Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone! Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating the holiday and Happy Holidays to those that do not. Here is Hobbit getting into the spirit. I hope that everyone can spend some time with family, friends, and loved ones this holiday.

Happy Rush Day

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Since moving to Germany a few years ago, I’ve come to recognize December 21st as Rush Day. If you’re a fan of the Canadian rock band, Rush, you’ve probably heard of their album 2112. Looking at the date format from a European view of day, month, year as opposed to month, day, year, that I grew up with in the U.S, you see that 21st of December is 21 12 year or 2112, giving us a chance to appreciate Rush Day every year (if you don’t celebrate the existence of the band more often than that already)

Spirit of Radio Live in Rio

I can’t tell you the first time that I heard a Rush song, although I think that it was probably “Tom Sawyer”, “Spirit of Radio”, or “Free Will”, but I’ve listened to Rush for almost 30 years. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them on three different tours and would never tire of seeing and hearing them live. No doubt that if you’ve listened to classic rock, enough you’ve probably heard Geddy Lee’s high pitched voice that has become a signature sound for the band. He is one of the premiere bass players in rock music and a lot of bass players out there have picked up the bass in large part because of him. Neil Peart has been the band’s drummer and lyricist going back to 1974. There is little doubt that he is one of rock’s best drummers. Alex Lifeson has often been overshadowed by Geddy Lee and Neil, but he is an integral part of Rush.

Closer to the Heart Live in Rio

Unlike a lot of other bands, Rush has been able to evolve and reinvent itself over the years. In their earlier days they were more of a Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band, later on they became more progressive, they went through a synthesizer stage, they went into back to their roots stage where they were more guitar driven. They've even incorporated a little rap into their repertoire (Roll The Bones).

Roll the Bones Live in Rio

Over the years Rush has come up with some pretty good lyrics. Neil Peart has been the primary lyricist of Rush over the years. Nobody's Hero shows society's obsession with celebrity over actual heros. Trees has long been one of my favorite Rush songs, in it there is conflict between the Oaks and Maples. In Free Will we see that even indecision is a decision. Ghost of a Chance talks about destiny and choices. I've included some lyrics that I have found interesting below.

From Nobody's Hero...

As the years went by we drifted apart
When I heard that he was gone I felt a shadow cross my heart
But he's nobody's Hero
- Saves a drowning child
- Cures a wasting disease Hero
- Lands a crippled airplane
- Solves great mysteries
- Not the handsome actor who plays the hero's role
- Not the glamour girl
  who'd love to sell her soul
From Trees...
The trouble with the maples     
and they're quite convinced they're right
they say the Oaks are just too lofty 
and they grab up all the light
but the Oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made 
And they wonder why the maples 
Can't be happy in their shade
and the trees are all kept equal 
by hatchet, axe, and saw.

Trees Live in Rio

From Free Will...

If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice

Freewill Live in Rio

From Ghost of a Chance

Like a million little doorways

All the choices we made

All the stages we passed through

All the roles we played

For so many different directions

Our separate paths might have turned

With every door that we opened

Every bridge that we burned

I don’t believe in destiny

Or the guiding hand of fate

I don’t believe in forever

Or love as a mystical state

I don’t believe in the stars or the planets

Or Angels watching from above

I believe there’s a ghost of a chance

Rush is an incredible band live. You can tell by watching the videos included here (most all of them are recorded in Rio) that the crowds really get into the music. Like many rock concerts there are the obligatory solos but Rush solos are anything but called in. Watching YYZ below or many of the other videos, you get a taste for how amazing the band is live.

YYZ Live in Brazil

Essential Rush Albums

Rush has produced so many albums over the years it is hard to narrow down and essential list of Rush albums that you should have, but I have made an attempt. Here are some strategies that you might follow if you have to narrow down your selections from the 30+ albums that are out there.

Go Live
Starting with All The Worlds A Stage through the CD from the Snakes & Arrows tour, Rush had followed a pattern where they would produce about 3 albums and then do a live album. All The World's a Stage has live versions of some of the oldest Rush songs and includes 2112, Anthem, Fly By Night/In The Mood, Something for Nothing, By Tor And the Snow Dog, Working Man/Finding My Way and others. Exit Stage Left includes Limelight, The Trees, Xanadu, Freewill, Closer To The Heart, YYZ, and others. A Show of Hands includes Big Money, Red Sector A, Misson, the Rhythm Method, many of the songs from their synthesizer period as well as a few older classics. Different Stages: Live is a 3 CD set that includes Dreamline, Driven, Bravado, Animate, Show Don't Tell, Test for Echo, Roll the Bones, Stick It Out, and the third CD is a live recording that the band did in 1978. I haven't heard the Snakes & Arrow's tour CD yet, so I can't comment on it.

All The World’s a Stage…

Exit Stage Left…

A Show of Hands…

Different Stages: Live

Just One Album

If you only wish to buy one album, Chronicles is probably your best bet. It has highlights of the band from the beginning (like Working Man, Fly By Night, and Finding My Way) up until 1990, when it was recorded. Of course 1990 is almost 19 years ago, so there are a lot of CDs that Rush recorded after this that you would miss!


Some Other Rush Albums You Might Want to Add to Your Collection

2112, Moving Pictures, and Power Windows are all albums that many Rush fans would agree should be in your collection. 2112 was originally release in 1976 and it includes 2112, A Passage To Bangkok, Something For Nothing, and more. Moving Pictures was originally released in 1981 includes Tom Sawyer, Rec Barchetta, YYZ, LImelight, and others. Power Windows was originally released in 1985 includes Big Money, Manhattan Project, Marathon, Territories, Mystic Rhythms, and others.


Moving Pictures

Power Windows…

The Alternative Era

I saw Rush on their Presto, Roll The Bones, and Counterpart tours, so I'm somewhat partial to these albums. With the albums Rush moves from the synthesizer era to alternative. Presto was originally released in 1989 and includes Show Don't Tell, The Pass, Presto, Superconductor, Red Tide, Hand Over Fist, Available Light, and others. Roll The Bones was originally released in 1991 and includes Dreamline, Bravado, Face Up, Ghost Of A Chance, Neurotica, and others. Counterparts was originally released in 1993 and includes Animate, Stick It Out, Cut To The Chase, Nobodys Hero, Alien Shores, The Speed of Love, Cold Fire, and others.


Roll The Bones…


Recent Albums

Test for Echo, Vapor Trails, Feedback, and Snakes & Arrows are all what I consider to be the most recent Rush albums. Each of them has some good songs although the degree that they're liked by Rush fans does vary. Test For Echo was originally released in 1996 and includes Test For Echo, Driven, and others. Vapor Trails was originally released in 2002 and includes One Little Victory, Ghost Rider, Vapor Trails, and others. This album comes after Neil Peart lost his
daughter (in a automobile accident) and his wife (from cancer), so you can hear the influence of these events in Peart's writing. Feedback was originally released in 2004 and includes Rush covers of Summertime Blues, Heart Full Of Soul, The Seeker, Shapes of Things, Crossroads, and others. This album is Rush paying homage to some of their influences with them covering songs from the 60's. Snakes & Arrows was originally released in 2007 and includes Far Cry, The Larger Bowl, The Way the Wind Blows, and others.

Test for Echo…

Vapor Trails…


Snakes & Arrows…

So I hope that you've enjoyed my 2008 Rush Day. I hope that you'll go listen or watch Rush. If you'd like to catch up with the band you can find their tour schedule and other news at their official website, you can read about them at Wikipedia, and if you'd like to play their music on your guitar you can find many of their songs at Chordie (I'm sure that some of the better music stores also have Rush sheet music as well). So I'll leave you now with Rush playing 2112 Live in Rio.

2112 Live in Rio
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Mein Restaurant Final Tonight

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tonight is the final of “Mein Restaurant” on Vox in Germany. Which restaurant will win and get to stay open, will it be Graurocks in Hamburg or the Grinzektaze in Munich?

Five couples were cast to open restaurants and after a series of competitions, one restaurant would be selected to stay open. Restaurants opened in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Munich and not it is down to the finalists. Couples had to come up with themes, business models, renovate locations that were in pretty bad shape, all in all you watched the couples pour their hearts into their dreams of owning and operating their own restaurants. It was a lot of work and you can only imagine how it must feel to have put so much blood, sweat, tears, and soul into the restaurant only to have it taken away from you, because only one will stay open.

The concept for the show appears to go back to Australia, where they had two seasons in 2004 and 2005. The concept has also been used in Belgium, Denmark, New Zeeland, and the Netherlands. You might consider this another one of the many reality television series that we’ve seen the last several years like, Big Brother, Survivor, and so on, but it just seems to have taken the genre in a more positive direction.

My early favorites on the German show were the couples from Leipzig and Munich. I was really sad to see the Leipzig couple go, because I really liked the couple and thought that they had a good concept with their family friendly environment complete with a Kiddy corner. In the episode that aired 16 December, a consultant estimated and showed the remaining two restaurants how much money they might earn in profit if they were to win based on how they’ve performed so far. The Grinzekatze incorporated a nice cocktail bar into their restaurant from the very beginning and were expected to make a nice profit, while the Graurocks appears to be catering to a more upscale crowd that doesn’t want cocktails (or so Conny seemed to think). It should be noted that the jury on the German series includes celebrity cook Tim Mälzer.

I’m looking forward to see who wins and wonder if there will be another season. Tonight we’ll find out if the Grinzekatze or the Graurocks will stay open. Gutten appetite!

Photo credit: "Dining Restaurants" courtesy of savensail

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Knut The Polar Bear is Two Years Old

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Today is Knut's second birthday. You might have forgotten him by now, but he is the polar bear whose mother refused to take care of him and he became an overnight celebrity shortly afterwards. While the spotlights have faded and most of the cuteness has warn off, he still is a large attraction at the Berlin Zoo. In honor of his second birthday I've assembled some videos that I have found on him, from when he was a little bear cub to his first birthday.

Knut on CNN and ProSeiben (a German Network, so the last part of the video is in German)

Here is an adorable song song by a younger fan of Knut

Knut at six months old

Knut at one year old

I hope that you've enjoyed this look at Knut. If you're ever in Berlin, why not go to the zoo and pay him a visit. By the way I heard that Knut might become a father in a little while as had had been mated with a couple of other bears at the zoo. You can also visit Knut's website or read about him at Wikipedia. Happy Birthday, Knut!