Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 - Apps, Apps, Apps!

No doubt 2010 was the year of the app and with the tablet market exploding, 2011 promises more of the same.

My iPhone 3G is easily my favorite machine by a long stretch but me and my iPad  have endured a rocky period since the honeymoon phase of our relationship hit the fade.

But I'm happy to report a recent breakthrough has me feeling all warm and fuzzy again. It turns out I was carrying expectations from a previous relationship and putting unreasonable demands on my device, instead of starting with a clean slate. So, as part of my renewed commitment to my sleek, sexy tablet, I've been spending more time in apps because that is after all, what makes the iPad special.

So what apps am I packing and how do I rate them?
I'll pick five from my collection that go beyond the standards:
  • Hipstamatic - Best $1.99 ever spent. I love this camera app. It's not perfect - I often have to take several shots before actually developing one, but the retro effects, edges and filters make virtually every shot a keeper. And you can upgrade to different filter packs to expand your photographic arsenal. Snapped above of Jim and Steve at Union Square yesterday in between meetings. 
  • Dragon Dictation - This free transcription app is almost perfect but I'll forgive it, because it's free. I use DD almost daily to capture my thoughts and daily prep on my morning drive. Part of the fun is trying to figure out what the hell I was saying in the first place, but that's what you get for free. Did I mention that it's free? Here's my transcript from this morning straight out of the app: 
    Alright new blog post adds adds adds to try this again Dragon dictation keeps breaking up is that shot of Jim and Steve crossing the street in between meetings at Union Square yesterday to talk up my apple beer for tonight is by its inconsistency it still gives you great shots virtually every time with the various filters check it would be Dragon dictation hello jacking up today it's a lot of fun and very easy-to-use on the go to jot down quick notes send text e-mails etc. on third Avenue
  • Twitter for iPhone/Twitterific for iPad - Need my tweets. Both are free. Both are good.
  • - I've been using this wine inventory/database app quite a bit lately. I'm no wine snob, I just happen to know some enthusiasts who leave behind bottles at my house and I figured it would be useful to get better acquainted with my collection and keep stock of inventory. The app acts as a tidy front-end for the online Cellartracker database with info on over 750,000 bottles of wine. The integration is a little clunky because you need to toggle between and CellarTracker in order to get the full range of features and functions, but I'm finding I can do the basic inventory and find out what bottles are up for drinking without leaving the app. I did send a question to and received a speedy response, which counts for a lot in my book. will set you back $3.99.
  • Trucks and Skulls/X2 Football 2010 - What app list would be complete without some mention of games? If you ask me, Trucks and Skulls for .99 is a great way to kill 10 or 15 minutes. From the site: "This is the physics puzzler you've been waiting for! Smash NITRO-BURNING MONSTER TRUCKS into piles of GIANT SKULLS!" Need I say more? But If you ask my five-year-old son, he'd probably say X2 Football takes the prize because he's becoming more of a soccer nut than I am. I can't tell you how many times this free lite version of the game has come to the rescue in impatient waiting circumstances.
And some others worth mention:

The new CNN app is gorgeous, Atomic Lite browser is better than Safari, Speak it! is a text-to-speech app I purchased by accident but it actually does a pretty good job of reading - and, you can do it with a British accent, Grimm’s Rumpelstiltskin - 3D Interactive Pop-up Book is awesome, Kids Jokes for $1.99 is a total rip-off.

And stay tuned - we've got some apps of our own in the works for release in early 2011. That's right - Artgig makes apps.

Happy Holidays.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hey Apple, Where's My Peach Cobbler?

I happen to like peach cobbler - a lot.
I’m not sure how this love affair began, but it started with a perfect peach cobbler on one occasion many years ago and I’ve been chasing the high ever since.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to find bad, overly-sweetened, careless cobbler than it is the delicious pinnacle of desserts I recall and crave.
So the other day, out of the blue, my wife announces she’s making me peach cobbler - “tomorrow."She says.
She even had the peaches to prove it.
But tomorrow arrived, and as the day wore on, I sensed a change in the winds - plans were shifting as they so often do in the harsh light of reality.
Unfortunately, she had timed her cobbler announcement with our nephew’s birthday party, for which she was already baking cupcakes and brownies.
I knew there was going to be no cobbler before the official announcement came.
I was told to eat cupcakes and that was it.
I also knew that with each passing minute, the likelihood of the cobbler happening at all was more and more likely a fleeting fantasy.
After all, it was a busy weekend with kids and there’s only so much time for dessert baking splurges.
I didn’t say a word.
The weekend was over - cobbler-less.
On Monday, upon arriving home from work, she shocked me - “I’m making you your cobbler tonight.” she announced.
After dinner she set about the making and baking of my succulent surprise as I played with the kids in the other room.
And then I heard it.
A baker’s groan from the kitchen.
And another one - louder, in case I hadn’t heard the first.
“These peaches are bad.”
And that was it.
The end.
In response to this abrupt dashing of dreams, I said to my wife “The only thing worse than no peach cobbler at all, is someone promising you peach cobbler and not delivering.”

And that’s kind of how I feel about Apple and my iPad.
I mean, Apple definitely got further with the iPad than my wife did with the cobbler.
The iPad is a wonderfully intuitive and sexy device - most of the time.
But what I expected (and what I feel Apple led me to believe I was getting), and what I got, are two different things.
IOS 4.2 is rumored to launch tomorrow and that should resolve some of the clunkiness, enabling basic functions like multitasking and printing.
And I’m not going to get started on Flash because it’s not going to happen - and I knew that when I purchased (but I’d still rather have the option to run Flash or not, instead of stumbling upon gaping content potholes when browsing the web).
But Flash aside, I find web browsing and emailing, and most other basic tasks (even navigating the App store) are just not as easy as they they are on my two-year-old, big, heavy, unsexy MacBook.
The iPad seems, well, really good at apps, if that’s your thing.
And there’s no question it’s a fantastic tool for kids with endless possibilities for education and entertainment.
It’s not bad.
But I expect better from Apple.
I expected the iPad would be a MacBook killer for me.
And I welcomed it.
I wanted it.
The iPad is the perfect size to cozy up with in bed - like a good book.
The MacBook in bed? Please. Only if I’ve had too much to drink.
But lately, I find me and my wife are reaching for the MacBook and not the iPad - even in bed.
When it comes down to getting content and getting things done, it’s just easier to do it on the MacBook.

I love Apple.
I just want my peach cobbler.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Artgig Concert Report: The Dead Weather - Prospect Park, BK

We shut up shop early Tuesday to brave the BQE, landing in Prospect Park only moments before The Dead Weather hit the stage for a Celebrate Brooklyn benefit concert.
And when Jack White appeared, blow torch in hand, on a perfect summer's eve, we snatched our frosty beverages from the Watering Hole and melded into the buzzing crowd.
From that moment on, we were transported in an experience described afterward by our honorary Artgigger, Nick, as "soul cleansing."
Yeah, soul cleansing with a blow torch - that about sums up the good old-fashioned rock concert The Dead Weather threw down - hustling, cussing and stomping through the night.
When it was over and the dust settled, I was left literally stunned.
That was The Dead Weather.

Read more at Brooklyn Vegan (and look who's at the top of the quotes).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

iPads and iPhones and Apps - Oh My!

A very good longtime friend of mine, an Art Director for a big healthcare advertising agency, stopped by a few weeks ago with his shiny new iPad. I only had a few minutes with it, mostly playing a motion-sensing snowboarding game with my son, but I was left with a clear and distinct desire to own one as soon as possible.

It should be noted, that when I met this friend almost 20 years ago, he was the only person I knew who had a Mac.

A week later, I found myself on my patio drinking a nice bottle of Prisoner red with the same friend, when he voiced his surprise/shock/disappointment that I still didn't have my own iPad - especially since my business is rooted in technology and the web. He went on to tell me how his boss had just come back from some trade show and declared the iPad to be the future of computing.

I explained to him that Apple blindsided us, and our plans for Flash app development, when they pulled the rug out from Adobe with their new developer terms.

He was unimpressed.
He went on to explain that app development is the place to be.
And how he doesn't even miss Flash since he got his iPad.
And how even the porn industry is embracing HTML5.

I explained to him that HTML5 is a nice thought and a good Flash alternative for video in some browsers, but it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the mature interactive application authoring ability, not to mention penetration (while we're talking porn) that Flash provides.

Again, the HTML5 and Flash argument is really apples and oranges.

Well, how do they make games for apps then? He asked.

Well, Apple has their own developer environment for apps called Xcode and you can get up and running with some basic functionality pretty quickly, but if you want to do something fancier and more graphics driven, like a snowboarding game, you'll need to know Objective-C programming language and OpenGL for the graphics interface.

My friend stopped looking at me like I was some kind of caveman and we finished the bottle.

The conversation shifted to a new project he was working on with a hot, happening shop, and as he was talking them up, with iPhone in hand, he naturally made a move to call up their website to show me -  but stopped himself.

"I'd show you their website...but it's in Flash."

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Artgig Launches IWPR International News Website

After over three months of around-the-clock-effort from an international development team lead by Jim here in Pleasantville and Tarrant Marshall in Australia for Artgig, along with our friends at ESI Design in Manhattan and the Institute of War and Peace Reporting team in London, we are extremely pleased to announce the launch of the new IWPR corporate news website. ESI had been working on this project for over a year when they brought us in and handed off a 70-plus page design spec for production.

We knew the three-month timeline was aggressive, especially considering there were other development teams in the mix working on ancillary components, but in typical Jim fashion, he didn't even blink - he just rolled up his sleeves and got to work with Tarrant in a routine that involved few breaks for air and lots of Skyping.

Amongst the many virtues of the new Drupal site aside from the new look, is easier, faster access to uploading and editing news and articles from not only everywhere in the world but everyone, including journalists in the field - and they can do it in any language they choose. It’s a picture of democracy blooming not only in struggling nations, but in journalism itself. And the open source platform will allow IWPR to continue and expand their work long after we've gone.

It's a difficult concept for westerners, because we're used to standing up and being heard, regardless of what we have to say. Or despite what we have to say, in most cases, and we don’t even have to stand up. Free speech is a luxury we take for granted. IWPR mentors communities for whom this concept is new and often dangerous, with services, equipment and this new website. They teach, encourage, support and disseminate.

But the beautiful part is the greater transparency of the entire process, which is in fact the main purpose of the organization, and indeed of journalism in any form. Every new iteration of the site allows more small voices a megaphone, brings more stories by the people to the people, cultivates understanding and empathy, and along the way enlightens us all and prompts action in the name of justice. Now that's a website to be proud of.

Check it out:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

From the Trenches: Apple vs Flash Part 3

Tuesday, May 25th 1547 hours

Just when it appeared Apple had Adobe Flash cornered, Google enters the fray.

Last week Google unveiled Google TV at their developer conference and joining Google's VP of Engineering, Vic Gundotra, on stage in support of the platform were some other tech heavy hitters:  Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer, Intel's Paul Otellini, Best Buy's Brian Dunn, and Adobe's chief executive, Shantanu Narayen.

That's right, Google is going full steam ahead with Flash on their mobile Android platform, their Chrome browser which just graduated from Beta, and now coming soon to a TV near you - Google TV.

Attempts at a blended TV/web interactive experience using your television are usually half-baked and clunky but Google aims to change that with the Intel Atom chip to deliver fluid browsing, content, apps and games - all from your remote.

It will also be interesting to see how Google incorporates the power of its powerful speech recognition software.

Our embedded operative and Android tester, Jim Bail, who watched some of the conference webcast, reports the Google gang stuck a big bullseye on Steve Jobs and Apple, calling out comparisons to Big Brother and warning of a Draconian future.

Now let me go search Google for images that include the terms "trench, war, and television."

Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From the Trenches: Apple vs Flash Part 2

Thursday, May 20th 0956 hours

The big thing that everyone is missing in this Flash War is the fact that Flash is not just video.
Sure, it's the preferred platform of the moment because practically everyone has Flash and can run it in their browser the same as the next.
But if HTML5 or some other technology bumps Flash from its web video throne, Flash will still be the only competent authoring tool for interactivity and animation on the web.
Sure, we've all learned that big splashy Flash intros are bad.
And we all know that what most people want on the web is content and they want to get it quickly without jumping through hoops.
But do you really want to eat chicken every single day?
What about the one day out of the week when you want to change things up, to try something different? To use your imagination?
How else are we to achieve the seamless cinematic quality of a big beautiful Flash site produced in capable and creative hands?
Or a game?
Club Penguin anyone?
Do you think it can be done in HTML5?
Have you seen the amazing "look what I did in HTML5" animations floating around?
They stink.
According to a 2009 Quantcast study, mobile web is less than 1.5% of all web browsing in the US - and that includes the iPhone, iPod Touch and every other mobile device you can think of.
Mobile computing is clearly on the rise, and the iPad will likely add to Apple's mobile share but we're not talking total domination here - not by a long shot.
It's a safe bet that the remaining 98-point-something percent of web users will not abandon their Flash-enabled browsing experience anytime soon.
Flash is safe...for now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From the Trenches: Apple vs Flash Part 1

Tuesday, May 18th 1539 hours

It's true what they say, war really is hell.
I'm torn in this battle, like the kid in a divorce.
I grew up using Apple and Adobe products.
Once upon a time, before Adobe acquired Macromedia and a little web animation program called Flash, Apple and Adobe were like peanut butter and jelly for creatives–they just went together.
No more.
I love Apple, but make no mistake, Steve Jobs wants to control the web the same way he controls his products, because that's how he controls the user experience and that's how Apple makes money.
Adobe is no better, they've been charging ridiculous amounts of money for their software and forcing paid upgrades every year or so with seemingly little regard for their loyal customers.
Why? Because they can.
A quick check of the Adobe website, has the Creative Suite 5 Web Premium going for almost $2,000.
That's 2,000 bucks to get started with what is considered the essential, industry-standard software suite.
Instead of bickering, Adobe should step back and take a hard look at themselves and admit they've been riding the gravy train for too long.
They should seize this moment as an opportunity to improve their products, lower prices, connect with their customers and take advantage of their market position.
Everyone already has Flash.
It's much tougher to get people to change.
Make better, cheaper products and treat your customers with respect.
We'll all be happier in the end.
Or keep digging in your heels and wait for someone else to step in and do it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

New Turtle Pond VideoMaker Launches!

Now you can make a custom video mashup using video clips, text, and music, from the entire Turtle Pond library, featuring Owen and Mzee, Miza, and Winter!
Registered users can save their creations and share them with friends.
The new Videomaker is available at, and – just click on the VideoMaker icon and unleash your inner Kubrick.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hot Stuff - Safety Games For Kids

When the educational company we all used to work for finally went belly-up amid corporate downsizing and synergizing, we kind of thought learning through game play went with it. Not so, as it turns out.

We just finished a set of games for Weekly Reader on behalf of their client, the Home Safety Council. Forget those posters and washed out videos you had when you were a little kid – now Pre-K and K kids learn about home safety through the magic of games.

Two dalmatian puppies, Wiggle and Giggle, bring basic, important home safety tips to life in four animated games involving sorting, dress-ups, mazes and puzzles. Good fun, and good for you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekly Reader Global Warming E-Issue Launches

Did you know Antarctica is classified as a desert because it receives less than 10 inches of precipitation in a year?

Weekly Reader Month continues as we launch "A Matter of Degrees," an electronic issue of the Weekly Reader Current Science magazine.  Designed as a teaching aid, it illustrates the history, causes and impact of global warming - and what we can do about it.

The horizontal-scrolling Flash website we built featuring our custom Content Management System allows Weekly Reader editors complete control over almost all the content on the site. This was invaluable to both Artgig and Weekly Reader – we didn’t have to make all the small changes, and they could perfect to their heart’s content. Especially since there isn’t just one editor in the WR newsroom; there are many, ranging from science to pedagogical specialists, along with art directors and project managers from all departments.

The media-rich site features images, videos and interactive animations to demonstrate concepts, and the text instruction is multi-leveled; as much or as little info as you require.

Section quizzes reinforce learning along with a Sci-Triv game.

Go on try it – are you smarter than a fifth grader?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kick Grass! A Green Game For Earth Day

Who wouldn’t want to save the world alongside a cartoon dog named TurfMutt?
And what better way to introduce kids to the idea of greening up to save the planet?

We just launched another Weekly Reader game – this time for their client, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

Using the art and branding from a poster Weekly Reader created for OPEI, we created an awesome four-level platform game for kids aged 8-10. Keyboard controls move TurfMutt around the screen to collect all nine grass seed packets, meanwhile avoiding the bad guys and their obstacles: Heat Freak’s hot-spots, Dr. Runoff’s mudballs, Dust Demon’s dusty whirlwinds, and Carbon Creep’s smog. Collect all the seed packets and the environment is saved! TurfMutt can enjoy his doggy green paradise.

We built this game on the engine we used for our Holiday Card last year – a few adjustments, a new skin, and presto! TurfMutt, the Environmental Avenger, is born.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Artgig and Chris Tarry Win a Webby!

Congratulations all around.

You may have noticed I can’t go very long without bringing up Chris Tarry. Mainly because he’s about the coolest dude we know. When we first met him we just liked him because he’s funny, and a fantastic musician. Then we liked him because he never stopped thinking about how to make his music better, and he brought us along for the ride. Then we liked him because he’s not just a great musician, he’s also a writer! Who knew? Then we were amazed because he won’t let things grow old and forgotten – he’s constantly upping the ante, using new ideas and techniques without fear. Today, it's no surprise his never ending quest for website domination has earned one of the highest industry awards – the Webby Official Honoree.

With all of this history between us, we thought it would be fun to look back at the evolution of So here it is – the official Tarry Timeline, so far…

Oct, 2007 - Unhappy with his website, Chris spots a little Artgig site credit on Dave Binney's site - he picks up the phone...

Nov, 2007 - We do a bunch of designs

Dec, 2007 - The new site launches

July, 2008 - Add downloads from a voucher

Dec, 2008 - Gifts for everyone and Radiohead "pay what you want" feature

 Mar, 2009 - Endorsements

April 2009 - Not just a bassist and composer anymore

April 2009 - Needs a blog for all the writing

Sep, 2009 - And then, of course, a book (which needs a website)

Dec, 2010 - New Home page and - "I was thinking we should enter the Webbys..."

Yesterday - Polish it off with the biggest and best award on the web...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Artgig - The Week In Pictures

Bad, bad, blogger.
I assure you the lack of posts is not due to laziness - actually, quite the opposite is true.
We've been very busy, working under a cloak of secrecy on various projects over the last couple of months with many launching, or about to, as I type.
Do you hear that?
It's the sound of the floodgates opening for lots of blogging with plenty to talk about.
Until then, here's a little sneak peek behind the scenes at Artgig last week to whet your appetite.
It was a week that trumpeted the welcome arrival of wonderful Spring here in Pleasantville, with the flowers in full bloom, the bees as big as small birds out and about, and a Barcelona beating for Arsenal in the Champion's League that drove us to drink.


Sunday, March 7, 2010


I gotta say, I had mixed feelings going into this one.

I like Muse, but it's far from an unequivocal love - I probably skip as many songs as I listen to.
Their sound is typically big and heavy and undeniably catchy, but it too often slips into full-blown opera (think Queen)–and that's where they lose me.

On the plus side:

  • There are few songs better for late night driving on the West Side Highway than "Map of the Problematique." 
  • I saw them perform on television at last year's VMA's (yes, the one hijacked by Kanye West) and I was struck by the precision and confidence of their crunchy performance.
  • Ever since, the buzz has been building, culminating in a glowing firsthand concert report from Artgig Australia at Big Day Out in Sydney just a couple of months ago.
So when the Garden gig was announced, I felt an immediate tug and grabbed some tickets.

If I had any doubts going into Friday night, Muse smashed them to bits with a powerhouse performance that quite simply kicked ass.
This is a band made for the big stage and they used every inch of it, up and down, to put on one hell of a big show.
See them now if you can.
You won't regret it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

ChatRoulette - Exactly What It Sounds Like

It's 7:20 pm in Moscow - do you know where your children are?

As I went through my Monday drive mental checklist this morning, I stopped at one nagging item - "must nurture blog."

But this is easier said than done.
For one needs something to write about in order to write.
And I know as soon as I get into the office, I'm likely to come under heavy fire that will not let up until sometime Friday when I lock up for the night, so the opportunities for a moment of precise clarity leading to a worthy blog post are few and far between.

Needless to say, I arrived at work without a topic.
Well, I was thinking of interviewing Steve, but I'll save that for another day.

As I dove into my morning mash of news and tweets, it hit me square in the face.

Enter ChatRoulette to save the day.

What is this? I thought. Another breakthrough social web platform–and I've not heard of it.

How is it possible?

I read the New York Magazine article about a 17-year-old Russian kid who, out of boredom, built the site for random video chatting with strangers.

If you don't like what you see, all you have to do is click next to get a new stranger from somewhere else in the world - before they do it to you.

Brilliant. I thought.

Exciting. I imagined.

Gotta check this out - I did.

And what I got in my five minutes on ChatRoulette was a lot of quick images - mostly guys and most of them jerking off.

Next, next, next...

A guy, wearing a furry raccoon hat with murder in his eyes, stares back at me - next.

A woman, no that's a guy with breasts, next...

A sign - "show me your tits", next...

And then I arrived at something different - like a bad art installation.
Are those giant bags of cocaine or is it seat cushion stuffing set against an aluminum foil backdrop?

The chat started as words appeared on my screen - the stranger on the other side asked me "know what this is?"

"Clueless," I responded.

Next - the stranger disconnected.

Clueless, and happy, I thought.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ethos CRS: e-Learning Down Under

"Chas Savage," sounds like he could be a rock star or a superhero, and he may very well be that in the business of training Australian professionals to do a better job of speaking, writing and presenting in whatever business it is they do.

This time last year, Chas was running his business, Ethos CRS, from his home in Canberra and barely had a website of his own.

Today he has 20 professionals working for him in an expanding office and he's attracting the attention of top government agencies with his aim to do big things for Australia.

One of those big things is the launch of a complete e-Learning program, "From Grammar to Clear Writing," slated to go live this spring.

This, is where Ethos and Artgig intersect.

We've become perfect partners, a super duo poised to deliver on-demand learning in a series of interactive lessons to businesses and agencies who recognize good training is good business.

I like Chas, and it goes beyond my inherent soft spot for all things Aussie. Chas is smart and sharp and honest and he does what he says he's going to do and that is admirable.

And this is exactly what he said he was going to do when I met him a year ago on a Skype video call, arranged by Lis.

He just needed some help putting the "e" part in e-Learning.

So I showed him CMEpilot, our mature, proven e-Learning platform developed for continuing medical education training and certification, here in the States.

We'd always envisioned the platform as something that could be re-purposed pretty easily for other industries and to be honest, it was begging for a refresh.

Chas took one look at it and he was sold.

Of course, he has his own ideas about the form and function of his training program and that's where we begin making beautiful music together.

For starters, we threw out the standard Flash slides and talking head modules and built some really slick custom interactive engines - all in JavaScript.

And, knowing Ethos' attention to detail, we designed their course to be almost entirely content-managed so they can go in and edit the front-end to their hearts' content.

And the cherry on top? The admin dashboard allows Ethos to access all the stats involved by user and organization--who goes to the e-Learning site, certifications and user tests, and e-commerce transactions.

It's a complete system, and it works. With all the right technology behind him, Chas and his team are sure to be the U2 of business and government training in no time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monster Australian Wasp Attacks Spider!

Imagine stepping out of your house in the morning, only to walk straight into this rumble on your front doorstep.
Just another day in Canberra for Lis.

Leaning heavily on our Aussie team for content as we work on several top secret projects.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chris Tarry - Always Fresh

Our favorite Canadian bassist and all-around creative force, Chris Tarry, is at it again - we just pushed the latest website update live and you should go there right now to check out a LIMITED TIME OFFER to name your price for downloads!:

Still here?

Let's continue this conversation over at Chris' site - where you can soak in the new layout and get all the news and features you can handle in one big Tarry-sized gulp.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Guest Blogger Concert Report: Big Day Out, Australia

You say your 25 minute drive to work this morning took an hour and forty-five minutes because it was snowing?

Then you might be slightly jealous to hear it's summer in Australia.

And slightly more jealous to hear the Big Day Out music festival in Sydney rocked and you missed it.

But all is not lost.

Artgig has a team on the ground down under and our guest blogger, Hallie Bruce, has filed a report from the trenches to satisfy your craving for vicarious sensory overload.

Big Day Out - January 23rd 2010

The heat didn’t stop the masses from storming the second day of Sydney’s Big Day Out music festival and it certainly didn’t stop the bands from tearing the music scene up.
The lineup was crazy. The performances were totally awesome. The crowds were crushing. (Thankfully the heat broke halfway through the afternoon with a downpour that drenched Olympic Park.)

Karnivool, Aussie progressive rock band, belted out smooth lyrics to deep alternative guitar riffs, Hilltop Hoods rapped out their famous harmonic hip hop, and Rise Against rocked out to some bone-shaking punk rock tunes. Even Lily Allen, not my favorite, sounded great, borrowing fellow Brit Dizzee Rascall, another Big Day Out-goer, for a song or two.

An attraction frequented by my brother was the Silent Disco, which provided headphones and different music to each participant who entered an interesting throng, each dancing to a different set of tunes.

The Mars Volta for sure was a huge lure for Big Day Out crowds, and the pit was filled to the brim as they entered on stage and began their famous improvisational set, delivering an amazing hour-long show. Cedric writhed like nothing else on stage, and the improv was completely on par with--if not better than--the original tracks. It was not a gig to miss.

But by far the set that took the cake was Muse, who entered playing “Uprising”, their newest and greatest single, projected up on three split screens set up alongside the stage and accompanied by a fierce laser lights show. Although the arena was enormous and the acoustics suffered greatly for it, the power of their sound was unmistakable. Performing hits like “Time Is Running Out”, “Hysteria”, and “Starlight”, the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. But who wouldn’t be, when Matthew Bellamy and crew are standing right in front of you, serving up some of their best music? They were joined by Jet’s Nic Cester for a cover of AC/DC’s “Back In Black” in homage to Australia’s hosting of the 100th Big Day Out since Nirvana first played in 1992.

The night ended with a spectacular fireworks show, the colors and thundering explosions bringing to an end a most fantastic Big Day Out indeed.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Twenty-Ten: Welcome to the Future!

I hope in all of your New Years celebrations you didn't take a big swig from a beer only to find it was someone's ashtray because that's just disgusting.

But in all likelihood, you didn't, because people don't smoke in the future.

How else do I know 2010 is officially the future?

My dad just got a shiny, new Ford with a built-in satellite radio and he's not afraid to use it.

He even called me from his cell phone yesterday to tell me he was listening to an English soccer match in the car.

Later that night, he emailed me to tell me "The Hurt Locker" is playing at Jacob Burns.

It wasn't too long ago that I got him a shiny new portable satellite radio–minus the car.

The look on his face as I extracted the tangle of radio, antenna, wires, and plug from the box said it all–I may as well have pulled a little green martian out because it was entirely alien to him and he surely wasn't about to touch it.

He was positioned squarely at the perimeter of the technology boom, sensing the shockwaves emanating from the youthful, geeky core, but still peering in safely from the outside.

No more.

My five-year-old nephew has the Disney website bookmarked on the family computer.

My four-year-old son beats my ass in Wii Tennis.

Technology is woven into the very fabric of our daily lives.

3D TV, your car reading your tweets to you on the morning drive, flexible paper-thin e-readers–oh my!

Seamless integration.

Now where's my Apple Tablet?

Looking forward to twenty-ten.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lake Trout Concert Report

The concert report has been postponed due to weather.

Here's a picture instead.