Friday, June 29, 2007

I Love Our New Phone

After a whole bunch of bad luck with our cordless phones - plus a few unfortunate drops - we've finally lucked into what seems like a keeper. While the country goes nuts over the iPhone, I totally love our new VTech, which looks cool and works (so far) really well. Got it at Target for $50, which is less than the cost of the cheapest iPhone monthly service plan, in addition to the actual phone's $500 cost.

If Only Iraq Were More Like Israel: WTF?

So goes President Job's especially boneheaded argument here. Or is Iraq really so bad that a situation like Israel's is seen as some sort of improvement? Either way, it blows my mind. We're going to be paying for mistakes made over the past eight years for decades to come. In cash. In moral credibility. In lives.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The More Things Change

One way or another I came across this ancient - well, 1983 - Usenet post about the then raging debate over the cassette tax levied, meant to offset the cost of piracy. It's so eerily prescient it's like traveling back in time yet arriving in the present.

hao!woods Feb 20, 1983 4:59 am

The problem with a "tape tax" is simply that there are a lot of other

uses for blank recording tape besides copying copyrighted material. Musicians

use it to record themselves, people actually even record things besides music

(God forbid!). It isn't really fair to ask everyone to pay for those who

use the tapes to copy records.

The best solution to sagging record sales is to make the price reasonable.

I stopped buying albums when the price passed $7 apiece. I think it's

outrageous. Concert tickets average around $15 these days as well. Maybe all

the superstars will have to switch from Rolls Royces to Cadillacs for a while

(breaks my heart :-) ). I realize that the non-superstar artists suffer more

than the superstars. I think what we are seeing here is more people want to

be musicians than the market will support, which accounts for the troubles

of the "non-mainstream" artists a lot more than taping records, and the

superstars are WAY overpaid. I love the Stones, but $20 to see Mick Jagger

prance around for maybe 90 minutes is a blatant rip-off. Those of you who have

sent me mail asking why I like the Dead so much, here's one reason. They usually

play for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Most bands, however, don't even give you 2 hours for

your twenty bucks. Cut down on the number of artists and lower the price of

records. I'd much rather have the album with cover and associated artistry

than a blank cassette with my handwriting on the outside any day, but my

principles take over when the price is up around $8.50 to $12 a record,

I'll buy a blank tape for $2.50 (or even $3 if they imposed a tape tax!) over

paying a ridiculous price for a record.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Dead and Gone

In the summers, the off-season, I watch TV not in real time, not on DVR time, but in due time, which is to say, I use the summers to slowly catch up on shows on DVD. Most recently Alma and I cruised through the third and probably final season of "Deadwood," one of the best TV shows - or best anythings - I've ever seen. Unfortunately, David Milch, the genius creator of this most unique of westerns, has a short attention span, and moved on to the new surfing show "John from Cincinnati" before the characters of "Deadwood" had run their course. The third season/series finale of "Deadwood" is therefore both brilliant as usual and frustrating/sad for all the many loose ends. Yes, the course of the characters was somewhat limited by history; Milch based his show on historical figures and events so, say, George Hearst was never going to get murdered. But still, the show is so well written, cast and acted that it really could have gone on for years more.

Compare that to the very overrated "Sopranos," which may or may not have completed its arc last night with a finale that owed much to the final "Seinfeld"in its ambiguous embrace of nothing. I thought "The Sopranos" faded fast after the first season, and after following the faltering fits and starts story for a few more seasons, I eventually turned it off, though never totally tuned out. That's in part because people kept talking about it as the best mob story in history - or, even more hyperbolic, the best family drama on TV, ever. Well, phooey on that. "The Sopranos" tread half-familiar ground from the start, and all those who followed the show as legion are probably pissed and disappointed today that creator David Chase ended it on such a blah note. Chase ran out of story a while ago, so the fact that he was unable/unwilling to end the series neatly - or too afraid, or too greedy, the same reason he stretched the series on so long - should surprise no one. His abrupt conclusion is the creative coward's equivalent of the it-was-all-a-dream twist.

Other thoughts for further study: compare/contrast James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano and Ian MacShane's Al Swearingen. Both characters are complicated bad guys, both actors excellent, but there was just so much more to pragmatist Al, more twists and turns from protagonist to antagonist, than to Tony, fated to remain the same (amoral) protagonist for the sake of the series.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Wait, So is Paris in Jail After All?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rude Girl's Out of Jail

OK, so she lasted a few days. Better than nothing, huh? Maybe while she's stuck at home for the rest of her sentence she'll have a ghost writer pen an account of her terrible, terrible ordeal of a fleeting incarceration.

In other news, I saw Interpol on Sunday, and they were

I see the National tonight, whom I expect to be much, much better, barring impending weather apocalypse. Tomorrow night is Stevie Nicks/Chris Isaak, which should veer back to boring again.

In interview news, I recently spoke with Manu Chao, Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, Justin Chancellor for Tool and Lee "Scratch" Perry, the latter, for family members who may not know, one of the most important musical figures of all time.