Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Totally off topic, but something interesting never the less

Ok so my post today is not about building or living in the Alaskan Bush, but a total change of pace to something that I'm very interested in, music.

Yesterday there was an announcement made, about the nominee's for the 2011 Rock 'n Roll hall of fame. The thing that was interesting wasn't the nominations, although the fact that Neil Diamond has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame yet is just crazy. No it led me to look at all the inductees, and be very puzzled.

You see the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, selects nominee's based upon certain criteria...
Those being Leaders in the music industry joined together in 1983 to establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. One of the Foundation’s many functions is to recognize the contributions of those who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll by inducting them into the Hall of Fame.

However for performers (there is a non-artist category too) the criteria include...
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.

The Foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 500 rock experts. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes - and more than 50 percent of the vote - are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.

Ok so lets look at those people who are inductee's well there are a few that can't be argued about on the influence and significance of their contributions, Leonard Cohen springs to mind for example, or Black Sabbath, or David Bowie, or the Clash. All who have had a significant impact on music, whether it's your specific taste or not is not relevant.

Now then there are other acts in the RnR HOF that you look at and scratch your head (now don't get me wrong these are good acts, nothing wrong with them, in fact there are some who's entire back catalog I own), like for example Aerosmith, great band, great sound, but what's their influence and significance over and above others in the same vein that being upbeat guitar rock punctuated with power ballads. One of the nominee's from this year was in exactly the same vein Bon Jovi (yes, yes I know, but they are one of life's secret guilty pleasures) who incidentally weren't inducted. At around the same time as Aerosmith were forming their style there was also Boston, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey and others who were similarly upbeat guitar rock and power ballad bands and who are also still going, and as far as concert spectacle, well then they're up against Kiss (who are also strangely missing from the RnR HOF). So what is it that makes a RnR HOF band... I'm not sure, but enough bashing of Aerosmith, lets look at some that are in there, that at least make me go "hmmm".

The Animals, great band, came from my home town, Hall of Fame...? not in my opinion, "House of the Rising Sun" and "Please Don't let me be misunderstood" aren't really enough to my mind, and they weren't especially innovative.

Genesis, another great band, did some early experimental stuff with Peter Gabriel when he was the vocalist, along the lines of Yes and Jethro Tull, but their later work was certainly more of a straight commercial sound probably heavily influenced by Collins. So are they inducted for their experimental period, when Yes and Jethro Tull were far more so and Gabriel's solo work is at the same and better levels, and these are not inducted? Or for commercial success?

The Pretenders, once again great band, but HOF nope, catchy tunes and a melding of punk and new wave styles, but they weren't especially original, and another band that's in there did this far more effectively that band being The Police.

The Sex Pistols (What! you don't think that they should be in the RnR HOF???? are you insane...? Nope). The Pistols were unique, and sure they had a huge influence (so did fellow RnR HOF members The Ramones), but they were primarily a vehicle for Malcolm McLaren, who is not in the RnR HOF. Musically they were nothing, as proven by the firing of Glen Matlock to be replaced by Sid Vicious, who until he was hired as a Bassist had never played any guitar.

U2 (another shocker), Ok so Bono has the future of being cannonized, but what has U2 added to music in general? Sure they've done punk, new wave, and culminated in the sound that comprised the Joshua Tree, then went experimental with Achtung Baby and into loops and samples with Pop, but nothing was better than other bands that were in the same genres. Yes they have a message, that's changed over time from the re-unification of Ireland to world peace. So have many others. They have a big stage show, similar to many others, so is it just that U2 do all these things as a single band? Maybe, I don't think they're RnR HOF material, but like I said I'm not sure what the criteria are.

Ok so you can see my points on a few of the bands in there... Now lets look at some notable absences...

Deep Purple, I mean there's Black Sabbath in the RnR HOF, and there's Led Zeppelin in there too, the three biggest influences on Heavy Metal and one of the three is missing, there's not even a nod to Blackmore or Gillan in any alternate vehicle they played with.

Motorhead and Iron Maiden, any of the "thrash" metal bands will state both of these bands as primary influences, in fact Metallica who are inductee's have said many times that they're primary influences. So why are they not in the RnR HOF?

Kiss, I already mentioned them, musically dull (I-IV-V blues progression), but they did it with such aplomb (and an every changing line up). They also had the #1 stage show perhaps ever, they started the whole merchandising deal too, with comic books and action figures, and a movie. They're not in the HOF. Without Kiss then there likely would be no Arena stage shows of the types we have today, that include Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, and the usual suspects of Metallica, U2, and other rock bands.

Rush, is this because they're Canadian. Individually the members of Rush have received just about every award going, for musicianship, and songwriting. Name any other band who's drummer is the primary lyricist. Name any other band that has had the influence of Rush both as individuals and as a band, I would suspect that there is not a rock drummer on the planet that does not want to play as well as Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson is a very highly regarded guitar player, and some of the more innovative bassists cite Geddy Lee as a strong influence.

Sonic Youth, perhaps one of the biggest influences of underground rock music. Incredible musicianship, they're often described as this generations Velvet Underground. They've also been inducted into the Library of Congress with their album Daydream Nation.

Anyway I'm totally bemused, perhaps it's best described in the following quote, from one of the non-inductee's and as yet non-Nominee's ever, Paul Stanley of Kiss

The beauty of America is that you can basically start any kind of private club you want to. This one happens to be called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's a very impressive name for a club but it's an illusion. It's the creation of a group of industry people and critics who decide who they deem as qualified to be in their little admiration society. It's their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it's not the people's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Have you ever voted? I know I haven't. That's why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, besides having people who very much belong in there, have an abundance of people who most people will scratch their head and not even have a clue who they are. I don't have anything against anybody who's been inducted, but more than a couple of them are a joke. A band or musician's impact is measured by how they change and influence society and other musicians. That and how many albums and concert tickets they sell should be what gets them into the Hall of Fame. As far as I'm concerned it's a private club with a misleading name. It's a sham.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snug as a bug

Temps have been hovering between 25 and 45 below all this week, with only a few hours of daylight. The darkness is normal, but this cold snap is lasting just a little longer than expected. We normally have 3 or 4 days hovering around -40 in December and then it warms back up to a respectable -10/-20 range that you can work in. We're hoping the snap ends soon since we're not playing macho this year and trying to work in the bitter cold.

The first winter you're here, almost everyone with any stones tries to prove that they can tough it out when it's cold. A lot of that is down to shear ignorance of just how fast the cold can kill you, but a good bit is just down to making your stand against Mother Nature. But once you prove to yourself that you can do it and survived the weather the first winter, you wise up and stay inside when it's bitter outside. You've already proven that you can manage it if you absolutely need to, so there's nothing to gain by putting yourself at risk when it's not necessary.

So other than emptying slop and ash buckets, and splitting and stacking a little firewood, we're staying inside with the woodstove... and the propane heater now and then as well since we don't need to tough it out at only 55 in the tent while we're recuperating from this gnarly flu.

The cabin will still be there when it warms up a little, and the work will still need to get done; but in the meantime we're staying toasty and getting lots of rest. Figure once we warm up a little again, we can get back to work all rejuvenated instead of being worn down and dragging ass. If we move in before Christmas or New Year's that'll be great, if not... oh well!! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cabin Building - Sub-Zero Style

Two hours of work and we only got the back door installed. Working when it's near 30 below has it's own set of unique challenges... like wearing full snow gear and super-mega-gumby gloves:

Is it Plickety or Gungnir? Hard to tell under 3 layers and a parka ;)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Heading everyone off at the pass...

So since everyone seems to be concerned about our well being, yes we're still alive, although this could in theory be a malicious hacker posting this, to let you know we're OK after secretly killing us for our generators and dog food. It's not however, it's just us.

So what's happened...?

Plickety got a little sick so we decided to head off into Fairbanks just in case she needed some medical attention, turns out it was just some stomach bug some stress and dehydration, which was a relief. She's doing a lot better now, but that took some time out of our schedule both being there, and getting everything defrosted on our return (no heat in our place for about 4-5 days).

While we were there we picked up our four new Batteries (yes it's capitalized for good reason) they're 150 lb AGM, and for the new place, they'll entirely replace our current set of 12 sealed lead acid batteries and probably a bit more (and of course not running the generator every day because they'll hold charge).

We also picked up a pallet of pet food, and did a human food run. Then finally a few things to work on the house (expanding foam and silicone caulk).

Work on the house is progressing slowly, we've only been back 4 days, one were spent getting the place warmed up, making sure frozen batteries didn't go boom, and getting rid of food that self destructed at about -10F (have you ever seen a soda can that froze in about 20 minutes...?). One was spent helping out our neighbors who needed water and had a truck that wouldn't start. One was spent getting a truck bed of our firewood back to our place and splitting it, and yesterday I finished half of one end of the upper walls before discovering that I was a little chilly (it was only about 0 to -5F but there was a 10-15 mph wind blowing through the upstairs wind tunnel, leading me to discover that any thought of sensitivity in my nose was gone for about 15-20 minutes upon warming).

So that leads to today, where it's about -15 to -20F and the truck won't really run that well, it'll start and then chooses to not idle (even mechanical things have an awareness of when idea's are good and bad, the truck has decided working is a bad idea). We have both generators currently running, one for the tent (and recharging the truck battery), the other for the truck winterization package to get some heat into the block (and hopefully to convince it that it's not really as cold as it seems). We do need the truck running, since we need to take our 3.5kW generator down to our place for power tools, and carrying that for half a mile is not recommended without some anti-hernia briefs.

One final point, on our return home on Wednesday, we hit a ptarmigan when an entire flock of them decided that rather than stay safe on the left side of the road, they'd fly across to the right side of the road while also coming towards us while we skittered along at about 35-40 mph. It took out our passenger side headlight (but only the high beam, not the low beam), more pertinently it also left us a nice present of it's entire stomach contents in the headlight itself. However this means it didn't flap around suffering, but was dead as a doornail on impact. Which if you have to go, I guess isn't too bad of a way.

Anyway I'm off to check the truck battery and engine temps... See how it's doing.