Sympathy for the devil

As a Unix snob, I never thought I’d be tickled to use a Microsoft product in a software development context. But in a few minutes of downtime last weekend, I learned how to define an ODBC data source for a MySQL database, link tables in an Access database to tables in the remote MySQL database, and build an Access form off of the MySQL tables. In about half an hour, I had a nice desktop front-end to a MySQL database. In about another fifteen minutes, I had some basic PHP pages thrown together to display the contents of the MySQL database. So in under an hour, I had a lovely little content management system for a web project that the Dark Mistress of Dub and I are concocting.

“What’s he building in there?” you ask.

He taps his fingers together in a gleefully evil Mr. Burns fashion. “Wait and see. Wait and see…”

Being just contaminates the void

Everybody!

So, we did go to the Robyn Hitchcock show at T.T.’s last night. It was fun. The show at Johnny D’s a few years ago was a very different evening; he was playing the very mellow stuff from Luxor, it was October, and he spun this kind of transcendentally weird quiet spell over the crowd.

Last night’s show was an all-request show, and an overall more raucus affair. Well, it started out that way. Robyn instructed the audience to write requests in large letters on pieces of paper and put them on stage. With the exception of Antwoman, I’m not convinced that it wasn’t actually just an all-”whatever Robyn thinks of playing next” show. Which was fun, too. He played nothing from Luxor (which was too bad), several of his 80′s hits (also too bad— I’m personally more of a fan of the 90′s acoustic stuff), four whole songs from Jewels for Sophia (which was a nice surprise), four Beatles songs (“I’m So Tired”, “Glass Onion”, “Dear Prudence”, and “A Day in the Life”— perhaps the strong white album showing was because of the recent benefit for Médecins Sans Frontières in Sudan), and there was also some Dylan and Lou Reed representation.

The first encore was a medley of some Barry White-type song which I unfortunately don’t know, “Sound & Vision” (and I have to say, his invocation of Bowie was uncanny), and, yes, “Kung Fu Fighting”. Except I don’t recall anything about electrocardiograms in the original, and I do believe there was a great deal of embellishment and character development for Tommy Chong. There were not too many of the patented long surreal diatribes, though there was a long spiel about Donald Rumsfeld teaming up with Aquaman to expose the threat of a Canadian military buildup on the Minnesota border.

Catching up

It’s feast or famine here at the RealFake Blog lately, either making a record seven posts in a day, or going seven days without a post.

This past weekend, we made a quick trek to State College. It was nice to get away, though with such weekend treks, the driving-to-visiting-with-Terri’s-folks ratio is rather low.

Alexis DinerOn the way down, we stopped for dinner at the Alexis Diner on I-84 in Newburgh, NY. We’ve stopped at the I-84 Diner before, but have been disappointed. The Alexis Diner, however, is kind of amazing. The menu is about 15 pages long, with fantastically byzantine accompaniment and substitution rules (e.g. the fish cakes and macaroni and cheese dinner comes with soup and a salad; the eggplant parmesan dinner comes with just a salad). Also, it has extremely clean bathrooms, which is always key on the car trips.

Despite Terri’s dad being under the weather, we had dinner at Mad Mex on Saturday night. I dimly knew there was one in Pittsburgh, but when we went to the State College one, I distinctly remembered actually going to the Pittsburgh one. It was also in the same building as Maureen’s wedding reception several years ago, so that was another trip down memory lane.

Sunday morning, we found that the Easter Bunny had paid a visit.

baskets

Robyn!

Ooh, thanks for the short notice, Robyn, but Robyn Hitchcock is going to be at T.T.’s next Tuesday. Why was I not informed?

One of the top 5 rock shows of my life was Robyn at Johnny D’s, October 2003. Great show, in a small venue (with table service!) in walking distance from our house.

Checking out the schedule on his site, I’m half tempted to go to the one in Lafayette, Indiana, April 3rd. You know what holds me back? It’s a Sunday, and the Triple XXX would be closed.

And how f’d up is it that the Triple XXX has a website? My friends and I spent a pathological amount of time there in college, nursing a coffee, hour after hour.

Lifehacker

Speaking of growing blog empires, Gawker media’s growing empire includes several new blogs, none of which are of much interest to me, except for the excellent Lifehacker. I find the header graphic creepy (what’s up with the weird hat? Is she supposed to be my life flight attendant or something?), and the ads irksome. But every day since I subscribed has tips that are total gems. Like a fast Wikipedia lookup tool, how to change your legal name, how to run your first 5k, how to get your preschooler to bed, etc.

Astronaut music from Bedlam

The Guardian’s Oberserver has a guest column in which Tom Waits gives his top 20 favorite all time albums.

Some dubious choices (I fear I will always loathe Leonard Cohen), but some fantastic Tom prose, including this bit from his summary of Solo Monk:

Stride, church, jump rope, Bartok, melodies scratched into the plaster with a knife. A bold iconoclast. Solo Monk lets you not only see these melodies without clothes, but without skin. This is astronaut music from Bedlam.

April and Paris

It’s official! Terri and I just bought our plane tickets to go and visit April (my sister) in France in April (the month). We’ll spend a few days in Paris, and then TGV down to Monaco, and catch her in the show she’ll be doing at the time, Oeil Pour Oeil (wacky Flash site warning). April was here last week, doing a guest appearance at Boston Ballet, and looking very cool. The new gig not being strictly classical, she gets to be a little more funky appearance-wise. Anyway, we worked out the times with her while she was here, and sealed the deal tonight.

The perverse thing is that we may actually end up seeing yet another Interpol show in Paris. We actually have sort of a knack for choosing international vacation dates & locations that coincide with shows we want to see. We saw Tortoise & Isotope 217 in London in 1998, and Stereolab in Barcelona for our honeymoon.

Anyway, hopefully Simon & Frances will forgive that we haven’t been to Houston to visit them yet, but my time off is finite, and I’ve never been to France (and once April got set up in her apartment, they didn’t waste much time in heading to Monaco themselves, either…).

Just how ugly is it?

OK, OK, I’m being lazy by just calling the Stata Center ugly and walking away. The plus is that it is a nice kick in the butt to all the boring buildings in the Tech Square neighborhood and the MIT campus. The minus is that… it totally sucks.

I guess I feel like this is another Skullsplitter/Budweiser situation: just because it doesn’t suck because it’s mundane and cheap doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

Also, given that Gehry buildings have a history of abetting the violent and berserk, and given MIT students’ propensity for creative suicides, I also think that this might be a volatile combination. Though the space waffle might be a better candidate for something like that happening.

Stata Center at MIT