Thursday, September 3, 2009

You know things are bad when

You need security guards to keep an eye on your security guards. Just in case you ever wondered about the answer to the question, "who will babysit the babysitters?"

In the no good deed goes unpunished department, a whistle-blower who reported the "lord of the flies" environment among the security staff at the US embassy in Afghanistan has been forced to resign.

File under, "your tax dollars at work".

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

While I struggle to find the time to think of something pithy to say

Read about Chernobyl, a little over 23 years after the infamous nuclear meltdown, and the dispute between rival teams of scientists regarding its present and future. In the comments to that article, I got reminded of a website I visited a few years ago, by a woman named Elena who likes to take motorcycle rides through the areas most affected by the nuclear meltdown. The pictures she took of the remains of a Kindergarten classroom are particularly moving. The last ride of which she did one of her photo essays goes back to 2004, under the title Land of the Wolves. It makes for some fascinating reading and viewing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

News With Nezua

Check it out. Hopefully this will be a regular feature.

Musical Interlude: Shakira

There are a number of songs in the rock cannon that are considered sacred - especially by purists. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is one. "Back in Black" by AC/DC is another. If you're going to cover one of these tunes, you damned well better do it right. I've seen too many bad covers of "Bohemian Rhapsody" (the only good cover I ever saw was by a female vocalist who had an incredible vocal range and just the right stage presence).

I'd never seen anyone cover "Back in Black" and this could have been a disaster. For starters, Shakira doesn't have a reputation as a hard rock vocalist, at least in the US (though don't be fooled - hard rock influences abound in her songs). She and her touring band however prove to be up to the challenge, making the song theirs in the process. The intro is sultry - much different from AC/DC, but it works for Shakira. As the tune progresses, she and her band also prove quite capable of rocking out every bit as much as AC/DC while adding a few of their own touches (I love the addition of Latin percussion elements, and the band has a guitarist who seems to hold his own when it comes time to solo). She has a beautiful voice that works well here, and no offense to AC/DC, but she is much easier on the eyes.

It's cool to see recording artists go out and defy expectations. Shakira's cover of "Back in Black" won't please AC/DC purists (just check the comments to the Youtube video, which could make for a sociological or psychological study in their own right). However, the purists aren't her intended audience. It might satisfy open-mind fans of either Shakira or AC/DC, though.