Monday, July 30, 2007

A cheese rant

Disclaimer: This is not in any way a tech-related post.

So, I had a bad supermarket experience a little while ago. I went with a list and things should have gone smoothly. In fact, they did not. At least 11 things went wrong, and I'll share the biggest issue with you.

First let's air Wisconsin's dirty laundry. The cheese in this state sucks. And THEY ARE KNOWN AS THE CHEESE "F*CKING" STATE! Why does the cheese suck? Two reasons.

1. Although most Wisconsiners are strong in their European heritages (German, Irish, Danish, etc.) they seem to have forgotten their ancestors' cheese-making secrets. They are obsessed with making duplicates of their fathers' cheeses, but much like an aging Xerox machine, the copies are all wonky compared to the originals. Havarti, Gouda, Edam, Brie, Irish cheddar, Goat's milk, you name it, Wisconsin's got a sh*tty version of it. They all taste like bland, dirty water.

2. Wisconsiners have, in fact, contributed some originals to the cheese continuum. Two, actually. Limburger, the manufacture of which is banned in most Wisconsin counties. And Brick. Yes, Brick. A tasteless, sticky, mild, odorless and altogether bland cheese that is best compared to Wonder bread. Why did they create such a worthless cheese? No one knows...

So, while shopping today, I decided to stop at that little station near the deli with all the imported cheeses. You know the one. Expensive, but damn tasty. But, to my horror, I found that all of the imports had been replaced by local versions. Wisconsin Havarti. Wisconsin Gouda. And so on. And there were weird flavors like Jalapeno Havarti! WTF?! Are you sh*tting me?! Morons, first try to get the Havarti right, then start experimenting. That means YOU, Dofino! As I looked further, I got another shock. The Brick had spawned!!! Blocks and blocks of it were everywhere! I literally stepped back in horror. Question:


Wisconsin has sh*tty cheese. Don't forget that. If you want to try some good copies as well as good originals like Monterey Jack, try California's central coast. Or try Denmark. Just not Wisconsin...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Music you're not listening to #2 - I'm on a ROLL!

DJ Dieselboy. He does an offshoot of techno called Drum 'n Bass. I call it "fight music." Good for the workouts, although I'm sure it would be entertaining to whoop someone's ass while listening to it. I should not be drinking in the middle of the day. I've heard it enhances violent tendencies.

A real f*cking DJ with real f*cking vinyl. That's what I'm talking about. A true B-boy. I think I curse more when I drink...

Below is a link to similar tunes. I actually hate that there's only a "similar tunes" thing at Sometimes I don't want similar, I want actual. And I subscribe to those f*ckers! Maybe I need to convert to Rhapsody. They are more expensive, but I can stream anything I want instead of rolling the dice. I love, but damn. They're killin' me, Smalls.

Everybody was Lap-Dancing!

Well, at least that's what my buddy Curlykid was doing a while back in Vegas. She apparently took some lap-dance lessons from the pros. She wrote an article about it. Want read it? Here's a pic to give you an idea. Too bad there's no video...

That's a move I've never seen before. And it doesn't look much like a lap-dance. Maybe this is what happens in the high-class strip clubs... :-)


The right idea...

Fairtilizer is a site I recently stumbled upon. Apparently, their goal is to unite artists with listeners, given the new internet landscape. It seems interesting, but apparently I need an invite... Hmmm...

What is Fairtilizer?

Fairtilizer is an online community for people who care about music.

Our community combined with our unique tech tools defines a new generation of music media. A kind of media at the crossroads of music recommendation, music distribution and music services for labels and artists. Traditional music media (tv, radio, print) are losing credibility. Young people are now discovering new music through mp3 blogs, p2p and word of mouth.

No matter how many ways people have to find new music these days, what they really need is a trusted filter.

No matter how many ways artists and labels have to promote new material, what they really need is a DIY amplifier. And because we believe the album format is dead, our platform is track-centric.

We’re currently in early development and working hard to bring you all the tools you’ve been dreaming of. We’d love you to help us strengthen our community of tastemakers.

As we’re carefully building a community favoring quality music, registration is currently possible through invitations only.

So much stuff, so little time...

It's my birthday and I have the day off! That's a first in 12 freakin years!!! And it was just luck of the draw. Weeeeird. Even stranger is that I have NOTHING to do as everyone else (wife, friends) is working today. Bummer.

Let's me catch up on the blogging, I guess...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Artists you aren't listening to - #1

So, as internet radio gasps for air, I would like to entice you into realm of online digital music with a few offerings. Much like Tivo did for TV, internet radio has completely changed the way music fans listen to their tunes. I can't imagine going back to FM. Not in a million years.

And before you say anything, yes, these choices are clearly influenced by my own musical tastes. I do have broad tastes, but there are places even I will not go. The fun part is that I *stumbled* across all of these artists. Once you open your mind to new stuff that hasn't been fabricated by radio payola, there's a LOT of stuff to listen to. Disclaimer done.

#1 - Jennifer Charles. This chick sounds like she's a crooner from waaaay back. Her current band is Elysian Fields, although she's collaborated with a TON of people. I ran across some of her indie hip-hop compilations, but her band is closer to eclectic rock. I really dig her.
#2 - Dan the Automator. You've probably never heard of him, but his work is virtually legendary. From his bio:
"Dan "the Automator" Nakamura is a and most known for his work in the mid to late 19 and early 20. Nakamura is a major figure in the somewhat higher-brow rap that developed while integrated its successful image with the also-popular Miami Bass party-jam style, with heavy borrowing from its ignored music roots. Avenues of rap which pursued more introspective, creative, and esoteric angles became brushed aside, admired by fans with more eclectic musical tastes and appreciation for dense lyrical constructions and obscure or off-beat musical inspirations. Nakamura's work tends to integrate significant amounts of overlooked 19 and 19 kitsch, cult classics, and B-grade 1990s television material. His work also tends to make heavy use of music and science fiction overtones and references, the latter with hip hop roots in the space jams of Parliament. Sci-fi also pops up in the hip hop oeuvres of RZA and Jedi Mind Tricks, among others, both in and out of collaborations with Dan the Automator. Trained in classical as a child, Nakamura was more attracted to early and hip-hop. After dabbling as a DJ, he gave up on the skill and instead worked on musical production, taking on small gigs until getting his major break working with Kool Keith. Nakamura's most well-known production work includes Kool Keith's commercially successful Dr. Octagon project, and the widely successful / project Gorillaz. He is also renowned in underground circles for spearheading the critically acclaimed underground projects Handsome Boy Modeling School with Prince Paul; Deltron 3030 with Del tha Funkee Homosapien; Head Automatica with Daryl Palumbo and Kid Koala; and Lovage with Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles."

Yes, that last name is the same Jennifer Charles mentioned above. That's how I originally ran across her. I was digging for more Dan the Automator tracks and it turns out that they collaborated on a one-off band called Lovage.

Anyways, here's an imbedded link that will get you started on music similar to the artists listed here. It will connect to Tell me what you think?

Reprieve... For now

So, at the 11th hour, it would appear that internet radio may yet survive. Apparently some of the larger companies, plus the CRB and Sound Exchange (the Sopranos of the RIAA) all got together in front of a congressional subcommittee. The committee was less than impressed with the rate hike proposal. Their message to both parties, "work it out amongst yourselves or we'll legislate it." Clearly their words struck fear into the hearts of everyone present. Sound Exchange agreed to hold off on breaking kneecaps as long as broadcasters were in legitimate negotiations with them. Internet broadcasters rushed to the bargaining table pushing for a compromise deal that will have them paying out a percentage of their revenue. That way, both large and small companies will have room to breathe. We'll see... Check out this article to bring you up to date on the fast-developing issue.

"On Monday, the music won’t die. But those involved in this fascinating issue should look beyond this week to think about the future of a democratic Web app many people take for granted. It’s not enough to clink glasses and cheer the temporary reprieve; it’s more important for Net radio companies to work closely with Congress to find the right way to pay musicians in this increasingly digital age."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It ain't over...

Till the fat senator sings. Or so it would seem in the struggle for net radio to survive. Quick article updates. One about the ongoing industry "talks", and the other is a primer to the whole freakin' mess. Check 'em out and tell me what you think. Today is Saturday, 7/14 and is still online and streaming. George Michael is crooning about "Calling You". Ah, the 90's. My college years. Man, I'm getting old...

Friday, July 13, 2007

The death of internet radio

A moment of silence if you please. On Sunday, July 15th, the Copyright Royalty Board's new rates for internet broadcasters will go into effect. And hundreds of streaming radio stations will pass quietly into the night. The impact will largely impact smaller broadcasters who were barely breaking even in terms of revenue vs expenses before. But now, they will essentially be paying more out to the record companies than they are taking in from ad revenue. This article from the good folks over at P2Pnet gets at the heart of the issue. Here are some quotes to give you some background:

"On March 2, 2007 the CRB hiked Net radio royalty rates, and not by a few points. They’ll rocket up by between 300% and 1,200%."

The rate hike was then postponed in court while a group of broadcasters appealed the decision. On July 15th, the rate hike goes into effect even while the appeal is still on-going.

"At the request of the Recording Industry Association of America, the CRB ignored the fact that Internet radio royalties were already double what satellite radio pays, and multiplied the royalties even further,” says macadavy on, going on:

The 2005 royalty rate was 7/100 of a penny per song streamed; the 2010 rate will be 19/100 of a penny per song streamed. And for small webcasters that were able to calculate royalties as a percentage of revenue in 2005 – that option was quashed by the CRB, so small webcasters’ royalties will grow exponentially!

Before this ruling was handed down, the vast majority of webcasters were barely making ends meet as Internet radio advertising revenue is just beginning to develop. Without a doubt most Internet radio services will go bankrupt and cease webcasting if this royalty rate is not reversed by the Congress, and webcasters’ demise will mean a great loss of creative and diverse radio. Surviving webcasters will need sweetheart licenses that major record labels will be only too happy to offer, so long as the webcaster permits the major label to control the programming and playlist. Is that the Internet radio you care to hear?"

The article has a distinct "down with corporate fat cats" bent to it, which I couldn't disagree with more. Corporate greed is not what's killing internet radio. It's our complacency with government over-regulation that's put broadcasters in a choke-hold. Corporations will always be greedy and try to throw a knee in the groin of their competitors. That's Hobbes at his best. And that's also the beauty of the free market. Alternatives will evolve, and the best thing the government can do is LEAVE THEM ALONE! But that's not what the CRB and FCC did in this case. They caved to corporate interests, and we let it happen. Why? Because the level of political dialogue in this country has dissolved into Michael Moore vs. Ann Coulter. There is no longer a substantive debate over issues, so much as a name-calling shouting match about who loves the troops more, and who's more patriotic. Meanwhile issues like immigration reform simply vanish in a puff of smoke and artistic finger-pointing. And we're letting it happen. We are letting the Michael Savage's, Bill O'Reilly's and Randi Rhodes' of the world frame our political debate. I can't think of a slower and more painful death for a democracy than to having a growing populace that does not understand the importance of civics; a populace that increasingly turns to sound bites, talk radio rants, and you-tube clips as a primary source of news and information.

This is why internet radio is dying. And a lot of you will read this and say, "who gives a sh*t. I don't listen to it anyway." Do you listen to satellite radio? What makes you think the CRB will stop at internet broadcasters.

“They hated the cassette recorder,” said Hodges. “They hated the CD Burner. Soon they’ll hate people who hum songs.”

Just you wait. Do nothing for long enough and they'll eventually over-regulate something that you DO like. Or need...

Check out Save Net Radio and DO something. I have.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Okay, I admit it...

I'm a Netflix cheater. No point in denying it. Either watch the movie or send it back. Whether we've watched it together or not is irrelevant. The queue is huge and it must be appeased. Period. However, my indiscretions are minor compared to my wife's. She CONSPIRES to watch things without me, claiming that she didn't think I would be interested, or it was boring anyway. She's the BIG Netflix cheater! Hilarious article over at the Washington Post:

"Adam Cuthbert, confessed Netflix cheater, blames his infidelities on his and his girlfriend's disparate Netflix drives: "She lacks stamina," he says. "I'm trying to work down the queue. She has no respect for that."

Women. They never get it when we're on a mission...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Prince is still an innovator

Prince offers his music for free and music retailers scoff

From the article:

"In a move that has drawn criticism from music retailers around the world, the hit artist Prince has decided to launch his upcoming new CD for free, including it in the newspaper, The Mail on Sunday."

I don't know what the hell The Mail on Sunday is, but I wish I got it. Prince has always been pretty flippin' cool in my book, not to mention the fact that FOUR former girlfriends AND my wife are in love with him. And still I like him. Hmmm, might have to rethink my position. Anyways, here's one of my favorite Prince vids from the 80's...

Uploaded by djoik

HYDE!!! (and Tyler)

As in Dr. Jekyll's alter-ego. The show is actually called "Jekyll" and it's a new series airing on the BBC. I must confess to always being fascinated with the Jekyll and Hyde story. It was an old BBC dramatization of the original book that made me a fan. I think Jack Palance played the titular character. The most frightening part of it (for me) was that you never fully saw Hyde until the end. And when you did, the revelation was that he looked EXACTLY like Jekyll! Well almost; Hyde was smirky-faced, with slicked hair, and hunched over, etc. Certainly not the completely different person he is described as in the book, and far from the monster that he evolved into with creative retellings ala the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's a rebut to anyone who ever says, "well, he didn't *look* like a killer". Although nearly identical to the mild-mannered Jekyll, Hyde was capable of doing things that Jekyll's conscience would never allow the good scientist to do. But in the end, they were just opposite sides of the same person.

This show is a fusion of both book and legend. Jekyll and Hyde look similar enough to be mistaken for each other, but there are differences that put Hyde squarely in the supernatural realm. Like his fangs, taste for human flesh, and ability to scale walls. Uh, yeah. Scale walls. So far, the pilot episode has piqued my interest. Hyde is a bit over-the-top, but still watchable. Also, their assistant is a babe-a-licious, and if the BBC is true to form we might well see some boobage in a future episode. Hey, I can hope! Even better is that this Jekyll has a family which he tries to hide from ..... Hyde. But not for long...

The core story is timeless, and that's part of why I like it. And at the end of the book, it is a caustic reminder of the personal cost of refusing to be true to oneself. Even as Jekyll tried to convince himself that his experiments were an effort to drive the evil part of himself away, it was the lure of BEING Hyde that drove him to repeatedly take the potion that would ruin both his lives. It was his refusal to embrace both sides of himself as a whole that killed him. And that brings me full-circle to Tyler Durden. (Most movies lead back to Fight Club, by the way.) For those who don't know, go read about it. GREAT book and movie. Anyway, Jack as the classic 21st Century "30-year-old boy" constantly feels incomplete, but can't bring himself to really change anything about the life he hates. Thus Tyler, the alter-ego, is born.

"F*ck off with your sofa units and strine green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let... lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may."

Tyler is everything Jack secretly wants to be. "All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I f*ck like you wanna f*ck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not."

And that's the essence, or rather the *core* of Jekyll and Hyde. A kind of freedom that's been stripped naked and laid bare. As Tyler said, "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."

Here is a couple of my favorite scenes:

As an aside, there's a scene in the movie where Jack dreams that he is watching himself screw Marla. Later, he sees Tyler screwing Marla. He loves her, but somehow he's totally 3rd person whenever he's intimate with her.

Jack: You're f*cking Marla, Tyler.
Tyler Durden: Uh, technically, you're f*cking Marla, but it's all the same to her.

The dream scene is awesome and alone is worth the price of the DVD. VERY surreal. Very David Fincher...

Any other Jekyll/Hyde movies or shows out there worth watching? Let me know!