making a spectacle

elvis costello hosts "spectacle." the music program's first season is now available on DVD. its second season began airing on the sundance channel in december.

elvis costello hosts "spectacle." the music interview and performance program's first season is now out on DVD. its second season began airing in december on the sundance channel.

I’m a little late to the party on this one. It wasn’t until the holiday break that I fully and formally discovered the wonderful Elvis Costello music program Spectacle.

Oh, I had heard of it and was familiar with the show’s general design. The program focused on interviews that shed celebrity status along with performances by Costello and his guests where they often covered each other’s material.  But alas, it airs on the Sundance Channel, which as yet hasn’t make its way into my home. Definitely my loss.

Among my favorite holiday gifts was a DVD collection of the show’s first season. I devoured the set’s 13 episodes in about 3 days.

The guest list for Spectacle was certainly far reaching. It ranged from pop veterans from various generations (Elton John, Tony Bennett, The Police, James Taylor) to soul legends (Smokey Robinson) to jazz greats (Herbie Hancock) to usually camera shy rockers (Lou Reed) to new generation songsmiths (Rufus Wainwright, Jenny Lewis) to veteran scribes (Kris Kristofferson) to a very un-diva-ish opera soprano (Renee Fleming). And in the season’s most unexpected turn, Costello spends a full hour talking nothing but music with former President Bill Clinton.

Then came the sort of world class players that Spectacle sneaked in to play backup behind the featured guests – artists like Bill Frisell, Christian McBride, James Burton, Charlie Haden and Allen Toussaint.

With riches like that, it would be near impossible to pass Spectacle up. But what ultimately makes this such an informative, entertaining and immensely watchable program is the great Costello. Anyone who has stuck with his music over the past 32 years – not just his post punk pop records with the Attractions, but his country, folk, chamber and acoustic roots material along with his wildly matured sense of pop songcraft – can attest to just how vast his knowledge of music history can be. On Spectacle, he puts those smarts to work with questions that illuminate without the smug faux-intellectualism many music journalists descend into with their writing.

He talked Tosca with Fleming, Miles Davis with Hancock, George Jones with Taylor and the history of the Apollo Theater (where many of the Spectacle shows were taped) with Robinson. And the artists responded. Maybe it was depth of the questions that sparked them. But as a viewer, the real thrill came in watching just how much host fun Costello had with the format, the program and his guests. Such zeal carried over into the performances Costello injects into the program outside of what its guests contribute.

Among the tunes Costello tackles with thorough, soulful conviction: a forgotten 1971 Western yarn by Elton John (Spectacle‘s executive producer) called Ballad of a Well Known Gun; Steely Dan’s Show Biz Kids, an exquisite solo version of his own 1995 gem All This Useless Beauty; another John gm (the  gospel-esque Border Song) and the Motown classic No More Tear Stained Make-Up.

Spectacle’s second season got underway on Sundance in December. Future guests include Bruce Springsteen, Bono and The Edge, Richard Thompson, Nick Lowe, Levon Helm, Sheryl Crow and Lyle Lovett.

This is easily the most enriching and engrossing series about contemporary music and the creative impulses and designs behind it to hit television in ages – maybe ever. In short, Spectacle is spectacular.

Cypress Semiconductor Appears Poised for New Texas Plant.(Originated from Austin American-Statesman, Texas) see here city of round rock

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News February 8, 1996 | Mahoney, Jerry ROUND ROCK, Texas–Feb. 8–Cypress Semiconductor Corp. is expected to announce this month plans to build a $600 million chip manufacturing plant in Round Rock that would create more than 650 jobs.

The announcement might have been made already, sources said, had Round Rock officials been able to coordinate the schedules of Gov. George W. Bush and Cypress chief executive T.J. Rodgers. That has been complicated by last week’s ice storm and Bush’s attendance this week at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C.

Rodgers reportedly wants Bush to participate in the announcement, as he did last month when Samsung Electronics announced plans for its chip plant in northeast Travis County.

Rodgers shared the stage with then-Gov. Mark White when Cypress announced its first plant in Round Rock in November 1985.

A popular governor praising a good corporate citizen makes the announcement a stronger news event, and the governor gets to crow about adding jobs to the Texas economy.

Round Rock officials would not confirm that an announcement is imminent, and a Cypress spokesman said a decision on where the plant will be built is expected within the month.

But sources in Round Rock say Cypress officials have decided to build in Round Rock, where the company employs about 500 workers at its chip plant near Chandler Road and Interstate 35.

The sources, who requested anonymity, said an announcement might come next week.

The San Jose, Calif., computer chip maker reportedly has chosen Round Rock over sites in Oregon, Canada, Ireland and France.

Cypress Chairman Pierre Lamond declined Tuesday to comment on plans for the plant, but he said the company is pleased with its current operation in Round Rock.

“We obviously have a big investment in Round Rock. We think the performance of the plant there has been excellent,” said Lamond, general partner of the Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital.

“The cooperation of the local authorities has been exemplary and intelligent in the way they have dealt with the requirements of industry.” Last summer Cypress bought 100 acres southwest of and contiguou s to its Round Rock site, which would be more than enough land to accommodate a new plant. Last year the company completed a $110 million expansion of the Round Rock plant and added about 200 workers.

The City of Round Rock has offered Cypress a 55 percent abatement of property taxes for seven years, and has been in negotiations with Cypress over who will pay for a pipeline from the city’s water treatment facility to the new plant site. go to web site city of round rock

Cypress makes a variety of memory and logic chips for computers, networking and telecommunications equipment and military systems. The company said it started 1996 with a backlog in chip orders of nearly $250 million.

The company had a record year in 1995 when it reported a 47 percent increase, to $596 million, and earnings of $102.5 million, more than double the year earlier. Cypress has recovered from a stumble in the early 1990s that forced it to close a San Jose manufacturing plant, lay off hundreds of workers and sell Ross Technologies, an Austin chipmaker. The company, which is benefiting from increasing demand worldwide for chips, will make 8-inch wafers at the new Round Rock facility. Those wafers contain more chips than the 5-inch wafers Cypress makes in Round Rock now.

In recent months, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Intel, Samsung Electronics, Hyundai and other major chipmakers have announced plans for chip fabricati on facilities in the United States costing more than $1 billion each.

Samsung will break ground soon on a chip manufacturing plant in northeast Travis County that is expected to employ more than 1,000 workers and cost $350 million to build and $650 million to equip. Combined with the Samsung fab and new plants by Motorola and Advanced Micro Devices, a new Cypress chip plant would add breadth to Central Texas’ growing integrated circuit industry.

It also would further tax the supply of qualified workers for those plants. Providing more of those workers is a top priority for public and private officials, who have supported a manufacturing technician program at Austin Community College, among other responses. CY,MOT,AMD,INTC,TXN Mahoney, Jerry

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