Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Out of college, money spent, see no future, pay no rent

Ok, only parts of that quote from You Never Give Me Your Money are true. I'm not out of college, at least, not yet.

Since I quit posting I survived (and only barely in the Spring) 2 more full semesters of graduate school at CSULB. I did pretty well in the Fall, as I had somewhat followed my dictate of actually focusing on school as my main focus. (which was at least a large part of the reason I resigned as a teacher) Unfortunately, my focus was once again entirely lost in the Spring as I started work on GenUX with a good friend. (yes, this was the idea I referenced in a much older blog entry) Still working on it actually, and yes, it took a LOT longer than predicted. But the time/energy I was putting into GenUX in the Spring meant I was only BARELY managing at school, and I did horribly. I very nearly disqualified myself from graduation with one of my classes. (note: I do NOT plan on blogging about work related issues, because well, I could easily violate somethings I signed, and because it's REALLY bad form regardless)

Thankfully my performance in the Fall, coupled with some odd administrative issues, may give me a chance to redeem myself. Even though at this point, I have all my requirements fulfilled for graduation (save for my master's thesis), I have to continue to enroll for a bare minimum of two more semesters due to odd requirements of candidacy advancement. (in 2 weeks, I can finally advance to candidacy) Indeed, I would have done my thesis last semester, except one can't do that until they advance to candidacy, and they can't do that until their prerequisite courses (ie: the ones I would have taken had I majored in Computer Science as an undergraduate) are complete... and I took the last of them in the Spring (the same semester I was completing my graduate unit requirements). Yes, I am weird. (even for a Computer Science master's student) I can't really do my thesis until the Fall. So.. that means that I can take a huge load of classes in the Fall (and one now) just because I want to. Already I've signed up for 5 classes in the fall (I expect I will end up with 4 of them, plus the thesis), and if I do all of them, and I actually focus, I can bring my GPA back to a more respectable level.

Why does this matter? In theory, it doesn't. However, a bunch of the classes are in areas I either like (Graduate Networking), or know I'm weak in (database theory, computer architecture, compiler construction). I took the GRE subject exam in Computer Science last Fall. In theory I was 1 semester of courses away from completion of my Master's degree. I sat down for the exam, opened it up and realized to my horror that I hadn't seen at least 50% of the material before. I could tell what rough areas the questions were coming from, but I couldn't even begin to fathom how to answer. Normally I do very well on standardized tests, but this was embarrassing. (rest assured, I scored poorly by any objective measure) I'm planning on taking a bunch of these classes so I can retake the GRE subject exam in Computer Science in the fall while actually knowing most of the material.

Why do I care about my GRE subject exam? Well, I may or may not care actually. I'm still very much toying with the idea of going for a doctoral program in Computer Science. Indeed, last month I visited both UCSC and UCSB's Computer Science departments and had talks about the feasibility of me getting in and what it would take for me to get in. The bottom line is it will be struggle for UCSB, but quite doable for UCSC (supposedly). I need to have good letters of recommendation, my thesis needs to be awesome (I have a great topic, but I need to beef up the research component), my GPA needs to be higher, and I need to redo that GRE Subject Exam! In truth, I'm not yet sure if I want to do doctoral program. Or at least, I'm not sure if I want it enough to justify it. However, I figure if I aim for it, there isn't much harm even if I decide I don't want it enough. If indeed, I do go for a doctoral program, the lyric won't apply to me for quite some time, even if I can basically have my PhD thesis be an offshoot of my Master's thesis (yes, someday I will blog about what it is more specifically than to say it involves network communication). However, if I decide not to do so, then in theory all I have to do is finish my current class (which I should be able to do well in), and complete then file my thesis in the fall.

I somewhat stumbled into graduation at Berkeley. Indeed, I didn't bother to "walk" at graduation since I didn't know if I had graduated or not. I had a special request to have some units count approved by the Dean after the walk date. Indeed, on the same day I was driving back to Los Angeles regardless, I found out that I was a graduate! I should know this time a lot better when/if I'm graduating. That coupled with the fact that I commute to Long Beach anyway, makes the issue of finding out that I graduate on the day I move away pretty unlikely, which will be a nice change I suppose.

Still, the idea of people calling me doctor in a non-ironic way is kinda neat. Though when one's father holds both a PhD and an MD, I know I will never be The Doctor in my extended family. However, given I keep the computers working for the family, they can't exactly be too harsh with me, or they can face my wrath. (DOS 4.00 and Windows 95 for all in retaliation!)
In the mean time, I still have work, classes, exams, graduate school applications and the thesis ahead of me.

I should also try to figure out what exactly I want to do.

"...but oh that magic feeling, no where to go..."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More meaningless reviews and thoughts

I'm still too angry about the entire political situation (and this is even WITH turning off cable news and basically banning talk-radio) in the U.S., especially right now, so it may be a while before I subject my 0 readers to another political screed. (though I'm predictably unpredictable on that front)

In the meantime, some other music(ish) reviews that I either forgot about last time, or hadn't yet watched.

Oasis - Don't Believe The Truth
I don't know why I didn't include this in the last post. I suppose it slipped my mind, though I'm not sure why. This is an honestly good album! Their best since (What's The Story), Morning Glory. It's not anywhere near as cool as that album nor definitely Maybe, but it's still quite good. The opening few cuts in particular are killer. Not that their albums between (What's The Story) and Don't Believe The Truth are particularly bad, but they just aren't as good. Anyway, it's wonderful to see Oasis closer to living up to their potential. Yeah, many may argue they are a fairly unoriginal band (though I would argue no more than any other rock band), but they honestly had some really great songs, and they have the Rock 'N Roll attitude down pat. That counts for something, especially when they can back up the ego with some great songs. If you've lost faith in Oasis, you might want to give this album a listen. (though again, don't expect something as good as their first two albums) Grade: B

Many - The Concert For George (DVD)
Why am I reviewing this now?? I'm reviewing this now because I only saw it for the first time last night. (!?!) In my two year absence from all things Beatles, I purchased this DVD, but couldn't watch it. Now, I can. Everyone who has watched this raves about it, and with good reason. This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person, who graced the world with incredible music, his very british sense of humor, and an amazing humility and kindness that few who reach his level can maintain. The concert is as good as everyone says it is. There are some moments when you see Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Dhani Harrison (who DOES look amazingly like his father!), Eric Clapton, and Tom Petty in the same shot. The sound they make is like the sound of the greatest super-group ever... or maybe the second greatest. (George was already a member of the greatest) The concert never gets maudlin or depressing; it honestly celebrates George Harrison in a really special way. This is a fitting tribute for such a wonderful person. If you even somewhat like the Beatles and haven't seen this, SEE IT NOW. (no, I don't make a penny off of this, or anything except for my current job, so there's no profit motive here) Grade: A

I'll probably cover movies seen in the last several months in a little bit, as well as other random meaningless ramblings. Again, if you haven't seen it, see Concert For George!

Edit: Oops, forgot to "grade" the items...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Listen to what the man said...

No, I'm not referring to Paul McCartney's song off of Venus & Mars (which is case study #1024 of Paul being one of the most gifted musicians of the 20th century, but often marrying incredible melodies with some truly insipid, vacuous lyrics), but rather to Kevin Drum's simple message about today's horror in London,

(sorry, I'm going to quote it all since it's a very short post)

If I could have one small wish for today, it would be for the blogosphere on both left and right to refrain from political point scoring over the London attacks. Just for a day. Isn't tomorrow soon enough to return to our usual arguments?

Agreed, tomorrow is quite soon enough. Right now I wish comfort for those who were touched by today's horror. Politics can (and should) wait.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The meaning of Strawberry Fields Forever

Gazing through the logs of the few unfortunate people who actually go here, I realized that many of them get here via odd google searches, most commonly: "What is the meaning of Strawberry Fields Forever", and alternately "Video Strawberry Fields Forever". I'd get sued very quickly for posting the latter, though you can mostly get it on the Beatles Anthology DVD/VHS/Laserdisc set (and yes, they should release the Beatles' videos properly!). I can take a stab at answering the former, and indeed, it sort of follows the lines of thought from my prior post about Figure of Eight.

First of all, John Lennon took great amusement at people trying to derive meaning to his lyrics, and reportedly partially wrote I Am The Walrus in reaction to people trying to academically decipher his meanings by writing a song that he felt was incomprehensible simply to confound people from doing what I will attempt right now. (yes, I do find meaning even in I Am The Walrus, but that's for another post)

In its simplest terms, Strawberry Fields is a reference to the small garden John played at when he was a little kid in Liverpool. We know that much for sure. So one could easily see the song as advocating an escape into a childlike existence. (indeed, that's probably not far from the mark) However, the lyrics (to me) imply something a bit darker. If you follow the progression of the verses, each one becomes more and more confused, and each one expresses confusion and a desire to just give up trying to make sense of things and a desire to drop out of the whole mess.

"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see
It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me"

The first verse really lays out the whole theme of the song. Things are confusing, and it's easier to go through life simply not caring about anything.

"No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low.
That is you can't you know tune in but it's all right,
that is I think it's not too bad."

Actually, this was the first verse that John wrote for the song, but it in many ways continues the theme of frustration at the world, though clearly the protagonist is even more apathetic about his state. In addition compared to the simple declarative statements of the first verse, this one has much more awkward and confused language. Even if the lyric sheets don't show it, the second line has pauses nearly every 2 words which should read more like "That is you can't, you know, tune in, but it's all right"

"Always, no sometimes, think it's me, but you know I know when it's a dream.
I think ehh no, I mean ehh 'yes', but it's all wrong, that is I think I disagree."

The last verse is even more confused, and ambivalent than the others. The pauses have increased, and the clearest statement he has is that he's pretty sure he understands what is real and what isn't. However, the next line seems to contradict even that statement. In the end he simply says he THINKS he disagrees. With what? Well, we can't be sure. Indeed, part of the beauty of this song is it's abstract enough to apply to a lot of situations.

(note: there are disputes as to the actual lyrics to the 2nd line of the 3rd verse. Above is my interpretation...)

And finally the chorus is pretty direct:

"Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to
Strawberry Fields, nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields Forever"

In comparison to the verses, this is a pretty forceful statement. The protagonist is going to reach towards a place of safety, where none of the concerns and confusions apply. In 1967 when it was released, I'm sure most saw that as an advocacy to "drop out" and consume "chemicals" to help escape reality. Whether or not John Lennon intended that meaning is harder to tell. He doesn't really use any code words for drugs (except possibly with the phrase "tune in"), and instead he references his childhood playground. To me this song is just about a person who wants to escape reality to a safe, easy life that doesn't really exist where he doesn't have to care about anything anymore.

Yes, this seems to be a pretty bleak song to be a hit single (though it didn't hit #1 in the UK thanks to Penny Lane counting as a double-A side, and thus halving the sales totals for both). The Beatles are known for being cheerful, but this song is anything but. Then again, people get married and have the bands play Every Breath You Take by the Police at their receptions, so I shouldn't take too much surprise at misconceptions about a song. Yes, I love this song. It's beautiful, and frankly I wouldn't have named this blog after it if I didn't really have an affinity to it. A desire to escape reality isn't necessarily bad, as long as one doesn't take it to the logical extreme.

Of course, this is my opinion, and even moreso than my ill-informed rants on politics, this is entirely up the interpretation of the reader/listener.

So what does this have to do with Figure of Eight? Strawberry Fields Forever suggests that maybe it's easier to not care about things, and Figure of Eight asks if it's better to care or not to. Even though Figure of Eight came out 22 years after Strawberry Fields Forever, it seems to ask a question that was answered by Strawberry Fields Forever. (even if the answer is not the correct one, or the intended one. Indeed, I'll leave that for the philosophers)

Note: I'm NOT advocating people to become rampant nihilists and quit caring about anyone nor anything.

I am simply wondering.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Figure of Eight

Paul McCartney's lyrics usually aren't very deep in their meaning, but I'll admit, I'm pondering the truth and the answers to the questions laid out by a song he released on 1989's Flowers In The Dirt, Figure Of Eight:

"Is is better to love another than to go for a walk in the dark?
Is it better to love than to give in to hate?
Yeah we'd better take good care of each other
Avoid slipping back off the straight and narrow,
It's better by far than getting stuck in a figure of eight."

Honestly, sometimes I do wonder if it's in fact better.

More non-seriousness (this time TV related)

Pretty much an entire TV season passed since I abandoned my digital home here. In that time, I had a working mythtv setup on my Linux desktop for a little bit. (AMAZING software... if you can get it working that is) And since I took that system down to give to my cousin and replace with a much nicer Athlon-64 box, I haven't had the time to setup mythtv since. That said, I've been able to keep up on a handful of programs I actually care to see (which isn't many these days), and even get into 1 or 2 new shows.

So here's some quickie reviews of semi-recent TV:

The Simpsons
Wow, the shark was jumped ages ago, but at least the show is no longer in quality freefall. It can't be too long before they basically have reached just about every longevity landmark for scripted programs (with the exception of long running soap operas), and even though the show hasn't a fraction of the wit and humor and relevance that it had back in its 2nd through 6th season, it's nice to know that this is the one to make all of those records, as opposed to other programs that even in their heyday can't begin to compare to the Simpsons at their worst. I actually don't even bother to watch the new episodes most of the time. I buy the dvd boxed sets of the early seasons to remind me of how good good can be instead. (and because I haven't watched much of the new eps, I have no real grade for the current incarnation)

Arrested Development
Ok, this one really shocked me, though maybe I shouldn't have been. In the last 5-6 years Fox has had an infuriating habit of putting out these brilliant shows and then mismanaging them into a quick oblivion (witness Futurama, Andy Richter Controls The Universe and the live-action The Tick). This one is barely hanging on despite all of Fox's efforts, and it's at least on par with Futurama, which is saying a LOT. Of course, this is a show that's tough to get into because you really have to watch from the first episode and watch each episode many times to get every layer of joke. However, once you get dragged in, you're dragged in. GOB, Tobias and Buster are all, even with only 2 seasons under the show's belt, some of the greatest comedic characters I have ever seen on Television. (and while that may seem like faint praise, remember characters like Homer Simpson, Maxwell Smart, Lucy Ricardo, Dan Fielding, and even if most TV is a cess-pool, that doesn't mean that it's all bad) Even if the show lost a little bit of direction in the middle of its shortened season, it still introduced the world to Tobias trying in vain to join the blue-man group, the best "Weapons of Mass Destruction" gag I've ever seen, Franklin, and the dangers of the "secular flesh". If you've never seen the show, buy season 1 on dvd now, and watch it. As a warning though, the pilot episode is probably the weakest show of the series, but you need to see it to understand everything else. I must also warn that though Fox BARELY renewed this for a 3rd season, and there's a good chance if you get hooked on it, you'll find heart-ache later as Fox successfully bungles this one to oblivion as well. Also, while the Simpsons figuratively jumped the shark years ago, only Arrested Development got Henry Winkler to ACTUALLY jump over a shark in the middle of an episode as a tribute to the origins of the phrase. Grade: A

Star Trek: Enterprise

Man, talk about a frustrating show! The first two seasons were almost violently mediocre with a handful of great shows scattered amongst far too many middling shows. Season 3 was an incredible move forward where they attempted to go back to Star Trek's political roots, and actually reflect today's world by showing the aftermath of a horrific attack on Earth (ala 9/11), and suddenly the show improved dramatically (pun intended). The fourth season almost did not happen, and in a way, the writing was on the wall for the show's demise. Still, the new show runner, Manny Coto and the writers were still willing to step up to the plate and attempt to keep up the level of quality from Season 3, and attempt to (sometimes awkwardly) make Enterprise fit better into the Star Trek universe, by tying it into the original series. It still had mediocre episodes this last season, but it also had more than its share of wonderful ones. Unfortunately, of course, the show was cancelled, and Rick Berman, who has had control of the franchise since the untimely death of Gene Roddenberry, decided to cowrite the finale. The less said of the finale, the better. It was an unfitting end to a normal episode, much less a season finale, and much, much less for the series finale for Enterprise, and for what could be the last televised episode of Star Trek ever, it was horrible. (though it was somewhat redeemed by the final 30 seconds) If I were to evaluate the season without the last episode, the grade would be a B, with it, it becomes a C+/B-

Battlestar Galactica (the new incarnation)
Ok, this one also took me by surprise, and I'm only half-way through its first season. I suppose Ron Moore, who ran Star Trek - Deep Space 9 during its glory years, really was responsible for quite a lot of DS9's brilliance, as Battlestar Galactica seems to carry on a lot of the wonderful traditions of DS9: complex, interweaved storylines; well defined characters; and a fearlessness to do the unexpected. I only saw an episode or two of the original show in the early 1980s, and was pretty unimpressed (of course, I was 3 or 4 years old), but I am impressed with the start for this show. Grade: B+ (so far)

The Daily Show
This one irritates the living daylights out of me because since I lost my mythtv setup, I haven't been able to watch it!!! Especially after the events of last November, and all of the garbage since, this has been arguably the only beacon of light out there for reason, truth, and humor. May this show continue on forever. Grade: A- (only because I haven't seen it in FAR too long)

Chappelle's Show
I know everyone loves this show. Maybe I'm too white for the show's target demographic, but I won't go as far as the unwavering love for this show that many show. I find it to be hit and miss. When it hits (the racial draft, the Prince tale, etc), it's absolutely brilliant, but when it misses, it misses by a lot. Still, there's a definite fearlessness to the show, and I gotta admire Dave's ability to push the boundaries. There isn't much dangerous comedy on television (or anywhere) these days, and I hope the third season makes it to air to keep everyone on their toes. (and plus, even a hit and miss show, has its hits) Grade: B-

South Park
Trey Parker & Matt Stone seem to have kept much more of their edge for a lot longer than the Simpsons managed to, but I have to admit they seem to be running out of steam a bit. Even their Team America film was pretty scattershot. Still, even amongst increasing blandness, these two can still pull off a brilliant episode like where Kenny is chosen by Heaven to defeat the armies of Hell, only to find Kenny half-alive in a persistent vegetative state. They aired an episode mocking the Terry Shiavo controversy, on the NIGHT BEFORE her body died. On top of that, it was a VERY funny episode. While I wish they had more great episodes like this more often, I'm still pretty pleased with that one. Grade: B-

The West Wing
Given how good the show was in its first four years, and how bad it got when they lost the show's creator and primary writer (Aaron Sorkin) with its fifth year, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the show rebound quite a bit in its sixth year. They've messed around with the show's chronology by skipping one of the year in Josiah Bartlett's term moving the elections to this fall, and they have been intent on shaking up the casts especially by splitting them in the 2nd half of the season to focus on primaries. Somehow though, they also made the show watchable again, and occasionally brought back some of the humor. Some of the episodes were over the top, and basically wish fulfillment for the writers, for instance in the episode where they "fix" the Israeli/Palestine issue in the space of 2 days, or where Bartlett single-handedly negotiates a stance to deal with North Korea in the space of 2 hours. If one can ignore that heavy handedness (of which there was FAR more in the 5th season), you actually got some interesting television, and an honestly compelling Republican candidate in the form of Alan Alda's Senator Vinnick. I doubt they'll let him win the "election", but it would be interesting (and I'm saying that as a pretty hardcore liberal). Anyway, the season was good enough to make me tune in to the 7th season. Grade: B

As an aside, I just noticed today that one of the actual signers for the real Declaration of Independence (which we are in theory celebrating today), was named Josiah Bartlett, and he was from the delegation from New Hampshire. I'm sure I'm not the first to notice it, but it's REALLY cool if you ask me.

Actually, that's pretty much of new TV that I ever watch these days. I turned off cable news not long after I abandoned this blog, because I realized what a wretched source of information that it really is. (ditto on talk radio) The only other show I watch semi-regularly is 60 Minutes, and that's not really gradable.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

This is('nt) serious

Lucky I don't have many (any?) readers, or people may worry about the length of time the previous post lasted at the top of the blog. No, I didn't hide in a bunker for the last 9 months. I've just been very busy with work at a startup, and school. I'm now nearly done with my master's degree though I may stretch out the time so I can take extra classes to better prepare myself for a doctoral program.

Now for the un-serious stuff... reviews...

I'll start with the music first:

Brian Wilson - Smile
All of the comments I made before apply, but this is even better than the recording I heard. The album is complete, and (pun intended) wonderful. This was the best album of 2004, and if had been released in 1967, it wouldn't have been the best (that year had Sgt. Peppper's, The Doors' self-titled album, Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced amongst other albums), but it would have been right up there with the best. It's weird, wild, and beautiful and one of the two favorite albums not recorded by a Beatle (the other being Pet Sounds). Grade: A+

U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Not too shabby. In many ways this album feels like it came from the mid-80s. The Edge's guitar work is front and center, and ringing like in their classic albums. Only Bono's slightly aged voice gives a clue that this album is more modern. This won't exactly supplant their best works (Achtung Baby, The Joshua Tree), but I find it a LOT better than the (IMHO) overrated All That You Can't Leave Behind. Not every track works, but most do. Yes, I'll agree with the hype. At this point, they are the biggest rock and roll band in the world. Unlike their last album, it doesn't feel like the greatest rock and roll band of the day going through the motions, and that's pretty cool. The fact that they also have a social conscious makes them even greater. Grade: B+

R.E.M. - Around The Sun
Not bad at all. This is their best effort since probably New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Not everything works on the album, and honestly I haven't reached to listen to it in a while. That said, what works on here, really works well, especially the first several cuts. This album mostly serves to give me hope that R.E.M. can regain their majesty and glory someday. Grade: C+/B-

Beck - Geuro
This isn't Sea Change. On one hand that's really too bad, as Sea Change was a masterwork, but on the other hand, it doesn't really have to be either. It's somewhat a mix between his albums from Odelay on. It has much more of the fun vibe of the earlier records, but it also carries some of the melancholy of Sea Change in many of the cuts. Few other "modern" recording artists put out albums this great... I'm just hoping his somewhat recent involvement in Scientology doesn't put a hamper on his genius. (sorry, but Tom Cruise seriously is freaking me out lately) Grade: B+

William Shatner - Has Been
Wow, this was pretty unexpected. William Shatner, cuts his first album in 36 years, and it's rather good! This album not only succeeds in being ironically hilarious like his last effort, The Transformed Man from 1968, but it also succeeds in being intentionally hilarious, and often a pretty good record by any standard. Not everything works here, and some of the cuts are downright uncomfortable to listen to (the spoken word poem about finding his wife dead for instance), but much of this thing really works as rock and roll, and funny rock and roll at that. In many ways William Shatner has become a Andy Kaufman-like figure, where you're never totally sure what's a joke and what isn't, and more importantly if it is a joke, if he actually knows it's a joke or not. With Has Been, it seems that William Shatner is quite aware it's a joke, and he's joining in for the fun. Amazingly this was one of 2004's best albums! Grade: B

Leonard Cohen - Dear Heather
Even for Leonard Cohen, this album is weird. The sound may remind one of his previous effort, Ten New Songs, but the mood is almost entirely void of the sadness on nearly every cut from that album. For better or worse, this album is more meditative and minimalist. Once again, what works, really works, but some of the experiments on here seem to be some form of inside joke for Leonard only. (like the title cut which involves the same sentence repeated ad naseum) Grade: C+

The Beatles - Let It Be... Naked
I was really hoping that title was a joke when I first heard of the effort. However, the Beatles are pretty notorious for only the most bizarre projects seeing the light of day in favor of the ones that really should be released (like the film, Let It Be!). Let It Be... Naked continues that tradition. Clearly there are some improvements on the proper Let It Be with this effort. Across The Universe is a lot closer to the proper recording with the new remix, although it's still missing the incredible backwards guitar effects on the proper take 7. The song Let It Be is interesting in the new hybrid version incorporating a new combination of the overdubs for the song (and clearly violating any nakedness), but I'm still partial to the version that appears on the actual album Let It Be for George's blistering guitar work on that mix. Don't Let Me Down is glorious for the most part as they finally somewhat released a rooftop concert derived version of the song... Unfortunately, they did not have the courage to just release the first version of it from the rooftop concert directly. Instead they decided to cover up John's vocal flub by mixing and matching between the two rooftop concert renditions of the song. It's too bad, because that flub actually makes the performance all the better. Still, it's wonderful to have a copy of the song with John and Paul singing the chorus together in good sound quality. The Long and Winding Road is unadorned, which is nice, but we already have that on the Beatles Anthology 3. The major change here is that they used a slightly different take, which I suppose is nice to have in good sound quality. I've Got A Feeling seems to be a different rooftop version than released earlier (I'm going from memory here, so I could be wrong), and sound inferior to the version on Let It Be, and the mix of Two Of Us is also inferior to the one on Let It Be. The "bonus cd" is also a joke. There is a LOT of great material to draw upon from their weeks in the studio in January of 1969. There could easily be 2-3 cds of releasable really wonderful music in there... but this 20 minute hodge-podge of short clips isn't it. So this album is somewhat interesting, and certainly listenable, but I can't honestly say it's in any way better than Let It Be, or even the original Get Back LP that wasn't released (any version of it). Let It Be may have been pretty heavily modified by Phil Spector, but with few exceptions, Spector usually made smart decisions (The Long And Winding Road and Across The Universe excepted). Get Back mostly has the courage of its convictions in keeping pretty strictly to the "as they recorded it" raw sound. It's weirder by far than anything that was released (4.5 minutes of Dig It! is very weird indeed), and Glyn Johns generally chose versions of the songs that weren't necessarily the best available (Two Of Us, I've Got A Feeling, Don't Let Me Down, etc). That said it's a much more accurate document of what that month was like without getting too "real" for all but the most hard core fans (like myself). I don't really know what the point is for Let It Be... Naked. Frankly, I would have preferred a legitimate release of one of the versions of the Get Back LP, a proper release of the rooftop concert, or ideally a 2-3 cd set of the best of the Twickenham and Apple studio sessions. Even though the grade is pretty low for the album, it's mostly because I see this as such a missed opportunity. Incidentally, if people are wondering why I'm reviewing this so long after it was released, it's because I only first listened to it this last week... I had a weird 25 month period of not really being able to listen to the Beatles, that only very recently seems to have ended. (whew!) Grade: C- (for the missed opportunity, the music is still awesome)

I'll talk about films and tv and other stuff later