Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rap it up I'll take it

  It was yet another gameday and as they say, you can take the boy out of Syracuse, but you can't take the Syracuse out of the boy. Preparing to sequester herself against another onslaught of screaming audience static, Mrs. Hall had moved her laptop into the boardroom and was arranging her coffee and snacks, when her ears perked up. Wafting down the hall came a pulsing beat.  She followed it to the couch and looked over Mr. Hall's shoulder.
"What is that you're playing?" she asked.
"Well," he said, " I was reading the Syracuse Post Standard online and apparently there's a rap about Jim Boeheim, the SU men's basketball coach, and I was just listening to it.  I'll turn it off if it bothers you-.."
"No, no- that's not necessary."  She returned to her desk.  A quick search later, and the same beats could be heard coming from the boardroom.  Mr. Hall peered around the corner with a smile.
"It's catchy; I like it." she admitted, and played it three more times.
 "Great song- but those old shots of Boeheim in the 70s are a riot; did people actually dress like that then?"  "Probably," Mr. Hall muttered, and went back to his lair.  On the fourth time through though, Mr. Hall returned to the room.  "Look, " he started, "I'm as big a fan of the Orange as anyone, but-"   She apologized and turned down the sound.

But sometimes tunes have a funny way of staying around and as she noticed it becoming the de facto sound track for her afternoon, it occurred to her that maybe, just maybe, the artist that wrote that was on to something.  She shot out a tweet of support to King Vega on Twitter, and a hope that they play it at the Dome that evening.  Sure enough, reports come back via Twitter that it had indeed rocked the Dome that night.  Elated, Mrs. Hall shot out a few more missives to the Twittersphere.
The song seemed to be gaining some traction; they played it again a couple of times the next game and before she knew it, local media was picking up on it too.  CNY Central snagged an interview with Vega and so did local Channel 9WSYR.  Mrs. Hall smiled as she watched them.  Boeheim has huge magnetism in this town.  He's regarded as a god by most, and certainly revered as one in basketball circles, and although there's been a number of books written about him, for all his influence and attraction in Syracuse, there's never been an anthem produced.
 And here now, out of the blue, these fellows seemed to have not only nailed the local sentiment about their hometown icon, but married it to a great game beat as well.  The manager, Elisah Kimbrough, on top of that, was internet savvy.  Familiar with the power of social media, he was on top of the wave of enthusiasm online, and implored fans to request the song repeatedly at the Dome, where it was sure to gain greater recognition.
A chime popped up on Mrs. Hall's laptop.  It was a message on Twitter.  Her tweets had caught the attention of Mr. Kimbrough and he was thanking her for her support.  In the world of social media, a little link love goes a long ways.  She asked him for some more info about King Vega and he sent her his press kit and bio, and more good news:  a popular radio broadcast was interviewing them this very afternoon, and their hit was going to be available on iTunes by Tuesday.  The ball just keeps on rolling.
Editor's Note:  You can find King Vega's bio and picture here.  And while you're at it, stop in and give his Youtube video a few more hits; if he makes 15,000 views by the next Syracuse game, the Dome's going to have him perform live there.  Let's help a local fellow make good!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Through a Google Glass lightly

"But why is this all so important?" questioned Mr. Hall, for the gazillionth time that week.  Mrs. Hall sighed.  "It's like this.  Google wants to take over the world. And I, for one, welcome our Google overlords.  As such, I've been awarded  he opportunity to wear their newest example of supremacy.  Did you ever see the movie 'Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'?  It's like getting the golden ticket to a tour of the neatest factory on earth."  Mr. Hall's eyes narrowed as he tried to determine if she was snowing him or not, but he decided, in the long run, it really didn't matter.  They were going to Google whether he understood it or not.
Mr. Hall was in rare form that morning.  The marine layer had drawn back from the shore a little more than usual so they had a fairly decent view of the miles of bumper to bumper traffic stretching well ahead of them on the way in, and after about 45 minutes of close combat, Mr. H. was about fit to be tied.
 His mood lifted however, when they passed through the giant binoculars that were the Google headquarters and were greeted by a bevy of smiling gracious youngsters.
"Would you like a coffee or a mimosa, perhaps?" inquired one of the delightful youngsters.  "Cookie?"  Mr. Hall relaxed a bit and ordered a cuppa joe, while Mrs. H. opted for the mimosa.
Their guide through the presentation showed them the different colors of glasses available, while all the while in the background, the barista working the concessions was grinding the coffee to make a perfectly fresh cup for Mr. Hall.  Their drinks arrived, Mrs. Hall chose the white frames and the presentation continued.

If an entire corporation could have conspired to put them more at ease, it couldn't have done any better than that morning visit. The playful settings and congenial nature of the culture worked its magic; by the time they were effortless snapping pictures with the new device, Mr. Hall was practically purring.
"Would you like a tour before you go?", the young lady inquired, and had barely finished the sentence before they nodded a vigorous yes. Notoriously secretive in its operations, Mrs. Hall jumped at the opportunity to check out its workings; but of course, the tour only included selected and relatively public areas. 
 As their decorators seemed to display a penchant for midcentury modern designers, Mrs. Hall turned every corner suppressing an urge to nonchalantly stuff one of the Charles Eames or Eero Aarnio chairs into her purse.  Mr. Hall, wise to her ways, had noticed her just reaching for one of the Frank Gehry stools in the courtyard and subtly discouraged her with a look.
"Well, this has been delightful, but it's time to toddle on," said Mr. H. taking her arm as he caught her eyeing the artwork in the lobby.  Thanks were garnered all around as they passed the valet parking, and the Halls flew back off into the desert and home with their new toy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Welcome to the future

A low rumble in the distance increased to a roar.  The windows rattled, the glass on Mrs. Hall's artwork shook.  Mr. Hall casually picked up his cup as it bounced across the vibrating table.  Mrs. Hall checked out the front window as the sound of car alarms moved progressively down the street  She returned to the kitchen.
"The boys are out late this morning."
"Uh-huh." Mr. H. grunted into his cup. "Sounds like the B-1s again."  She poured him another round.  Early morning air shows out of Nellis AFB were becoming routine.  "Are you packed and ready?" he asked.
Weighing in with the status report, "The bags are by the back door and the cat has been provided with more than enough food and water." Mrs. Hall chomped at the bit.  "Let's blow this popstand!" The hanger doors flew open and the Halls were off.
For a brief week in February, Google had announced it was opening its testing of Google Glass (its avant-garde optical head mounted computer) to the public, and from a pool of individuals who had tweeted on Twitter or posted on Facebook the appropriate phrase along with a creative use or application, it chose a new fleet of guinea pigs.  Of these intrepid futurists, Mrs. Hall was one.  Undaunted by the fact that the Significance of This Earth Shattering Event had to be explained to him at least once a day, Mr. Hall jumped on the bandwagon eagerly, and preparations for the presentation and demonstration event being held in Los Angeles began at once.
The trip to LA is not an arduous one, but after a few hours of deserts and traffic even the most adventurous prefer a break, and Mr. Hall, having seen to arrangements in his usual perfection, eventually ushered Mrs. Hall into the bar at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The vapor of a bartender fluttered by with a silver dish bearing a light nosh, and just as the clock struck that happy hour, a brace of martinis appeared before them, icy and cold.  "I thought it better if we spent the night in town first, and you arrived at your presentation meeting refreshed early in the morning."  Mrs. Hall could not have agreed more and toasted his excellent decision.
Savories aside, one of the nicest things one can find at a bar is charming company, and the bar's offerings that evening were all equally entertaining.  A serendipitous seating at the corner stools put them in close proximity of a lovely young lady who, well acquainted with the local beach scene, was only too happy to regale them with a list of places of interest to visit.  While they traded stories for the better part of an hour, she munched on some light fare, but declined when the Halls offered a stronger beverage.  "I'm really at work," she admitted, while leaning into them to keep a confidence. "I'm here as an assistant to the Princess of [country redacted for privacy's sake], and I'm waiting for her to ring up for me."  When asked how long she had been waiting, she replied, "Well, I've been here for five hours now.  I guess she's sleeping in late today."  Not long after she was called upstairs by her charge, the Hall's attention turned to some well-heeled gentlemen seated further away.  Their curiosity piqued by a lack of conversation and a round of martinis, they questioned the barkeep about some equipment next to the coolers.
 The bartender dutifully pulled out a tray of massive ice squares and a pair of tongs, and using a very heavy copper cylinder mould, produced a couple of perfectly spherical tennis ball sized ice cubes. No further need of explanation was necessary; they knew what needed to be done next.  A round of single malt was immediately ordered, and the ice balls put to the test.  "I always love coming here, " remarked Mrs. Hall, as they strolled back out into the sunlight,  "It's such a sensible establishment," and Mr. Hall could only concur.
Next episode: - Through a (Google) glass lightly- stay tuned!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Vegas is Mars

Tales from the Outer Rim

"I've finally figured it out; Vegas is Mars."

Mr. Hall perused the article on his iPad intently.
 "Really, I mean it.  Just look around you.  Does this place look like Earth to you?"
Mrs. Hall had been arranging her recent photographs into chronological order, and suddenly it all became clear to her.
 "The buildings, the 'people', those weird plants... it's all coming together for me now."
Mr. Hall endeavored to focus on his reading with as much obvious purpose as he could muster, but Mrs. Hall was on a tear as they say, and as such, oblivious to subtlety.
"The architecture is like no other place on Earth that I know.  Monorails taking people all around the town- moving sidewalks.  I've seen all the movies- I know Mars when I see it!"

"There is not a species of plant that I recognize out back.  Most of them are downright scary.  I can say with all confidence that the only flora with which I have any knowledge in this entire place is the Astroturf® laying alongside of our patio!"  Mr. Hall decided now would be a good time to retire to his lair upstairs for awhile and reorganize his coin collection.
He had given the job due consideration for the better part of an hour and a half, and after he woke up and stretched a bit, he came to the conclusion that it must be pretty close to lunchtime.  He peeked around the corner and inquired about the odds of having bean soup on the menu.
The previous subject matter, however, still seemed to be lingering in the air- Mrs. Hall picked up the conversation where she had left off, even as she prepared herself a sardine sandwich.
"What were those things we saw walking about in front of the Venetian the other day- they certainly didn't look of this world.  And those crowds down on Fremont Street!  If that's not a road show version of 'Total Recall' I don't know what-."  She laid the place settings.
"I'll tell you what's unearthly," said Mr. Hall, as he poked through the cabinets.  "It's people who think sardines are supposed to be lunch material." He pulled out a can of split pea soup and gestured in its direction. The conversation took a brief sabbatical at that point, as they calmly discussed the relative health benefits of fish versus peas, but later that evening, Mr. Hall actually took up the banner.
"Look, I'll admit this place is different; but isn't that what we wanted?  It's not New York for sure, but as far as the weather goes, that's a very good thing. Traffic on the interplanetary shuttles seems to be working at full capacity, because our guest room has been occupied every other weekend since we moved here.  Earth or Mars, what difference does it make?  I like it here, the food's good and it's fun, so what's yer beef?" Mr. Hall refolded his newspaper forcefully for the purpose of visual punctuation and rested his argument.
"It's solid logic like that that leaves little room for discussion," Mrs. Hall admitted and gave him a little peck on the cheek. She was just about to compliment him on his debating skills when she spied an advert in his paper.  "Loosest slots in the Universe!  Whoa baby- what are we doing this weekend?"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

All shook up

The post arriving later than expected last week, Mr. Hall donned his jacket and strolled down to the box.  He returned with a stack of adverts and a small red envelope, which he casually handed off to Mrs. H.
"Oh look, sweetheart- we've been invited to another party."  Mrs. Hall perused the brightly colored missive with anticipation.  "That lovely couple we met last month is having a birthday party; apparently it has a 'theme'- it says that Elvis is going to make an appearance. Well, imagine that!"

Mr. Hall barely looked up from his newspapers.  "Humphf," he grunted.  "It would be an event if Elvis didn't appear.  We've seen more of Elvis here than we saw when we visited Graceland two years ago in Memphis.  Didn't we just see an Elvis at that casino we took my niece a week or so ago?"  Mrs. Hall did seem to recall snapping a shot of The King helpfully advising a tourist on the complexities of video poker recently.
So when the following Saturday came around, she dutifully wrapped a inoffensive little bottle of champers in a birthday bag, and they trudged down the street.  Lively music and a raucous crowd met them at the door, and so did a startling revelation.  The Elvis standing in front of a massive sound system in the family room finished up his song and announced their arrival immediately.
"Psst-" whispered Mrs. Hall to Mr. Hall. "Am I mistaken, or are there....?" and her voice trailed off. "No, no- you're right," confirmed Mr. H.  "Apparently, instead of there being a room full of partygoers with Elvis making a guest appearance- it seems that this is a room full of Elvises with a guest appearance by us."  It seemed the plain truth. Scattered throughout the house and patio were various incarnations of the King of Rock and Roll.  As soon as one finished singing flawlessly, the next hopped up and began crooning yet another classic hit.  The birthday girl and her mother anxiously approached the Halls.
  "We're so glad you're here!  Did you get something to drink?  What do you think of our little group?  My mom and I are are part of a local Elvis fan club and they all came out for my birthday!  Wasn't that last singer great?  We were lucky to get him- he's performing down on Fremont Street this week and I didn't think he'd be able to come."  A slighter shade of The King approached them and handed them his card.  "Let me know if you'd like me to perform," he said, flashing a broad smile,"and I'm a licensed minister too, as well, if that's necessary."  Mrs. Hall pocketed the card.  Mr. Hall decided now would be a good time to check out  the bar.
"I heard them announce a raffle- you probably should buy a couple of tickets." whispered Mrs. H. when she finally located him. "I heard her say they were '14 for 5'- doesn't that strike you as an odd price?"  Mr. Hall shook his head and toddled over to the table.  "Here are fourteen tickets for five dollars.  Keep an eye on the numbers," he said, and attempted to strike up a conversation with what looked like one of the regular guests purporting to be a pilot. In the midst of their chat however, he was cut off. Apparently traveling incognito, when the music stopped, the pilot jumped up himself and began belting out a particularly heartfelt ballad.
 A couple of songbooks (and two winning raffle tickets) later, the Halls, exhausted from all that excitement, thanked their hosts and headed back out into the night.  Back at the house on the corner, the rock and roll hits kept right on coming- they were just getting warmed up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The new digs aren't the same as Digger's digs

Mrs. Hall watched the little "buffering" circle go 'round and 'round on her laptop screen.  "Oh, bother!*" she said. "I really wanted to see this game!"  Killer rolled over in the sunshine and expressed her excitement by actively ignored them.

The Hall was not wired for cable yet, so Mr. and Mrs. Hall were struggling with their remaining solutions for viewing The Big Game.  In the past, they would have just loaded up the family flivver with beer and peanuts, braved the latest installment of lake effect and camped in the friendly confines of Digger's Pub til the wee dark snowy hours of the weekend, watching the game (and accompanying wagering boards) with glee.
 What their little Hall out west might lack in slushy charm- the thermometer hovered at 70 degrees- it made up in spirit.  The Halls had been reminiscing all morning of game days gone before.  "We should give them a call-" started Mr. Hall, and Mrs. H's cellie suddenly started to ring. "Okay, that's just spooky." she said as she lifted the receiver.
  It was indeed Karen and Joe, wishing them well and missing them mightily. They had been busy keeping the snow at bay and shrugging off the subzero windchills.  (Mrs. Hall, in fact, thought she discerned a bit of the frost over the line herself, when she mentioned some concern about getting a sunburn on their morning constitutional.) They had received Mr. Hall's contribution to the good of the order a few weeks earlier and sent on facsimiles of the boards so the Halls could follow along.  Hugs and pictures were exchanged via various electronic methods, and their attentions returned to the field.
Mrs. Hall laid out some light fare and tried to adjust their reception. The little buffering symbol continued to taunt them, making it impossible to even sing along with the national anthem, much less make sense of some particularly entertaining commercials.
"That's it. I can't stand it." Mrs. Hall was adamant. "Let's head to the home pub and see if we can still get a seat."  Sliding out of the hanger, they coasted approximately a half a mile down the hill to the local watering hole and peeked in.  The crowd was a sea of red 49ers jerseys. "Uh-oh; you're in trouble now," remarked to Mr. Hall to Mrs. Hall, who had already expressed her support for the Ravens. She slunk over to an empty spot at the bar against the wall.
Despite a few technical glitches however, the game proceeded as hoped for, and every time the Ravens scored, the silence in the room, as they say, was deafening.  An ugly gloom began to settle into the crowd.  Mrs. Hall was of the opinion that interpreting the winners on the gaming boards was best left to the experts, and so was particularly relieved when her team took the trophy, and they were able to depart the premises without a scuffle.  "Too bad about your team," she consoled as they closed the hanger doors.  "I hope we didn't take too much of a beating this year."
"On the contrary," he replied "our little franchise is well into profit.  Despite the fact that the Ravens won, the Las Vegas oddsmakers had the Ravens ahead by four points. Anyone betting on the 49ers (here he paused to look crafty) would have still won because the Ravens didn't make the spread. Add to that, (-Darling, fetch me another one of those icy beers you stashed away, would you?) because of that safety in the second half, the scoring was so cockeyed, I'm happy to report I think we more than doubled our outlay on the boards."  Mrs. Hall could only smile as she brought him another plate of snacks.  Killer, barely able to contain herself, yawned and rolled over.

*or words to that effect.

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