Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bob Dylan's XM Radio Show

This alone has made us consider XM Radio: Bob Dylan now has his own radio show on XM Channel 40, Theme Time Radio Hour. He spins records and gives pithy little introductions to the music--his first stint as radio DJ. An upcoming episode for Mother's Day will feature "Mama Get the Hammer" by the Bobby Peterson Quintet, of which Dylan says, "Some songs you don't have to talk about; they just say it all: 'Mama get the hammer, there's a fly on baby's head.'"

The playlist for this week's show, Weather:

Blow, Wind Blow — Muddy Waters
You Are my Sunshine — Jimmy Davis
California Sun — Joe Jones
Just Walking in the Rain — The Prisonaires
After the Clouds Roll Away — The Consolers
Let the 4 Winds Blow — Fats Domino
Raining in my Heart — Slim Harpo
Summer Wind — Frank Sinatra
The Wind Cries Mary — Jimi Hendrix
Come Rain or Come Shine — Judy Garland
It's Raining — Irma Thomas
Stormy Weather — The Spaniels
Jamaica Hurricane — Lord Beginer
A Place in the Sun — Stevie Wonder
Uncloudy Day — The Staple Singers
I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine — Dean Martin w/Paul Weston & his Dixieland 8
Keep on the Sunny Side — The Carter Family
Anybody have an XM Radio set-up to hook us up?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sony Records Stiffing the Artists

The Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick filed suit today against Sony Music for paying them exactly squat per download from iTMS. According to the story at, the suit hinges on how to classify single track downloads--should the artist be paid for a one-track license a la inclusion in a soundtrack, or should the artist be paid as if the listener bought an album? The artists say the former, the record company says the later; it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which pays more. BUT, Macworld UK has a different accounting of Sony's payment system:

Rather than paying artists approximately 30 cents of the 70 cents it receives for digital downloads (after deducting payments to music publishers), the suit alleges that Sony Music treats each download as a sale of a physical CD or cassette tape, only paying on 85 per cent of such "sales" (due to a fiction that there is breakage of product), deducting a further 20 per cent fee for container/packaging charges associated with the digital downloads (although there are none), and reducing its payments by a further 50 per cent "audiofile" deduction, yielding a payment to the Sony Music recording artists of approximately 4 1/2 cents per digital download.
We have to respect the shrewdness of calling a digital download equivalent to buying a broken CD, but wtf is this "audiofile" deduction? Sony can rot in hell, along with the rest of the RIAA.

The Price of Freedom

Yesterday, Congress decided that it would be just fine with them if the big telcos made busier sites pay more to use the internet. They want to call this "the tiered internet," as opposed to this damn, clunky old "neutral internet" we have now. Almost everyone--if the ACLU, the AARP, Google, Amazon, and the Gun Owners of America agree on something, you know it is important to us all--is opposed to this tiered internet crap and wanted a law against it, but the GOP voted that down before it even got an open debate. As Percolator put it, this country does not want freedom. We'd put it differently-Freedom® is now $3.29/lb. Or Mb. Or Gal.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Web Calendars

Google Calendar has been up and running, beta-style, for a coupla weeks now. And we hear great things about a similar web cal, We are giving both a half-assed trial for the next week or so. 30 Boxes is first and foremost a social app, geared for sharing schedules, planned events, and so on with your buddies. Google does most of that, too, along with all kinds of RSS options--although we're not really sold on RSS for calendars yet. Both look iCal for the Web.

Neither sync with our Palm, however. We realize that Palms have really gone out of style, but at our day job, they are de rigeur, so as long as we'ev got one in our pocket, it might as well do some multitasking. And surely some XML dork will work out a way to sync one of these babies across our Palm, desktop, and web in one slick hotsync operation.

There are plenty of hacks already for Google Calendar: Google can send events and such to your cell via SMS and this hack lets you type new events into Google's main page or toolbar just like you do with searches.

Line-by-line Book Publishing

Anna Louise has detailed, line by line and dollar for dollar, how a new fiction paperback gets to market. The cost breakdown is amazing and well worth the read, just to see how absurd the publishing industry is. But get this:

Mass market paperbacks that don't sell used to get stripped and pulped -- their covers torn off and the insides made into goo. Usually, by the time this happens, the bookseller has already paid for the book. So the bookseller returns an affadavit (formerly known as "the book's cover") to the publisher's warehouse, and receives a credit, good for use on any other books, instead of paying with cash, and the book is counted as a "return" -- even though it doesn't get returned and it can't be shipped out again. This doesn't happen to hardcovers.
What got us about this is the image of a truckload of book covers arriving back at the publisher's warehouse for credit. The industry doesn't do this kind of brutish recylcing any more, but we miss the old days just a little just for that. We also wonder if there was a time when Barbie dolls that didn't sell were torn apart, their bodies recylced and their heads sent back to the factory for the refund.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Library Built from Airplanes

Architects in Gudalahara, Mexico, have designed an awesome, futuristic looking library using recycled airplane hulls. The library has all the tech to compliment its futuristic image... We are just blown away.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Story of the THX Deep Note

The rumble that builds into a boom and then finally into an F Major chord at the beginning of movies with THX sound is heard in a movie theater, somewhere, every 20 seconds. Computer music extraordinaire Andy Moorer created the THX Deep Note, as it came to be known, in 1982. He tells the story of its creation to Music Thing:

I was working in what was then called the "Lucasfilm Computer Division" as head of the audio group. In about 1982, we built a large-scale audio processor. This was in the days before DSP chips, so it was quite a massive thing. We called it the ASP (Audio Signal Processor). "At the same time Tom Holman was also working at Lucasfilm. He had developed what is now called the THX sound system. It was to premiere with Lucasfilm's "Return of the Jedi." They were making a logo to go before the film. I was asked by the producer of the logo piece to do the sound. He said he wanted "something that comes out of nowhere and gets really, really big!" I allowed as to how I figured I could do something like that.
He did it by writting a computer program to output a series of parameters that would perform live music on a set of oscillators, resulting in a slightly different Deep Note each time the program was run--when everyone heard the version we have come to know, they settled on it. Later, they lost the original recording, but obviously found it in time to stamp it all over a bajillion movies and DVDs.

And of course, we'd be remiss not to link you to the Simpsons parody of Deep Note, a sound that comes out of nowhere and gets really, really big, like big enough to blow the audience away.

Championship Eating

Or, cramming junk food into your maw for sport. Salon discusses competitive eating with Ryan Nerz, author of Eat this Book: The Gorging and the Glory of the Competitive Eating Circut, which argues that thin people can eat more in one sitting than fat people because the blubber prevents the stomach from distending and reveals that back-stage vomiting is really more common than the competitors want to admit. Most interesting revelation: Hot dogs are the hardest to cram--the buns take up lots of space in your mouth and the salt in the meat pulls water into your stomach, filling you quickly.

We are reminded of the Austin Spamarama, where half a dozen guys (and a girl, too) raced to see who could cram the most Spam in 1 minute. This apparently qualifies as an Olympic event in the Republic of Texas... But before we go bashing the Texans too much, we'll confess to owning a book of Spam-themed Haiku by Boston-area Spam lovers. For example:

Perfection uncanned,
Like a beautiful redhead
Fresh from her trailer.

Even in Boston, Spam doesn't lose its white trash authenticity.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Perc friends Sqaushed and Moka bring us Free Pony Theory, an awesome looking audioblog and mp3 forum. Join.

Packed with iTMS Goodness

Coming soon to a store near you--General Mills will be including a code good for one iTMS download in cereal boxes this summer, with some boxes containing special codes for 5 downloads. Brands include one of our childhood favs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, as well as heart healthy Cheerios.

This is going to be VERY good, esp. considering the amount of cereal we'll be eating to make our rent payments in Boston this summer.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Piles and Piles of Books

We were in Boston the other day and killed a few hours at the Harvard Book Store (not officially related to the university, although we suspect they get more than a few hits to their website by virtue of the similarity). The Book Store is notable not only for carrying books that Mssrs. Barnes and Noble would never carry but also for having piles and piles of remainders that are actually worth digging through. This time, we found gems like a reprint of Bob Dylan's Tarantula (we don't even think Borders knows that one exists, even if the clerk's eye does glimmer when you ask), Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49 for $1.99 (a buck forty-nine would have been nice, but who wants to quibble over small change?), and tons more that we were, sad to say, too tired to lug back. Awesome. Only catch is, you have to go there in person to get the deep discounts.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk

How can the storyline of a med-school drop-out who goes to Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings to hear crazy, wild-ass tips and techniques for getting laid that he'd never think of otherwise NOT be good? How can a book that features the protagonist boinking his delusional mother's hot shrink on the altar of the Catholic insane assylum NOT be great? On top of that, there is the whole schtick about choking on half-eaten steak in fine restaurants so that rich, well-to-do types will rush in to save you and maybe even send you cash-filled birthday cards from then on, as if the Heimlich manuever were a second birth and they now identify with you as another child they never had.

AND let us assure you he is more sardonic than "satire" implies:

The magic of sex is it's acquisition without the burden of possessions. No matter how many women you take home, there's never a storage problem.
Chuck Palahniuk, folks--bitter, twisted genius.

Friday Happy Hour

Those of you who know us have already been introduced to the Grapefruit Screwdriver--grapefruit juice in place of the orange; try it and you will never go back. In anticipation of the Easter brunches this weekend, we'd like to suggest grapefruit mimosas.

Along those lines, Epicurious has a Grapefruit Cooler, which is nothing more than grapefruit, sparkling water, and a splash of Grand Marnier on ice. They recommend a little salt to take the edge off the grapefruit's bitterness, which we'll keep in mind if we get a bitter one. Unfortunately, the substitution of sparkling water for bubbly wine robs you of most of the alcohol. That may be a good thing on a warm sunny afternoon like this, but it means you'll need a stronger nightcap later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Music of the Dada

And you thought Dada was all about the art. George Antheil, Esquire columnist and composer (not to mention that he was Ezra Pound's drinking buddy), put together a score for the film Ballet Mecanique back in the 20s. Performing the music turned out to be impossible, since he had a vision for 16 player pianos to play together, but the mechanical action of the damn things couldn't be synchronized. Modern electronics eventually rescued the music, though, so that it could accompany Dada exhibits at the National Gallery. NPR has details and excerpts of the music. BTW, NPR is now the officially the last organization on earth to start a blog. Strong work.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

McCain: Falwell "Not Such a Bad Guy After All"

From today's Meet the Press (transcript at Think Progress):

Russert: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain how his views on this program when you have him on.