Saturday, February 28, 2009

Micro & Macro

Busy, busy. I haven't captured the elusive balance that I started the year resolving to, but I've kept up with the things I have to do and the things I want to do and maybe that's balance enough.

I cut out of work a little early one day this week to go a National Air and Space Museum lecture by Dr. Sandra Faber titled (with webcast available) "The Milky Way: Why We Need Her and How She Was Formed". The Milky Way's a girl? It wouldn't have been hard to get lost in the talk about dark matter or string theory, yet she did a great job at explaining concepts like Big Bang theory, why life may have had an easier time forming on Earth, the life cycle of stars, recent discoveries and interspersed it all with lots of animated simulations. The evening left me feeling very small - which I think any good discussion on the cosmos should. I want to check out Google Sky, Worldwide Telescope (Windows or Bootcamp on Mac only) and sky-map now, too.

Also caught my friend David's band Poor But Sexy at DC9 the other night. They were kind of indie rock, but with chops, soul stylings/vocals and some coloring by Steely Dan. I haven't heard that particular stylistic marriage before, but it worked and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation: To me, the fact the brand name "Ticketmaster" is so toxic that they have to change it to "Live Nation Entertainment" gives you all the reasons you need to know this merger is an awful idea for anyone that sees live music. Do tell, why isn't inventory control a perfect science? Ver-ti-cal In-te-gra-tion. A good overview on how we got here, some of the issues in play, and live blogging from Thursday's House hearings.

Touch and Go shut down its distribution arm; the music industry mourns and explains why indie distribution was good.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No Dice

Fujiya & MiyagiCaught School of Seven Bells opening for Fujiya & Miyagi the other night at the 9:30 Club. I can't remember the last time I commented on a lack of musicianship, but 2/3 of School of Seven Bells seems to need lessons in playing their instruments and in stage presence. They sounded like the same beautiful, noisy, dreamy pop from their debut record Alpinisms, but I might as well have watched my ipod since there was nothing to watch on stage...except their guitarist Ben Curtis who played and fiddled with enough sampling gear for a couple of people. The mix didn't do them any favors either since it buried the interesting bits and contributed to the sameness factor of a lot of their set. *Sigh* Baby bands...they get better and then they get their own soundperson.

Fujiya & Miyagi weren't overly endowed with stage presence either, but they were pros and they could play and had this cool animated backdrop. So I liked them, if only because they were so much better than their openers. They'd be ripe for remixing, too, so I want to see what I can dig up.

In other news: Muxtape is back and not like it was. Wish I'd gotten a chance to talk shop with Justin Ouellette when he was a panelist last week.

Comeuppance, please come in. Why should my rinky-dink non-profit have to bear all the burdens of accurate and transparent accounting?

Need more ways to make your cassettes obsolete? Options include converting and recycling.

Speaking of obsolescence, John Strohm explains the legal issues surrounding selling used MP3s. Legalities aside, I doubt Bopaboo has a viable business model - you'd need such massive buy-in from the public to have a database of used MP3s worth searching - but the issues around the concept are sadly evergreen...which is why I dug it out of the old starred items.

Move over, Charm City Cakes for this really cool Darth Vader cake. I love you still though because you would never unintentionally do this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Notes on the Day

Ever since I took over the Events gig at FMC, I've been particularly aware of the large shoes of my co-worker Kristin Thomson that I've been working up to filling. She's so good at everything she touches that it's been a long learning process.

In that light, Wednesday's Policy Day was an especially proud professional moment for me since it's the first event that I either did or oversaw all of from beginning to end. (Reminded me of that feeling I used to get when my visa applications would successfully get the band from some African country into the US.)

A few thoughts on a fantastic 24 hours:
- Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott gave one of my favorite bits of the day during the Broadband panel: certainly there are challenges to telecom policy right now but citizen input is still important. It's so easy for problems to seem huge and out of reach but when that's all anyone hears I feel an essential empowering message gets lost. Case in point: Pandora's campaign around webcasting rates so deluged Congressional offices that the switchboard overloaded. Topics du jour during that time? Iraq and webcasting rates.

- How did people ever run events without text messaging set to vibrate? The walkie-talkies with earbuds from a few years back were incredibly clunky in comparison.

- Our event evaluations ask a question on whether there's enough diversity of gender/race among the panelists. In answering the question, interestingly, this time a couple of people said the question was unnecessary.

- Live webcasting, yay! And archives are available, too.

- One round of pool at the Black Cat = $1 in quarters. Watching the rock stars play pool and do the victory dance afterward = priceless.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


It was a weekend of entertainment that either made perfect sense or not much at all.

The film The Secret of the Grain lets you into the life of this family so thoroughly that you might as well be walking into their kitchen for dinner. Unhurried in its pace and willing to take the time to get to know its characters, the film lets you into its world for the two and a half hours you're at the movies. Sure, it could've been at least a half-hour shorter if the editing had been tighter, but it's an interesting place that you get to when you're turning away from the screen because you're seeing too much and the camera's gotten too close. Trailer here.

David Rousseve's Saudade (excerpts here and here), however, was the opposite experience. Rousseve talks about so many themes throughout this non-linear performance art/modern dance piece: slavery, racial and sexual subjugation, joy, the emotional trauma experienced by Hurricane Katrina survivors, the tortune of Abu Ghraib prisoners, sickness, identity - and it's all combined with a fado soundtrack and a chameleon-like tiled backdrop that draws considerable attention to itself. So, yes, it lacked narrative coherence, but still managed to achieve a sense of closure at the end.

Visually, the dance was arresting and intimate but also repetitive. The constant breaching of the fourth wall was distracting, too. I'm glad I went, but I'm not convinced that a moment of closure and a tableau of interesting images was enough to outweigh spending most of the piece hop-scotching around the choreographer's brain.

So, I'm now off to spend a few days skipping through the collective brain of the media/music/tech community. Come out if you can...or watch the live webcast on Wednesday, February 11 from 9 am - 6 pm (*fingers crossed*).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


A Bout de SouffleIck: nipple-shaped candy for kids

Double Ick: She's selling her virginity. If this is legit - admittedly a question, she could end up with millions for selling herself, but isn't she just playing into the virginity-is-sacred meme that she claims to find so unfair?

It's strange times when you're left to praise Ashlee Simpson for talking back to media that was calling her sister fat. And let's not forget Lily Ledbetter.


Ugh-inducing: Chris Cornell's latest solo release produced by Timbaland. This song is laughable and the video's worse. He, of Soundgarden fame, used to have the best voice in rock music and integrity to boot...and now I don't know who he is musically. Also I think I preferred when I couldn't figure out what he was singing about. "That bitch ain't a part of me" indeed.

The things that haven't inspired funny faces from me lately:

- December and January's issues of Outside magazine. They outdid themselves with these issues covering Three Cups of Tea's Greg Mortensen's project to educate girls in Afghanistan, the creepy guy that held his family of 15 hostage in Alaska, the dangers of the container shipping industry, and the requisite articles on people climbing in crazy places/conditions. Don't let the over-the-top cover photos of Michael Phelps or Kelly Slater scare you way.

- Spencer Tweedy's blog. Jeff Tweedy's (Wilco) oldest son is 13 and has one of the best-written blogs I've ever read. In addition to being cheek-pinchingly cute, he also manages to rip a new one for Bill O'Reilly, write up the history of M&Ms and talk about his trip to New Zealand to visit uncle Neil Finn.

- NYT Magazine had this fascinating piece on researchers who are studying the psychology of sex and desire in women. It's lengthy but incredibly interesting.

Whew. I guess I've been catching up on my reading.