"The only blog we have to fear is blog itself."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Saith the fortune cookie from last night's dinner: "you will get a great deal on a major purchase."


At least this actually falls into the realm of actual fortune-telling, unlike those "fortunes" which are merely new age-y affirmations, variations on "you're a great person!" But, as fortunes go, "you will get a great deal on a major purchase" is a little alarmingly lacking in metaphysical wonder.

Homer: [reading his fortune] "You will find happiness with a new love." Aw, even the Chinese are against me. What's the point? I can't fight fate.
                 [cut to: restaurant kitchen]
Restaurant worker 1: Hey, we're out of these "new love" cookies.
Restaurant worker 2: Well, open up the "stick with your wife" barrel.

~~The Simpsons, "The Last Temptation of Homer"


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Internets do good job. Internets help marketing. Internets make good brand. 

A Word to the unwise -- program's grammar check isn't so smart:
Microsoft the company should big improve Word grammar check.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. That sentence is a confusing jumble. However, it is perfectly fine in the assessment of Microsoft Word's built-in grammar checker, which detects no problem with the prose.

The University of Washington associate professor has embarked on a one-man mission to persuade the Redmond company to improve the grammar-checking function in its popular word-processing program. Krishnamurthy is also trying to raise public awareness of the issue.

"If you're a grad student turning in your term paper, and you think grammar check has completely checked your paper, I have news for you -- it really hasn't," he said.
I've always hated Word's grammar checker. It seems to have a spiteful bias against any long sentence (which are not inherently incorrect), and long, multiline sentences with a green underlining nag can be very distracting.

On Krishnamurthy's website, he includes an amusing demonstration paragraph:
Marketing are bad for brand. McDonalds is good brand. McDonald’s is good brand. McDonald’s are good brand. McDonalds’ are good brand. Finance good for marketing. 4P’s are marketing mix. I use marketing mixes for good marketing. Internets do good job. Internets help marketing. Internets make good brand. Gates do good marketing in Microsoft. Gates build the big brand in Microsoft. The Gates is leader of big company in Washington. Warren buffet do awesome job in marketing. Buffet eat buffet.
Sure enough, I pasted it into Word and nothing was flagged.

Buffet eat buffet!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Pointless Nostalgia - Part III.D.01 

In May of 1986, I was winding up my sophomore year of college. For the summer, I was planning on working at my college radio station, which paid students to work during the major school breaks. I had done the same thing for most of the previous summer (as a last-minute replacement) and was looking forward to doing it again. I mean, getting paid to be a radio DJ? Sign me up!

At the risk of too much of a good thing, I had also given a demo tape and resume to WQNY--known on the air as Q104-FM. In contrast to my very cool college station, Q104 was a very uncool Adult Contemporary station, targeting the easy rock masses of Central New York with a blend of Bread-style oldies and the mid-'80s soft favorites like Whitney Houston, Peter Cetera, and Gloria Estefan.

But it was more radio experience, and it was a paid gig. So I applied for a part-time job and was hired.

Located on the second story of a storefront on South Cayuga Street (over a kitchenware store), the WQNY facility at the time was fairly non-descript. A large main room decorated in Office Generica with desks strewn about for various salespeople and office staff. Besides the big room, there were two private offices plus the air studio, a production room, and a rest/storage room.

Dave Smith was the morning host and the PD. I believe Michael "E" handled afternoon drive, Mark Lobel was the night guy, and my fellow IC student Jeff Hetzel was holding down the overnight fort (I skipped middays, as my memory is not clear--was it Randy Charles? or was he a WTKO guy?). The GM was "Big Jim" Roberts, and Smith's morning news sidekick was Andy Levin.

I was hired to do a pair of weekend airshifts, which were nominally on two consecutive nights but were actually the same day. I did the Saturday overnight--midnight Saturday to 6 Sunday morning--as well as Sunday evenings from 8 to midnight.

Top these shifts the the two hour Breakfast with The Beatles show I hosted on my college station, WICB, and each Sunday I was working fully half the day over three shifts on two stations. It was a grueling, sleep-poor schedule, and I almost looked forward to Monday when I could rest ("TGIM," as I grimly thought more than once when returning, bleary-eyed, to my dorm room in the wee hours of Monday morning).

To add insult to injury, Ithaca's transit system didn't have Sunday bus service--an important point for me, since I neither had a car nor even yet a drivers' license. So the after getting off work at 6am, and both directions on Sunday night, were a 2.5 mile walk--sharply uphill heading home.

Yet with all this adversity, did I care? No, I enjoyed the hell out of it!

Granted, there were many a time I was desperate at 4:30am for any song--anything!--that was upbeat. Another Whitney Houston or Bread ballad and I'd be in danger of sleep.

At that time, CDs were only just percolating into usage. The station primarily used vinyl and tape cartridges for playing music, but there was a small rack of CDs available. Most were new releases, but the occasional "best of"--I specifically remember a Blood, Sweat & Tears collection--was in there, too.

What's most amusing in retrospect is that while Q104 had two CD players--needed to segue between two songs--one of them was a portable unit. CD players were still fairly expensive items in 1986, and perhaps the station management wasn't sure if this digital thing was a quadraphonic-style audio fad. They traded commercial spots for the CD players with a local audio store, and only ended up with a regular deck unit and the portable. And this was the #1 radio station in the market at the time!

Of course, they didn't always seem too with-it; they still had a liner we DJs had to read on ooccasion which promoted the station as "All day, all night, in stereo!"--laughably out of date by the mid '80s, as FM radio had overwhelmed the AM band in popularity for about a decade.

On Sunday evenings, instead of only playing music, I ran the board for two hour-long syndicated programs: Westwood One's Star Trak Profiles and NBC Radio's The Jazz Show with David Sanborn.

Star Trak Profiles was a musician interview show hosted by Phil Hendrie (!). The show was distributed on two vinyl records, and all I had to do was track each side and insert local commercials at the end of each. (I still have two of the show's episodes; one with Paul McCartney and another with Paul Simon)

The Jazz Show, a one-hour foray into what became known as "smooth jazz," came over the satellite earlier in the day. Someone else would record it on reel tape for me to play back that evening. The only rub was that the station didn't have a reel-to-reel player in the on-air studio, so I would have to transfer the outgoing signal to the production studio (set up that way so the prod. studio could be used as a backup to the main studio in case of technical emergency) and play it back from there. It was a pain in the ass, but it did get me into the prod studio, which I would otherwise have had no reason to explore otherwise--I ended up borrowing a couple of sound effects for personal projects from the station's vinyl SFX library.



Cause-and-effect spiral... 

As war stretches on, recruiters scramble:
Last month, the Army missed its monthly recruiting target for the first time since 2000. The Army National Guard and Reserve haven't reached their monthly targets since October. The Pentagon has responded by fattening bonuses for soldiers, training more recruiters like Ziegler, and raising the top age for Guard and Reserve recruits from 34 to 39.

Their success is crucial to the course of the Iraq war. In the first sustained test of the all-volunteer military created by the abolition of the draft in 1973, the Army has had to rely heavily on citizen soldiers, who make up 45 percent of US forces in Iraq. Now, that supply chain is showing signs of stress, and some experts say the current data suggest that the task of maintaining a full force in the Middle East will only get harder. "The longer this war goes on, the more difficult it's going to be to get more recruits," says Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress in Washington.
For Army Recruiters, a Hard Toll From a Hard Sell:
A recruiter in New York said pressure from the Army to meet his recruiting goals during a time of war has given him stomach problems and searing back pain. Suffering from bouts of depression, he said he has considered suicide. Another, in Texas, said he had volunteered many times to go to Iraq rather than face ridicule, rejection and the Army's wrath.

An Army chaplain said he had counseled nearly a dozen recruiters in the past 18 months to help them cope with marital troubles and job-related stress.

"There were a couple of recruiters that felt they were having nervous breakdowns, literally," said Maj. Stephen Nagler, a chaplain.
The most ominous tendril of the story is found in the Times piece:
While some in Congress have raised the specter of a draft, the Bush administration has rejected that idea, saying higher skilled soldiers are needed in a high-tech age, and are best found through recruitment.

But several senior officers interviewed, including Col. Greg Parlier, retired, who until 2002 headed the research and strategy arm of the Army Recruiting Command, said the pressure on recruiters shows the policy should be re-examined, and initiatives like national service should be considered.
Although the Bush administration insists the required "higher skilled soldiers" must be recruited not conscripted, Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, commander of the Army Recruiting Command, is quoted as saying that "the Army has already...taken measures to expand the pool of potential soldiers, by accepting...more people without high school diplomas."

Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

It's an odd world... 


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Performance Meta-Art 

Prankster infiltrates NY museums:
A British graffiti artist has managed to evade security and hang his work in four of New York's most prestigious and well-guarded museums.

"Banksy", who has never disclosed his real identity, claims to have carried out the unusual smuggling operation on one day, during opening hours.

Some of the pieces went undetected for several days - such as a beetle with missiles attached to its body.
I love this. Not only entertaining, but thought-provoking.

Check out his own website for views of his art pieces, plus a photo of them in context on the gallery's walls (his "contribution" to MoMA is rather subtle and my favorite). The photos of gallery patrons innocently examining Banksy's "pretender" pieces (while yet undiscovered by authorities) makes an interesting implied point on the nature of art.

There's a short "movie" showing him stealthily putting up the Brooklyn Museum piece, amusingly set to Mancini's 'Pink Panther' theme.

I think Warhol would have enjoyed it all.

Cookie Monsters 

Consumers Delete Cookies at Surprising Rate:
Nearly 40 percent of Internet users delete cookies from their primary computers on at least a monthly basis, according to a study by JupiterResearch. The finding has big implications for advertising and marketing firms that depend on cookies for tracking and targeting.

Based on a survey of 2,337 U.S. respondents, the study finds that 17 percent of Internet users delete cookies on a weekly basis. Approximately 12 percent do so on a monthly basis, and 10 percent make it a daily habit.

"The key finding is that a lot of companies have placed a lot of reliance on cookies for audience measurement and the cookie is at risk as a mechanism for tracking people over time," said Eric Petersen, the lead analyst on the report.
So people are rebeling against marketers placing files on their own computers. Well, duh.

The above-quoted analyst scratches his head further, saying "For some reason, consumers have identified cookies incorrectly as spyware," and asserts that consumers are simply ignorant of the "time saving benefits" of cookies.

Of course, it wouldn't even occur to him that some of us consumers take delight in messing with cookie-setters. Far from having a lack of understanding of cookies' time saving benefits, I regularly delete all cookies EXCEPT for sites for which I have account info I want to save, like the All Music Guide or the New York Times.

Any cookie from an obvious ad server is doomed on my computer, as are all from sites I visit only casually. Why should I retain data for, say, the New York Daily News website or for Microsoft?

Give me a reason to allow the cookie, and I'll keep it. Like Haloscan, which provides the comments feature for this blog. My name, email address, and website info is stored in cookies so I don't have to retype them whenever I post on any site's Haloscan comments. This has value to me, so I allow it.

A newspaper site, on the other hand, being able to greet me by name ("Welcome, Mike! You are logged in!"), by itself, has absolutely no value to me. Cookie: deleted.

Offer me something useful and I'll consider storing your damn cookie.


Sorry for the intermittent posting this past week--I was filling in on the WYEP morning show, and those 4am wake-ups tend to freak out my normal routines and diminish my productivity. I've almost eliminated my sleep-deficit, and I'm back to post more minutiae.

As the singer said:
"Back in black, I hit the sack
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back
Yes, I'm let loose from the noose
That's kept me hanging about
I've been looking at the sky 'cause it's gettin' me high
Forget the hearse 'cause I never die
I got nine lives, cat's eyes
Abusin' every one of them and running wild."
Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


"People are going to buy phones and subscriptions and downloads of things they want, but someone is going to have to tell them what they need. What my customers want, and expect to know, is where to find the great music, the right clothes, the best entertainment, the best style and design. I give them that. I show them the way."

~~Sean "Puffy/Diddy" Combs
CITA Wireless Convention keynote speech
March 14, 2005
New Orleans

He is the Alpha and the Omega. Immediately after making the above utterance, Combs was bathed in a beautiful light and slowly ascended into heaven.

I can't find an online source for a link, but trust me--the above quote is verbatim as reported by Billboard. I never fully realized before exactly how nightmarishly raging this man's ego is. The scope is breathtaking.

Didja know that Combs "successfully made voting relevant to young people ages 18-29, as well as minorities"? This, according to his CTIA Wireless Convention keynote speaker's bio.

Also from the bio:
  • his "career continues along the road of tireless and indomitable creativity"
  • his "ongoing social and philanthropic efforts make it clear that he's not just another businessman trying to raise money"
  • he is "an all-around 'entertainer'"
And if you ever wondered if he suffered from an inferiority complex and was Ahab-ing his way towards the Whale of Respectability, consider this statement: his "Broadway debut further solidified him as a multifaceted entertainer capable of acting on stage with seasoned professionals." Wow, with seasoned professionals even?

Of course, Combs' bio omits the charity basketball game and Heavy D concert at the City College of New York in 1990 that was oversold and resulted the deaths of nine people. But that's just his bio's tireless and indomitable creativity.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Happy 50th Birthday Rock 'n' Roll! 

50 years ago this weekend, the movie which helped to usher in the rock 'n' roll era premiered: Blackboard Jungle (although the date itself is a little fuzzy--IMDB claims a March 19th debut; CBS asserts March 20th). Obviously, the origins of rock 'n' roll can be (and are) traced to a hundred different sources but I'm inclined to go along with Bill Haley's recording of "Rock Around the Clock" as the spark point.

The single itself was recorded on April 12th of '54 and released on May 10th of that year (as a B-side), but it was its inclusion in Blackboard Jungle which made the song a sensation and propelled it to #1 on the charts.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Perhaps it can be done... 

Postal Employee: "May I help you?"
Kramer: "Yeah, I'd like to cancel my mail."
Postal Employee: "Certainly. How long would you like us to hold it?"
Kramer: "Oh, no, no. I don't think you get me. I want out, permanently."

~~from Seinfeld, "The Junk Mail"

I was reading someone on the net mention they had a garbage truck knock over their mailbox:
Our garbagemen knocked over our mailbox and just kept going. Which meant the post office wouldn't deliver our mail until the mailbox was fixed (because they post office won't deliver to our door, only to our streetside mailbox--I don't know why).
What would happen if on just removed one's mailbox? Can one opt out of receiving mail entirely using this method? Are there laws which states one MUST have a mailbox?

If you set up your bills for online payment, what does one need mail for? One can also set up an alternate method to receive, oh, the Xmas cards and such (through work or a private box).

Hmmm... Thinking...gears grinding...

Scopes Writ Large 

Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures....

"Volcanoes," released in 2003 and sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University, has been turned down at about a dozen science centers, mostly in the South, said Dr. Richard Lutz, the Rutgers oceanographer who was chief scientist for the film. He said theater officials rejected the film because of its brief references to evolution, in particular to the possibility that life on Earth originated at the undersea vents.

Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous."

In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."
What year are we living in again?

Whenever I read statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," I always think "Me, too. By the way, gravity is only a theory. Why not step off this nearby building to illustrate its theoretical nature?"

Government (Time) Wasting! 

North Carolina's legislature tackles serious state problems: civil servants playing solitaire!
A bill in the General Assembly would zap games from thousands of state government computers.

The proposal has drawn criticism from state employee groups who say it is petty and wrongly casts state workers as slackers.

But supporters say its time to take a stand against loafers who are spending too much time playing computer card games instead of working.

"You can walk down the hall and see bored state employees with solitaire on their computer screens," said state Sen. Austin Allran, a Catawba County Republican who co-sponsored the legislation.

State rules prohibit employees from using government computers for personal use, but even officials with the State Employees Association of North Carolina acknowledge that workers occasionally surf the Internet or play games during work time.
Just for kicks, I checked the actual bill text, and it contains this tidbit:
The head of a State agency may waive the application of this section with respect to a particular procurement of information technology, if the head of the agency:
(1) Conducts a cost-benefit analysis and determines that the costs of compliance with this section outweighs the benefits of compliance
I wonder if the actual lost productivity of people playing the occasional solitaire or mine sweeper game totals up to one cost-benefit analysis study.

North Carolina politicians must be jealous of their Virginian neighbors for their mad skills with petty and foolish proposed laws.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


The article started out kinda funny:
The cardinal leading the Vatican's charge against The Da Vinci Code urged Catholics on Wednesday to shun it like rotten food and branded the bestseller "a sack full of lies" insulting the Christian faith.
This, spouted on March 16, 2005 about a book that's been a best-seller since its publication on March 18, 2003? Hmm... A little behind the times, are we?

Okay, perhaps it's just being published in Italian. I saw on French Amazon that the French edition, for example, was only published on a year ago.

But this goes way beyond amusing:
"I would ask the author of this book and similar ones to be more respectful because freedom of expression has limits when it does not respect others," [Cardinal Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone] said.
Well, isn't that just charmingly fascistic? Guess we might as well fire up those book-burning fires now, eh?

Shearer Joins the Blogosphere 

Harry Shearer has, somewhat unexpectedly, jumped in as guest blogger for an unknown period of time at Talking Points Memo. The thrust of his first post:
I'm amazed that a salient fact about Dan's last few years escaped notice during last week's barrage of Rathermania and Ratherphobia. Namely, what other distinguished personage of such lengthy service in the public eye suddenly decides, in the last few years of his career, to change the side of his head on which he parts his hair? That, my friends, is plain weird.
And in an orgy of media reflectivity, I will be curious to hear Shearer's auditory colloquy about his blogging experience on his radio program, Le Show (now available, sans music interludes, via podcast).

Terlet Troubles 

We recently had a change in our JSP at work (Janitorial Services Provider), which resulting in a pleasing increase in the amount of vacuuming, but a dismaying plummet in the amount of bathroom supplies made available.

Several people had taken to bringing in their own rolls of toilet paper, making me feel enough like I was living an episode of M*A*S*H that I started aping Groucho and delivering pontificating speeches about being "cold and tired and scared." You know, a la Alda.

So I had sympathy when I read this story:
The Buffalo area's county budget crisis is taking a toll on the bathrooms in at least one public building.

Erie County has had to slash 2,000 jobs and cut back on services in order to close a more than $100 million budget shortfall.

In the Rath Building in downtown Buffalo, workers report that the bathrooms aren't being cleaned or maintained. One longtime worker in the building tells Buffalo's WGRZ-TV that there's no soap, paper towels or toilet paper in the restrooms.
Don't take that stuff for granted, Gents and Ladies!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I, Acronymphomaniac! 

New proposed indecency law:
The "Indecent and Gratuitous and Excessively Violent Programming Control Act of 2005'', introduced to Congress yesterday, calls for stiffer penalties to be doled out to broadcasters who cross the line, and institutes stricter measures regarding the labeling and rating of broadcast content and the enhancement of parental blocking technology.
"IGEVPCA"? Hey, aren't they supposed to come up with a catchy acronym, like the PATRIOT act ("Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism")?

Maybe the "InGrEx ViProCo Act"? The "I-GEV ProCo Act"?

Sheesh, this bill is hopeless.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lexicographer's Update & Lengthy Newsmedia Sidebar 

No prank, 'wedgie' now in dictionary:
And so, after tracking dozens of incidents of the word in print, [Webster's New World College Dictionary Editor in Chief Michael] Agnes and his staff crafted the above definition to add to the existing meaning of "wedgie" as a type of shoe.

The new printing, which will reach bookstores by mid-May, is bolstered by 58 brand-new entries, plus another 20 new senses of existing words (such as wedgie). Scanning the list reminds one how quickly words enter into common use.

"Al Qaeda," "blog," "cargo pants" and "irritable bowel syndrome" are in there. So are "newsgroup," "partial-birth abortion," "street cred," "Taliban" and "Xanax."

NOTE: Registration req'd for link. But the google trick works: paste link into google, then clickthrough to story via google with no registration necessary.

SIDEBAR: And speaking of the google trick...

Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?
Newspaper Web sites have been so popular that at some newspapers, including The New York Times, the number of people who read the paper online now surpasses the number who buy the print edition.

This migration of readers is beginning to transform the newspaper industry. Advertising revenue from online sites is booming and, while it accounts for only 2 percent or 3 percent of most newspapers' overall revenues, it is the fastest-growing source of revenue. And newspaper executives are watching anxiously as the number of online readers grows while the number of print readers declines.

"For some publishers, it really sticks in the craw that they are giving away their content for free," said Colby Atwood, vice president of Borrell Associates Inc., a media research firm. The giveaway means less support for expensive news-gathering operations and the potential erosion of advertising revenue from the print side, which is much more profitable.

"Newspapers are cannibalizing themselves," said Frederick W. Searby, an advertising and publishing analyst at J. P. Morgan.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"In Washington, this is [redacted] reporting..." 

There's a great piece in the New York Times today about the use by the U.S. government of fake reporters and video news releases." Here's my favorite paragraph:
Confronted with such evidence, most news directors were at a loss to explain how the segments made it on the air. Some said they were unable to find archive tapes that would help answer the question. Others promised to look into it, then stopped returning telephone messages. A few removed the segments from their Web sites, promised greater vigilance in the future or pleaded ignorance.
Ah, if only competing local news operation had the guts (and clean enough hands) to subject their crosstown colleagues to their "shame" feature. Confront the rival news director as he/she is entering/exiting their car/office and jam the camera in their face. Would they look as evil and duplicitous as the shady contractors and crooked real estate people always featured in those segments?

If nothing else, it would make for a more interesting annual Press Club dinner next time 'round!

Of course, it's not quite so funny when you read a former news director defend her own reporting like this:
"I didn't actually go to Afghanistan," she said. "I took that story and reworked it. I had to do some research on my own. I remember looking on the Internet and finding out how it all started as far as women covering their faces and everything."
Wow. You even fired up Google? Gosh, just like Woodward & Bernstein did. ImPRESSive!

From the "Writers don't get no respect" desk 

In an article about the possibility of automotive computers becoming infected with a virus:
"Right now this is a lot of hype rather than reality, the idea that cars could be turning against us," said Thilo Koslowski, a vice president and lead analyst for auto-based information and communication technologies at Gartner G2, a technology research firm. "We won't see John Carpenter's 'Christine' becoming a reality anytime soon."
"John Carpenter's"? Really?

"The Inner Sleeve" 

While we're still on the old record tip (see below post), there's a component of the vinyl experience I wanted to mention: inner sleeves. Often, these paper sleeves which served as an LP's "underwear" were printed with lyrics, additional artwork, or sometimes simply left blank. And certain record labels (MCA, I'm looking in your direction) would full 'em up with promotional material.

I've been dubbing some vinyl into a digital form to make mp3s out of 'em, and inside a 1972 Delaney & Bonnie record (D & B Together) I found that the inner sleeve was printed into a faux-newsletter titled "The Inner Sleeve" by the label, Columbia.

This is a gem. There's a handful of promo blurbs written in the cheeseball suits-trying-to-sound-hip style familiar to any afficianado of music from the '50s through the '70s, plus a gushing paean to quadraphonic records, and a clip 'n' mail invite to join a sort of focus-group-by-mail.

Here are some excerpts...

On Miles Davis' Live-Evil album:
This is Miles "live." Miles in studios. Miles in a wide variety of recording sessions. But, excitingly, all Miles. He's something else....

Live-Evil is more Miles. Mirrors. Laser beams. A recitation by Conrad Roberts call Inamorata. There is so much more to hear.

It's all Miles Davis. With such songs as Sivad. And Selim. As "live" spelled backward is "evil," reflect on those titles. It's the only thing backwards about Miles Davis. Everything else in his life style and in his music is, as always, straight ahead.
About Santana's 1971 album:
People are still trying to find the convenient phrase to categorize Santana. Latin-rock. Chicano-drive. Mariachi-explosion. Pick your own nomenclature, if you think it's needed.
Under the headline "YOU WON'T BELIEVE YOUR EARS; SQ--The Quadraphonic Record":
It's startling. It's a miraculous feat of engineering invention. It is total realism. Flexible. Imaginative. Complete. Compatible. And, amazingly, it is simple. In short, it's the most natural sound ever designed for records. It's SQ--the Quadraphonic disc.

SQ is here. It's the finishing touch to the revolution in home audio that Columbia began in 1948. It makes 4-channel sound possible and practical and provides a startling listening experience....

SQ records sell for $1.00 more than regular stereo records. They can be bought and played right now by every foresighted person who owns an ordinary stereo phonograph. [also included is a list of about 15 available quadraphonic titles, including the very aptly-named folk album One Hand Clapping]
And finally, "You can become a Columbia/Epic A&R advisor for $3.00":
For $3.00 you can participate in an experimental program we're setting up.

We're calling it "Playback" and it's the first time we've ever asked our consumers to help us select what sounds, and which records are worth pursuing and promoting.

Not a fan club, not a scheme to take your money, the program will work something like this:

Your $3.00 will go towards the cost of preparing and mailing special 7-inch; 33 1/3 rpm sampler records. The samplers will contain unreleased, or just-released songs by new people and groups. As an advisor you'll receive at least ten of these samplers during the year. You'll then let us know every time you hear something that turns you on (or off, as the case may be).

Also, you'll receive at least ten newsletters from our A&R department, featuring articles written by and about our producers and recording artists.
There you go. Highlights from "The Inner Sleeve," Vol. 72A1/4, Editor: Mort Goode.

Flexible. Imaginative. Complete. Not a scheme to take your money. Reflect on that.

UPDATE: I found a blog which had an entry on inner sleeves. It's chock full of images, including several examples of Columbia's "The Inner Sleeve."

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Interesting Album Titles from 30+ Years Ago 

Loretta Lynn, Fist City (1968)

Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt, Boss Tenors in Orbit! (1962)

Donny Osmond, Donny Osmond Superstar (1973)

Barbara Acklin, Loves Makes a Woman (1968)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Another death... 

Irish comedian Dave Allen, at 68. I remember as a lad watching his show Dave Allen at Large on U.S. public TV stations, in which he told jokes and stories (all the while holding a beverage to disguise his missing index finger) in between sketches.

Dave, "Good night - and may your god go with you."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Tirade on a Tirade 

Okay, so this critic Jim DeRogatis proclaims in the Chicago Sun-Times, "The '80s are back in a big way"!

But DeRogatis comes not to praise Caesar, but to bury him.

Under the headline "I hate the '80s," DeRogatis pens a nasty and often inaccurate screed about that era and its music (the article originally had a sub-head decrying "nostalgia for the big hair and bombast of rock's lousiest decade," but that vanished when I refreshed the page).

DeRogatis is apparently a rather sour fellow. He's co-editor of a book called Kill Your Idols, a tome which describes itself as the "best rock writers of Generations X and Y each weigh[ing] in on an album that's universally considered 'a classic'--but which they think sucks." He easily fits within the sphere of a previous post here titled Why Rock Critics Suck.

So let's examine his diatribe about the '80s point-by-point, shall we?
From the endless crescendos of '80s hair-metal bands like Motley Crue and Tesla to the reach-for-the-stars posturing of synth-pop acts like Tears for Fears (who have reunited for a tour and a new album), the favorite mode of expression was to shout, shout, let it all out. What was there to shout about? Well, it hardly seemed to matter to many hitmakers...
DeRogatis' issue here seems to be that hit songs in the 1980s were more vapid than in other decades (parsing his words to mean that '80s hits were "shouting" without "mattering"). Let's ignore that the late '90s and the rise of rap-rock is clearly the era of shouting with little actual weighty lyrical content, and just mention that DeRogatis ignores or discounts '80s "hitmakers" like:
  • Tracy Chapman ("Fast Car," 1988, Billboard #6)
  • U2 ("Pride," 1984, Billboard #33)
  • Suzanne Vega ("Luka," 1987, Billboard #3)
  • Midnight Oil ("Beds Are Burning," 1988 Billboard #17)
And these are just a few of the really major hits right off the top of my head. If you dig down into lesser hits, there are songs from 10,000 Maniacs, R.E.M., and even Pat Benatar ("Hell Is For Children") which will qualify.

So the notion that nothing was worth shouting about in '80s pop music is untrue. If the assertion is that most of the decade's pop lacked lyrical sophistication, it's a fatuous one; that can be said of the pop music of any era.

The '80s were a turbulent and troubling decade as the rich got richer and the poor hung on for dear life. Underground acts in many genres railed against the political policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and they sounded the alarm about social crises such as AIDS. But in the pop mainstream, it was all "don't worry, be happy," with nary a hint that there was anything more substantial to sing about...
This is a pet peeve of mine, and partially what inspired this response. Has this guy even listened to Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy"??
Ain't got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don't worry, be happy
The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don't worry, be happy
Look at me, I am happy!
Like the song "Little Boxes" Pete Seeger recorded in the '60s, there is obvious social commentary knitted into a deceptively simplistic sing-songy fabric.

By using this song as a touchstone of '80s meaninglessness, DeRogatis effectively, almost elegantly, disproves his own point.

From Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls" world of slutty strippers to Madonna's higher-priced "Material Girl" courtesan, women often were portrayed in the '80s as one more commodity for sale to the highest bidder. It was as if the feminist strides of the '60s and '70s had never happened, and women who didn't fit the airbrushed Playboy ideal were vanquished, even in their own videos -- Anne Wilson of Heart barely appeared in her own band's clips after she gained some weight and the group was remade as bombastic '80s balladeers.
Yes, it's an extremely good thing that pop music moved beyond 1963's "When the Boy's Happy (The Girl's Happy Too)" by The Four Pennies (a.k.a. The Chiffons). And the '70s were an amazing decade for feminist anthems (like Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" [1972]) and for frank lyrics about feminist topics (e.g., "The Pill" by Loretta Lynn [1975]).

But to bestow upon the '80s a mantle of feminist regression is ridiculous. Not only did the '80s have its share of feminist pop (like those ruminations on the female proletariat "She Works Hard For the Money" [Donna Summer, 1983] and "9 to 5" [Dolly Parton, 1980]), but the '90s rise of "bitch"- and "ho"-touting rap songs was arguably a much worse backwards step in progressive gender pop.

And regarding his observation about Heart, let's remember that it was in the '90s that Martha Wash was actually not given album credit and replaced by a skinny lip-synching model in videos and promotional photos for her work with C+C Music Factory and Black Box.

The '80s gave us some of the most pathetic instrumental sounds in musical history. Where the analog synthesizers and the earliest drum machines of the '60s and '70s were intriguing new instruments in their own rights, the new digital instruments tried to electronically "improve" upon acoustic keyboards and drums but wound up sounding more artificial and obnoxious.

You know what I'm talking about: the fake "breathy" strings sound of a Yamaha DX-7 keyboard and the "army of handclaps" snares of a Linn drum machine. These sounds were tired five minutes after they were invented, but they appeared absolutely everywhere throughout the '80s...
There were, to be sure, many sounds used in the '80s that seem just plain cheesy today. Of course, similar comments could easily be said about '60s acid rock and (particularly) about late '90s rap-rock.

But DeRogatis makes his best and most solid point here. And yet, there's still an undeniable influence that this era of synths and electronic drums had. The Roland TR-808 is legendary among hip-hop and dance artists ("nothing sounds quite like an 808," declared the Beastie Boys in "Super Disco Breakin'" [1998]). And there are other elements of today's music which build on experiments from the '80s.

But, sure, I'll generally concede this point.

I'm no expert here, but just look at the moussed-up hairdos a la A Flock of Seagulls, the legwarmers and slouch-shouldered tops that appeared in the wake of "Flashdance," the kerchiefs and eyeliner for men favored by the hair-metal bands -- have there ever been more ridiculous looks?
"Have there ever been more ridiculous looks?" The answer is yes.

So let's cut to the chase, because time is growing short...
Whether they're trying to turn back the hands of time or experience some era long before they were born, the saddest aspect of all these people partying like it's 1985 is that they're missing so much great music in the present.
That's absolutely true--people who wallow in the past miss out on great music from the present. But those who wallow in the present miss out on some great music from the past. Just like Patti Smith's guitarist Lenny Kaye who has recently immersed himself in the crooner-era from the 1930s, there's always more music history to discover just as there's always more new music.

And "rock's lousiest decade" (as asserted by Jim DeRogatis) has just as many rewards awaiting deep in cultural caverns below the Madonna and Duran Duran surface gloss. Wallowing in the '80s to discover Rain Parade and APB and Green on Red and The Bluebells is just as meritorious as seeking out cool new bands today.

So lighten up, sourpuss.


Young Germans lose the thirst for beer:
Over the past decade, German beer consumption has dropped dramatically. In 1990, every German man and woman drank an average of 147 litres (258 pints) of beer a year. The figure has now sunk to just 206 pints.

Last month, there was more bad news when the Oetker group, one of Germany's largest beer producers, announced it was closing the 133-year-old Berliner Kindl brewery in Berlin and the Brinkhoff brewery in the western city of Dortmund.

Germany's surviving 1,270 breweries are now having to confront an uncomfortable truth: that Germans aren't drinking enough beer any more. There is even a term for the industry's gradual but apparently certain demise - Brauereisterben or "brewery death".

"There is a problem. People don't want to be seen drinking grandfather's beer. It isn't chic. It isn't lifestyle," Peter Hahn, the chief executive of the Association of German Beer Brewers admitted.
The article also mentions that, in their efforts to promote beer drinking amongst young people "the association of Bavarian brewers'...brochures show glamorous and fit young couples holding large glasses of beer and, improbably, wearing roller skates." Also that Germany has an official "beer ambassador."

In Memoriam... 

This blog pauses in its usual snarkiness to pay tribute to a pair of women who just passed away.

Actress Teresa Wright, dead at 86:
Actress Teresa Wright, who won an Academy Award for her role in Mrs Miniver, has died at the age of 86.

Such was the impact of Wright's acting debut that she was nominated for Oscars for her first three movies.

Her first nomination for The Little Foxes in 1942, was followed by a double Oscar nomination for Mrs Miniver and The Pride of the Yankees in 1943.

Her daughter, Mary-Kelly Busch, said Wright died of a heart attack at a hospital in Connecticut.
My favorite role of Wright's: as the young Charlie Newton in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt from 1943. Great movie, and a terrific performance by Wright.


Writer/producer Debra Hill, dead at age 54:
Debra Hill, the Halloween writer-producer who rose through Hollywood's ranks to become one of the industry's pioneering woman producers, died Monday, according to family friend Barbara Ligeti. She was 54.

Hill had battled cancer for 13 months, Ligeti said, but was working on several projects, including a film about the last two men pulled from the rubble of the Twin Towers following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, until her last days.

"She changed the face of women in film. If you talk to people who are real players in this town, they will say Debra was one woman who would help other women ... with boundless generosity," Ligeti said. "And with all of that, she managed to be the best girlfriend a person would ever have."

Hill's big break came in horror films when she and director John Carpenter co-wrote the genre's modern classic, Halloween.


After working on Halloween and several of its sequels, Hill joined her friend Lynda Obst in forming an independent production company in 1986 that made Adventures in Babysitting, Heartbreak Hotel and The Fisher King.

In 1988 she entered a contract with Walt Disney Pictures under which she produced the feature Gross Anatomy and worked on other projects. She also produced The Dead Zone, 1983; Head Office, 1985; and Clue, 1986.
Of course, one of her most influential projects (aside from Halloween), was Escape From New York. I just popped in the DVD a couple of weeks ago. Wildly entertaining flick, despite its obvious dated-ness ("1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison...").

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Director Quentin Tarantino is in talks to write and direct a new instalment in the Friday the 13th horror franchise, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

More Jersey Madness 

Yet another item of weirdness out of New Jersey. Piscopo for Governor?
The gubernatorial campaign manager for former Minnesota Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura is working with a group of New Jersey residents urging actor and comedian Joe Piscopo to run for governor of the Garden State.

Doug Friedline, who led Ventura's successful campaign in 1998, has created a draft committee called "Run Joe Run 2005!" He said the committee is made up of about 60 independent and "disgruntled" Democratic voters who want to give New Jersey voters a choice other than presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Jon Corzine and his Republican challengers.
WTF? As far as actors-turned politicos are concerned, at least Schwarzenegger was still starring in major motion pictures when he made the transition. What has Piscopo done lately? Supporting roles in such blockbusters as Baby Bedlam and Captain Nuke and the Bomber Boys (a.k.a. Demolition Day)?

Of course, Piscopo's career has been more than simply films. Lately, though, the TV work seems to have been a little quiet (except for doing voicework on Nickelodeon's 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd--only voicework on a live action show?).

According to his website, however, at least "advertisers have long appreciated Joe's unique relationship with his public." So he has been hawking sloppy joes for Ragu.

Ah, but Piscopo has indeed been active in the public arena. According to a 2004 Bergen Record article, he's "an avid supporter of 'smart growth' in the Garden State" and "his latest project involves redeveloping the arts district in downtown Rahway."

So there you have it. Perhaps the next celebrity to enter a Governor's Mansion. And maybe Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens can be tapped as Lt. Governor.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The World As TiVo 

You know it's an odd time when the actual news stories read like recycled TV show plots:

(71) Wildlife Journal [Animal Planet] - Turkey has said it is changing the names of three animals found on its territory to remove references to Kurdistan or Armenia. The environment ministry says the Latin names of the red fox, the wild sheep and the roe deer will be altered. (link)

(4)(9)(35) "24" [FOX] - U.S. counterintelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Al Qaeda sympathizers or operatives may have tried to get jobs at the CIA and other U.S. agencies in an effort to spy on American counterterrorist efforts. (link)

(54) Movie: Boeing Boeing [TMC] - Boeing Co. announced yesterday that it forced its chief executive to resign after an investigation uncovered that he had an affair with a female employee. (link)

(2)(7)(15) CSI [CBS] - The results of a CT scan done on King Tut's mummy indicate the boy king was not murdered, but may have suffered a badly broken leg shortly before his death at age 19 — a wound that could have become infected, Egypt's top archaeologist said Tuesday. (link)

SIDEBAR: According to the IMDb, the tagline for Boeing Boeing was "The Big Comedy of Nineteen-Sexty-Sex!" That trumps everything today.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Spotlight on Trade Mags! 

In this website's continuing efforts to enlighten readers about up-to-the-minute items that are properly being ignored by intelligent people everywhere, it's time to once more shine our painfully blinding kleig light on an obscure industry's inscrutable trade publication.

For this installment, let's take a look at Home Lighting & Accessories, that venerable mouthpiece for the "decorative lighting" industry. What? You've never heard of it? How dare you! Oh, well--read on!
  • Mission: none.

  • How they fancy themselves:
    The authoritative trade magazine of the decorative lighting industry for over 80 years. Read by retailers, distributors, manufacturers, reps, architects, designers and other allied lighting professionals. (link)
    As opposed to those "axis lighting professionals"?

  • Target Demo:
    Home Lighting & Accessories reaches over 10,000 lighting retailers, manufacturers, and allied professionals with hard-hitting, information-driven features every month. (link)
    I can't wait to read those "hard-hitting" lighting features.

  • Upcoming events:

    • March 8-10: Beijing - CHINALIGHT 2005, China International Exhibition Center. Beijing UT International Exhibition Co. and Taiwan Lighting Fixture Export Association. Beijing Zhongmaolian International Exhibition Co. (link)

    • March 9-10: Los Angeles - NeoCon® West, L.A. Mart. Merchandise Mart Properties. (link)

    Just in case you were wondering, at NeoCon West, "design is a potent force with defying extremes"!

  • Didja know? "Fypon has the same name recognition in our industry as Coca-Cola does in the soft drink industry or Kleenex in the tissue market." (link)
I must admit, I'm shocked that the magazine doesn't pitch itself as "illuminating" the world of decorative lighting. Score them +5 points for that (but score me -.5 for the semi-pun of using "shocking" in this context).

MS out of MSNBC? 

Microsoft and NBC Universal are in advanced discussions about a deal that could result in NBC taking full control of the cable news network MSNBC, The Post has learned.

The two sides are discussing a deal in which NBC Universal would take over Microsoft's stake in the venture, while Microsoft would maintain access to some of NBC's content for use over the Internet, sources told The Post.
Start >> Control Panel >> Add or Remove Major Media Partnerships >> Cable News Network >> Uninstall.

[reboot required]

Saturday, March 05, 2005

"To the Moon, Alice! To the Moon!" 

China and Japan launch race to the moon:
Forty years after the heyday of the US-Soviet space race, the emerging contest between these two Asian powers is already showing signs of ferocity.

China may have put a man into orbit, but Japan, it seems, intends to build a station for him on the moon.
It's about time for another good, old-fashioned space-race!

Perhaps it will even force us to do more in our own space investigations. As a wise man once said:
For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war.

~~John F. Kennedy, 9/12/62


Warning: Something Inside! 

In the name of security, some officials want to get rid of signs on railroad tankers warning of the dangerous nature of the chemicals inside. According to the New York Times:
The idea has sparked an outcry from firefighters and rail workers, who say removing the signs could endanger their lives. They say federal officials seem more focused on guarding against a terrorist attack than on the daily threat of accidents.

"There's this feeling that you have to secure everything possible in every way possible for every possible kind of terrorist attack," Garry L. Briese, executive director of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, said.
That about sums it up. Everything's perfectly secure in an Orwellian nightmare.

War is Peace. Ignorance is Strength. Freedom is security!

Just some cheerful thoughts on a Saturday morn.

Friday, March 04, 2005

"lies & Fish" 

What the hell is going on back in my old stomping grounds in New Jersey? First, recent corruption allegations and, now, my former local pet store blows up:
Two people trapped inside an Eatontown Petco store heavily damaged in a gas explosion Friday morning are listed in critical condition at an area hospital.... Workers from J.F. Kiely Construction of Long Branch were working outside the store, at 231 Route 35, when they hit a gas line with a backhoe, [Eatontown Police Capt. George] Jackson said.... The emergency workers were checking the integrity of the building, and once it was determined safe, would send in dogs to see if any other people might be in the building.
First of all, I'm glad that no one was killed. Especially not me, since I used to buy cat food here--they had a good price for cans of cat food, even though I was never thrilled that they used to hound me (pun not intended) to join their damn discount card program.

Secondly, those dogs must be trained extremely well to go in there and sniff out potential victims, even while there's probably open bags of dog chow and loads of squeak toys strewn about.

Thirdly, hooray for Ursula Goetz and Loretta Windas and all the others at the Monmouth County SPCA right up the road to help out with sheltering the animals!

Finally, this store looms large in my late '90s/early '00s memory for having part of their signage occasionally burned out, at times leaving only the following words illuminated: "lies & Fish" (see above photo). I always thought that would make a fine album title for some band.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What price linking? 

The future of political blogging under McCain-Feingold:
Would a link to a candidate's page be a problem? If someone sets up a home page and links to their favorite politician, is that a contribution? This is a big deal, if someone has already contributed the legal maximum, or if they're at the disclosure threshold and additional expenditures have to be disclosed under federal law.
McCain-Feingold is, of course, the campaign finance reform law which is, as the above quote illustrates, is turning into a veritable poster child for the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Those dangerous city streets... 

...are apparently not as dangerous as rural ones.

According to a new study:
52% of the 42,301 average annual traffic deaths from 1999 through 2003 occurred on rural, non-interstate routes, although travel on those roads represents 28% of miles driven.
Why is this? One reason:
Many rural areas, particularly in the West and South, are gaining population, but roads in those areas are more likely than urban roads to have features that make driving hazardous. They include narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, steep slopes and pavement drop-offs.
And also:
Safety improvements on rural, non-interstate routes have lagged, although driving on all U.S. roads and highways has become less dangerous since 1990.... Tools to improve safety include rumble strips, better signs, lane markings and lighting, guardrails, and removal of obstacles along roadsides.
More unsafe features, less safe features, and a rising number of cars. Gimme insane cabbies any day.

Leno seek court order to allow monologue 

Rest assured: this blog will remain assiduously free from Jackson trial news. But this tangentially-related tidbit was too tempting:
Attorneys for the star of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" said Judge Rodney S. Melville's sweeping order barring anyone involved in the case from discussing it outside court "could be interpreted to limit Mr. Leno's ability to publicly speak about the trial."
O, if only the gag order could extend to Leno's entire monologue, then reality will be one step closer to my dreams!


Nevada Rep. Jim Gibbons, last Friday:
"How would [Abraham Lincoln] feel, what would he be thinking about, all of the dissension, all of the division, that the liberals and a few others, including some our movie stars and song makers, are trying to divide this country over its efforts to establish freedom and liberty in countries around the world? We are all here tonight because men and women of the United States military have given their lives for our freedom. We are here tonight not because of Rosie O'Donnell, Martin Sheen, George Clooney, Jane Fonda or Phil Donahue - they never sacrificed their lives for us or for liberty.... I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else."

He said if they lived in Iraq or Afghanistan, "Ironically they would be put to death at the hands of Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden."
So we're fighting to allow dissent in other nations while decrying it at home?

That there irony blade seems to be sharp on both sides.

via Daily Kos

UPDATE: On top of it all, it appears this speech was also plagiarized!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Speech on Cable 

Senator Bids to Extend Indecency Rules to Cable:
Cable television shows packed with sex and profanity, such as HBO's "Deadwood," FX's "Nip/Tuck" and Comedy Central's "South Park," would be subject to the same indecency regulations that govern over-the-air broadcasts if the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee has his way.

Currently, the Federal Communications Commission has the authority to fine only over-the-air radio and television broadcasters for violating its indecency regulations, which forbid airing sexual or excretory material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children are most likely watching.

But Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) told a group of broadcasters yesterday that he wants to extend that authority to cover the hundreds of cable and satellite television and radio channels that operate outside of the government's control.... "We put restrictions on the over-the-air signals," Stevens said after his address to the National Association of Broadcasters, according to news reports confirmed by his staff. "I think we can put restrictions on cable itself."
This is ridiculous, or at least it would be if not for the current climate of curtailing liberties.

The rationale for content regulation of broadcasting is that the airwaves are a limited resource owned by the public and licensed to broadcasters. To string a line between two houses and communicate between them (or to string networks of cables between millions of houses) is not a limited resource (in that, theoretically, anyone can do so--there's not the same limitations imposed by airwave frequencies) and is not owned by the public.

In this sense, cable TV is more like newspapers and magazines. And apart from legal obscenity, the government in this country is powerless to stop, alter, or regulate the content of publications.

The article attributes to Sen. Stevens the belief that "the Supreme Court, which ruled that cable systems must carry local television station signals, would also require cable to hew to broadcast decency standards." But any must-carry ruling is a decision on business practices akin to monopolistic behavior--not content regulation, which the Supreme Court has in the past been loath to allow outside of free, over-the-air broadcasters. If they do not continue this tradition, this country is in worse shape than any of us realize, for any rationale to regulate the content of cable TV is easily extendable to justify increased content restrictions in print media or on the internet.

And very short-sightedly, although not entirely unexpectedly, terrestrial over-the-air broadcasters hail the notion. Clear Channel Executive VP and Chief Legal Officer Andrew Levin has reportedly said, "Congress and the FCC should be troubled that the current law unwittingly creates a safe haven for indecent programming on other media platforms, including satellite radio. Unfortunately these outlets are fast becoming the wild west for sexually explicit programming. The law needs to catch up to technology or our children will be the ultimate victims."

Broadcasters had better think long and carefully about supporting restrictions to free speech in any form. Supporting an ever-shifting rationale on speech regulation for short-term business interests will only return home to roost when the rationale changes yet again and further and even more draconian restrictions come down the pike.

Don't like cable? Don't get it.

Note: the first link in this entry is to the Washington Post, which requires registration; if you don't want to register, try pasting link into google then clicking through to WaPo from there; that usually works...


Copyrights Keep TV Shows off DVD:
WKRP in Cincinnati was one of the most popular television shows of the late '70s and early '80s, but it is unlikely ever to be released on DVD because of high music-licensing costs.

The show, which centered on a fledging radio station with a nerdy news director and wild disc jockeys, had a lively soundtrack, playing tunes from rock 'n' rollers like Ted Nugent, Foreigner, Elton John and the Eagles.

For many TV shows, costs to license the original music for DVD are prohibitively high, so rights owners replace the music with cheaper tunes, much to the irritation of avid fans. And some shows, like WKRP, which is full of music, will probably never make it to DVD because of high licensing costs.

"The indication from the studios is that we may never see (WKRP in Cincinnati) because of all the music that would have to be licensed," said David Lambert, news director of TVShowsOnDVD.com, a clearinghouse of information on TV shows released on DVD. "As the DJ spins the record as he's talking to Loni Anderson, if there is music playing even for a couple of seconds, then the people producing the DVDs would have to license it."
That's quite a bummer. The syndicated version of the show was, alas, a bastardized one:
The reason WKRP was shot on videotape (unlike the other MTM sitcoms like Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore, which were on film) was that it was the only way they could afford to use a lot of real rock songs on the show. At the time, ASCAP had a different licensing arrangement for taped shows than for filmed shows; licensing the music for WKRP cost something like half of what it would have cost had it been filmed.

Well, the music licenses expired by the time the show was being prepared for re-distribution in the mid-'90s, and by then ASCAP no longer had a "discount" for videotaped shows. Also by then, the cost of licensing songs had skyrocketed across the board. So it would have been prohibitively expensive for the distributor to re-license all the songs used on the show. They certainly could have done a better job of replacing the songs they couldn't pay for, but it was inevitable that some of the songs would be gone due to rising costs, and that's all there is to it.
The site quoted above also has a rough list of music substitutions in syndication (most of that list is also copied here).

What's even worse than the music substitutions is that when music playing underneath dialogue was changed, the dialogue was dubbed in by "impersonators" of the actors. Horrid.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Whatever Happened to... "Newt" from Aliens? 

So what did Carrie Henn, the 9 year-old who screeched her way through the 1986 movie Aliens, go on to do as an actress?

Absolutely nothing.

Not a single further film, no TV show, nothing. Not even an appearance in a Tarantino, Lynch, or John Waters project, which is fairly surprising.

And it was, apparently, entirely by choice (although she suggests that she would have made another Alien film had she been asked--instead, director David Fincher, rather lamely, killed off the Newt character immediately in the third film). "Acting just wasn't me," Henn told Entertainment Weekly in 1998.

Instead, she worked toward degrees in liberal studies and child development, and is now a teacher.

She attended the premiere of Alien3 as Sigourney Weaver's guest, and the two have tried to keep in touch via letters, but that's apparently the extent of Henn's show business connection since.

Info source: this rather creepy and stalkerish fan site, which includes mapquest directions to Henn's school. Yeesh. Got restraining order, Carrie?

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