Known Johnson

October 29, 2008

Bootlegging the bootleg

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 12:13 pm

From this article about Bob Dylan’s recent Tell Tale Signs, comes this annoying, but funny bit of truth about that ultra-expensive three-disc edition that I ranted about a while back:

Allegedly, when a journalist asked someone from Dylan’s “camp” about the ridiculously expensive 3-disc set, he was told that they were confident the music would eventually reach all fans through illegal downloads.

Well, Bob and “camp,” it did! I guess when the theme of the series is “bootleg,” what else can you expect?

As for that set, I can sum it up easily: it’s a study in diminishing returns. Disc 1 is spectacular, a fantastic album in itself. Disc 2 is, well, a little less solid. And disc 3, the exclusive addition to the ridiculously expensive, mostly pointless “deluxe edition”? I’ll put it this way: I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. To me, it looks like they shuffled the lineup so there were a few essential studio tracks on disc 3 that die-hards would have to have, and stuck a few live tracks on the other two discs in their places, but swapping them around would have made disc 3 easily ignorable by a lot more people. It’s kind of scummy, if you ask me.

I paid $14.99 for my two-disc set at Best Buy, and I was willing to pay a bit more, maybe even twice as much, to get that third disc, which is still WAY over what it costs to produce three CDs worth of material, especially stuff that was already paid for by previous albums they were created during, but I’m not going to complain about that. I’m only complaining about the sickening markup on the big set. They gouged fans because they knew they could, and that’s wrong. Why am I not angry about paying $75 for the upcoming Steven Wilson solo album? Because I know at least part of it is completely out of the artist’s control – the $25 shipping fee, which brings the cost of the set to $50, which is entirely reasonable for two CDs of new music and a DVD of surround-sound music, footage, etc., plus what is reportedly a very lavish, massive book to house it all, which all reportedly weighs in at nearly four pounds. Now, ask yourself, if this can be done for $50, what exactly are you paying for with the Dylan package? I don’t want to be nasty and say “greed,” but . . .

October 28, 2008

Taunt-on

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:13 am

This morning, I saw a lady crossing the street with a rather large, black case, not unlike an instrument case, if you know what those look like. The first thought that ran through my head was to roll down my window and ask, “Hey lady, whatchoo got in the case,” and then, in a taunting manner, “A flugelhorn?” Not because flugelhorns are anything to be embarrassed about*, but because it is simply my way.

*The late, great John Entwistle, mighty bassist of The Who, also played flugelhorn.

October 26, 2008

Family resemblance

Filed under: Baby makes FOUR — Tom @ 3:53 pm

Tell me these two don’t look sisters, if not almost like twins . . .

Amanda, just hours after birth:

Amanda, day 1

And her as-yet-unnamed sister from an ultrasound a couple days ago:

 . . . and her sister, 6 weeks to go

The above 3D ultrasound was not intentional – it was just provided to us by a generous technician on Friday. It’s not perfect, either, as she was not cooperating and had her face “against the glass,” as the tech put it, so all that can be made out very well is the nose and mouth – but that’s more than enough to see how much she looks like Amanda did just hours after she was born. It was just thrilling to see our baby so clear and I can’t help but want to share. Six weeks . . . I can hardly believe it. We have so much to do . . .

Would Magritte be proud?

Filed under: General — Tom @ 3:49 pm

Ce n’est pas un mur de bronzage.

Wall of denial

October 22, 2008

Killer color

Filed under: General — Tom @ 8:31 pm
The most deadly of colors

Stare at this. Keep staring. Go ahead. Keep looking at it, just keep going . . . for 8 hours. I’m pretty sure this particular shade of tan, brown, beige, whatever it is, is actually deadly.

No Tru Love lost for Ebert

Filed under: Movies — Tom @ 3:38 pm

Roger Ebert, one of my very favorite critics ever, recently caused a stir with a review of a film that turned out to really only address the first 8 minutes. So bad was this film that he couldn’t bear to watch any further into it. Of course, many among his readership erupted in angry diatribes about this, saying his job is to review the film, the whole film, and nothing but the whole film. But you know what? Ebert is one of those rare experts in the field for whom I hold complete respect on everything he says. That’s not to say I agree with everything he says – but I respect him immensely. In this case, however, I do agree, and it’s because of an incredibly thoughtful review for a mere 8 minutes of film that he did watch. There’s far more thought put into his writing than this awful sounding film warranted. What’s unfortunate is that if you read his follow-up, where he actually does review the entire film, you can click through to his further thoughts on the subject on his blog and read comments from readers, and you will see how people do not grasp that it really is possible to know a “tru” stinker from just 8 minutes. His review points it all out – he needs no more than this to know it will not get better. When you have seen as many films as he has, it’s pretty easy to spot the hopeless ones.

Sometimes you have to trust an expert to know when the signs are there – Ebert is one such expert. If there’s one critic I have come to trust, it’s Ebert, and it’s not because every positive review leads me to a great film – it’s because his reviews are written in such a way that I can tell, regardless of his rating, whether I will like it or not. That is the sign of a great critic, and he is a real rarity.

October 18, 2008

Look and listen

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 11:23 pm

Look, then listen

Clockwise, starting at left:

Medeski, Martin, & Wood: Radiolarians I – It is really quite great – sounds like “the old days.” It’s the first of three albums based around material first tested on the road, then recorded, rather than the other way around.

Loudon Wainwright III: Recover: Speaking of old days, this is an album of Loudon covering his own older material, and, wow, it’s very, very strong. Joe Henry’s intriguing production doesn’t hurt, either.

Teddy Thompson: Separate Ways – If that last name looks familiar, you may know his dad, Richard, or mom, Linda. There’s an inkling of resemblance in Teddy’s voice to his dad, but it’s really in the very smart song-writing that you know you’re dealing with a Thompson. Otherwise, Teddy is working a much more roots-rock vein than his dad’s folksy, Scottish-tinged style. There’s a little country-twang in Teddy’s work, but I really like it a lot.

Ray LaMontagne: Gossip In The Grain – Otis Redding and Van Morrison, two names not really associated with indie music, but I can’t help but think of those two when listening to LaMontagne and especially not when listening to his latest, where he’s separated himself from the sparse nature of his previous releases with tighter arrangements. It makes it harder to ignore when he begins the album with a horn-infused soul number, too, but that’s okay because it works out just fine. Ray’s got a soft, raspy vocal that is unmistakably his own, even if some of his influences are pretty obvious.

October 17, 2008

My God, it’s full of steak

Filed under: Weird — Tom @ 11:34 am

Spacewalking astronauts report smelling the distinct odor of steak upon returning to the airlock.

Space and meat, this just goes hand in hand, doesn’t it? Wait, doesn’t it? Somehow, it does in my world. Now we know what the hell was going on in Atari’s Asteroids – those weren’t “asteroids” afterall, they were meatballs. Space meatballs.

iGoogle blows goats, I have proof

Filed under: Annoyances — Tom @ 9:26 am

I’ve been using iGoogle for a few months now and, until now, really liked it a lot. iGoogle, if you don’t know, is basically Google’s answer to Yahoo’s front page – it groups a whole bunch of stuff together for you – news, traffic, weather, mail, whatever you want, basically, as you can choose exactly what appears on the page. And then yesterday happened, when Google decided to mess with a good thing and, without warning, implement a bunch of unneeded, unwanted, and highly annoying changes. Before, it was a nice wide layout, where each pane of Google’s “gadgets” had plenty of room to be fully visible, but after yesterday, when they added a column on the left solely dedicated to some superfluous tabs, that layout got completely screwed up. And the tabs do nothing, by the way – they simply link to content that was already easily accessible. What Google tried to do is build everything into one big pane that the tabs would expand into, but it is completely unnecessary. The interface was perfect because it was what WE made it. Now I’ve lost control of it.

Worse, however, is what happened to Gmail within iGoogle. Before, clicking on the Gmail widget would take you directly into Gmail. Perfect – this never crossed my mind as a problem. It did to someone at Google, however, as now it opens a hobbled version of Gmail which doesn’t have any of the controls that the full Gmail has – no contacts, no folders, but most annoying, no formatting tools! Can you imagine that? You can’t even italicize a damned word in the iGoogled Gmail (“iGmail” from here on out)! For that you have to open the full Gmail, away from iGoogle, to get all the tools you’re used to having access to. What kind of damned sense does this make? But wait, there’s more – and this is just incredible: there are no links in iGmail. You read it right: if there’s a link, it’s just text. We’re back to ancient Outlook Express here. Copy and paste that puppy because iGmail ain’t going to open it. I am actually shaking my fists here in frustration just thinking about it. I will say it again: What kind of damned sense does this make?!

Of course, over on the Google Blog, it looks all rosy and fun, but try using the damned thing. It’s truly awful. At least there’s a link to send an email for feedback. You can bet I’ve already said my piece – twice.

Update: I’m trying out Netvibes in lieu of the awful new iGoogle. So far, so good. I don’t know if I like the Gmail integration so much, but it seems a lot more flexible in general than iGoogle.

October 15, 2008

Possession is 9/10ths of the law

Filed under: Fun with grammar — Tom @ 11:29 pm
Don't mess with Stirrer's salt and pepper
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