Friday, March 28, 2014

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

It's been quite an exciting evening for earthquakes. According to KNX 1070, there have been several this evening - a fairly serious one centered around La Habra and several fore and aftershocks. Down here in South County we only felt the biggest, the 5.1 at 9:09 this evening.

It's such an odd feeling - the ground attempting to crawl away from underneath you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Pretty Things, Promotional Video 1969

Here's a promotional movie for The Pretty Things, 1966.

I find it astounding how many music videos there are that were made before there were music videos that are only now being seen, after videos themselves are over and done with.

I can't quite figure out what's going on, but that may be because I'm not sufficiently groovy.

As well as their own albums, the Pretty Things recorded for films, under an assumed name. According to Wikipedia,
Electric Banana was a pseudonymous 1967 album of the band. The band recorded this album and two subsequent ones for the De Wolfe Music Library. De Wolfe provided stock music for film soundtracks. The Electric Banana music wound up on various horror and soft-porn films of the late 1960s, such as What's Good for the Goose (1969). When the album was released, the stage name the Electric Banana was used to hide the band's identity. [2]

Due to the magic of the interwebs, the entire album is available on YooToob.

I have a copy of What's Good For the Goose and I have to say you'd be disappointed if you rented it as either soft porn or horror. It's one of those British movies of the time period, of an ilk with the "confessions of a window cleaner" films, which features Norman Wisdom as a little old unhip guy who wows the hippy scene, man, and gets the chick.  I've never known what people see in those trolls-get-great-girls movies (possibly because I'm a chick meself) but they sure are popular - the modern equivalent would be the Manic Pixie Dream Girl selflessly furthering the ambitions of the unlucky man out touch with his emotions.

Goose doesn't just feature the music of the Electric Banana, it actually features performances by the Pretty Things, as the Electric Banana, having one of those rave-ups, or perhaps freak-outs, that were dee rigger in youth films at the time.

And of course, that's available on YouTube too. The drummer with the band in the movie is, of course, the one and only Twink. He does appear to be truly both raving up and freaking out, so Norm got his money's worth (twelve and six, true fact) at the Screaming Apple Discotheque. (First number starts about 22:50, next one (the better track) at 1: 05:20 and one at 1:26:20 or so.)

This movie reminds me that I haven't seen that shade of honey blonde hair since the mid-seventies. I wonder what happened to it?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Always be closing

I have The Passive Voice (subtitle: A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing) in my favorites folder, in case I ever want to read a lawyer's thoughts on authors, self-publishing and traditional publishing, which I rarely do. However, I'd emptied the entire internets by midday today, so I clicked on it, and found that these days, the lawyer's thoughts are mainly cut'n'paste jobs of other people's thoughts - presumably Fair Use snippets, since this is a lawyer after all - with a "read more at the link" clicky underneath the piece.

That's how I found myself accidentally redirected to The Toast, a blog I'd once had in my favorites but eventually realized that even when the internets are otherwise empty, it's still not worth reading The Toast. I mean, there's washing to be folded and pond filters to clean waiting for times like that.

The Toast piece is about authors, self-publishing and traditional publishing, which is how The Passive Voice got a hold of it, I guess. It's full of the usual advice - I've mentioned before that many writers hate other writers and want them to give up and this one isn't any different. The Toast person writes a blog post on starting a small press that begins with the advice "Hate writers, hate books, hate publishing". Ookay. Goes on to say,
Content is promotion. Nothing makes me want to buy a book less than an author on Facebook saying “Have you read my book yet? Here’s your chance!” What does make me want to buy their book, though, is a funny or compelling Twitter feed, an interesting photography Tumblr, a great account. This is how books are sold these days, and it’s a wonderful thing.
Really? Urgh. Do you really pick a writer by his or her ask account? I mean, Herman Melville's would have been all about baleen and spermaceti.  I can imagine Jane Austen having an interesting Twitter feed, but I think she'd probably have ended up as a regular writer on OhNoTheyDidn't and never got around to writing any novels after all. The Bronte Sisters would give up novels to write for Huffpo (or the Mail Online, or Jezebel) and Charles Dodgson would have a magnificent Tumblr filled with pictures of little girls playing in his yard and would eventually get run out of town by a suspicious dad. 

The work - the book - is now not allowed to stand by itself. It's required that the author be interesting in themselves, 24/7. Being "on" all the time seems to be the current thing. A friend of mine is looking for a job, and the advice - farm your LinkedIn contacts assiduously, have an elevator speech, have a 30 second, 3 minute and 30 minute version of your life story rehearsed and ready, perfect a sort of biographical judo to SEO your way past the automated resume-readers that employers all now use, always be closing - is identical. We've all become yuppies, except older. Ouppies.  They always said of social media, that if you couldn't tell what it was selling, the product is you, but they meant that it was selling your data, not that it was actually *selling* *you*. Now, you're selling you yourself.  Your work record itself is not sufficient to show you are capable of working. 

I remember going to some panels at the 2013 Comic Con. One pitched exactly this sort of thing - that you, as a writer, had to establish and maintain a Brand, and feed it tidbits constantly, like a little fire, to keep it burning. "Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Need X amount of followers. Build a brand," reads my notes. Then we went to a panel with real writers on it - Chuck Palahniuk, Cory Doctorow and Patrick Rothfuss, for instance. Cory was definitive that a real writer did not work on his "brand" or spend his time networking. Of course, he does have a famous Twitter feed. And the whole of Boing Boing as a megaphone. 

I've seen all of Stanley Kubrick's films, and I might read his biography if it dropped in front of me, but I certainly haven't sought it out. I've seen all of Ridley Scott's but I don't subscribe to his Twitter feed (or even know if he has one).  I used to subscribe to The Vault, as there was a promise that Jack White would write a blog and chat, and I could watch spontaneous videos from Jack White's bands and get cool offers, but when the last two failed to materialize, I gave up the membership. Mr. White still turns up there to chat now and again, but I found out I don't really care (and I get the impression he doesn't either) - as long as the music's good, I'll buy it. His opinions were just like everybody else's when it came down to it. As for an account, I'm sure he'd teach us a lot about cutting a vinyl record, but life's too short. 


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Crimea river

Putin: Knock knock.
Obama: Who's there?
Putin: Crimea.
Obama: Crimea who?
Putin: Crimea river.
Obama: ____...
Putin puts on sunglasses: (•_•) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■)

Not sure who made this - I've seen it in various places without attribution. Whoever you are, you are very clever and win one (1) internets.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Is this poll a searing indictment of our youth?

A couple of weeks ago, we learned that 23% of Americans polled think the sun goes around the earth.  That seemed quite reasonable to me. I've watched the sun pretty closely over most of my life and with all the setting and the rising it keeps doing, it does seem to be going around the earth, and at a fair speed too. People were probably thinking about that rhythm - what it appears to do once a day. I'm sure if you phrased the question in the format, "Does the sun go around the earth once a year, or does the earth go around the sun once a year?" you'd get a completely different set of answers.

But today we learn from the LA Times that a new poll found:
27% identified "gigabyte" as an insect commonly found in South America. A gigabyte is a measurement unit for the storage capacity of an electronic device.

  • 18% identified "Blu-ray" as a marine animal. It is a disc format typically used to store high-definition videos.
  • 15% said they believed "software" is comfortable clothing. Software is a general term for computer programs.
  • (Amongst other things.)

    This is according to a survey by whom I had not heard of until now, and that may well be the point.

    This seemed less likely to me, so I polled everybody who's awake at the moment in my house (one of the geckos, three hundred fifteen crickets and me) and asked them what they thought. The results of my sci-o-tiffic poll are as follows:
    When asked dumb questions on the internet, 104% of respondents make shit up for the lulz. 
    Also, a majority wanted another carrot as they're feeling a bit thirsty tonight, and a  vocal minority said he fancied a handful of crickets. (Actually he said, "Gecko! Gecko!" but I think that means he wants crickets.)

    A gigabyte, yesterday*

    *(I didn't make this up.)

    Sunday, March 02, 2014

    Led Zeppelin outtakes on auction block

    Unreleased Led Zeppelin tapes for sale  - auction details here and here.

    Ron Nevison, the engineer on the classic Led Zeppelin album Physical Graffiti, is selling tapes made at the sessions, which, according to the labels, includes early takes of In My Time of Dying, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, The Wanton Song and the rare Swan Song.

    I have a couple of bootlegs of these sessions, but I'm hearing that these tapes may contain versions not released on the boots (Physically Present and Totally Tangible).

    As I understand it, a producer owns the tapes he's made, and can sell them - but that doesn't mean he owns the copyright, or can sell copies. (As you can see, the copyright holders have already had the videos on the auction site taken down.) So unless these tapes go to Jimmy Page, which is always possible, the tracks are unlikely to get a wider release.

    Old tapes are often playable - once. The tape reels are baked slowly in an oven for several hours or even days to dry out all moisture. They can then can be remounted and played back. They are usually copied to modern media at this point, as the old tapes will continue to stretch and stick due to age.

    We've never been at war with Eastasia

    In Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the society of Oceania is always at war. Sometimes with Eurasia, sometimes with Eastasia. It doesn't matter, as long as they're always at war. The proles were told, "We have always been at war with Eurasia," except, of course, when they were at war with Eastasia, because then "We've always been at war with Eastasia."

    In the book, the line first comes about when Oceania makes peace with Eurasia and declares war on Eastasia midway through the book. The protagonist sees people happily ripping down anti-Eurasia signs and replacing them with anti-Eastasia signs. All the while, the speakers blare, "Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia." No one questions this, even though they surely know it isn't true. After all, you wouldn't want the Thought Police thinking you were remembering history incorrectly, would you? --Rimrod, at the link above. 

    I think Orwell's major goof here is that he evidently thinks the proles actually know it isn't true. Actually, it seems that the proles can't remember. This rather takes the sting away from the irony in the neologism "memory holes" - which Orwell portrayed as places to physically destroy evidence in order to hasten the process of forgetting - as in real life there really are memory holes. As in holes in people's memories. 

    OK, what brought this on?

    "You just don't in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext," he said. 

    Hahahahahaha! Hahahahahaha! (Wheeze.) Hahahahahaha! 

    Oh, wait, he wasn't joking. Iraq and Afghanistan aren't supposed to ring any bells at all. 


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