Friday, April 29, 2011

On The Radio In Beijing

Last night (this morning in Beijing time), I appeared live on the radio in Beijing. The topic? The United States ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, is leaving his post, as are several high-ranking China experts in the State Department and National Security Council. The question? Will these personnel changes have any impact on the Obama administration's policy toward China?

You can click here to listen to the broadcast in its entirety. (Warning! I am on the air for a full hour, although there were several other guests, some of whom are pictured here in the Beijing studio, who kept me from going on and on endlessly.) I will give away the punch line...It is unlikely that the personnel changes, occurring for the most part inside large bureaucratic organizations, will produce any marked changes in US policy toward China.

~Steve

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Film Guys

Every time I turned around, every time I looked up, and every time I blinked my eyes, it seemed like I was met with the lens of a large, black camera and the head of a boom mike. Whether waiting on line outside L'Olympia, walking down the street to Pizza Pizza with Z, or leaning on the stage singing along to "Easter", those two objects were always nearby.

Although I thought it was cool that there were professional film makers at Marillion Weekend Montreal 2011, making a documentary on the band, by the second day I was left wondering how much footage of the line they could possibly need. They spent hours standing across the street with their camera pointed at L'Olympia. Occasionally they would walk down the line getting close ups of peoples' faces or making the fans cheer. I guess they must have been wondering how this could possibly be a good use of their time, too, because they ended up standing around a lot, talking and smoking.

Despite their good intentions, these guys drove me crazy (in a fun way!). One time they walked right up to the four Ballas, sitting on the ground, and started filming us without saying anything. They tried to corner Z and I several times, which we avoided in an effort to save ourselves from answering questions. On Sunday, before the last concert, they sat inside, watching and laughing at us because it was raining. Then, they brought their camera over to the window and started filming us getting wet, giving me instructions to move my umbrella so that they could get a better shot. This whole scene culminated with the sound guy telling me to put my ear on the wet glass, while he screamed in French into it. I have no idea how any of this could possibly be helpful in making a documentary on Marillion, so I guess we will just have to wait and see!

No matter how much I complain about these two guys, though, they were just entertaining themselves just like us. And they provided just as much entertainment for us as I am sure we provided them!

Thank you, film guys, for teasing and filming us, speaking to us in French, and making us get wet! Hope to see the documentary soon!

~Julie

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hot Pot!

An unexpected treat in Montreal's Chinatown. Raw meats, fungus, frozen tofu...bring it on!

~Steve

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marillion Weekend, Night 2: A to Z

The second night of the Marillion Weekend featured a set list that was billed as "A to Z." This theme led to an interesting dynamic during the show, as the four of us had a lot of fun trying to guess what song was coming up next.

"I think 'U' is going to be the "Uninvited Guest'."

"I'm betting on 'Under the Sun'."

The other nice thing about an alphabetic set list is that we knew we were in store for something like 26 songs, which is a lot for a Marillion concert, given the number of minutes to which some of their songs stretch. So here we went...

1. Asylum Satellite #1 (featuring white lights and some deep Mark Kelly keyboard work that had the place shaking)
2. Born to Run (no, not the Springsteen version!)
3. Cannibal Surf Babe (go Desi, go!)
4. Deserve (H played the sax solo using a hockey stick...yes, a hockey stick...see for yourself...)
5. Especially True
6. Fantastic Place (one of the all time greats)
7. Gazpacho (With the crowd calling for "Grendel", H asked Rothers if he still knew how to play the opening section. The response was a pretty good effort...)
8. Half the World (plus a happy birthday sing-a-long for Mark Kelly)
9. Intermission (nice way to use up a letter, guys!)
10. Jigsaw (an instrumental version of the opening part of the song, with the crowd on vocals..a fun teaser that seamlessly led into...)
11. King (always a powerful song in concert)
12. Last Century For Man
13. Marbles III
14. No Such Thing (a real surprise of the night...and well done!)
15. The Only Unforgivable Thing (just beautiful)
16. Pseudo Silk Kimono
17. Quartz (featuring the same roadie dude "playing" the flashlight from side stage, just like we saw in Manchester a few years back)
18. The Release
19. Sugar Mice ("'S' is for Steven Rothery!")
20. Three Minute Boy
21. Under the Sun
22. A Voice From the Past
23. The Wound (with a new high powered ending..."I've done everything that can be done!")
24. Xtra Intermission
25. You're Gone (Rothers and his equipment!)
26. Separated Out (renamed "Zeparated Out" and featuring interludes of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" and "Kashmir")

Let's just say we went back to the hotel more than satisfied...and just a wee bit tired!

~Steve

PS: The pictures are courtesy of the Marillion Weekend official photographers. You can click here to see their entire, amazing collection.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More Live On The Internet

The Committee on Regulation of the Administrative Conference of the United States is holding its second meeting on the Rulemaking Comments project that I have served as a consultant on.

There will be a few presentations, including a brief one during which I will provide an update on some research I have done since the last committee meeting a month ago. Eventually, the committee will vote on making recommendations that will be forwarded to the ACUS Council and Assembly for adoption and publication in the Federal Register. After that, it is up to Congress, the White House, and other institutional actors to take action on the recommendations.

The meeting begins at 2pm today and is being broadcast live on the Internet. Click here to follow along...

~Steve

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, here are some photos we took two weeks ago at the Basilica of Notre Dame in Montreal. Nearly two centuries old, the Basilica has to be one of the most beautiful churches in all of North America. We certainly enjoyed the solemn Mass (in French!), featuring a full choir and an organ with hundreds of pipes.

Jesus Christ is risen today!

~Steve