had this idea, which is what gave me the idea for this post. I was thinking about a friend we met in the Bahamas, Dick from the boat Rio Dulce, and the fact that I owe that man a drink, but how could I buy him one? This led me to my million dollar idea. The Webar (thats web/bar... mixed together... ok the name isnt important). Set up a streaming high quality video of the patrons sitting at the bar and create a color code or something visible to the camera that distinguishes each seat. Allow users to go online and view the streaming images and, heres the kicker, buy drinks for anyone sitting at the bar. They could buy with a credit card from an online menu and specify who it is to be sent to with the color coding, send the drink and a message to go along with it, like, maybe your phone number, maybe your name, the possibilities are endless. You can scout out the scene before you show up to the bar, buy a couple drinks and drop your name with the men/women of your choice and by the time you get there half the work is already done, you already broke the ice, thats the hardest part! Ladies would get all hussied up and show off for the camera to get free drinks, and who knows what else people would do. The bar top could be interactive, enter your name so those online can see, it will tell you when someone bought you a drink, oh man there is so much you could do with it, I'm just thinking up more as I go. You could link up to your Twitter and Facebook and all that crap! And be like, hey, im at the Webar, buy me a drink! It almost seems practical in todays techno driven world, and if nothing else the novelty would be enough to make it a success. And... I could buy a drink for someone no matter how far away they are. The Webar.

This idea is not nearly as exciting, but it is something that I think would be very useful, in fact I would be surprised if it dosnt already exist, though it didnt turn up in a quick google search. Liquid screen protector. A slightly viscous liquid you could apply to your cell phone or ipod screen or whatever that would set and harden into a clear protector over your screen, and if it gets too scratched up and worn out, a special solvent would harmlessly take of the protector completely, leaving you reapply a fresh coat or do whatever you please with your still perfect screen. It would be a simple, universally applicable product with an ever widening market. There would be problems to overcome of course, like getting the product to set without compromising screen clarity, touch screen response, that kind of thing, but things that could be overcome. I know I would buy it.

I have more ideas, but I know I have gone on too long already, if you really want to know, email me, or call my google voice!

haha, and I will be glad to discuss my ideas and yours, maybe we can have an inspiring conversation that will turn us into one of those rare few.