Monday, May 12, 2008

Reminder: I've moved

Come over and visit me here. Update bookmarks, blogrolls, blog readers.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Newspaper sites = troll magnets

Check out the unadulterated, inhuman crap being posted at the Sun-Sentinel after Springsteen postponed his show in the wake of ... oh, just the death of his bandmate and friend of 40 years, Danny Federici.

Here's an idea: Let's use the IP addresses and track these people down, then have them stand before a live national TV audience as we read their comments out loud. Wonder if they'd still call Springsteen a liberal crybaby.

(Obviously, I'm not speaking for my employer. Nor do I really think that's the best way to handle Web trolls. It'd be fun, though, wouldn't it?)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Live-blogging Last.fm

It's been a while since I live-blogged anything, in part because I'm no longer idle on weekdays and in part because we finally pulled the plug on XM.

But I'm giving Last.fm another chance. I've even downloaded the player and "scrobbled," which I still think is a hip way of saying "uploaded all of your marketing preferences and occasional accidental stumbling onto porn sites to a database shared by a giant telemarketing firm and Homeland Security." But anyway ...

Hmmm ... chose an artist or tag. I'll choose "rock." And we get ...

Alanis Morissette, You Learn: The song from which her staggeringly popular debut Jagged Little Pill takes its title, but not even the top half of the songs from that release if I ranked them. Cute song with a few good hooks, but overproduced like some old Tiffany release.

Counting Crows, Round Here: Hate the band, love this song. Adam Duritz could sing anything from Louie Louie to Close to the Edge and still come across as the pretentious college-DJ type who hooks up with a succession of the campus' most eligible women because they all think they'll be the one to rescue him from those dark clouds following him. (Yeah, those dark clouds? They're the stench of erratic bathing and pot smoke.) Except on this recording, where he gives just the right emotional lift to an enigmatic, interesting song.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Wind Cries Mary: Like You Learn, this one isn't bad, but it's a little flimsier than some of the vital work produced by the same artist. Surely a good change of pace for a live show.

The Troggs, Wild Thing: I'd much rather hear the Hendrix version. Or the Sam Kinison version.



Yes, that's Jessica Hahn, of Jim Bakker scandal fame, in the video.

OK, so where was I? Oh, right ...

Toto, Selfish: For some reason, I want to work in some sort of joke along the lines of "Kansas? I don't think we're in Toto anymore." Surely Steve Morse managed to be in both bands somewhere along the way. I have no idea where to place this song -- clearly years and years after the band was any semblance of its platinum days -- so I'm relying on Popdose to fill me in. Really, it's what you'd expect -- a vocalist screaming to try to get some sort of attention while everyone else is focusing on the endless noodling of the overly skilled musicians in the rest of the band.

Billy Idol, Sweet Sixteen: When is Billy going to pull a Rod Stewart or Brian Setzer and start paying homage to the 40s and 50? He could pull it off, and it'd be better than utterly forgettable 80s relics like this.

My Chemical Romance, Welcome to the Black Parade: I don't know. Maybe if I were 19, getting rejected by all the women who were hanging out with Adam Duritz-type DJs, looking forward to financial independence even if I had no idea what to do career-wise, reading tedious academic prose and all that, I might appreciate this with the correct level of irony. Since I'm now officially 2x19, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to feel sympathy for the unfortunates mentioned in the song or to view them with cynical detachment or what. I just maintain Natalie Merchant could kick all their asses.

I'll have to wrap there for now. Interesting mix of music, at least.

Song du semaine: The Donnas, "Fall Behind Me"

Just a clinic in rock guitar playing here. Poor video, unfortunately, almost as badly synced in places as the old Joy Division clip for Love Will Tear Us Apart.



And to my great surprise, it almost works acoustically. I say "almost" because it really needs drums and a more emphatic vocal. The guitar, though, is still pretty good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Firefox and punctuation

Anyone else wonder if the reason this movie is getting so much play on cable these days is that people might think, "Hey, someone made a movie about a Web browser!"?

That sentence leads me to a grammar point. I have trouble with quotation marks because I studied a considerable amount of logic in college, and the rules on quotation marks ain't logical.

Problem 1:

"The comma goes before the quotation mark," he said, realizing that the rule makes no sense from a logical standpoint. The quotation is a complete expression. The comma separates it from a descriptive clause.

Problem 2:

Eric said, "My team will be ready to play Saturday." The comma is grammatically correct and logically unsound. The quotation is the object. Eric said X. Imagine other sentences with an object.
Mark threw the ball.
Not:
Mark threw, the ball.
So take note, English majors. This is why philosophy majors are laughing at you.

"But there are plenty of reasons to laugh at philosophy majors" is a perfectly valid response.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Questions I can't answer

Today in the car ride home ...

MMM Jr.: What song is this?

MMM: It's an old song by R.E.M. called Can't Get There From Here.

MMM Jr.: Where is he trying to go?


Um ... Philomath?

Friday, April 04, 2008

The new journalism career

1. Go into journalism straight out of college.

2. Work for a decade or two, building yourself up as a prominent voice in a particular niche.

3. Take a buyout or just find a better-paying job, then set up a blog/site/podcast that takes advantage of the expertise you built up in journalism.

It makes perfect sense. Journalism will continue to exist, but if you're under 40, your chances of promotion to a family-supporting job will be minimal. You'll eventually face pressure to head out the door because, even though you're making less than your similarly educated peers in other fields, you're making more than the kid they can hire for your job.

And that's why I'm happy to see a talented TV critic like Ed Bark embracing the change.

I don't mean to sound like a negative nabob while there are so many good people gathered in Durham to talk about the Next Newsroom. I see this career path as a positive. Perhaps journalism will lose a lot of good people when they hit age 35, 40 or 45, but that's better than leaving them in unfulfilling jobs. And perhaps this sort of path will attract a few good people in the first place.

(Note to USAT folks: No, I'm not leaving! I'm just starting to have fun.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Song du semaine: Velvet Revolver, "Fall to Pieces"

We all knew Velvet Revolver wouldn't last, right? Weiland hasn't learned self-control in any sense of the word by this point, and it may never happen.

And that's a shame, because in his better moments, he's a talented singer willing to open up to startling self-examination about his drug-riddled past.

Fall to Pieces is a good, solid rock song -- pretty guitar figures from Slash and Dave Kushner, building to a stirring chorus as Weiland sells the drama.

But the video is remarkable as well. It has a sweetness you don't usually see from rock clips, with Weiland laying bare his reliance on loved ones and bandmates to get him through the tough times. It's all believable -- you get the impression this isn't the first time Duff has had to wrap up a trashed bandmate and let him thrash it out.



Pity no one was able to keep talking sense into these guys.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mindless cynicism du jour

Hate Disney World if you must. Fine. It's a small world, but there's still room for diverse opinions.

Just have a reason for doing so other than thinking you're just too cool for the whole experience.

At Slate, Seth Stevenson takes a shot at the land of the Mouse:

After spending the past five days here, I've come to the conclusion that Disney World teaches kids three things: 1) a meaningless, bubble-headed utopianism, 2) a grasping, whining consumerism, and 3) a preference for soulless facsimiles of culture and architecture instead of for the real thing. I suppose it also teaches them that monorails are cool. So there's that.

Except that he doesn't develop any of those points.

He sees "bubble-headed utopianism" in the "It's a Small World" ride but concedes that he finds it charming. "It's an unassailable message, and there's also something comforting in the ride's retro simplicity."

The rest of his complaints:

1. Disney World sells packages to people who go roughly once a year. Isn't that excessive? People buy time shares near warm-weather golf courses all the time. Think of Disney World as some great golfing that happens to have a few amusement parks within a shuttle or monorail ride, and is it really so strange?

2. Had Disney lived longer, his utopian vision might have mutated into something like L. Ron Hubbard's. OK. And if Jim Morrison had lived longer, the Doors might have become a Christian rock band. Lots of historical determinism there, and it has nothing to do with the park itself.

3. Disney World is like a church of Disneyism! Just look at all the weddings in the Magic Kingdom! Weddings, you say? That's a sign of religion? If that were true, shouldn't we all pray facing Vegas?

4. Between the Mickey/Minnie gender roles and the princess/pirate split among kids, Disney World reinforces gender stereotypes. OK, sure, the storytelling in Disney films can be a little old-fashioned. But plenty of kids have favorite characters who aren't so easily pinned down. What the hell is Stitch, anyway?

5. Everything is so sanitized. The fireworks always start at exactly 9 p.m. The berms hide the Dumpsters. Concealed trash? Fireworks starting on time? Those freaking Nazi bastards!

Look, if I want to see Dumpsters, I'll walk out behind my local grocery store. (It's not in front? Those freaking Nazi bastards!) If I want to see a little utopian fantasy land, I'll go to the Magic Kingdom.

And he doesn't even scratch the surface of what you can actually see in Disney World. Animal Kingdom's safari ride gives you the closest view of wild animals you could possibly want. If you're tired of the "Small World" utopianism, take your pick from the rides at any of the parks.

He briefly mentions Epcot -- "Mightn't it be better to broaden your children's horizons just a tad? Like, maybe visit Canada—instead of just the Canada pavilion in Epcot?"

Notice that he mentions Canada. Notice how different -- and how elitist -- this sentence would read if he had said, "Like, maybe visit Japan -- instead of just the Japan pavilion in Epcot?"

Those of us who have neither tens of thousands of dollars nor eight weeks of annual vacation to travel the world with our kids appreciate the chance to go culture-browsing at Epcot. Even if we had all the time and money in the world, we might still take the Epcot highlight reel.

We don't live far from the National Zoo, but we still check out the panda cam on occasion. If we use a shortcut like that instead of packing up and driving 30-40 minutes, would we really pack up and fly to Mexico every time we want to see something vaguely Aztec?

Essentially, this guy's arguments boil down to some what-ifs and some complaints about consumer behavior. If people take Disney World as something more than an occasional escape, if they buy time-shares, if their girls dress as princesses, if they only see international culture at Epcot and if they get married at the Magic Kingdom ... then they might have warped views on gender roles and garbage collection.

When he takes Disney World for what it is rather than what obsessed fans with no sense of reality make of it, he enjoys it.

But how unhip a story would that be?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Two questions of taste

1. Should a story on Poison's drummer facing rape charges included an embedded video for Talk Dirty to Me?

2. Yes, Wikipedia has the same info, but does anyone else think Rikki Rockett might have fabricated his "real" last name?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

500!

I've made it to my 500th post!

So should I switch to WordPress now?