Archive for October, 2008


Music Monday: Ani DiFranco & Anaïs Mitchell (Frankfurt 25-Oct-2008)

On Sunday I had the great privilege of seeing Ani DiFranco perform live at the Batschkapp in Frankfurt am Main. Batschkapp is a small venue in Frankfurt, several underground stations north from the pedestrian zone Zeil. It’s easy to find and so I was there early to linger around in front of the entrance for about 15 minutes before they let us in. The mix of people outside was diverse and yet, seeing them I knew this was an Ani DiFranco crowd. I stood alone by the side, trying to blend in somehow. They let us enter a little after 6pm. I left my jacket at the cloakroom and walked inside without any bags, which saved me the trouble of having to be searched. I went to stand over at the stage, but after a while I reconsidered and decided to check out the merch table first. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that it’s better to buy your merch BEFORE the show rather than after, because it’s empty then and you can pick whatever you like. However, it would’ve meant either carrying the stuff around or going back to the cloak room to leave it there. So I just checked what they had, made sure they were stocked well and eventually walked back over to the stage. It was still nowhere near crowded and I found a nice spot on the right end of the stage. This is where I remained for the next four hours or so.

The opening acts were Anaïs Mitchell and Hamell on Trial. Anaïs Mitchell was more than convincing. I had listened to her on her website and on NPR before, I only just thought her songs were nice and that was it. However, seeing her perform made me appreciate her music more, as she has a great presence on stage, or so I thought. Also, I have a weakness for foreigners that speak German, and she spoke German beyond “Guten Tag” and “Wiener Schnitzel”, which made me appreciate her even more. She performed a solid set of songs mostly from her CD The Brightness: Your Fonder Heart, Of A Friday Night, Namesake, Shenadoah, Hades & Persephon. At one point, she suddenly stood on one leg, still playing and singing – it turned out her guitar strap had become loose. Tech guy #1 tried to fix it, but failed and walked away, but tech guy #2 helped her out. She raised her leg again afterwards and said: “That was not part of the show.” I like how she just played on despite the technical difficulties. Her voice was lovely and she talked about German wine (which she liked) and left way too soon.

Next up was Hamell on Trial, who made jokes about putting Wiener Schnitzel in his shoes. He also talked about his son Detroit, and in what I imagine to be a well-rehearsed bit complained about people laughing at his kid’s name, saying “Gustav” wasn’t much better. He played his guitar loudly, played some angry songs and spit all over the microphone. As opening acts go, he was quite alright, but for me personally, his music didn’t do much.

Once he left, Ani DiFranco finally took to the stage. I couldn’t help but think: “Wow, I thought she’d be taller.” Sharing the stage with her were Allison Miller, Todd Sickafoose and Mike Dillon, and they made for a great combination.
Ani started off the set with Shy, and then continued with a great blend of older songs and newer songs. See the setlist above. I was excited to hear gems like Back Back Back and Names and Dates and Times, and of course everybody loves You Had Time and Napoleon. She talked about German things she likes: the graveyard she saw, German beds, bedding, bread, beer and soup, and she talked about how excited she was about the upcoming elections in the US. Before playing Emancipated Minor she talked about having had a baby almost two years ago, and how her baby had told her that song. She also talked about how Landing Gear was written while she was in labor, and how she had given birth at home, since she was an old-fashioned girl. She did NOT play Gravel as an encore (unless I passed out from excitment and forgot all about it) and she didn’t play Alla This either, but if my memory serves me right, she played Every State Line and Everest to end the show after we had clapped long enough to make her come back out.

The evening ended, I bought a number of CDs, including both Anaïs Mitchell CDs of which I had her sign one. I listened to them already and I can only recommend them, much more I can recommend seeing her live. I didn’t get to meet Ani, but I wouldn’t have know what to tell her anyway. except for: “You know, I really like what you do.” She likes to hear that, she said. I certainly would’ve meant it.

For those of you who care, I have a very low-quality version of Ani playing Way Tight at that concert. It’s a nice reminder of the concert, I find, especially since she messed the song up at one part, and it’s a hilarious mess-up indeed. It only makes the song more special. Enjoy!

Ani DiFranco – Way Tight in Frankfurt am Main, 25-Oct-2008:

Ani DiFranco – Way Tight (Frankfurt 25-Oct-2008) (Mediafire)
Ani DiFranco – Way Tight (Frankfurt 25-Oct-2008) (Megaupload)


Rambling: Echo on Skype – Solved

Since I received a lot of positive feedback about my earlier post on the Sony Vegas “black screen” problem, I figured I’d also publish the solution to my Skype problem.

This is what happened. I always used Skype on my laptop until very recently, when I tried to get it to work on my desktop. So I called a friend and she complained very loudly about the fact that she could hear her own echo and it was freaking her out. A word of advice: get used to your own voice – it’s not nearly as bad as you think.

So I could hear my friend okay, and she could hear a very loud echo. I have a Realtek soundcard, and I found a post on the Skype Forum that explains how to solve the echo problem. That didn’t seem to help, though.

Now, if you’re REALLY not paying attention as some people on the forum, your problem might just be that you’re not using a headphone and your friend hears their own echo. But I will assume that you’re smart and you would know that. So this is, I think, what helped me:

So, I used to have the above option switched to “6CH Speaker”, since I have a fancy 5.1 Surround Sound System, and I think that caused some sort of feedback. If it’s switched to “Headphone”, the echo disappears on the other side and your friends will talk to you again. ;)
If you refuse to use headphones, this option might help:

And if any of this helped you at all, don’t forget to comment!


Video Saturday #29 – Foreign Languages

It has been a while since the last Video Saturday. What can I say? I’m busy and.. lazy. Yes, I admit it. Anyway, to make up for it, I figured I’d show you some videos about celebrities speaking in foreign languages. Why? No reason. Just for the fun of it. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you speak the languages, too. :)

This is Lucy Lawless (dressed up as Xena) speaking German.
She says it used to be her favorite subject at school. :)

Jodie Foster speaking French.

Sara Ramirez of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame (she plays Callie).
She’s originally from Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

This doesn’t really count since Arnold Schwarzenegger
is Austrian, so speaking German isn’t really him
speaking in a foreign language.
But it’s funny, so there. :)

Sandra Bullock’s mother was German,
so she knows German, too. This is a speech
from a show where she received the Bambi award.

That’s it for now. If you know more videos, feel free to write a comment. :)


Rambling: Rich and famous

Consider this for a moment. If I had started working at age 20 (which I didn’t), made $3000 a month (which I don’t) and worked until I was 65 (which has yet to be seen), I would throughout the course of my life, earn $1.620.000 (which is about 1.185.354 Euro). Of course, even if I did this, I’d still have to pay rent and spend money on groceries and clothes and, say, toilet paper. So, as a rough estimate, let’s just say that over the course of my working life, I could maybe make $1 million.

Now consider this: Charlize Theron was paid $20 million for wearing a certain watch for a little over a year. So by wearing only watched by a certain brand, Charlize (who I like and have a lot of respect for) could’ve made – in only 14 months – 20 times as much as you make in your whole life. And she didn’t even do it, or at least she’s being sued for the money back because she wore a Dior watch one day. $20 million for wearing a watch! There’s not even work involved!

In other news, Johny Depp received $59.2 million to reprise his role in part four of “Pirates Of The Caribbean”. What a sum, 59.2 millon. They probably said, “Hey, we want you to play in that movie, will you do it for $59 million?” and he said, “$59 million? Cheapskates. How about $60 million?” – “How about $59.2 million?” – “Well, alright.”

$59,200,000 <– just so you know how much that is
-$               1 <– price for about 4 packs of Ramen noodles
$59,199,999 <– “okay, okay, I’ll sign up for part 5, too.”


The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

Today I finished reading The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby. It’s a good book and I recommend it.

The Polysyllabic Spree is a collection of columns Nick Hornby wrote for the Believer magazine. The column he writes for them is about books he read, but it’s also a lot about the experience of reading and not as much about the content of books. It’s a nice read, even if you – like me – haven’t read or even heard of most of the books Hornby writes about. And when the occasional book I knew as well came up, it seems he mentioned it only briefly and didn’t explain much why he liked it. (He doesn’t talk about the books he didn’t like, since the editors of the Believer supposedly didn’t want him to.) Still, it was a good read and the book is sweet and humorous and recommendable.

If you don’t know who Hornby is, you might want to start with one of his fiction books instead of this, like High Fidelity or A Long Way Down, but if you like to read about reading books… this one may just be the one for you!