“We breached the bathroom door and encountered a very thorough vacuuming job being done by a Roomba,” said a sheriff’s deputy after responding to a 911 call from an Oregon woman reporting that someone was in her bathroom with the door locked and that she could see shadows moving under the door.
Election hacking was uncovered at Berkeley High School when the student commissioner discovered irregularities in the leading candidates’ electronic ballots.
A Dutch F-16 somehow managed to hit itself when the jet accelerated into a dive and caught up with and passed the 20mm rounds it fired and was shot by said rounds as the plane pulled out of its firing run.
Monday was April Fool’s Day which is always busy day at SmartNews because even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms have a hard time detecting satire. Now, onto the news that was, unbelievably, real.
A man who just left jail was re-booked into the same prison he just left. He was booked for burglary, grand theft, and possession of stolen property. He was caught trying to steal a car from the prison parking lot.
April Fool’s Day is always a busy day at SmartNews as our news discovery algorithm get overly excited with all the cool, interesting and unique news released that day. Here’s a running log of what we’ve had to gently remind the algorithm is actually just a joke.
A truck spilled several bags of marijuana across a San Francisco area freeway (880 in Emeryville if you must know). CHP posted on twitter, “Roses are red, violets are blue, your spilled weed is green and we have a citation just for you!”
A Verizon worker was suspended for three weeks without pay for using a company bucket truck to rescue a cat that was stuck on top of a utility pole. The neighborhood rallied and raised over $3,000 to tide him over.
Organizers of the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride moved their event one month earlier to mid-August because September is too chilly.
What an amazing game played by UCF against Duke yesterday. I keep coming back to the final basket, those final seconds when everything hung in the balance, how it almost made it in, just a slightly-softer-touch. UCF was so close to upsetting a #1 seeded championship team. It was never supposed to be that close.
“It was up there forever, I felt like, in slow motion,” he said. “Once I saw it go past the midpoint and roll out, there was, at that point, nothing left to do.”
Then today I saw the locker room speech by the UCF coach, Johnny Dawkins, father of the player who just missed that last basket and a former player for Duke, the team that won. You can hear the sniffling in the background and really feel their loss. These boys, some of them seniors, were playing in the last game of their entire basketball career. They are at the peak of their career, if they are not getting picked up by a pro team, this is it.
For me it was an exciting game and an close loss. Exciting for sure but my bracket’s intact, I’m moving on. Just a close call. But to these kids, the loss must have been devastating. So many years invested up to that one final moment.
There is an annual high school baseball tournament in Japan that is very much like the March Madness tournament here in the United States. 4000+ teams across the country play in a national tournament that ends up with less than 20 teams going to a the famous Koshien Stadium in Japan in mid-August. The entire nation turns in during the hot summer evenings to watch their nation’s youth play their hearts out.
After watching the HBO documentary about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, I’m all in everything about how she pulled the wool over so many eyes and got so many people (mostly older men points out my wife) to hand over their wallets. It’s a cautionary tale for the fast & loose culture of Silicon Valley that is starting to bump up against more traditional and heavily regulated industries such as medicine, banking, and transportation. Think of CRISPR, cryptocurrency, Space-X and Tesla as examples of projects that need to take extra care as they innovate so as not to lose the public’s trust.
Here’s my reading list:
Bad Blood – by John Carreyrou – the book by the guy that broke the story
One of the highlights of SXSW 2019 that I want to expand on a bit was seeing the premier of Mr. Jimmy, a documentary film about the Jimmy Page tribute artist, Akio Sakurai.
The film is a loving appreciation of Japanese attention to detail and craft. In much the same way that Jiro Dreams of Sushi introduced the world to the lengthy apprenticeship and dedication of the world’s best sushi chefs, Mr. Jimmy dives into Sakurai’s singular 35-year devotion to replicating the lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page.
Sakurai’s intimate knowledge of all phases of Led Zeppelin’s musicology allows him to recreate any song from any era exactly matching the phrasing, pace and tone. He can even play entire solos from specific concerts that he has collected in the bootleg CD shops of Tokyo’s Shinjuku 7-chome neighborhood.
If you want to hear the famous 30-minute version of No Quarter played on June 21, 1977 in Los Angeles, Sakurai can play it for you, note-for-note. In order to capture the exact sound, Sakurai insists on using the same (now vintage) equipment that Jimmy Page used. The same guitars, amps, cables and even pick-ups. He plays the acoustic portions of Stairway to Heaven on the same guitar used by Mr. Page. The exact same one. He spares no expense in his pursuit.
Before the screening of the film, the director (Peter Michael Dowd) told a story of when he first heard Sakurai play. As a Led Zeppelin fan himself, he understood the time it must have taken to get the sound just right. Sakurai told him it took him 30-years to learn that particular song to his satisfaction. Dowd could tell from the look in Sakurai’s eyes that this was not just a term of expression. It really did take Sakurai thirty years.
There are wonderful snippets of dialog with the constellation of craftspeople who support Sakurai’s quest for perfection. They each have a gleam in their eyes as they know they are working for someone who notices every detail they put into their work. From Shinji Kishimoto makes Sakurai’s pickups to Rie Nakahara, the costume designer, who pours over concert footage with Sakurai in order to capture and recreate the stitching and creasing of the custom shirts worn by Jimmy Page.
It’s this pursuit of the pure experience that has attracted a devoted fanbase in Japan that is equally obsessed with the church of Zeppelin. His fans in Japan study his every move as if they are experiencing the band for the first time. Most of them have never seen the original band so a Mr. Jimmy concert is their only experience of a live Led Zeppelin show. It all comes full circle when Jimmy Page attends one of Sakurai’s concerts while visiting Japan. After the show, Page compliments Sakurai and they exchange a moment when Page recognizes a telltale lick that reveals which era’s style he was playing. The master giving an approving nod to the apprentice.
The film follows Sakurai as he leaves his family and steady job (at a kimono maker) in Japan for the United States to follow his dream. We see him struggle with his Western bandmates who are more realistic about playing the hits, selling tickets, and having fun. “No one wants to hear an 8-minute guitar solo, even if it is faithful to the time period.” they say to Sakurai. They are not used to getting post-show pages of feedback on their performances – criticisms about how they sang or placed their hands. Sakurai and Led Zeppagain eventually went their separate ways and Sakurai seems happy to leave the “jukebox band” behind.
But true artists eventually find each other and we see Sakurai form another band, joining together with Jason Bonham, the son of the late-John Bonham (drummer for Led Zeppelin) for a world tour. It’s a dream come true.
Please see this movie. It was a labor of love (the director sold his car to make a second trip to Japan) that investigates Japanese otaku culture through one person’s journey, a hero journey but with a twist. Sakurai can never truly become Jimmy Page but instead the audience has internalized a bit of Sakurai’s obsession. I have been listening to old Led Zeppelin bootlegs for the past week.
After the movie, we were treated to a few songs played by Sakurai himself who was in the audiences. Here’s a clip I filmed of him playing The Rain Song which we were told was written on a dare by George Harrison who complained that Led Zeppelin never wrote any ballads!