World AIDS Day is Friday Dec. 1 and now more than ever before, we need to concentrate on not only stamping out this dreaded disease but also helping people around the world living with HIV/AIDS. According to Avert.org, nearly 40 MILLION people have died around the world from AIDS since 1981. In 2006 alone, 3 million people have died. There are 12 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa and the rate of HIV infection in India and China is skyrocketing -- there's no point in promoting the number because there are hundreds of thousands of unreported cases in those countries.
What can you do about it? For one, talk about it. Don't be afraid to tell people what the disease is and that there's no shame in having it. What else? Wear a condom if you have sex -- it's the easiest way to have a healthy sex life and not get infected. Another thing, go to Light to Unite and light a candle. For every candle that's lit, Bristol-Myers Squibb will donate $1 to the cause. The website says they're only donating $100,000, but there's already more than 160,000 candles lit -- I feel that if the website gets flooded with traffic, the drug company will change its tune and give more money -- god knows it has it to give.
Other things you can do? Buy RED products from Gap, Motorola, Armani, Apple and more and buy pillows from Treehugger. Every time you buy, money gets donated to women and children suffering from AIDS in Africa. You can also purchase Hanson's new song, "Great Divide," on iTunes; 100 percent of the money raised from this song directly benefits AIDS patients in Soweto, South Africa. The Hanson brothers recently traveled to Mozambique and South Africa and recorded the song with a children's choir there. Regardless if you like Hanson, the song is powerful and the money goes to a great cause.
However you "celebrate" World AIDS Day, do something. AIDS is the most devastating disease to plague our planet. It knows no boundaries and kills at random. While you personally may not know anyone who's dying, millions of people are sick and living with HIV without access to drugs to alieve their pain.
A Belgian white ale ... from Japan? Oh yes, and it's really good. Today at lunch at Shaw's Crab House in Chicago (where I had some of the freshest crab cakes, a hearty lobster roll and rich New England clam chowder), I felt myself craving a beer. Looking through the list, nothing really tempted me until I landed on the Hitachino Nest White Ale. What's this? The waitress had never seen it before and quickly left for the bar. Returning with three glasses, she poured a little in each for us all to taste -- including herself. Apparently it's a new beer for the restaurant -- and as far as I know for the U.S. I'm a big fan of Hoegaarden so I wasn't expecting much from this, despite the great label with the little owl. But as soon as the beer hit my lips, I tasted the sweet, orange and lemon flavor typical of a white beer and was immediately pleased. Hitachino is brewed at the Kiuchi Brewery (about 1.5 hours outside of Tokyo via bullet train) and is distributed in the States by B.United International. The brewery has nine other Hitachino Nest beers, including Weizen, Sweet Stout, Pale Ale and Japanese Classic Ale, as well a line of Sake (Kikusakari) and Shouchu (traditional Japanese distilled spirit with high alcohol content). Kiuchi Brewery was founded in 1823, has won numerous international awards and will soon launch a wine segment.
The Kooks are just another group in a long line of British bands that have caused a frenzy across the pond. Earlier this year it was the Arctic Monkeys. Before that, Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand. Go back a little farther and you have Blur and Oasis. What is it about the Brits and their love for young, raucous rock bands?
But there's something different about the Kooks. Their music screams tough guy, lad rock but when you get down into their lyrics, into the soul of the music, you understand that there's passion – even some romance – behind it. Twenty one-year-old singer Luke Pritchard leads this four-piece collective from Brighton and after talking to him, it's obvious he's more than tabloid fodder for shagging pop starlets like Lily Allen and Katie Melua.
While the band has already gone platinum in England for their debut Inside In/Inside Out, which sees them genre hopping across rock, reggae, jazz, pop and more, they've hardly cracked the surface in America. Whether they break over here will depend on what sort of impact they have when they launch a proper tour in 2007. Regardless, the band will push on and likely enter the studio in the early part of next year. In fact, they're now trying to book Abbey Road to record an interim EP with other young bands, including the Mystery Jets.
Can they keep up the momentum? According to Luke, they'll just get on trying.
Read the full interview below or just stream it here.
Q&A with Luke Pritchard of the Kooks
SomethingGlorious: You already achieved massive success in the UK and have drawn comparisons to Arctic Monkeys, in terms of the rise in popularity. But the difference is that you're virtually unknown in the US – do you think that's to your advantage?
Luke Pritchard: I don't see that. We're just doing what we do. Hopefully it works for us. What happened in England, the Arctic Monkeys blew up and were everywhere. And we weren't. Then our songs started getting played. I like the idea of being more popular here and it allows people to get into you for the music – and not because people tell them to. I think they have had a hard time with it. They've had a good year and it's hard to deal with all that pressure.
SG: How different is that from what [bassist] Max [Rafferty] is going through – is he just exhausted or could he not deal with the sudden fame [Max is taking a break from the band]?
LP: It wasn't the fame. When we got on tour he didn't enjoy touring. Some people can't tour.
There's playing a game -- and then there's playing a game designed by Geoffrey Parker. Made for the discerning classic gamer, Geoffrey Parker has been creating exclusive board, travel and casino games for nearly 50 years. These hand-made, fine-crafted sets are woven and constructed in England and sold to stores like Barneys (today) and Harrods (back in the day) for well-heeled folks. The sets -- backgammon, Monopoly, chess and, of course my favorite, Scrabble -- have leather, wood-carved, gun-metal and ivory-carved pieces. The company which is now headed by Geoffrey's son, Max, has made in-roads into many of the world's top corporations (with its enticement of bespoke gifts), hotels and even worked alongside Gucci to produce an exclusive product for the Italian designer. The games will run you into the thousands (Monopoly is $4550 and Scrabble goes for $3300) and you can easily spend upwards of $500k for a one-of-a-kind board with silver, rubies, diamonds -- even real money for a Monopoly set. If you're willing to pay, Geoffrey Parker will deliver.
There really isn't much more to say about this product. The name really says it all: Suck UK's Fridge Magnet Bottle Opener. It's perfect in its simplicity, convenience and style. If there was a way for it to actually adhere to stainless steel, it could camouflage itself on the door. That way, when your friends come over and want a beer or bottled soda, you can stick it into the refrigerator, pop it open and they'll never know how you did it. It's worth spending the £15 ($29) just for the novelty.
via Charles & Marie
Building off the popularity of the Nike+ system, Nike has just released its Hatphones: a Therma-Fit soft fleece skull cap that has earbuds stitched into the hat and pull down right over your ears. There's also a slot inside the hat for an iPod Nano that when faced outwards gives you touch-panel control over what you're listening to. If you want to have more visaul control over the music, you can go "corded" and have your iPod extend downward outside the cap. This is just another great example of an iconic brand answering the need of the masses. Just because it's getting cold outside doesn't mean that your outdoor activities -- snowboarding, jogging, walking to work -- have to be as numbing as the frigid winter air.
Hatphones come in four colors -- black, grey, navy and red -- and are available for $60 at Nike.com.
Gomez recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their first gig, a show in Leeds, England, that saw them enter without a name and leave with the moniker that has followed them ever since. Throughout the last decade, the band – Tom Gray, Ben Ottewell, Ian Ball, Paul Blackburn and Olly Peacock – has put out eight albums, toured relentlessly and won England's coveted Mercury Music Prize.
But what finally helped them move from a band with a fervent fan base to one with a little more popular acclaim? "Grey's Anatomy." After the song, "How We Operate," appeared on the show earlier this year, sales of their most-recent release of the same name soared.
I sat down with Tom Gray – the second time I've talked to him – to discuss their failed relationship with Virgin Records, how being in a band got him ready for marriage and his favorite places to eat and drink in Brighton.
Read the Q&A below or just stream the interview, which is pretty damn funny at points.
SomethingGlorious: It's hot as hell out here.
Tom Gray: It's stinking hot, innit?
SG: Looking through your website, I noticed that you do a lot of blog diary postings. One was about your rules – don't shit on the bus, don't take life too seriously … is there one rule that you live by?
TG: Um, well, that's a funny situation. I was asked to write that for a magazine … one of the many in the UK. It was a section called Rock Rules and you had to write your life rules. It's a bit of a difficult thing to do. When I was writing it, I thought that in this industry you have to understand it.
SG: What's the key point of understanding it?
TG: To understand other people's interests.
SG: You're talking from the business side.
TG: Yeah, but people are kind of surprised when they discover things like that.
SG: Well you seem to have learned how to deal with all of that and to manipulate the system in a way…
TG: [laughs] Yeah, a little bit.
British retail giant Marks & Spencer got into the holiday spirit by nabbing Dame Shirley Bassey, the UK's most successful female chart artist of all time, to sing and star in their Christmas commercial. The subject: Bond, of course. Bassey, who sang the themes to Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever and Moonraker, now tackles Pink by taking on "Get This Party Started." The commercial features a bevy of models, including the classic Twiggy, all receiving messages on their mobiles to meet up, where? The ice palace, natch, where Bassey performs for the crowd under a sky of purple fireworks.
After their entire album leaked on the Internet last week, Bloc Party has officially released "The Prayer," the first single from its forthcoming album, A Weekend in the City. With its haunting tribal beginning, "The Prayer" is setting up the band's sophomore album to take Bloc Party in a new direction from its critically acclaimed debut, Silent Alarm. After the album leaked, a lot of people in the blogging world complained they didn't like it -- but fail to remember that bands have to grow. Frankly, I'm excited for this new chapter in Bloc Party's life cycle. I've heard some of the songs and think this album is going to be great.
Following in the footsteps of Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, Goldenvoice, the organizers of Coachella just announced the festival will expand to three days in 2007. The desert extravaganza will take place April 27-29. As of now, no acts have been announced, but SomethingGlorious can tell you that up-and-coming British buzz band Fields will be on the bill. As I dig up more, I'll fill you in.
Coachella will be followed a week later on May 5-6 by an as-yet-to-be-named country music festival that will also be held at Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif., featuring a mix of bluegrass, alt-country and straight-up Nashville style country. So far, acts will include George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Sugarland, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Sparrow Quarter featuring Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris and Nickel Creek. To keep things interesting, festival-goers will be entertained with a storytelling area featuring the likes of Garrison Keillor 2006 Texas Poet Laureate Red Steagall.