My radio station went away

From the website

May 18, 2009

Today marks the end of an era. KKSF-FM is no longer the Bay Area’s home for Smooth Jazz.

Everyone at KKSF would like to thank all the loyal fans of our station and the years of support you’ve given us. Over our 20 year history, you have always been there for us, and we truly appreciate it. You’ve traveled to our hundreds of KKSF listener parties and concerts, celebrated at our Sunday Brunches, helped raise over 4 million dollars for Bay Area AIDS organizations by purchasing Samplers for AIDS Relief, and you’ve listened to countless hours of Smooth Jazz music and artists. That unwavering support is reflected in a rich and successful track record at 103.7 KKSF.

The spirit of KKSF isn’t going away, however. will continue to thrive as your source for Smooth Jazz including a digital audio stream of the Smooth Jazz Network as well as videos on demand, concert listings and other features. We hope you’ll choose to continue to support the artists and the music online.

So the radio station now has a different format.  I understand that the owners of KKSF may have needed to do this for commercial reasons, but I don’t like it.

I’m glad I can still listen to my KKSF over the web.

American Idol – Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert

I don’t usually write about popular culture, except when I talk about MMOs, which are as “popular culture” as it’s possible to be!  Today’s post is an exception.  American Idol is nothing if not popular culture.

I rarely watch American Idol, but I got interested, so I went on the American Idol Site and I watched the performance videos for this season, season 8.  I think all the top singers are quite good, but my pick for season 8 is Adam Lambert.   After picking my favorite for this season, I got curious about previous years.  I read about a previous contestant from Season 5, Chris Daughtry, so I watched the videos of some of his performances on YouTube.  

Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert both have great voices which they use well.  I thought they were excellent at the performing part, being in front of a live audience.   You don’t see that with all the contestants.

What I find interesting about Adam Lambert, aside from the phenomenal voice and vocal control, is his performance sensibilities.  On the voice – you don’t see a lot of trained countertenors in pop music.  On the performance – he knows how to move on stage in a way that keeps you interested.   I enjoy his theatricality.  During “Rat Pack” week, he dressed like a rat packer, very sharp suit.  Other times he’s a glam rocker, a classic rock star, a 50s “boy next door”, or a simple soulful singer.  I like his connection to the audience.   I know that you can’t get into a performer’s head, but his performances appear emotionally sincere to me.  He appears to love performing and wants to share that joy with the audience.  The theatrics and the costumes were fun, but I didn’t feel as if they were jokey or campy, or retro.  They seemed like ways for Adam to express himself and get people into the performance.  The performances felt “real” to me.  Some of the song interpretations were daring, which I suspect is something you don’t see all that much in American Idol land.

Chris Daughtry was the upset of American Idol Season 5, when he didn’t win.  He’s since moved on to a very successful music career.  Understandably, from the video I saw, he looked disbelieving and upset when he didn’t get enough votes to continue to the next round.  From what I’ve read, most of the people covering the show (Entertainment weekly, as an example) thought he was the proverbial “shoe in”.  When I saw his performances I couldn’t understand how anyone could have been better.  He looked and sounded like a fully formed rock singer to me, a good one, with charisma, vocal control, and a sense of who he is, oddly enough, like Adam Lambert.  His performances were emotional and intense and assured, with a strong physical presence.

I think the emotionality and intensity and self confidence and physical presence is something he shares with Adam Lambert.  I thought he seemed nice, but who knows, perhaps the voters thought he was too cocky.  He’s a different sort of performer from Adam Lambert.  I like his acoustic performances very much (I like the timbre of his voice), but his voice and the way he performs – it’s made for fronting a rock band.   He’s got the controlled intensity and emotionality down.  I still don’t understand how he (or anyone) can sing in a loud band and you can hear him and also understand every word – a very clear vocal performance.  I know he’s worked at it, but it has to be something about his voice, something that can penetrate all that sound.

From what I’ve read, Chris Daughtry is not a trained singer (no voice lessons), unlike Adam Lambert.  Unless Chris Daughtry does something about training, I wonder if he’ll be singing with his full range into his 40s.  That rock singing has got to take a toll on your voice.

If you are interested in the American Idol contestants’ vocal ranges, here’s a great website –

Of all the contestants so far, Adam Lambert (not a surprise) and Chris Daughtry (a surprise) have the widest ranges on the songs they performed.  They may have wider ranges (I’ve read estimates of Adam’s range as at least 3 octaves), but this is the range of the songs they sang on the program.

If you are interested in learning more about their singing, Master Class Lady has a great site –  Rosanne Simunovic , a voice instructor, analyses the American Idol performances in a kind and generous but technical way.  Her blog is easy to read but written to inform.  I learned a few things about the technical aspects of singing.  There’s an interesting post about Adam Lambert’s performance of “Crying” by Aerosmith.  You can see the “Crying” video on the American Idol site.  Rosanne wrote about how a performer can recover from something that isn’t right, in this case a backup singer that was off key.  She pointed out that Adam took the earphone out of his ear during his performance.  It was so subtle that I had to watch the video several times to even see it.  I think he did this so he wouldn’t be thrown off by the off key backup singing.  That’s so interesting!  

Here’s the post –


amarez – mszv

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Guild Wars – Gargoyles – New Clothes

Someone asked me what I did the other night, after class, and I said – I fought gargoyles, in Guild Wars! 
I’m at the beginning of Guild Wars (online multiplayer game), the Prophesies compaign, the “presearing” world, before all the bad things happen.  The game designers make it easy for a new player, so that we can develop our skills.  When I traveled to the catacombs, all of the gargoyles did not attack me on sight.   A few of them noticed me – there was a big powerful one that was really mean!  For the other ones, I had to take the initiative.  I had to fight them –  I want the area cleared out and I need those gargoyle skulls. 

I got most of them – there’s only a couple of gargoyles left.  I watched one of them for a long time, and then I let him live. I have all the gargoyle skulls I need, and he seemed kind of lonely.  How much fun can it be, hanging around the catacombs, never venturing out to the surrounding lands?  That’s not much of a life.

My Elementalist Fights a Gargoyle

My Elementalist Fights a Gargoyle




Here I am, fighting a gargoyle.





Guild Wars - Gargoyle

Guild Wars - Gargoyle



I let this gargoyle live.






The world is bucolic, above ground, but there are some weird things going on.  I had to defend myself against the largest seed you are ever going to see!  Yes, a seed, as in a plant seed, but it turned into a weird killer thing.  What’s with this lovely world – unnatural magic, a thinning of the ozone later, what?

Elementalist Fighting a Seed

Elementalist Fighting a Seed




Here I am, fighting a very mutant “seed”!




 I really like my new armor.  Yes, that floaty skirt is “armor” — it protects me.  The outfit is still too skimpy for my tastes, but it’s a lot better than the short cheerleader skirt I got when I started out.  I like the top better too – I’m not spilling out of it, like I was with the other top.  I do need better boots and gloves.

Guild Wars - Elementalist - New Armor

Guild Wars - Elementalist - New Armor

My Elementalist in new armor – very nice.
amarez – mszv

Guild Wars – characters and popular culture

I’m playing Guild Wars, an online multiplayer roleplaying game – an MMORPG.  It’s a beautiful game.  The “campaign” (area) I am in, Prophesies, has a medievalist fantasy look to it.   I’m currently in the “presearing” world –  a lovely, bucolic, mostly peaceful world.  I know that bad things are going to happen, and the world will change.  Here is a lovely view of my world.

Guild Wars Prophesies - presearing - lovely view

Guild Wars Prophesies - lovely view

Here is my elementalist character – Amarez.  An elementalist is a magician who can channel the “elements” (fire, air, water, earth), to defeat enemies and help her comrades.  Think Storm in the X-Men movies and you’ll know what I mean.
Guild Wars - Amarez, the elementalist

Guild Wars - Amarez, the elementalist

So, yes, it’s a medievalist fantasy game (like Lord of the Rings, the movie), but look at her hair style.   Doesn’t her hair style have an oddly contemporary look?  It’s quite attractive and not fantasy medievalist at all!
That’s because games are part of popular culture, which sometimes makes for an odd combination of things.  The designers have to come up with something that people feel comfortable identifying with.  In this case it’s an attractive short layered haircut, with bangs, in a medievalist fantasy world
When you play popular MMORPGs, you also have to get past the popular culture thing, even if it’s not how you would do it.   You can see that my elementalist is, thankfully, mostly covered, but that outfit is way too skimpy for me, and she’s much too busty for my taste!  As the game progresses, I’ll be able to cover her up a little more – I can get her new “armor” in the form of a longer pareo type skirt.  I don’t think I’ll be able to cover up her bustline, but I’m going to check.
You know, that top she is wearing has got to be “magic” armor.  How the heck does that top stay on?
amarez – mszv