October 31, 2004

Site design

I was just noticing that I didn't give Tone the credit she deserves for designing my site. I linked to her on my main page and on the links page, but not here. And, since this is the page that gets most traffic, I'm doing her a disservice. Hence, she's now at the bottom of the left hand side. Drop by and tell her "Hi!".

Posted by Casper at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2004

An alternative ticketing system

Brown Paper Tickets seems to be a site providing an alternative to the Ticketmaster.

I suspect that this site will fail much like Pearl Jam's effort in the late 90's, but I'm hoping not. Anything to add competition is a win for everyone who isn't Ticketmaster.

Thanks to Andy for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:36 AM | Comments (1)

How the web gets used

It's not all porn anymore.

Internet users are doing far fewer searches for sex and pornography and more for e-commerce and business than they were seven years ago, University of Pittsburgh and Penn State researchers say in a new book.

"Twenty percent of all searching was sex-related back in 1997; now it's about 5 percent," said Amanda Spink, the University of Pittsburgh professor who co-authored Web Search: Public Searching of the Web with Penn State professor Bernard J. Jansen.

Thanks to Andrew for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

Please, please, please let her get caught

Avril Lavigne comes out firmly against lip synching.

Posted by Casper at 12:01 AM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2004

Darkness doesn't need anymore money

We can only hope they'll rest on their laurels.

The Darkness have sold enough official band thongs to pay for their new album.

According to a new report, the rockers have sold so much official merchandise - including black G-strings emblazoned with The Darkness, which cost £10 each - that they can afford to make another album and go on tour without having to sell any records.

As a side note, I'll be glad to sell anyone a Casper thong. I'll even make it £2 ($5) -- what a bargain!

Posted by Casper at 04:08 PM | Comments (1)

Joy to the world!

The Flecktones are going to be playing the Birchmere on December 6th.

The guys in the band are planning on taking a year off, but I didn't think they were going to be playing the DC area again. So this is a happy accident.

Posted by Casper at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2004

The story of my life

A little ditty called Everyone Else Has More Sex Than Me.

Posted by Casper at 07:09 PM | Comments (0)

More bodies for the RIAA

Another 750 users find a bit o' extortion lawsuit in their mailbox.

Posted by Casper at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

Talent vs. Work

The New Yorker did an article on Enron on how they rewarded talented people in their organization. Buried in the article is an interesting observation:

...[Carol Dweck, psychologist at Columbia U] gave a class of preadolescent students a test filled with challenging problems. After they were finished, one group was praised for its effort and another group was praised for its intelligence. Those praised for their intelligence were reluctant to tackle difficult tasks, and their performance on subsequent tests soon began to suffer. Then Dweck asked the children to write a letter to students at another school, describing their experience in the study. She discovered something remarkable: forty per cent of those students who were praised for their intelligence lied about how they had scored on the test, adjusting their grade upward. They weren't naturally deceptive people, and they weren't any less intelligent or self-confident than anyone else. They simply did what people do when they are immersed in an environment that celebrates them solely for their innate "talent." They begin to define themselves by that description, and when times get tough and that self-image is threatened they have difficulty with the consequences. They will not take the remedial course. They will not stand up to investors and the public and admit that they were wrong. They'd sooner lie.

How many times have you played with a musician who has "a lot of talent." I know I've sat through quite a few times with musicians like that. I've also spent a lot of time with people who worked hard on their craft. Without exception, I would always prefer to work with a musician who has expended more effort on their art than one who has a mountain of talent but doesn't work on it. Always.

Thanks to Robert for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

Geeky hobbies

A list of ten.

9. Role Playing Games
Public Humiliation: 63.4%
Dungeons and Dragons combines the nerdiness of a fantasy setting with the fruitiness of improvisational theatre, and as if that weren't enough for them to deal with, the rest of us think these people are going to go crazy and kill us. It's really hard for society to do more to tell you that if you play this game, you're on your own.
Damage to Sex Life: 78.0%
We weren't exactly sure on this figure, since a 78% means that there's still a 22% chance of a woman walking by role players and one of them saying, "A minotaur? Here in the Dungeon of Kajmar!? Very well, I swing my axe of axing at th- why hello there, pretty lady. My name's Twinkleberry, The Spritish Pegasus. Why, as a matter of fact I AM single."

Distinguishing Characteristics: An RPGeek either wears a black heavy metal shirt or, in tragic attempts at stylishness, a button-up shirt with a wrap-around dragon and flames.

Posted by Casper at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

The Diary of a Porn Clerk

A few years ago, I worked part time, managing a video store. It was a mom-and-pop shop out in a DC suburb. This was in 1997, 1998, before DVDs were around all that much. For any movie rental place that isn't Blockbuster (or some kind of equivalent), the only way they could stay in business was to rent porn.

Here's the economics of the situation: most VHS tapes from major studios run $80 a pop (or more). [VHS tapes aren't as expensive anymore; between DVDs and sell through, the price has plummeted]. Renting a copy of Diehard at $5 a time has to go out 16 times to break even. And that's just for one tape.

Now, here's the skinny for porn. A copy (and you only need to buy one) will run you $35, $40 at the absolute most. The tape rolls out for $7 or so a time. Doing the math, if it goes out 5 times, you've broken even.

So, there's a math advantage to renting porn. On top of the quick math plus, Blockbuster refuses to carry adult titles, so they've basically ceded the entire field to anyone who wants to take it. And that's why you almost always find a section of small video stores dedicated to adult cinema.

In any case, I had more than a few experiences with patrons of porn. And, I'm not the only one. Needless to say, the link is NSFW -- no images, but the title and the text would probably get you in trouble.

Several of our straight porn boxes have a cheerful little blue circle on the front. It's designed to look like a sticker and it says "Gaping Asshole Inside!" in the same sort of cheerful font one might use for "Now with more fiber!" or "New fresh scent!"

It is clearly meant to be a feature, a sort of guarantee of quality: whatever else may or may not happen in this film, you are guaranteed at least one gaping asshole. Frequently there is also a gaping asshole holding the box, but that issue is not addressed.

Some of my experiences (what the heck, I might as well):

  • The Surgeon -- I don't know if he was actually a surgeon or not, but that's what I called him (because he was always dressed in surgical scrubs). I used to open the store on Sunday mornings. He would be waiting on me, 10am on the dot. He'd come in, make a beeline straight for the porn, get six videos (the maximum you could rent at one time) and be on his merry way.
  • Oh Please, Not That -- Reaching into the return bin only to find some of the video cases, um, sticky. I don't know what it was on the cases, and I don't ever want to know.
  • The Bachelorette Party -- A very nice young lady came in, asking me for help. She asked me to follow her back into the cage (all the porn movies were kept in a cage). When we got there, she leaned over and whispered "can you help me find a movie for a bachelorette party?". She was so embarassed. I whispered back to her "find one with a pretty picture, the story's pretty much all the same."
  • The Speech Impediment -- One evening, towards closing time, this older gentleman walked up to the counter. He very quitely asked me, "Do you ha ann-- fuh fims?"

    I couldn't understand him, so I said, "I'm sorry, would you remind repeating that?"

    "Do you ha an-- fuh fims?"

    "I'm really sorry, but one more time?"

    "Do you ha ann- fuh fims?"

    ::Deep Breath:: "Okay, I am having trouble understanding what you're asking for. Can you please tell me one more time."

    ::exasperated look:: ::sigh:: "Do You Hav Ane Fuhk Fhilms!"

    "Oh, sure. Right through that cage."

Posted by Casper at 01:18 AM | Comments (2)

The world's largest book

133 pounds, 5 feet tall and 7 feet wide, the book is Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom.

Posted by Casper at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2004

In a world...

As a general point, I tend to shy away from any movie that has a trailer starting with the voice over guy saying "In a world....". Well, this is the guy who reads those fateful words.

Posted by Casper at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

The labels as horse-and-buggy

The Induce Act, if it becomes law, would make the providers of digital services wary of developing any product that might generate lawsuits from the recording industry, which has shown it can be aggressive in pursuing copyright infringement cases in the courts, adds Hunter. "Innovation may be bad for the content industry, but it's almost certainly good for consumers. The stance of the industry is just to sue absolutely everybody to death. This will have a chilling effect."

Fader suggests that the content industry has turned to the courts and now Congress to protect a business model that is changing as a result of new technology. "Imagine if the horse-and-buggy manufacturers had legal loopholes to prevent the development of the automobile. They would use it, but would society be better off?"

The recording industry might engender more sympathy if it had made a better effort to incorporate some form of digital distribution in its business model, he adds. "It has never even run an experiment. It wants to have legislators come in to help it avoid the need to ever do so."

A think piece from a Wharton professor that should be required reading by anyone at a label.

Posted by Casper at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

Hopefully, it's only special sauce on that burger

R. Kelly moonlights at a McDonald's.

Posted by Casper at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

And in this corner....

FCC Commissioner Michael Powell is on a radio call in show in SF. Howard Stern calls in to ask a few questions. Hillarity ensues.

Posted by Casper at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

Ringtones get their own chart

Ringtones, the annoying variant of music that I rather abhor, are getting their own Billboard chart.

Posted by Casper at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2004

Pat Metheny on tour

DC dates will be on the 28th and 29th of March, 2005 at Lisner Auditorium

I've seen Metheny play a few times. The last time around, he had Bona on random aside instruments and one hell of a latin drummer. This time around could be interesting as well.

Posted by Casper at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

More thoughts on DRM

Tim Oren, VC out in CA, makes some observations on DRM and it's impact to consumers.

  • Copy protection DRM always destroys end user value, in both convenience and robustness. When you see DRM in a business plan or analysis, it is always there to benefit someone other than the end user. Find out who, it will indicate where power lies in a content value chain.
  • The mere presence of DRM indicates a failure to deliver end user value. If the information object were to lose value when extracted from the bundle or service from it was derived, DRM would not be felt necessary. Therefore the presence of DRM suggests a vendor that is behind the curve, failing to find a new value to deliver as their chokepoint disappears in the digital world.
  • DRM almost always means there is trouble afoot for aggregators ('infomediaries'). If it's an aggregator inserting the DRM, their value added is in question. If it's information originators mandating DRM, then they feel they can damage the aggregator's value with impunity, and will likely try to drive end users' attention to themselves.

Posted by Casper at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

Whedon leaving TV

Josh Whedon, creator of Buffy, Angel, Firefox as well as having his hand in a number of other projects, is walking away from TV for awhile.

"I spent a lot of time trying to think what my next series would be," Whedon said. "I couldn't think of anything. When that happens, it generally means something is just not working. I didn't feel like I could come up with anything that the networks would want."

Give that man a cigar for not forcing crap he didn't want to do on the rest of us. If only all artists felt that way.

Posted by Casper at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

Oh, come on

Acid Reflux?!? That's the best that Ashlee could come up with?

Weak.

Posted by Casper at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

Another look at INDUCE

Jason Schultz has an interesting take on all the legal wrangling over INDUCE.

Why were the RIAA and MPAA so insistent during the negotiations on a broad technological definition? Why not just write a bill that narrowly targets P2P companies by name and be done with it? (For example, one could simply make it illegal to write a software program that utilizes the GiFT, FastTrack, Gnutella, Bittorrent, or OpenFt protocols and that would effectively ban most current P2P apps).

The reason, of course, is that INDUCE is not really just about P2P apps. It's about the future of all distribution technologies and in particular, about what I like to call "Me2Me" apps. As network and distribution technologies evolve, they offer consumers and computer users more and more control over their own media. P2P technology broke into the mainstream as a mechanism for distributing files amongst different people, but the same architecture is becoming popular among technologies designed to distribute one person's content amongst his or her various platforms.

For example, consider iTunes and the iPod. iTunes allows one to stream music to any computer on your local area network. It also allows you to transfer files to any number of iPods. It also allows you to rip, mix, and burn CDs. In essence, it allows massive distribution of content, albeit primarily to one's self, family, and friends. ...

The next generation will go even further. Imagine a wireless iPod that can synch with any iTunes application within 75 feet. Or a MP3 player for your car that automatically syncs with your home computer when you pull into the driveway. Or a media player on your laptop that automatically syncs with your TiVo to download the latest episode of your favorite Prime Time addiction.

This is, of course, the RIAA and MPAA's worst nightmare. Both industries have based their business models on controlling each and every permutation of playback for their content. The RIAA wants to make you pay when you buy the CD, when you download the iTune, when you listen to an Internet webcast, etc. The MPAA wants to charge you at the theater, for every copy of a DVD you buy, and (via advertising) for every show you watch on TV. Yet the more and more we as users and consumers are allowed to control and choose our own form of playback, the less Hollywood can justify charging us for each one. The more utility we get out of Me2Me apps, the less we're willing to pay someone for an extra copy or delivery mechanism. In the end, Me2Me technology may pose a larger threat to Big Cotent's bottom line than P2P ever did.

I have to say that this is a variant on the process that I hadn't considered as of yet, but it does make sense I'm a huge fan of TiVo, and if I could link it in with my PC (in a no-hassle, supported way), I might never leave my house.

Well worth the read.

Posted by Casper at 04:24 PM | Comments (1)

More on Ashlee

From Scott and from Pop Justice, complete with clips.

So it's Saturday night. It's live TV. It's quite literally Saturday Night Live. Ashlee's on the show to perform whichever of her songs she's releasing next and, after Jude Law introduces the performance, Ashlee's band start to play. Ashlee throws some Avril moves. It's impressive stuff - the band are performing totally live, meaning that Ashlee is real, just like her music. And then, out of nowhere, Ashlee's voice appears. Except she's not singing. And the vocals are for 'Pieces Of Me' - the song she'd played earlier on in the show. Clearly, Ashlee had been intending to mime her vocals.

Ashlee reacts by doing what any of us would do if our entire career and already flimsy credibility were at stake: she does a little dance. It's like a pixie dance. Then she stops. And then she does it again, before muttering an obscenity and then exiting, stage right.

The band play on, and the best thing about the whole sequence is this brief exchange of looks between two of Ashlee's band members.

Posted by Casper at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

The Canvas @ Café Europa

Tonight was the public debut of The Canvas.

We were playing at Café Europa, my first time at this particular place. Europa is a pretty nice venue -- stone tile floors, lots of wood and well appointed decor. I'd recommend it for an offbeat, Continental kind of experience.

We had to start off playing fairly quietly -- there were still some patrons in the restaurant side of the venue, and the owner wanted us to keep things down while they were there. We compromised, saying that we would tone it down at the start, and then go up as more people came to the show (and their bodies worked to absorb the volume level).

Speaking of the audience; I was rather stunned by the number of people who came out to the show. We had probably around thirty or fourty people, which was about twenty more than I had expected for a Sunday night, with game 2 of the World Series on TV. Thanks again to everyone who came out to see the show.

We finally got started at 8pm (the owner asked us to wait so as to keep his dinner crowd happy). We opened with our traditional tune Waiting For Rain, then went through the rest of the set. Shahin took his unaccompanied solo first, working back and forth between synth sounds and his guitar. After a few more tunes, I took my solo.

I had originally planned to use my looper to build up some music and then solo over top of it, but that wasn't meant to be. Instead, I just winged my way through things. I did a little of the Canon, some quick funk riffs and then ended on The William Tell Overture with lots of harmonics to cap the set.

We took a short set break, but then quickly went and finished things up. Brett took his solo during the second set, and he did a very nice, tasteful job of it. After a few more tunes, we called it a night.

All in all, a pretty good performance. The owner liked what we did, and he wants us to come back for a Saturday night show some time in November.

Posted by Casper at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

Last minute cramming

Before the show, the three of us gathered at Shahin's to do some last minute run throughs. Mostly, we touched on the songs that have recently been changed, as well as some of our more problematic sections (the stops in Brazilian, the back and forth in Sahara, that sort of stuff). Just a refresher to make sure that we all remember what we're doing where.

Posted by Casper at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

Ashlee Simpson on SNL

While I was trying to fix my footboard, SNL was on the tube as background noise. I caught Ms. Simpson's first tune (Pieces of Me, I think it's called), and it was pretty straightforward and standard. Later on in the show, Jude Law introduced her again. The band started playing some song, but then what was obviously a recorded vocal track came on -- Ashley Simpson "singing" Pieces of Me again.

The musicians on stage covered for her, switching immediately to playing Pieces again. Ashleuy was pretty clearly embarassed, did a little dance and then ran off the stage. The best part were the musicians who were looking at each other, trying not to laugh.

Posted by Casper at 01:02 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2004

Hosing my footboard

I've been working on trying to get my footboard to talk with both the MPX-1 and the JamMan. I managed to get it to work once, and then didn't think about it again. I was checking my rig to make sure that everything was going to work for tomorrow's gig when I accidently dumped the entire program on the footboard. I haven't been able to get it back as of yet, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the solo piece tomorrow.

Posted by Casper at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2004

Bunch of jokes

Some of them are quite funny.

Posted by Casper at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

Record labels under legal examination

Eliot Spitzer, the NY attorney general who has already been after the insurance industry and the brokerage houses for illegal shenanigans, is taking aim at the record labels for how they use money to buy radio time.

The inquiry encompasses all the major radio formats and is not aiming at any individual record promoter, these people said. Mr. Spitzer and representatives for the record companies declined to comment.

The major record labels have paid middlemen for decades, though the practice has long been derided as a way to skirt a federal statute - known as the payola law - outlawing bribes to radio broadcasters.

Broadcasters are prohibited from taking cash or anything of value in exchange for playing a specific song, unless they disclose the transaction to listeners. But in a practice that is common in the industry, independent promoters pay radio stations annual fees - often exceeding $100,000 - not, they say, to play specific songs, but to obtain advance copies of the stations' playlists. The promoters then bill record labels for each new song that is played; the total tab costs the record industry tens of millions of dollars each year.

The new scrutiny comes at an inconvenient time for the major record companies, which have been pressing federal and state law enforcement officials to shut pirate CD manufacturers and the unimpeded flow of copyrighted music online.

This could stand to be a pretty huge thing. Payola (I don't really care what the labels want to call it, a spade's a spade) has been a major force in the music business for almost as long as the industry's been around -- see Hit Men for a much more thorough discussion. I don't know if anything will come of this (or if the money will just be shifted around like what happened after the legislation from the 70's), but it will be interesting to see.

Posted by Casper at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

Neato technology

The nice part about this USB drive is that other USB drives can hook into it. Coping files may never have been easier.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2004

Wireless MIDI

If this works, what an advancement this would be. I really like having the freedom to be wireless on stage -- even if I don't have a lot of real estate, not having to worry about tripping on a cable is worth it's weight in gold. I've thought about adding a MIDI pickup to one of my basses for some time, but if that happens, I'm going to be shackled to wires. Maybe not anymore.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

Pre-show

We got together tonight to run through the set list one last time before the show on Sunday. Once more into the breech, dear friends, once more into the breech, and all that rot. We zipped through the set, but our hearts were really in to it. Hopefully, things will be better, but soon.

Posted by Casper at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

Bike trails in DC

A website listing bike trails in DC.

Posted by Casper at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

Adding Bass Player Live

I've finished adding my observations from Bass Player Live in NYC. Scroll down about halfway, and you'll find it. Or click here and then scroll up.

Posted by Casper at 02:06 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2004

Altoids mp3 player

How to make your own.

Posted by Casper at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

A big payday

You know those annoying spam letters you get in the mail from time to time -- "You -- JOE SMITH -- can make $87,345 with our guarenteed process..." Well, Patrick Combs got a check for $95,093.35. He then deposited it with his bank as a lark. It cleared. What happens then has to be read to be believed.

Saturday and Sunday passed without incident.

Monday, I expected to hear from my bank but didn't.

Tuesday, I didn't think once about the deposit.

Then, on Wednesday while running errands, I withdrew $40 from my automated bank machine. Out spit the two twenties and the little orange and sand-colored receipt. I stared at it. It looked like Ed McMahon had sent it. My bank balance was almost a hundred thousand dollars.

The bank had accepted the phony $95,093.35 deposit!

Thanks to Metafilter for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

Jon Stewart talks about his experiences

Jon Stewart talks about what it was like being on Crossfire.

Posted by Casper at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

A real drum machine

Beatles AdP.E.A.R.T is a drum machine you have to see to believe.

Thanks to David for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2004

Another run through the set list

We got together to zip through the set list again in preparation for the next show. This was a productive practice; Shahin was a bit out of it, but I think that we tightened up a number of tunes quite nicely.

Posted by Casper at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

A compendium of movie mistakes

All the boo-boos in all the films ever.

-- Update --
Now, with a link that goes to the right place!

Posted by Casper at 12:52 AM | Comments (1)

October 18, 2004

Why is this needed?

A Shrek musical? Does this somehow fill a void somewhere of which I have been blissfully unaware?

Posted by Casper at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

A try with Butch

Butch placed an ad on Craig's List, looking for a bassist. He plays two nights a week in Georgetowne (bassist's share would be $100). I caught them playing; they had some nice harmonies while playing some pretty standard covers.

So, tonight, I went out to his play to see if we'd be a fit. I played with him and his wife. Butch was on guitar and vocals, she played keys and some vocals. Rhythm came from a drum machine. Butch is a stickler for vocal harmonies (all in all a good thing). We went through two or three tunes and the broke for the night.

I don't think that it's going to work out. They have a pretty large set list (100+ tunes), rehearse once a week on top of playing twice weekly. I also misunderstood the ad -- it's $100 for the week, not $100 a pop. I just don't think what I would get in return is worth what I'd have to put into it.

Posted by Casper at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

Ad graveyard

What amazes me about these ad campaigns is not that they were cancelled, but that someone ever looked at them and said, "Yeah,
Beatles Adthis is a good idea. Run with it!"

Posted by Casper at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

Two more from Simon

First, on Geri Halliwell:

Almost as if she knows how bored we all are of her now, Geri Halliwell is attmepting to fool people into buying her next single by dropping her surname. Even more amusingly, she's no longer going to use a dot on the i in Geri, but she's going to use a star instead. Which would look a little sad if a nine year old girl did it, never mind a 45 year old woman.

Then, to Beyonce:

It's hard for Beyonce Knowles to overstate her influence on the world, but she has actually managed it: apparently Independent Women Part One apparently changed Japanese women's self-image overnight:

"This Japanese girl came to us and said, after Independent Women, that a lot of Japanese young ladies started being more proud to have their own jobs.

"Because before, they didn't, you know.

"That's culture we changed. In our own little way. A little bit."

What we like about this is you can actually spot the point where Beyonce realised she'd completely overstated her case and started to try and rein it back in.

Posted by Casper at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

Well, duh

Angelina Jolie named sexist woman alive.

Posted by Casper at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

The weekend in NYC

I've been up in NYC for the weekend. Going to Fodera to get my baby back, hanging out at Bass Player Live. I'll back date a few things later.

Posted by Casper at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

If you haven't seen this yet, go watch it now

Jon Stewart takes Crossfire to task. From the transcript:

BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is -- if the indictment is -- and I have seen you say this -- that...
STEWART: Yes.
BEGALA: And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.
STEWART: Yes.
BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show.
STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.
BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.
STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.
BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.
STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.

And it actually gets a lot better....

So what's does it say when the most honest thing said on TV in quite some time is from a comedian?

Posted by Casper at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2004

A more visual approach

When I play with The Canvas, there's a small problem. Brett's behind his kit and Shahin sits to play (a traditional approach for his style and background). While both of them can project visually to an audience, it still leaves me to carry the visual load (since I'm the only one who's mobile).

So, I had an idea while driving back from NYC -- hang a large, taut, white sheet behind the band, then use a laptop and a projector to project images on them. Not a novel concept so far, I know. Here's where I'm going with it, though.

When I have seen bands use video back drops, there's an issue of making it look good. If what's on the back drop has motion in it, it needs to either have a wildly different tempo/pacing so as to not seem to conflict with the music or it needs to be in sync with the music. The later is extremely hard. It also should be vaguely related to the song at hand -- if the band is playing a song about love, war images probably aren't going to fit.

So, here's my idea. Take a song like Sahara Dance. Project stock footage on the back drop -- in this case, images of sand dunes, maybe with wind blowing across the tops. Just simple stuff like that. No need to worry about synchronization, no need to worry about the video upstaging the band. It's just an additional element of a show.

Posted by Casper at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

Getting ready for the show

We decided to go over to Brett's today to run through the full set. We laid out all the songs, decided on an order -- even came up with some stage directions and blocking. We went through every song, even the ones that we haven't played in a few months. A good bit of rust there, but that's what rehearsal is for.

We're going to add a Beatles tune (Come Together) to the set list for Sunday. I heard Marcus play it and it worked well, so we're going to borrow the idea. Shahin's a bit weak on it, but I think he'll get it by then.

This was a good rehearsal, a good way to kick the cobwebs off of things. I was soloing very well for some reason. Maybe because I finally got my baby back.

Posted by Casper at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

Looking back

Perhaps I was spoiled by my experience as Bass Camp. Bass Player Live was nice and all, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The sessions and clincs were too crowded to really get much interaction with the instructors, and the overall atmosphere was alternatively more competitive and more sycophantic. While I did enjoy checking lots of gear, I don't know if I got as much from the clinics as I would have liked.

Having said this, I'd go back again. Next time, though, I'll plan ahead (instead of winging it) and stay for the whole weekend. Maybe the second day would have been more to my liking.

Posted by Casper at 12:24 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2004

Vendor mania

While I was at BPL, I had to check out the vendor floor. I can't remember who said it, but this was basically a NAMM show just for bassists. Vinny and Joey from Fodera were there, as was Jon. Also around were Ibanez, Fender, Lni 6, Roland, Ampeg, Lakland, Hartke, G&K, Aguillar, Epiphani, Ashdown -- well, lots of people. Here are some thoughts that I have on the gear I saw:

  • Line 6: They have produced a bass that has modeling on board. Roll the knob, you get a Fender J. Another turn, Rickenbacker, or a pseudo-upright (the neck is fretted, so there's only so much it can do). Instead of having a blend knob (to balance the bridge pickup and the neck pickup on a J, for instance), the blend approximated moving the pickup forwards or backwards under the strings. My take on it is that the wood is okay, and the modeling is about 80% there. I'd use for a chessy cover band, but that's about it.
  • Kustom Amplficiation: Good for being loud. Big as all get out, too. Didn't care for the sound all that much, though.
  • There were quite a few boutique resellers displaying their wares. Next time I head up to NYC, I might have to pay them a visit
  • Ashdown: I'm in the market for some new cabinets, so I checked out all the vendors. Epifani's are still my favorite, but those are some serious bucks. Ashdown's cabinets had a good sound, though. Very nice and clean.
  • Roland: I talked with the tech rep about Roland's MIDI pickup for bass, asking if there were any plans to provide a model that could be mounted entirely inside the body of a bass as a part of the pre-amp (instead of leaving a controller taped onto the body). He indicated that there may be something in the future, but not right now.
  • Lectrosonics: They are working on an advanced digitial wireless system. This would be good thing for me, as I've hunting for a good solution (that's still being supported) for sometime.
  • Ampeg: They are coming out with a new amplifier that I rather liked. Two rack spaces, analog controls with digital memory. Roll the knobs to the setting you want, save them, change to something else, save those -- up to four settings, all which can be selected by a foot controller. No audible drop when changing programs, nor any audible delay in making the switch. Very nice indeed.
Posted by Casper at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

Matthew Garrison

For my last session of the day, I made the time to catch Matthew Garrison. I had heard the name once or twice (he's a Fodera sponsored artist), but I didn't know much about him.

What a pleasant surprise.

Matthew plays with a must-see-to-believe right hand technique that uses his thumb and three fingers in very tight sequences. It's an amazing sound. But one of his suggestions that I really appreciated was how to keep a song fresh.

Garrison took the tune Giant Steps and then started to move around the time signatures. First, he played it (using a drum machine for rhythmic assistance) in 7/8, cutting off an eighth note where he could. Then he played it in 9/8, extending notes where he could. By approaching the song like this, new aspects are opened up.

As a side note, I know quite a few musicians who couldn't play Giant Steps in the original time signature, let alone messing around with it like this. Very impressive.

Posted by Casper at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

A&R Panel

I just caught the tail end of this discussion (as I was spending most of my time with Mr. Pope), but what I did hear was interesting.

Several A&R people were talking about the lack of successful catalog sales in any market other than rock -- urban has virtually none whatsoever. The reps were saying that very few artists ever make it to Diamond status, and those that do tend to be rockers from the 70's.

And, as a random aside, the A&R rep for A Simple Plan said that their forthcoming album will be released on the hybrid CD/DVD format. It's part of Atlantic's testing of the waters to see what the consumers are going to do.

Posted by Casper at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

Mike Pope

Mike Pope gave a talk about radically reharmonizing music. I've talked to Mike a few times before (mostly in the Fodera shop), but this was the first time I had ever heard him really expound on music.

What he did was to take two notes (one treble and one bass). Then start to move the bass note in an orderly progression (say, diatonic) down, and then play a treble chord on top of it that includes the initially chosen chord.

For example, take high C and low C in the key of C (just to keep things simple). Right off the bat, you can play Cmaj on top of the low C. Move the low C down a half step to B, and the top chord becomes B9. A whole step drop (A) changes the chord to A-7. And so on.

But the main thing to keep foremost in mind when doing this exercise is to keep melody as the primary item. Harmonies must be subordinate to the melody.

Posted by Casper at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

Reggie Hamilton

To be honest, there were more things that I wanted to go and check out than I had the time -- four of five sessions all at once.

First up, I decided to go and listen to Reggie Hamilton speak. Reggie's played with a "who's who" of people -- Stanley Clarke, Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand just to name a few. I figured he'd have some good insights.

Two of the main things I took away from his talk was two just be yourself -- learn from other people by mimicing their chops, but respect their privacy enough to not take their tone or their licks. The otherthing was to leave space open in the song, to let the tune breathe for itself.

Posted by Casper at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

Will Lee keynote

Will Lee, bassist extrodinaire for the David Letterman show (amongst other things) opened up Bass Player with a key note address. His mannerisms and presentation was very different than his talk at Bass Camp. He was more stilted, less open. He read his comments from a sheet (as opposed to speaking off the cuff).

Posted by Casper at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

Early to rise...

In order to make it to Bass Player Live on time, I got up at 7am. Strangely, I was awake before the hotel staff was. Homestead Inn near the Meadowlands -- $79/night, no frills.

When I got to Manhattan, the hotel informed me that they would park my car for a mere $37.50. I opted to park down the street for $15.00. I lived in NYC, I don't know if I would own a car.

Initially, I left my Fodera in my car (I didn't want to be carrying a hard shell case around with me all day), but then my paranoia started to get to me. What if someone breaks into my car? If someone stole my laptop, or my CD player, I'd be pissed, but no big deal. If someone stole my Fodera, I'd have to use a rusty butter knife on them to get my vengence.

While I was talking with a few people, I ran into Vinnie Fodera. He was gracious enough to offer to keep my guitar at his booth during the day. Another problems solved.

Posted by Casper at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2004

Deciding to stay

After consideration (and talking with a few people), I've decided to stay in NYC for the night, go through one day of Bass Player Live! and then head home. I've got work to do (as well as a rehearsal) on Sunday, so I can't stay for the whole thing, but one day is better than none.

I'm here anyway; I'd be kicking myself later if I didn't go. Another factor is that work started for me about a 2:45am when a server crashed. So I don't know if I would be good to drive home tonight anyway.

Posted by Casper at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

A bass for John

While I was heading up to NYC, I ran Anthony's M-Bass up to NYC (the one with the Om inlay). John Maghini was exhibiting at Bass Player Live, so he was going to be in the area. Anthony wanted some details on the bass changed, and John wanted to be able to display the workmanship for the crowd.

So, after Fodera, I wandered into Manhattan, hooked up with John, gave him the bass and then we talked for a bit.

Posted by Casper at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)

Getting my baby back

After having my Fodera fall down and go boom, the treble control didn't work as well as I would have liked, so I dropped off my bass with Joey a few weeks ago. Today, I hiked back up to get it.

As a side note, the trip took about five and a half hours (instead of a normal three and a half). Traffic was really bad: the NJ turnpike was backed up into Maryland!

So I got there a bit late, but Joey and Vinny were still around. They handed me my bass back, having replaced the treble pot, redressed the frets and fixed my strap locks. And, again, they did it gratis.

While I was there, they mentioned Bass Player Live, a symposium of bass players in NYC over the weekend. Vinny suggested that I should go.

Posted by Casper at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

A web-enabled breakup letter

Following on the heels of the powerpoint breakup, here's the web-enabled version.

Posted by Casper at 08:21 AM | Comments (2)

T-Shirts from Real Genius

You too can have your very own t-shirts from the flick Real Genius.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 06:28 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2004

A little unfair criticism

Coolfer, I love ya, buddy, but I think you're overreacting on this one.

...[I]f you write about computers and technology, you think the music industry is filled with idiots. And, of course, because you write about computers and technology, because you know a thing or two about laptop battery life and open source programming, your alternative business stategy blows away that of the music industry.

I went to the article. and checked it out for myself.

The record industry continues to simultaneously regard the Internet as a threat to its existence and the key to prosperity.

While the industry clings to the argument that file sharing hurts sales because people won't buy what they can get for free, record labels have begun to offer free, high-quality streams of soon-to-be-released albums in hopes the exposure will stimulate sales.

The contradiction couldn't be more striking, nor more puzzling. In its continuing campaign against sharing copyrighted songs, the industry has filed lawsuits against thousands of people, rejecting the notion that exposure to free music helps listeners identify what they like and may later buy.

Apparently the record industry believes access to free music does indeed boost sales - but only if the music is shared by a label, not by a music fan with a home computer and Internet access.

Perhaps I'm just missing something here, but what's so staggeringly wrong about this observation? The first paragraph lays out a premise. The second paragraph points out two actions which the labels (taken as a broad grouping) have done (links to sources would have been nice, but it doesn't appear that the Richmond Times is operating in a web world yet). The third para opens with an opinion, pointing out the way in which the two statements from para two are seemingly in opposition to each other. This followed by an additional fact (lawsuits are filed) and an inferred opinion (since the labels are suing, the writer assumes that they are rejecting a notion which he/she puts forward). He/She then throws in a new summarization of the prior sentences.

Is this spot on reporting? Not at all -- it's a local paper in a small market city. I was hardly expecting Edward R. Murrow. But the sarcasm's a bit much. It might even shock you, but some techies might just be able to contribute to the music industries travails.

Posted by Casper at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

Some problem children

The three of us got together tonight for our impending show. We need to really tighten up a number of the tunes before go live.

First on the block was Brazillian Café. We've changed the end, trying to get clever. Originally, the song ended with a syncopated rhythm (duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh). Brett hit on the idea of doing rounds. So, now what we're trying to do now is make diminishing rounds. We take the first mark with all six hits, then one of us solos. Then, we play the marks again, leaving off one note and someone else solos. This goes around until the song ends (duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh; solo; duh-duh-duh, duh-duh; solo; duh-duh-duh, duh; solo; etc). But, having played just the six and ending, it's a bit hard to change direction, figure out what you're going to do for a solo with less than a bar to play and still hit all the marks.

Having played the Café way too many times, we moved on to Soho. As I figured we might do, we've rewritten Soho. Not only was it way too busy to start with, we're down a guitarist from the original version. So, now we've made more into a traditional style Latin tune, with a 3-2 clave feel to it. We are extending the groove quite a bit, and generally letting the song breathe more. I think it's an improvement, but it's going to depend on the guitar arrangements.

Finally, we breezed through Ripple a few times. Mostly because it's one of our newer ones, but I think it's mostly in the bag at this point.

Posted by Casper at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

"Cheryl James & Sandra Denton" just doesn't have the same feeling

Find out the real names of your favorite music figure.

Posted by Casper at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

The opening sequences

A bunch of clips showing the title sequence of old TV shows. Features such chesnuts as Battlestar Galactica, Fraggle Rock and Magnum PI.

Thanks to David for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

Colin Farrell as Crockett, Jamie Foxx as Tubbs

There's going to be a movie version of Miami Vice?

Posted by Casper at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2004

An appreciation for fans

One musician thanks his fans:

I don't say it enough so I'll say it here: I love my fans. I worship them. (I don't really feel comfortable calling them "fans" — I like to call them "listeners." But for now it's easier to type "fans.") It's the fans that encourage me to continue writing and recording, to keep trying to get gigs, to continue pursuing some sort of music career. Fans encouraged me to put out a record, fans bought the record, and fans spread the word. Right now, fans are helping me find gigs and giving me great ideas on what to do next.

My mailing list is pretty small, only a few hundred names. But it means the world to me that handful of people are interested enough in my musical dabblings to trust me with their email address.

In the end, fans are really all I've got keeping this whole music thing afloat. It really is that simple. And if I don't show proper appreciation for them, well, I just suck.

Winning fans is hard work, and fans will hold us accountable and keep us on the path. True fans will let us know when we're hot and when we're making mistakes.

Losing fans will do more damage to your music career than any P2P pirate. A fan should be far more valuable to us than a sale.

Hear, hear.

And, as a side note (combined with shameless self-promotion), if you'd like to join my mailing list, I'd be all sorts of appreciative.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

The impact of digital technology on recording music

The advent of quality, inexpensive recording hardware/software available for home use has revolutioned the face of the music industry:

Digital technology has changed everything about the process of making music: From the way artists compose and record their songs, to the way these works are distributed. Apple Computer's GarageBand, Sony's ACID and other powerful yet easy-to-use software programs let professional musicians write and record music whenever and wherever the muse strikes. On the tour bus. In the dressing room. Even on the plane.

"Recording with Pro Tools made me feel more like a 14-year-old punk rocker than I have in years,'' said [Tim] Quirk [of Too Much Joy], 39, who by day is RealNetworks' executive music editor in San Francisco. "There are no rules and no restrictions. Even if you wanted to do things before, you were physically limited in how much you could pull off.''

Now, he says, ``If you can think of something, you can pull it off.''

Speaking as one of the people with a home setup, it's a lot of fun, too.

Thanks to Gerd for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

KISS played out?

Only 49% of the tickets on the latest tour sold? Has the KISS Army raised the white flag?

-- Update --
Now with linky goodness!

Posted by Casper at 09:38 PM | Comments (0)

Simon on Bjork

We're not sure if the interview took place in a pub, and we can't be certain that a trailer came on the TV for the Charlies Angels film, but we do picutre Bjork stubbing out a rollie and pointing a finger at the screen saying "See that Charlies Angels? I could have been in that, I could. As an Angel. Me." Apparently she turned it down so she could concentrate on her singing. She faced a similar tough choice at the Olympic opening ceremony, where she turned her microphone down so she could concentrate on her lip-synching.

Posted by Casper at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

BET caves

Michael Jackson is upset that Eminem's latest video (for Just Lose It) makes fun of MJ with some kids. BET has decided to pull the video from their airwaves. Which will have the net effect of making anyone who watches BET want to see the video all the more, just to see what the hoo-doo is all about.

Posted by Casper at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

FCC Fines Fox For Filthiness

1.2 million dollars, to be exact, over racy footage in the Married To America reality show. Said footage involved strippers covered with whipped cream and digitally obscured nudity.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again -- turn the frickin' channel!. Why should bawdy behaviour on Fox be surprising to anyone?

Posted by Casper at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

Yet another strange guitar

Flipped GuitarI can't imagine playing one of these. The butt of the body block the top frets; this is pretty clearly only for show.

Posted by Casper at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

Who's playing who

Some musicians in Australia have come up with some rather bizarre instruments that they play by moving their fingers and hands into various positions.

In one composition, moving the thumb to bend its sensor will cycle through available samples. Bending the index finger, or the channel control finger, determines which speaker will play the sound (the group uses about eight speakers). The middle finger allows the user to change the start position of a sample, while the fourth finger can trigger a loop.

The much more interesting thought is here:

The programming is very tricky, because Simon's [the computer engineer] not only programming the sounds, he's programming us as well.

The underlying thought deserves a little more attention. How much does the kind of instrument you play influence what kind of music you play?

Take bass guitar, for instance. It's in most forms of modern music (as upright, as sample, as electric, etc.). Same instrument can be made to fit most kinds of music. Then you have something like a trumpet. While I won't say that you can't have a trumpet in a bluegrass band, it's not going to be very common.

So, at the start of a person's musical career, do they select a musical instrument because they like the sound of the instrument? Or do they pick an instrument because they like the way it sounds in context of a musical setting?

I think it's mostly the latter. We don't spend a lot of time listening to unaccompanied instruments (even in classical music, there's a lot more ensemble pieces than solo), so we develop our tastes within a framework. I know that I started drumming because I liked the beat and impact of the rhythm that I heard while listening to harder rock music.

Posted by Casper at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

Reminiscing on mix tapes

One man looks back.

Posted by Casper at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

Wal-Mart as a positive force?

Wal-Mart may be helping drive down the price of CDs to under $10.

In the past decade, Wal-Mart has quietly emerged as the nation's biggest record store. Wal-Mart now sells an estimated one out of every five major-label albums. It has so much power, industry insiders say, that what it chooses to stock can basically determine what becomes a hit. "If you don't have a Wal-Mart account, you probably won't have a major pop artist," says one label executive.

Along with other giant retailers such as Best Buy and Target, Wal-Mart willingly loses money selling CDs for less than $10 (they buy most hit CDs from distributors for around $12). These companies use bargain CDs to lure consumers to the store, hoping they might also grab a boombox or a DVD player while checking out the music deals.

Less-expensive CDs are something consumers have been demanding for years. But here's the hitch: Wal-Mart is tired of losing money on cheap CDs. It wants to keep selling them for less than $10 -- $9.72, to be exact -- but it wants the record industry to lower the prices at which it purchases them. Last winter, Wal-Mart asked the industry to supply it with choice albums -- from new releases from alternative rockers the Killers to perennial classics such as Beatles 1 -- at favorable prices. According to music-industry sources, Wal-Mart executives hinted that they could reduce Wal-Mart's CD stock and replace it with more lucrative DVDs and video games.

"This wasn't framed as a gentle negotiation," says one label rep. "It's a line in the sand -- you don't do this, then the threat is this." (Wal-Mart denies these claims.) As a result, all of the major labels agreed to supply some popular albums to Wal-Mart's $9.72 program. "We're in such a competitive world, and you can't reach consumers if you're not in Wal-Mart," admits another label executive.

I don't know if I like the idea of Wal-Mart using it's de facto monopoly position to arbitrarily set prices to it's own liking, but they didn't particularly ask me for my opinion.

Another piece of fall out from this decision will be the increased death of independent music stores. Having seen the impact that Wal-Mart has on independent and small businesses, I can only conclude that the same thing is nearly inevitable for indie music stores. Unless they differentiate themselves into niche marketers, Wal-Mart will run them out of business.

Posted by Casper at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

We don't need no stinking name recognition

Britney, that old fashioned gal that she is, wants to taeke her new husband's name. Britney Spears, Britney Federline -- one of these just rolls off the tongue so much easier.

Posted by Casper at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

The Supremes turn down the RIAA

The hopes of media companies were dashed today when the Supreme Court declined to hear a case in which the privacy of ISP records is partially at stake.

All in all, this is a good thing.

Posted by Casper at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2004

Writing Longing

Driving home from rehearsal the other night, a melody popped into my head. I've been working on the melody and the drum line for a while, and last night I came up with some chords to underlie it. No bass line as of yet, but that will come.

I've been thinking about our music that I play with The Canvas: With the exception of the times that I take a solo, we have a single voice for melody -- Shahin's guitar. So, what I wanted to do with this tune was add some more variety. I;m taking the idea from Mike Stern, Richard Bona, Pat Metheny -- lots of jazz guys, in other words -- and adding scat-style vocals to the music.

Tonight, I programmed a drum line into my machine and then headed over to Shahin's. We went through each stanza line by line, working on the melody and chord progression. I had tried to get a little clever, adding a few flat/sharp nine chords here and there, but they weren't flowing all that well. We simplified up the tune, and now it moves well.

I'm not sure as to when this will be ready, but I'm quite sure that it won't be for the next show.

Posted by Casper at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

The uncanny valley

The uncanny valley is a theory that explains why androids that are sort of humanistic (think C3-P0 from Star Wars) are acceptable to humans but creations that are almost human are not.

Posted by Casper at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

How to identify BS science

Seven signs that point towards a steaming pile of crappola:

  1. The discoverer pitches directly to the media
  2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
  3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
  4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
  5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
  6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
  7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.
Posted by Casper at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2004

The Sims gets medevial

The Sims 2 is a popular game in which you can control the lives of computer characters. For the more sadistic out there, a step-by-step on how to torture the characters.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

A new twist to dating

You've heard of a wingman, right? You know, the guy who goes after the not-so-hot girl so you can make a play for the hot one? Now there's wingwomen, ladies who'll hang around you so you'll seem more attractive other women.

In the game of meeting women, it is understood that in most cases, it's the man who does all the work. Unfortunately, women have not made it any easier for men to approach them. As a result, men have learned to work together in order to increase their success rate. The solution to the male dilemma is the "Wing Man" pickup strategy, which usually has some level of success. But some women have learned to recognize the "pack" mentality and have developed reactive strategies to counteract the wingman's pickup mission. The guy's response to such female defenses is the Wingwoman. Its an amazing union that if properly applied has a 65% conversion rate. Surprised? Well you shouldn't be, and here's why the wingwoman approach is so effective:

  • Domino Affect -- Women are attracted to men who have women around them more so then men who have other men around them.
  • Limited Resources -- Women want what they can't have.
  • Let The Games Begin -- Women are very jealous and love to compete with one another.
  • Icebreakers -- Women tend to lower their defenses around men who have other women around them. Most women tend to see these men as having a seal of approval and being less hostile.

Seems a little scummy to me.

Posted by Casper at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

WiFI in the target zone

Acadia, hot after trying to collect on a supposed patent on streaming media, is claiming that they have the exclusive right to wireless redirects. And just when I thought the scummiest thing on the planet would have been a lawyer for Microsoft.

Thanks to Donna for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

Smaller CD cases

If you own a lot of CDs (I'm not as bad as a few people that I know, but I've got about four digits worth. So, space gets to be an issue after a while.

Thanks to Alex Ross, there's a solution -- gatefold sleeves that take up 1/4 the shelf space. And at $.16 a piece, they won't break the bank, either.

Posted by Casper at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

Some thoughts on car shopping

I've been spending the last few weekends shopping for a new car -- my frickin' new rig is too big for my current car (at least, if I also want to take a cabinet with me). Rev Bob has some tips on the kind of conversations owners of certain cars have:

Camaro/Firebird Forum -- "My girl slept with my brother and my wife. How can I kill 'em? btw, I have a record and I ain’t going back."

Miata Forum -- "Some redneck jackass in a Chevy Tahoe just ran over my car (pics)"

Chevy Tahoe Forum -- "Miata stuck in my undercarriage. How do I safely remove it? (pics)"

Chevy Suburban Forum -- "Is the price of gas going down anytime soon?"

Hummer Forum -- "Had a fender bender today. 24 hurt, 10 killed. Do I have to get the black touch-up paint from the dealer? He’s 25 miles away. That’s $35 in gas."

Posted by Casper at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

Super no more

Christopher Reeve, dead from heart failure at 52.

Posted by Casper at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2004

With a percussionist

Today, the three of us got together with a new player. Jay, the percussionist with Stone Gato sat in with us, so we can see how things work out together. It was interesting playing with a percussionist -- this was the first time I had really done for any length of time (other than one offs). Both Brett and I had simplify what we were doing to give him room to fit in with the music.

It was some slow going at first. Any time that you're playing with an original band, you have to wing your way through the pieces. Add to that an unusual style like we do, and I didn't envy Jay his work. As we went along, though, he started to warm up to the style, and things started to congeal.

Posted by Casper at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2004

Christian Science Monitor comes to the scene

CSM wakes up and notices the mp3 blog phenomenon.

Thanks to David for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2004

Two great mp3 blogs

Lately, both Calabash and Christopher Porter have just been killing me with some of the mp3s they are posting on their sites. Lots of music that I wouldn't have otherwise ever heard of or found.

It's almost enough to make me rethink my decision to stop posting mp3s myself.

Posted by Casper at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

A small flaw in the logic

The latest example of grasping claws comes from Florida, where Erika Emanski's kids downloaded 634 rap songs - five hundred bucks worth on iTunes. The RIAA claims that it's due USD475,000. Seven hundred and fifty bucks per song. Of course, once again they're going after poor people who can ill-afford to stand up to them, and so will end up "settling" for a few thousand. We know the RIAA believes it has to make some sort of point, but is this the point it really wants to make? That the people who run the music industry are such greedy assholes they'll claim songs are worth nearly 1,000 times their actual value to shake some cash out of people already making ends meet?

Just a little extra helping of injustice from the RIAA in their latest suit straight from Simon.

Posted by Casper at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

A contest I might be able to win

I probably won't enter, though. Me being in a contest for the biggest dork in DC would just end up being no contest....

Thanks to Rob for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

Music marketing data from mp3.com

Our dearly departed mp3.com used to be a great repository for unsigned bands. One of the people involved with making mp3.com has posted an analysis of how successful bands organically grew their audience.

We spent a fair amount of time analyzing this data which included actually contacting the bands to find out why they were in our charts. After interacting with somewhere around 20-30 bands we came up with a series of characteristics of these bands which included:

  1. These bands were generally pre-Soundscan (they didn’t show up on local retail sales figures because they only sold their CDs at shows.)
  2. They were organized online using a combination of IM, blogs, and street team tools to get the word out.
  3. A majority of them were playing all ages venues which didn’t normally pop up on the radar of club goers. (Who wants to hang out with 15 year olds ;-) )
  4. The genres of music were genres that weren’t typically represented by MTV, radio and retail and were clustered around emo/pop punk and grindcore.
  5. These bands generally played around 50-100 shows a year.
There was a lot of more fascinating data, but once we had this data we decided to take a look a level deeper.

It's worth the time to read.

Thanks to Scott for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

Some strange guitars

Strange GuitarA gallery of unusual guitars.

Thanks to Lynn S for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:37 AM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2004

Howard Stern escapes the reach of the FCC

He is moving to Sirius satellite radio. Much like cable, the FCC has no authority to regulate content on a pay channel.

What horrors will be wrecked upon the people of America without the loving censorship of the FCC? Oh yeah, the same stuff that's on HBO. Strangely, the republic hasn't fallen yet.

Posted by Casper at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

My Eyes! My Eyes! The pain!!

Cher to celebrate her 60th birthday, sans clothing.

Posted by Casper at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

Neato magic trick

A card trick.

Thanks to David for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

Clearly, some people need a clue

Team America, the puppet spoof movie from the guys behind South Park, may be receiving an NC-17 rating due to "... a scene showing simulated oral sex between marionettes."

Marionettes? Puppets having sex?! Setting aside for the moment the concept of puppets without genitalia! having sex (obviously it's fake), are the prudes at the MPAA so terrified of sexual activity that an obvious joke deserves the most restrictive rating available?

Thanks to Ernest for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

File sharing for a few

Grouper is a new application allowing you to share files with a limited number of people (nominally, you and 30 or so of your friends). The more interesting part here is that the software may have the ability to circumvent copyright restrictions by streaming files back and forth (instead of copying them). Something to keep an eye on.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

Lots of respect now

Rodney Dangerfield, dead at 82 from infections and complications.

Posted by Casper at 12:03 AM | Comments (0)

Chapman to stay in the pokey

Mark David Chapman has been denied parole. Chapman was convicted of murdering John Lennon in 1980.

Posted by Casper at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2004

Way too geeky

Even for me, this is way beyond the pale of normal geekdom. A comparison/contrast between Star Wars and Star Trek.

Posted by Casper at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

The name's the thing

Almost as hard as starting a band is naming it. I can remember big white boards full of words as each member of the band tried to come up with something that was clever (but not too clever), hip (but not too trendy), etc, etc.... Here's some help. Here are a few names that I got from the random generator:

  • Giovanna Echter
  • Sung Ubence
  • Dandrea

What do these names mean? I dunno. It can't be worse than Hootie and the Blowfish, though.

Posted by Casper at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

An outburst of taste

Paris Hilton is booed off the stage while she tries to launch her singing career.

Posted by Casper at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2004

An alive Train

A live album from Train. Having seen them play before, it should sound just like the record, only more so.

Posted by Casper at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

A little hard on the self-esteem

Find out what some famous people accomplished when they were your age. And here I was, feeling all happy about getting out of bed this morning with only hitting the snooze alarm twice.

Posted by Casper at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)

October 03, 2004

It's official

Britney's wedding was completely fake.

Posted by Casper at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

The rock of death

Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll -- it's a cliche. So, it's probably no surprise that the rock lifestyle has claimed a few lives. The NY Daily News did a story on the subject. They list the deadlist bands in rock (the bands which have had the most members die), the worst day in rock (when Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash) as well as those who have "outlived expectations" (Courtney Love, David Crosby, Ozzy Osbourne).

Then you have the list of the most dangerous jobs in rock:

  1. Keyboardist for the Grateful Dead (they've lost four)
  2. Bass player for The Allman Brothers (three -- good luck Oteil!)
  3. Drummer for Spinal Tap (six, mostly to various gardening accidents)

Thanks to David for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

She's half his age

Billy Joel gets married for the third time.

Posted by Casper at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)