Saturday, April 16, 2011

A royal bore



Britain's upcoming wedding between Prince Whatever and his fiance has dominated the American news, and of course this brings up comparisons to Princess Diana's wedding to Prince Chuck. That means we get to hear about two weddings when I really only wanted to deal with none.

Although the United States seemingly cut the cord to Great Britain way back in the 18th century (although a quarter of Americans don't know that), we seem to have a striking obsession with England's royals. It has to do with our celebrity obsessed culture in general, something we share with the Brits.

I don't care much about celebrities. It doesn't matter to me who they date, what they eat, where they drink, how much drugs they consume, where they buried the body of the transvestite hooker. I don't need to know anything about Matt Damon's personal life or Derek Jeter's dating habits to be able to enjoy their movies or their athletic performances.

With the royal family, though, it's much worse. Royalty are the world's first reality stars, famous simply by virtue of being famous. Yes, they had a purpose back in the day, ruling over lands and armies by dictate of God (read: by virtue of birth or conquest). Today, though, they're useless. Does the United Kingdom need a royal family? No. It's archaic. Many English would argue otherwise, such as this bloke in comments:
It baffles me that people are seriously considering getting rid of the Monarchy.

This is why Britain has gone more and more down hill in the last few decades - because people never do things "for Queen and Country", it's all me me me; "Where is MY taxes going?"
* * *
It also astounds me how people can so carelessly consider abolishing the Royals when we as a nation are growing increasingly frustrated at the way so many traditionally British things are now gone after things, such as the rise in immigration, have pushed them aside or had them banned.
It's sort of funny to me that Britain stuck its finger in so many foreign lands, and then there are folks who complain when the foreigners poke back.

The British allot 7.9 million pounds towards the monarchy, but true overall costs are estimated to be significantly higher. Maybe the English should take that money and get better production values for the next "Doctor Who" series.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Accept the differences

My friends, we have been apart too long, nearly a month. Even my Twitter account has been mostly dormant. Life has kept me busy, but not always fulfilled. Fortunately, I was able to catch two concerts this month, and I love me some music.

Regular readers (hello to my followers at Rockview State Correctional Institution) may be surprised, but I went to an all acoustic show last week. It was delectable, and featured Paul Dempsey opening up for Colin "Men at Work" Hay.

Dempsey was a surprise but a treat, with a gorgeous voice (except when he tried to do falsetto) and pleasant guitar skills. I enjoyed his acoustic version of Ramona Was a Waitress (video not from the show):



Everyone was there for Hay, who has a unique voice and a remarkable sense of humor. Here's a song from the show I was at, although I note I had much better seats:



Hay performed at the Keswick Theater, which is an old performing arts venue outside Philadelphia. It's cramped and designed for people under 5'5", which made it uncomfortable, but the evening was fun nevertheless. I could see myself buying some of Hay's albums, but I am hesitant to say it would probably be to help me relax when I go to sleep.

Much more exciting, though, was my trip to the Trocadero, another run down theater right on the bubble of Chinatown in Philadelphia. Performing live were none other than the German metal legends Accept, with new host what's-his-face from the band T.T. Quick. He has that same gravelly voice as Udo Dirkschneider, so it was a reasonable facsimile.

Accept is like comfort food in music form, the vast, overwhelming majority of their set was classics from the 80s, including gems like "Fast as a Shark" (not from the show):



I wrecked my neck. The audience was small, even by the Trocadero standards, but it was a lively, loud and vivacious audience, which made it good. Wolf and Peter were at the top of their game. It was a thunderous good show.

A few bands opened for Accept, but what caught my ear was Swedish power metallers
Sabaton. Although they've been around for a decade, I was not familiar with them. However, as I told their bassist Pär Sundström after the show, I became a fan. He said, "Oh, yunk you, das oost why ve do ze shows!" No, he didn't sound like that, although I am paraphrasing what he said. It was basically that. I mean, he also had a funny accent, but charming, in the Swedish way.

It was their first time touring the United States, which is nice. They seem a little obsessed with World War 2, and did at least three songs about the war, including a song honoring the Polish resistance and a tribute to the American troops that landed in Normandy. Their singer, Joakim Brodén, said that if it wasn't for the U.S., they'd be speaking German now. The woman next to me turned and said, "Yeah, so would we." Whatever, I can barely speak English.