Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Years Resolution



I will post one awesome youtube video per day every day for the month of January, along with other select content. Check back every day for something cool starting....


Now.



This is a video of the inmates from a prison in the Philippines acting out Thriller. Yeah, hardened criminals just dancing their asses off. I feel somehow like all of them could be released now and they'd never do wrong again.

I've got this idea about a cool search engine that would work for content sites with "star rating" features. Youtube, for instance. Everyone knows that all "star rating" systems are shitty because there's always some a-hole's friends video that has 5 stars on Youtube only because 50 people have watched it. I want a way to set an exact star rating and minimum view-count and search with or without keywords.

You following me? You are so not following me. Think about it: how much would you love to search youtube videos that have had over 1 million views and still have a 5 star rating. Maybe there's still one- wouldn't you want to see that? Or search for "Monkey" and filter by 200k views and a 4 star rating. Someone will invent this simple technology and I'm not going to ask for something unrealistic like mailing me a million bucks or pulling up next to me in a Lamborghini and throwing me the keys. Just give me a great job in the company is all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

WILL SMITH LOVES HITLER!

You've really got to see this Yahoo news headline about Will Smith "shocking the world." Will Smith makes the reasonable claim that "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'" Will's claim only being backed up with the thought and prestige of Socrates. So Yahoo quotes that lower in the body and puts the headline as "Smith: 'Hitler was a good person'"!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas



We'll try to get our songs of the year up when the year is actually over! Not like thos eager beavers at... say... Pitchfork.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nice Wand


This story is making the rounds through the entire corporate community. Maybe his "family emergency" in New York was an emergency drunken fairy family reunion.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Finding Downloadable content in a post-oink World


Centralized hub sites like waffles.fm and what.cd are taking off but securing an invite is pretty tough. In the meantime I highly recommend utilizing the site shareminer in order to find and obtain albums (I advise that you only download albums that you've paid for and want digital copies of.) Shareminer basically uses all of these google tools that some of us have been utilizing to find online content. The bottom line is that there are these file hosting sites like Rapidshare that allow free uploads and downloads of fairly large files. Blogs whose contributors have uploaded albums to these sites are indexed via google and some have realized that searching them is a plausible way to obtain digital versions of albums.

To demonstrate I'd like to provide you with a somewhat new Noam Chomsky interview from the NPR "on point" series. It's brief but he manages to cover Sept. 11th, Hugo Chavez, Iran, The Democratic Party, Bill Clinton and more. It's hilarious to listen to that poor interviewer try to ask the same tired questions (How did you feel about Fox news' attack on Bill Clinton?) and wind up with typically unaffected Chomsky answers. One reason I imagine he's so rarely interviewed on major outlets is that he's developed this amazing ability to take a lame innocuous restrictive question and start talking about substantive things. Do a shareminer blog search for chomsky npr on point and this site should be pulled up (I can't check it because I haven't posted yet.)

Secondly, here's a way you could digitally backup your copy of Radiohead's new In Rainbows B-side collections (which you bought, right?) If that link doesn't work go to shareminer and search ' radiohead rainbows.' (not in quotes.)

Speaking of b-sides, here are the B-side videos (videos that didn't quite make the cut) from my forthcoming youtube post:

A cute young girl who's learned to say "whatever" with tons of attitude:



Some Jersey guys who are ready to party SO HARD (stay for the final quote: "I can't wait to watch this on youtube")



Joe Pesci rapping:



A cool dove commercial chronicling the images that young girls are exposed to:



A classic Stiller appearance on Extras (thanks zee.) Skip the first minute until the Stiller speaks and then you can stop watching if you like. It rules:



A stop motion beatbox video that's pretty alright:


Finally, Erin pointed me to an article by an utter moron which makes the case that Poor people have more babies because of social welfare programs. His solution? Cut social welfare programs of course! What makes it so funny is that even though the guy is making the case that "If there were no social welfare, richer families would logically be larger families, since they could support more children." He says in the very next sentence, "In fact all through recorded human history and continuing to the present day poorer families tend to be larger."

I don't throw around things like "Biggest idiot" too often but this has to set some sort of record. He is, by logical extension, claiming that "through all of recorded human history, social welfare programs have existed." (Otherwise he would by undermining his own point by positing a deeper underlying factor that would cause poorer families to have more kids.) This is silly enough, but given the way he defines the problem he should understand that he's basically advocating child-reduction via starvation. See ya next time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The continuing saga of Business Sayings


"You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar"


yes you do and who the fuck wants flies?

"Touch bases with you"


I hear this ALL THE TIME and it sounds dirty. Obviously the correct form is just "touch base."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Radiohead offers a rejoinder...


... in the debate over whether 2007 is the greatest or the worst year for music. And please, let's not have any fuddy-duddies*** out there suggesting that it could be somewhere in between best or worst. I mean, after all if you've watched enough of the smartest man in the world you'd know that head size=intelligence because caterpillars have smaller heads than cats, that if we make him our dictator he will solve our problems, that he has "an above-average vocabulary" and that he is "closer to absolute truth than any man has been before [him]." You'd also learn about binary logic: "1 or zero, yes or no- Binary Logic is something you depend on." Watch the video (linked above) because he says it like a spokesperson for some local business council ("our firefighters are people you depend on.") even though he's basically ripping-off Apocalypse Now (read the 9th one down.)

Based on 4 listens, this might be my fave song of the year and it's not even on their album. Rather it's from the collection of B-sides Radiohead offered with their discbox set. Without further ado, Radiohead- 4 minute Warning.




*** Yeah, i said it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

3G iPhone in 2008


The Wall Street Journal reported today that Apple will release a 3G capable iPhone sometime next year. The story did not specify a release date or even hint at what quarter the phone may come out.

This announcement by AT&T Chief executive Randall Stephenson probably didn't surprise anybody. It has been rumored since the announcement of the original 2G iPhone that a 3G iPhone would come along within a year. While obviously the 3G iPhone would address a major shortcoming of the iPhone, the quality of AT&T's 3G network may continue to overshadow the technology of the iPhone itself.




Google recently released their beta version of "My Location" which allows google maps to map your location without using GPS. This seems like a likely fix for iPhone users as the iPhone lacks GPS capability. What I am curious to see is whether Apple will consider this space and battery saving alternative in lieu of adding GPS to their 2nd Generation iPhone. I'm hoping they add GPS as it does not rely on cell reception to work effectively.

I still love my iPhone as much as I did when I reported on it back in June. It truly is a revolutionary product and I can't wait to see what Apple has in store for the iPhone next year. A gchat widget would be most excellent!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Best of Craigslist



Did everyone know that there was a Best of Craigslist site? I sure didn't.

Some good, interesting stuff on there including cancer rants, sorry you caught me making out with a dude on our date posts, ass-kicking machines and more.


Here's the text of my two favorite posts (neither of which I actually found- thanks sama and fox) right of the bat:

Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To this end, I hold M&M duels.

Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That is the "loser," and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.

I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theater of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.

Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.

When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3×5 card reading, "Please use this M&M for breeding purposes."

This week they wrote back to thank me, and sent me a coupon for a free 1/2 pound bag of plain M&Ms. I consider this "grant money." I have set aside the weekend for a grand tournament. From a field of hundreds, we will discover the True Champion.

There can be only one.
Now the other one:

You: the guy who answers the phone at cottage inn pizza
Me: Hungry and stoned out of my gourd

I called you from my cell phone but had completely forgot who I was calling by the time you answered the phone. Of course, you were also baked to bajeezus and forgot to tell me that I had called Cottage Inn.

When you answered and said, “Whatsup?” I thought about it, and after a 20 second pause I told you that was hungry. You suggested I try a pizza, and I agreed that it was probably a good idea.

Then I asked you if you sold pizza and you said that you could make me one. I said I wanted anchovies and something else on my pizza. You asked me what that something else was.

We spent five minutes listing toppings until we figured out that I was trying to remember how to say: “Sun dried Tomatoes.” When you said: “We'll bake that right up for you,” we both started laughing uncontrollably.

It was the best pizza I ever had; I just wanted to thank you for helping me out.

Similar to the best of craigslist, there's a wikipedia page on unusual wikipedia articles that is well worth your time.

Errata:
A few amazing music maps, including a list of top artists sorted by state and country worldwide. and a map of the US that has songs playing right now on radio stations popping up like fireworks. That last one is truly, truly awesome.

An absolutely surreal picture of Bush visiting a burned group of veterans and trying to smile while he offers one of them what's honestly about the coolest t-shirt I've ever seen. It's here, but be advised- it's pretty brutal

Here's a collection of amazing drinking stories (only 5, and they're historically awesome) and the first one SECOND one, if you read through it, is clearly the greatest drinking story ever.

This yahoo uk collection of old people's sayings made me smile. (It's not G-rated BS either.)

That bear photo is from an awesome story that doesn't end as badly as you might think.

In other news, I'm preparing for a full-on youtube post soon with some great stuff so keep a lookout.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Seinfeld



When I meet new people who are cool, there's a conversation that inevitably happens. I see it coming a mile away, but there's really nothing I can do. Cool people like the Seinfeld show, and in conversation cool people will often reference the Seinfeld show and simply assume that you, as a potential cool person, like said show. What I have to uncomfortably explain, then, is that I in fact never really got into Seinfeld and- though I love Curb your Enthusiasm- going back and watching, I don't seem to really enjoy the show very much.

What I've figured out though is that I have a very Seinfeld-esque reason for not liking Seinfeld, and for some reason that feels appropriate. Basically, I hate the god-damn slap-bass that plays in between every. single. effing. scene. It drives me insane, it doesn't sound like a real slap bass (and I'm quite sure that it's a synth-bass sound,) and they switch scenes so frequently that I guarantee I hear that sound more often than any Seinfeld joke. Isn't that a reason that Jerry himself could appreciate?

It got me thinking about other things like this. I sometimes find myself giving a speech when people ask me "Don't you just LOVE ______ (the Pixies)?" Something like "While I have listened do them and personally don't like them, let me take this time to acknowledge that I realize they are a. by all accounts a fantastic band and b. a band that all of the people I like in fact like. Me "not liking" the Pixies does not pass any judgment on the Pixies."

Here is a short "off the top of my head" list of books/movies/music/TV that I recognize as being almost certainly good/great, while I personally do not appreciate the qualities that make them so:
Television (the band, though this could apply more generally)
The Smiths
Tapes n' Tapes
Animal Collective
The Magnetic Fields
GBV
Sonic Youth
Scrubs
The Simpsons
Leo Tolstoy


Books movies music that I DON'T feel this way about (i.e. I secretly think they are actually not good/great, though they are largely perceived as such):
Babel
Sideways (big ups to Leah for helping me come out)
Pynchon
Art Brut
The Fiery Furnaces
Godspeed you Black Emperor
South Park
Blade Runner

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Has anybody seen my Tambourine?


This hard-to-see image is supposedly the new Cosby book called "come on people." Does anyone find this, along the graphic, amusing? I know Lindsay does.


Can a song be imprinted on someone's brain? I've been wondering about this in some form ever since my Dad idly speculated that it may the case for me with the Fleetwood Mac song "Sara." When I was a baby, the only surefire way to get me to fall asleep was hold me and dance gently to the song Sara***. The song still has immeasurable emotional resonance to me when I hear it, so enter that evidence in as Exhibit A.

More relevant to Halloween, however, is the song "Anything can happen on Halloween." It's from a made-for-TV movie called "The Worst Witch" that I must've seen once when I was very young (I seem to remember, in fact, that I being babysat at the time.) The movie is horrible in all the right ways, and has since become sort of a cult-classic along the lines of Plan 9 from Outer Space, but it's the Tim Curry performance that makes it truly legendary^^^^. It doesn't appear on this very worthwhile wikipedia "Worst Films of all-time" list but it probably just wasn't seen by enough people. After watching this movie once when very young I have, for the last 20 years, remembered the song "Anything can happen on Halloween" and had it stuck in my head several times each year.

I never knew what it was, or where it came from (other than faint memories of watching some Halloween movie and seeing the song in it) who sang it, etc. I only remembered the titular line, "Your hair could turn green" and "your sister could turn into a bat." I'm not sure why, but I never thought to google any of those phrases, and when I finally did (about 10 days ago) I was rewarded with a nostalgic treat. I ordered "the worst witch" from Amazon that day and while I wish I could say that "Anything can happen..." takes me back to some magical time in my life (it doesn't) it is actually a fantastic piece of work. It's very campy and poorly done, but at the time it's catchy as hell. Its bizarre non-sequitur lyrics (including the title of this post and couplets like "April first can be fun, new years eve is a bore") and Curry's awesome "scary" faces make for an excellent piece of comedy, well-deserving of it's mild youtube stardom. Here it is:



I've got a whole shitload of topics I want to cover including file-sharing, "bias" as a concept, and why I'm not a vegetarian but this stuff really takes time (John, AKA "Johnny Neverposts" will tell you.) For preparation though, make sure you've purchased the Radiohead album or else you're soon to feel guilty. Also, I just read an article that suggests that "The Week" is owned by "The National Review"- this would make sense given how often they (The Week) cite that damn magazine but it made me want to talk about Bias. Mainly because I'm the only one I know who actually isn't a fan of the Week. However, I keep peeing in people's cokes (see my post on "The Wire" which made Lost fans unhappy, etc.) so I thought I'd hold off.


****And Sara, it should be noted, uses the "Fleetwood mac" beat of "Bass snare, buh-bass snare" that you can hear in most of their best songs. Dreams is probably the most obvious example, but there's also Gypsy , Hold Me, and of course Sara. Rhiannon is a special case, because the percussion is a bit more complicated but the bass is still there, doing its thing.

^^^^ My Sis, the GF and I have been on a pretty serious Tim Curry kick lately, even watching Rocky Horror Picture Show (which shocked the hell out of me, btw- one minute they're singing "Damn it Janet" and then suddenly Tim Curry is blowing Brad on camera after having nailed his fiancee.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Counterpoint: 2007 is the worst year in the history of Music


Much beloved site OiNK was shut down recently. I can't put it better than this Stereogum commenter:

Yes, it provided a way to get free versions of widely available popular albums, but it also archived and cataloged the last 50 years of music better than any other place on Earth. Many of which are not readily available for purchase anywhere. It was an excellent record of one field of human achievement and now its gone ... How about the Clash's "Vanilla Tapes" that were lost on a subway train 30 years ago? On Oink, but not in stores.

It was the digital music version of the burning of the Library at Alexandria.

They destroyed the greatest historical archive of rock so they could make a couple more bucks off Rhianna's "Umbrella".


10/23/07- Never Forget

More soon...

Monday, October 1, 2007

2007 is the greatest year for music in history


Right up there with "The reptilian jaw splits creating a rudimentary ear (which then evolves and is naturally selected for to create the ear we know today)" we now have "The year 2007" in the greatest moments in music. The reason for the histrionics, of course, is the new Radiohead announcement today. Radiohead have been semi-secretly working on their album "due out sometime in 2008" and they suddenly announced today that it'll come out in 10 days!!! Yeah, like 10 days from now. You've probably seen this but just take this time to be appreciative. Also, you pay however much you want for it from their website (you could buy it for a dollar or 50 dollars if you want.) It's a double album, too and the songs are amazing including my long-time favorite "nude" (formerly called "(Don't get any) big ideas (they're not gonna happen)" which I've had on a bootleg since 99.)

Think about all the incredible music that's been released in 2007, and feel sory for the critic who is aleady dreading his "10 Best Albums" list at the end of the year.

In approximate order of my liking:
Arcade Fire- Neon Bible
M.I.A.- Kala
The Editors- An End has a Start
Elliott Smith- New Moon
Wilco- Sky Blue Sky*
Andrew Bird- Armchair Apocypha
Spoon- ga ga ga ga ga
The National- The Boxer
Feist- The Reminder
Stars- In our bedroom after the war
The Hives- it hasn't been released yet, but I'm pretty sure about the placement
The Go! Team- Proof of Youth
Rilo Kiley- under the blacklight
The Shins- Wincing the Night Away
The White Stripes- Icky Thump
LCD Soundsystem- Sound of Silver
Voxtrot- Voxtrot
Mark Ronson- Version
Interpol- Our love to admire
Kings of Leon- Because of the Times
Okkervil River- The Stage Names
Modest Mouse- We were Dead before the ship even sank
Bloc Party- Weekend in the city


*It physically pains me to put Wilco this low on the list, that album is incredible.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Whither Europe?



A Manifesto commenter made me start thinking about something- why is there a Europe? First though, I'd like to link a VERY eye-opening article I just read about weight-loss (that transition almost sounded like a newsbroadcast.) I don't care about weight-loss, so me finding this article interesting says a lot about the article. This article makes an overwhelmingly persuasive case that exercise has no effect on weight loss on the aggregate. It's pretty shocking, but it really seems like they may be right. Read it here.


Okay, so why is there a Europe? Let me preface this first by saying that John and I have traveled somewhat extensively and have plenty of European friends. I mean, we're totally comfortable with it- you can go shopping with them, go to the clubs, whatevah. Your coworkers, your brothers, your mom and dad might be Europeans and just haven't been open about it yet.

Okay that was a tangent and a half for a basically kinda lame joke... Sorry. So why is europe a continent? Let's answer it the simple and obvious way first, which is to say: "they made the maps."

Okay so that's why Europe IS a continent, but why should it be a continent? I urge you to review the map again. Europe is obviously, uncontroversially, just the western part of the Asian continent. The definition of "Continent" is notoriously vague but it's "understood to be large, continuous, discrete masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of water." Which is to say, Europe doesn't count. Have a look at this picture from space and see if you can find a single reason why Europe should be its own continent:



North and South America are technically connected by a thin strip of land (the Darien Gap, a dangerous place me and M. Zee actually braved and loved) and if someone wants to make the case they should be the same, that's fine. Personally I see a pretty simple intuitive difference of land when viewing the landmass so i vote different. But Europe? No way. One rather gets the impression that the Europeans simply wanted to distinguish themselves from those "unwashed hordes" who looked and spoke differently- hence the separation.

I could keep ranting about this for much, much longer but I've decided to cut it short since it was basically just inspired by one commenter. There have been a lot of aaaathatsfiveas regulars (like MC) basically owning off-the-cuff commenters lately on geography-related issues- it's so hot right now.

Linkage:
This is one of the best wiki pages I've ever seen, providing a chronology of inventions that's far more riveting and fascinating that you would think.

Posts I live to write, Part One



I'm going to go ahead and take this opportunity to talk a bit about HBO's the Wire, the best thing I've ever seen on any screen anywhere any time (movies, television, anything.) When one is in a situation of liking something fairly obscure so damn much, the ways to proceed become difficult. I'm not sure I could overhype the Wire if I tried, but I know that of everyone who's watched the wire on my account, only one hasn't unabashedly loved it and I probably gave him the mistaken impression that the Wire will instantly hook you. (Also, he's a noted contrarian who only seems to appreciate dramas that are whimsical and/or nostalgic.) Watch it with subtitles on at first and commit yourself to the entire first season, as crazy as that sounds.

What I'm about to say is going to sound extreme and over-the-top to most of you and maybe it is. But bracket your scepticism for a moment and consider this: In 1878 a Railroad tycoon hired photographer Eadweard Muybridge to settle a bet on whether a galloping horse ever had all four of its feet off the ground and Muybridge's solution (the zoopraxiscope) sparked the creation of the motion picture. 62 years later Orson Welles was filming Citizen Kane, the movie that finally realized the deep potential of the technology. I'm not some Citizen Kane worshiper by any stretch, but I'm sure it must've felt like a revelation that after decades of light, funny, consciously-"populist" fluff^^^ someone was finally demonstrating new artistic and narrative depths w/r/t cinema. The same year Citizen Kane was released, New York licensed the country's first commercial broadcasting station for television the story of which hardly needs telling, but could also be largely summarized as "consciously-populist fluff." However, on June 2, 2002- 62 years after Citizen Kane was filmed- The Wire was broadcast on HBO to little fanfare.

I'm not comparing the two accomplishments themselves, but I would submit to you that The Wire realizes the potential of television as a political, sociological and artistic medium in much the same way the Citizen Kane did for film. These aren't the kind of things you're supposed to say unless you're speaking about things that are 30 years old but I think it's true. You spend 50+ hours watching this group of people in the Wire (a phenomenon unique to TV), and if anything is the difference that makes the Wire so great, it's that the writer's really "get" that. No character is so "heroic" that they don't have deep flaws. And I don't mean "Ross is a bit arrogant/ Phoebe's kinda spacey" flaws- we're talking excessive use of force, cheating, theft, murder, etc. I feel the deepest sympathy when the "villains" die, but it's not because the show tells me how to feel (you won't hear a single strain of tear-jerking strings trying to cajole you) but because they were so real (so real in fact, that describing anyone but Marlo as a villain feels wrong. Screw Marlo though, seriously.) Alright, enough of that let me make fun of Lost a little bit.

I debated about writing this part, because most of the people I dearly love also love Lost. Some of them got into Lost based on my strong recommendation and I feel really guilty for being all "hey check out this cool thing, oh you like it? Okay now it sucks" about it. However, I'm just not the same television viewer that I was back then. I was hooked on Lost for awhile and I remember being impressed with how intelligent it was ("oooh they name characters after philosophers how totally fucking deep!") for a TV show. It's embarrassing to have to even type that out now because Lost is not an intelligent show and it's not even a very original show (Twin Peaks meets Gilligan's island!) It's simply figured out that by promising a resolution that it can never provide it can maintain some viewership faithful for the payoff (which- trust me- will be deeply unsatisfying at best.) Further, by shifting the new focal points of each different season like a debtor transferring credit card balances they can make you forget that, when all's said and done, they owe you a shitload of money and they aren't paying it down. That's not really it though; there's something more.



Lost, along with every other piece of non-HBO drama I've seen since getting hooked on the Wire feels deeply, deeply manipulative. Leah and I were excited to get back to watching Lost after a Wire-driven hiatus (and the overwhelming-sounding fact that 4 complete seasons of the Wire are already out there will soon feel like a god-damn Christmas present, btw) and our reaction was so immediate that it was unmistakable what had happened. The camera had panned-in on Jack's face while he said some calculatedly dramatic thing as booming over-the-top strings repeated an ominous low G to make you feel the exact sense of foreboding and dread before the cut to commercial. It felt so hammy and self-satirical that Leah and I both wanted to laugh and yet we looked around the room at our rapt friends, reflexively watching a jeep commercial (not a coincidence, obvs) with mouths agape, and marveled at how big the gap had become; we were not the same TV-watchers who had raved about lost 3 months before.

At this point I could play it off self-deprecatingly and wax nostalgic about my new inability to appreciate some former entertainment, but the truth is it felt good and refreshing to recognize the naked manipulation of Lost. We've since tried three+ times to watch season 3 and we haven't even come close; it feels like someone explaining why a joke's funny (and if this piece does too, then I'm sorry but I'm only trying to tell my story.)

Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons has a great article about the Wire (and he mentions it frequently) that's worth quoting at length:

We ended up banging out three episodes the first night and another three the second night. Then our cable system switched to a new provider ... and all the Season 1 episodes disappeared into thin air. Now we were scrambling. None of the video stores around us had Season 1 in stock. I ended up ordering Season 1 online (two-day delivery courtesy of Amazon Prime), but we were so hooked on the show that when someone returned Season 1 to our video store, we rented the last three discs that same night. We banged out the last seven episodes in two nights before the DVD was even delivered.

That so closely resembles my own experience that it's funny- I remember waking up at 5:00 am to watch 2 episodes before I had to go to work on more than one occasion. He goes on "I'd put Season 1 of "The Wire" against anything." (which I'd amend only to include all of the Wire with season 4 being the best... so far) and " Anyway, I can't believe I didn't watch this show sooner. It enrages me." which I complete relate to.

The Wire Season 4 is a true masterpiece, in which they follow the rise of a new drug lord along with 4 urban youths being tempted to drop out and fully commit to that world. Metacritic (basically the same as Rottentomatoes, good for non-movie things like shows books, etc.) has The Wire season 4 listed at 98/100 based on all of the collected reviews- the highest rated TV show there is, period. Reviews like " This is TV as great modern literature, a shattering and heartbreaking urban epic" don't seem at all over the top, nor do the surprisingly frequent comparisons to Dickens. Slate says ""no other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city with the scope, observational precision, and moral vision of great literature."

Part of what makes the show so great is that it's written by an ex-cop-turned-teacher and an ex-journalist for the Baltimore Sun. Their Baltimore is a strikingly realistic one as a result, and versatile enough to make any point it needs to make without being overt. The Wire is highly political, but they aren't lazy about it by making one character verbosely political and speaking for the writers (in fact, the most articulate political points that are spoken- Carcetti S3E12- support the very opposite view of the creators.)

Interviews with the creator David Simon (the ex-journalist) have become one of my new favorite things to look for on the web. Like other true geniuses (Noam Chomsky and DFW among them) every interview feels brilliant and free flowing as if you could ask any question and the answer would be just as strikingly insightful. The connections to Chomsky don't stop there- Simon constantly describes the show as being about the powerlessness of the individual in the face of the gigantic institutions. Chomsky describes much of what he does as "Institutional Analysis", deemphasizing the role of individuals in the face of pressures monetary, political, social, and so on. When Season 5 (the final Season of The Wire and "The one about the media") gets started in January, I won't be surprised at all if it plays like Manufacturing Consent. Incidentally, I have it on good Authority that Chomsky is a Law and Order fan (no kidding) from way back and "never misses an episode." Based simply on that I know that The Wire is therefore his favorite show in history and that he now hates that he ever even watched Law and Order once.

I'll close with some more Bill Simmons (remember he's "the sports guy") who breaks character to end a column with a rumination on Season 4. After saying that "I agree with others who argue that it's the most important television show of all-time", he ends his piece with these words which are again worth quoting at length:

"Two weeks ago in this space, I explained how I'm one of those people who doesn't like when other people tell me, "YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS SHOW!" If anything, that makes me not want to watch it. I like to stumble across these things organically.

Now I'm wondering if I avoided "The Wire" because its central themes -- drugs, corruption, urban decay -- were realities that I simply wanted to ignore. Instead of being haunted by a show like this, it was easier and safer to skip it entirely. Most people feel this way, I'm guessing; it's the only conceivable reason why five times as many people would watch "The Sopranos" over a show that's better in every way****. See, when most Americans dabble in inner-city TV shows or movies for our "taste" of street life, we're hoping for the Hollywood version. We don't want despair and decay, we want hope and triumph. We don't want the zero sum game of drug dealers killing each other, we want the Rock coaching juvie kids and turning their lives around in two hours. We want them to win the big football game, we want the movie to end, and we don't want to think about these people ever again.

That's the real reason why "Gridiron Gang" became the No. 1 movie last weekend, and that's the real reason why "The Wire" was barely renewed for a fifth season."

Why did I wait so long to watch the Wire? My Dad has been into it forever and telling me I needed to watch it, and I'd read the otherworldly praise it's received since the beginning, but it still took me forever. Maybe because it seemed like a project and projects are easy to put off. Maybe (and let's be honest here) because it wasn't marketed to me, advertised to me, or reported about to me (no glossy magazines targeting my demographic were running cover stories, though inevitably some smart hip guy on the staff loved it and threw in blurbs wherever he could, seriously.)

I've had this post ready for a long time, and I've hesitated to post it because I couldn't think of a way to end it. In my head I thought I wanted to talk about the difference between your unique self versus your "Middle class American age 24-36" demographic market self- the self who discovers and treasures a song or an album from unlikely sources versus the self who goes out and purchases the Garden State or The OC soundtracks and moves on. That made the Wire sound like it had obscurantist tendencies, which it doesn't. There's nothing all that difficult about the show (while it extremely, immeasurably intelligent it doesn't even have to be watched on that level to be appreciated) apart from learning the characters at first. That's why I decided to quote the sports guy at length; it's an important show- a show on which drugs have been realistically legalized for a spell, the decline of working man has been rendered literally and metaphorically- but it's also a viscerally exciting; edge of your seat entertainment.



Let me instead end with a horrible marketing tagline, which may be all you need at this point to start watching it: Maggie Gyllenhaal says:

"Make a The Wire transfer and watch your "interest" compound hourly!!!"


^^^ Of course this is an oversimplification; this is just a rhetorical device. Congratulations on having seen La R├Ęgle du jeu.
****If you've read Simmons in the past, you'll know that he absolutely loves Sopranos and wrote about it frequently, which makes this line even more heartfelt.

Don't watch this video below under any circumstances unless you've seen the Wire multiple times. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which being that you could be two minutes closer to the video store by the time you were finished. Obviously the video store trip's aim would be acquiring the first 4 discs of the Wire season 1.




Monday, August 27, 2007

ROTFL

I may be the last person to see this as apparently it's been getting some heavy media coverage.. but just in case I wanted to make sure you all get in on the action.



Friday, August 17, 2007

We're not dead: megapost



Guys, thanks for being patient. I started a new job as an executive recruiter and have spent a lot of time going in early and staying late trying to learn the business. Those who know me probably know that I can't stand not to have a reasonable depth of knowledge for things and accordingly I always work my ass off for months trying to learn everything there is to know about a job. So, I think I'll need to spend some weekend nights blogging, because I have a whole page or two of blog topics (including "fallacies", "circumcision", "sam harris pt. 3", "Chomsky", "Liberalism vs. Anarchism vs. Patton vs. Achohol", "federer", and "On nakedness, sex, vaginas and other keywords that make a blog post immediately fascinating even though everyone might like to pretend otherwise")

Without further ado, let's pretend you forgot about this blog for the last month and are catching up on everything you've missed:

The creepiest Myspace page of all time, hands down, noone else even comes close. Kajina Ray This is a page dedicated to a miscarried baby discussing heaven and "loving their mommy and daddy." Yes it's true that despite lines that should be sad like "I'm dancing and playing with the angels in heaven" it winds up 100% grade a fucking creepy. And that's because there are fucking pictures of the miscarried fetus dressed up in baby clothes in the "pics" section. You have been warned but holy shit.




From a list of things that high-level executives, salesmen and bosses around the world say that are (the things they say) philosophically unsound, compiled by me:

"Perception is reality." This is extremely common and is just absolute drivel. I first year philosophy student should be able to decimate this canard, so why do supposedly intelligent people use it? I think it's appealingly geared toward business-style nihilism with a marketing bent, or something. You know "if we can make you think it then it's true." But it's just nonsense- put a pencil into the water and have a look:



Is it actually bent simply because you perceive it as bent? Okay, then please shut the fuck up.

From a list of things that high-level executives, salesmen and bosses around the world say that are (the things they say) philosophically sound, compiled by me:

"It is what it is." This is a highly defensible statement, known as a tautology or truism. David Hume called these "Analytic A Priori Truths" which is to say things that could never not be true, and don't need to be verified by experiment, experience, etc. I actually like using this, as a sort of less pretentious "c'est la vie" that says "well what are can you do? (nothing.)"

Words/phrases that don't mean what you think they mean, including one I just used incorrectly above (only so I could educate you.)
1. Decimate: means to kill or remove every tenth thing. Does not mean to "utterly destroy" as is commonly thought and said.
2. Penultimate: means "second to last" not just a fancier word for "ultimate."
3. Irregardless: No, this is not a fucking word. DO NOT use it. If other people do, feel free to laugh derisively.
4. "As best as you can." It chills my bones when people say that, though it's somewhat rare. Obviously the correct form is "as best you can."
5. "I could care less" This is an almost meaningless thing to say: "I care about this thing to some degree." (rough translation. PS I'm guilty of this one at times, gulp.)



A homemade youtube video for Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Stronger" that is amazing. Leah who does not like Daft Punk loved this, and based on that I would simply recommend that everyone watch this. The fact that it's almost retardedly uneventful for the first minute makes the top-notch last 3 minutes THAT MUCH awesomer. (sorry for the dumb/offensive slang in this post.)


Zach Galifianakis being Zach Galiafinakis on Kanye's West's new video for "Can't tell me nuthin'" This is an official video (you can find a high quality version on Kanye's site) which makes me impressed with Mr. West:


You'll almost be disappointed with yourself for finding this video so goddamn funny, but for some reason it is. "Yeah har har har yellow ledbetter is hard to understand, har har", and yet it's got a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it both appealing and funny. This song still rules by the way- proving the theory I'll later develop in a blog post that the mark of a great band at the top it's game is a great B-side. Pearl Jam- Yellow Ledbetter.


If wrestling was still like this I would watch it for sure. This is a fued between the big boss- WAIT! Don't stop reading! This passed the Leah test too and it's incredible how over the top it is! One guy "The Big Boss Man" makes fun of the other guy's dad dying (imitating him whining "my daddy, my daddy!") so the other guy stands in the middle of the wrestling ring and says (I shit you not) "How would you feel if a family heirloom; a watch from your grandfather was taken from you and destroyed?" As he smashes a gold watch over an anvil (apparently taken from a road runner cartoon, the only place in which anvils have ever existed.) But here's the thing: that happens about 20 seconds when they're just getting started. You haven't seen the attempted assassinations, the grave theft, the bullhorn-featuring funeral interruption (with poetry) etc. In fact, they don't even show you the wrestling match in this clip, because who the hell cares?


Wikipedia is making me sad. It's so obvious that this would've happened that I'm shocked I never considered it, but the site is basically over-run with corporate spin control. I love this site, but it's hard to see how they can control this while staying true to the truly inspiring wikipedia mission. To explain: when the GAP wants to paint over their nasty sweatshop history, they can hire people to effectively sabotage the wiki page by continue to delete and remove and move and alter the GAP page, defending the decision on the Talk pages and so on. Given how great a benefit that is to GAP, and how they're only up against a few volunteers who don't have time to argue everything one can see how the truth can be twisted, shaped, and manipulated according to those how have an interest and the money to try and affect things. What happened is, someone has used a directory of IP addresses and cross-checked them against edits in the wikipedia pages and found some scary and serious patterns of malfeasance. This project is just getting started but is already way-beyond disturbing. The wikipedia staff is implicated in some of it too... It's up at Wired (though to wikipedia's credit, it's nice that they are transparent enough for a project like this to be possible.) Nevertheless, Matt=Sad.


Thanks for reading, and please never give up on us. I promise that we have much, much more to say.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hit and Run



Seriously impressive mental resilience on behalf of the troops- it's taken them 4 years plus of horrifying conditions and daily mutual terror to develop the same levels of callousness and disregard for human life that guys like O'Reilly and those in the Bush administration has had all along. "A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi... You know, so what?"

My neighbor has heroically bad taste in music; heroically bad. A few weeks back he held a very loud all night coke party for Widespread Panic (i.e. Phish for republicans) and had a friend over who thought it just hilarious to yell down from the balcony to people passing by that they were "faggots" (this was at 8 a.m. on the saturday after the first "Panic" show- they were pulling an all-nighter and a half.) A few days later I'm at the computer and he's listening to a 12 minute live version of "Runaround" (complete with several extended harmonica jams) from a Blues Traveler bootleg. Bad so far, but not "blog post bad." But what's he listening to right now, as I type this? A live version of Will Smith's "Gettin Jiggy wit it." I could not make that up if I tried. The questions are too numerous to really even scratch the surface: Will Smith has played a live show? Somebody bootlegged it? Somebody owns and listens to said bootleg in two thousand and seven?

Seriously, it's like:

or something.

This is the most bizarre news story you may ever read, and there's no right tone to take when discussing it (though this guy didn't seem to care.) I will say this though- if someone else is around make sure both your hands are on the keyboard.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Onion and Justin Timberlake



I don't link the Onion here because everyone who reads this checks it already (I know our audience has grown substantially as of late, but I'm still pretty confident in that assessment.) Suffice it to say, if you haven't checked it yet- this issue is on of the best I've seen in awhile. Anyway, I'm going to talk about the Onion "AV club" today, which is different. "Why", you ask? Because I used to never check it (and I probably still wouldn't have if I didn't get the issues in print) and it's awesome, and I was reading it today and saw something funny.

The lead singer of Bloc Party, Kele Okereke (whom I like) is commenting on the tracks that randomly come up on his Ipod when it's set to shuffle. For those unfamiliar- this is a monthly feature for the AV club and it's usually less cool than it sounds but I always check it anyway. So a song by Prince comes up and Kele starts talking about how nobody can do what Prince does and he says "certainly not Justin Timberlake" and then laughs. So what comes up on his Ipod next (remember it's on shuffle)? None other than JT himself performing sexyback.



The easy way to spin this is "People are embarrassed to like JT because it's not cool, but we all secretly listen to him non stop." Who knows whether that's true, but if it is it shouldn't be. And I'm not saying this in one of "c'mon bro-dude just like what you like who cares what people think?" bullshit things people do when they want to make a big deal out how independent they are and how little they care about what other people think (catch them listening to the Bravery though and see how they are). Newsflash: people who don't really care also don't care that you know that and so don't make a big deal out of it. No, it's because it's actually cool to like Timberlake; really cool even. Check this link if you don't believe me (the tastemaker website gave him 5/5). So what's going on?

First let's establish a few things. One, Justin Timberlake is not a good-looking dude, naturally. Feel free to scroll up for the corn-rows again, too.



However, Justin Timberlake can be done up to look pretty damn good (just sayin'.)



I just wanted to put those there to make sure people were still reading. But so Justin Timberlake has taken on this strange cultural cachet in which liking him is the ultimate "I don't care what people think" statement. It's so ultimate, in fact, that it's become actually cool to say you like the guy and vice versa. Talk to a hipster (hell talk to the guy above who said "Bro-dude") and just say you don't like JT and it'll go like this:

Me: Yeah, apart from one song I'm not really a fan of Justin Timberlake.

P4KR (eyes lighting up as he realizes it's his big opportunity to show just how much he doesn't care about other people think of him and his taste in music): Dude-bro, it's just good music you know? Good pop music right? I mean sure I know it's not "cool" to like him, but that's not what...

ugh.



Notice: Cliff's notes of this post.
Read this sentence and if you understand it (and good luck), then you've got 81% of this post. I'm saying that JT is Music you don't like but you also know that everyone else thinks that it's actually music you like but that you only say you hate because you think you're supposed to think it's horrible. Which winds up meaning it's music you're supposed to (say you) like.

Now there are guys who genuinely, truly like Timberlake, and I'm totally cool with them. In fact they should be pissed too because their actual appreciation is getting hijacked. If you're one of those people, scroll up and click the hyperlink for "apart from one song" (i.e. denoting the song of his that I really like) because it's the remix of "What goes around" featuring Rick Ross and Pitbull and it's badass. I couldn't find it on a single CD, either!



By the way, I realize I'm probably giving him way too much credit by referring to these songs as "Justin Timberlake's songs" when in reality they're probably "Timbaland's songs that Justin Timberlake contributed one line to so he could squeak out a co-writing credit." I do this by convention only- one reason why Timberlake isn't the next Prince is that Prince was a great songwriter on top of everything else. We can't say that about JT.

So...
At this point there're two different meanings of "I like Justin Timberlake", only one of which refers to the actual aesthetic appreciation of Timberlake's 85% shitty music. The other one -as far as i can tell- refers to this new method of publicly declaring how you aren't affected by hip-culture telling you what you should or shouldn't like (the irony is so obvious it's barely worth mentioning.) It's enough to make your goddamn head spin.

Anyway, as someone who realizes that if there was ever a time in our cultural milieu to like Justin Timberlake without shame it's now: Justin Timberlake sucks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pass it on


Any Blog worth its salt has recurring features; we all know this. In the coming days we'll introduce at least two and it's a safe bet that at least one of them will actually wind up being a recurring feature. This one's called "Pass it on."

Katherine Heigl, 29, used her real vagina for the birthing scenes in Knocked Up, stating "I'm the type of person who does my own stunts. I think this sends a message to people that birthing is not something to be ashamed of." Judd Apatow's film, which debuted at #1, has been criticized for its shocking depiction of a realistic birth. However, Malosi Leonard the stunt coordinator for the film disagrees, saying "Katherine's brave decision to insert a watermelon-sized fake baby head into her vagina and then push it out on camera is a tribute to mothers across the globe." (Quarterly Might, July 2007 Interview)

Hmmm... I didn't hear the press raving when Tom Cruise (who always does his own stunts) used his real vagina for the Gatling gun scene in "The Last Samurai" but I guess that's a typical double standard. Rim shot.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow


Top bad puns for a hair salon I will never start, thought of today (with some serious assistance):
  • Bloods and Clips
  • Perms of En-shear-ment
  • Total E-clips of the Part (online salon)
  • Raising Hairizona
  • Kiddie Shorn (kidz cuts!)
  • The Brother's Trimme Hairy Tales (doubles as gonzo niche porn title)
  • Trim and Crop-her
  • His Curl Friday
  • Bosnia-Hairzegovina
  • 'Fro Momma from the Mane
  • Last Tangle in Hair-is
  • Thou Shalt not Commit Adulthairy
  • The face that launched 1,000 clips
  • Take me down to the Hairadise city where the 'stache is clean and the curls are pretty

I hope they all make you groan. I'll probably think of 5 worse ones tomorrow morning and edit this. Perhaps some suggestions as well...

In other news:

Pentagon confirms it sought to build a "gay bomb" (real.)

Small funny Gif of Conan dancing like a maniac with Andrew WK.

Chomsky to Dennett: suck it. (this isn't hard-core tech reading, but you might want to know something about science history or the philosophy of the mind before jumping in.)

How to get an iPhone for $99 without getting friend referrals or signing up for 2,123 offers.



At the end of this post I will explain to you how you can save $300-$400 on an iPhone. If that's all you care about, start scrolling.

I want an effing iPhone so badly that I have become completely irrational about it. I am emotionally committed to a gadget I have never seen in person. I don't know anybody that has seen it, and chances are it will barely even function where I live. (no AT&T in Montana)

$599 for the 8GB model doesn't even make me flinch. I typically have buyer's remorse after any purchase over $40 (even dinner) and I am ready to shell out $600 for a product that I really don't know anything about at this point. (other than what the almighty Steve Jobs has told us)

Financial analysts seem to think I'm not alone. Equity research analyst Mike McCormack has estimated that nearly 1 million customers will leave their cellular provider in order to get an iPhone with AT&T wireless (the wireless company formerly known as Cingular). Research and investment firm PiperJaffray has predicted iPhone's yearly sales to grow into a 45 million unit per year business by 2009. And in their 13th biannual study of teen shopping behavior and brand preferences, PiperJaffray found that 84 percent of the students surveyed had heard of Apple's iPhone and 25 percent said they would pay $500 for the iPhone.

So what is so great about the iPhone? Who cares. It's an iPhone, it's made by Apple. It has really cool marketing and they are releasing it at 6pm (local time) on a Friday night so you can show up at your favorite watering hole with your semi-charged iPhone.

Seriously though... the lack of GPS or 3G doesn't bother me. The iPhone could run on diesel fuel and I wouldn't hesitate. Whatever Apple decided is fine with me. After all, I have been listening to Steve Jobs since I was a kid. Everything he has told me to buy has made me happy and cool. (and my friends jealous- at least until they bought their own)

Some of you may remember that the other contributor to this blog is not an apple user. Yes, he says he's a "PC guy". Well, except for his iPod he's a PC guy. Earlier this year Apple dropped "computer" from its name. Apple is a consumer electronics company and most "PC guys" and girls I know are "Apple" users in one way or another. (ipod, itunes, or an apple computer)

Matt is probably calling himself a PC guy because he is smart And it turns out the most famous PC Guy is extremely smart. (and not-surprisingly a "mac guy") In fact, the "PC Guy" kinda sorta has ties to the name of our blog. (in a round-about kinda sorta way) He is a contributor to McSweeneys.net.




Anyway, smart guys like Matt are not going to line up on June 29th to buy an iPhone. They don't make emotional commitments to buy things without ever reading a review or trying one out first. However, guys like me... well, we do. And like anything, there is a smart way to do it, and a not so smart way.

I am going to keep you all updated on my iPhone purchase from now until I have used the product for a few months (and reviewed it on this blog). I know you are thinking there is nothing to report right now, as I can't purchase one until June 29th.... however, the process has already begun. There are several obstacles I must overcome to get an iPhone, and I'm going to tell explain to you how I do it.

Obstacle #1: I live in BFE and AT&T does not provide service here



Because Montana does not have AT&T service, I am living in the state that Apple forgot. Montana is CDMA territory and Verizon has a pretty good hold on the cellular business around these parts. Fortunately, there is a company that is changing all of that. Chinook Wireless has been building a GSM network that will allow AT&T customers to roam in Montana. (or Montanan's to buy Chinook Wireless service- without the iPhone)

So if I can get AT&T service using an out-of-state address I can roam in Montana. Unfortunately the AT&T coverage map shows that while they have roaming coverage in Montana, the "EDGE" network (high speed network) does not work in Montana. I can only hope this is not true as I know Chinook's GSM network is an EDGE network, although it may be that AT&T customers don't have access to the EDGE capabilities while roaming.

Obstacle #2 - Out of state phone number

With an out-of-state address listed as my primary use location, I will be stuck with an out-of-state phone number. This wouldn't matter except that my place of employment would probably question my logic. They pay for my cell phone, and I highly doubt they would want to pay for me to have a long distance phone number. (and business cards printed up with a California number)

This is where VOIP comes in. I can port my current local # to Vonage and then set up Vonage to forward all calls to my new California #. I have to sign up for Vonage service (at $25/month) and then forwarding and long distance is free. That way my clients/friends/etc. can call my current local Verizon # and they will actually be calling my future AT&T California #.

Obstacle #3 - No contract/upgrade discount on the iPhone (how to save hundreds of $$$)

$599 with a 2 year service agreement. You know how when you sign up for a 2 year contract you typically get a huge discount on your phone? Yeah, well not with the iPhone. AT&T is selling it at full retail price, so that 2 year contract gets you nothing. Customers who qualify for an upgrade and customers who don't will all pay the same exact price.

So if you are planning on purchasing an iPhone, and you either qualify for an AT&T upgrade or you will be a new AT&T customer, you must take advantage of their discounts. Most of their phones are offered at significant discounts with a 2 year contract, and this can be transferred to the iPhone.

All you do is purchase a phone, like the Blackberry Curve ($99 with a new contract through Amazon) and sell it on Ebay "new in box". You can then apply your $300-$400 profit towards the iPhone. So if you profit $400, and you buy the $499 iPhone... that's an iPhone for the low price of $99!

I ordered my Curve and new AT&T service yesterday and I expect it to arrive on Wednesday. I'll keep you posted on how things go and what my final cost is for my 8GB iPhone.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bad Credit? I know why...



There are many rites of passage for a given generation some common to all (like having a photo taken of you as kid where it looks like you're drinking a beer) and some which are more specific (trekking across the dust bowl so pa can find honest work.) Our generation had a significant one, and one that nobody brings up- even though it explains everything. What is this magic commonality?

I'm talking about ripping off Columbia House and/or BMG. You fill out the little 12 CDs for a dollar card, you send it in, get your 12 CDs and then ignore everything else you ever get from them. Based on an informal survey I recently conducted, 100% of people in the US between 20-30 have done this. 98% have done it more than once and 45% have used a fake name to do it a second or third time. I mean, how could you not? 12 Cds for 1 cent? Add that to the fact that you've got a nice little checklist that's demographically targeted to you (based on the magazine you found it in) and all you have to do is check the box and drop it in the mail. I remember filling out those checklists for fun sometimes- it was like rehearsing your fully paid shopping spree.



Well first let's acknowledge that however BMG and Columbia House thought they were going to make money, they had the stupidest business model outside of rent-a-sex-toy. Let's set aside for a minute the millions that BMG has been losing and focus on what in the hell they could've been thinking. Can you imagine walking into a furniture store and having the guy go "well you can have 12 free pieces of furniture- go ahead and pick them out and you can take them home today. BUT I gotta tell you that we're going keep shipping random furniture items to your house, and it's up to you to send them back. Eventually we're going to ask that you pay for one of the items." It'd be amazing! You pick out all 12 items and you're about to leave but suddenly the guy stops you and says "Woah woah wait a sec. We can't just let you walk out of here- do you think we're stupid? We're going to need you to write your name down on this here piece of paper. No no, don't worry we don't need to check ID. But we're gonna need that name. And WRITTEN."

That's Columbia House/BMG's (they are the same company now actually) entire business model. Of all of the people who got the CDs, didn't send back the CDs they got in the mail every month, and never paid a single dime (i.e. 100% of the 100% of the people I talked to) nothing ever happened to them*. I don't even remember a threatening letter!



Between you, me, and everyone reading this we probably owe Columbia House and BMG $100,000. Don't worry though, I won't tell. Do you feel like you got away with something though? Don't be so sure. I think a good case can be made that our formative experiences with Columbia House/BMG has had a lasting effect on our collective generational psyches, as follows:

  • Our generation has bad credit. What else would you expect from a generation who's first experience in Corporate credit (because that's what it was, if you think about it) was a company that just handed out your favorite stuff, kept sending you other stuff it thought you'd like and never asked for anything in return? Is it any wonder that we think that ignoring credit card bills will just make them go away?
  • Our generation has a music downloading addiction. At a young age we were conditioned to just expect that we could get our favorite CDs for free (or more accurately 1/12th of one cent.) Is it a big mystery that we've created large peer-based networks to ensure we keep getting free music?
  • Our generation has a deep ambivalence toward corporations. On the one hand they seemed to give you free stuff, but on the other hand there was still an aftertaste of opportunistic evil. Why was it so easy to throw the Columbia House letters in the trash? Why was it so easy to sign up with BMG after you'd already ripped off Columbia House? Thinking back, I remember kind of disliking the companies because they seemed to be trying to trick you- why else would they send you a CD you didn't ask for and ask you to pay for it? That's not a good excuse I know, but it's true.
I have a request for the comments. After you picked your 12 CDs you'd always get a few "CDs of the month" and I know you didn't send them back. You kept them in the packaging for 2 months, anxiously feeling guilty that you let the 1 month return deadline pass but eventually going "well screw it, I guess I have no choice." Because you were young enough that every CD seemed at least a little intriguing, you listened to it once, at least partially. What was it/ What were they? I'll go first (in the comments.) If anybody else got the same one as you, I highly recommend using the hi-five emoticon (the only tolerable emoticon, really) as follows:

Commenter Leah: Ropin' the Wind
Commenter Morgen: Ropin the Wind too! o/
Leah: \o

Hey speaking of free stuff. I've got a little reward for your people who check this blog frequently (because this link won't be up forever) and who've continued to check it, despite a little dry spell (it's hard to follow up a post as long-in-the-making and popular as Wet Wipe Manifesto was.) Since you've made it this far, you can download the new Al Gore book "The Assault on Reason" for free here (pt 1) and here (pt 2).

And for those who don't like Al Gore (hey, that's understandable I think) here's a leaked Kanye West track from his forthcoming album graduation that samples Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Stronger" (which makes it awesome.)

Kanye West- Stronger

*And I mean nothing- they have all led blessed, problem free lives thanks to the divine guardianship of the BMG rip-off angel. Okay, no.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

long time coming


Existentially Loathesome

For all of the fellow David Foster Wallace fans in the house, I stumbled upon this little youtube video of the "Tourism rant" from Consider the Lobster. I'm not going to pretend that the video is groundbreaking, but DFW's stuff is so dense that taking any 2 minute segment and REALLY listening to it is always a good idea. If I remember correctly, this bit was actually from a footnote (which is like a Radiohead B-side or something; often better than the "main" stuff.) It will probably be especially meaningful for fellow travelers, who often have to consider this sort of odd-tension. It should be stressed here that Wallace is talking about intra-national tourism, though.