Tuesday, August 30, 2005

As if a full-sized Kiss tribute is not already surreal enough

They're small. They imitate Kiss. They tour and make money and appear on TV.

What am I doing playing jazz again?

Old Nick

I have only gotten partway through this presentation / lecture / performance by Slonimsky, but it's fantastic.

A highlight of the first half hour is S.'s description of how he taught his baby daughter to love atonal music by getting her to associate it with the pleasures of the (baby) bottle. Very Pavlovian, that, and not exactly my own approach (I merely try to play a wide variety of music for Thandie, and let her make up her own mind about what she does or doesn't like)--but I love the way it points up the false assumptions that plague the way most adults think about music and kids.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Speaking of Retro

This article also caught my eye this week. Due to a preponderance of pop-up ads on the CD Freaks site, I reproduce it here:

Vinyl records are heading back in fashion with sales up 87%
Posted by Seán Byrne on 12 July 2005 - 19:15

Just while most thought the Vinyl record has been obsolete, apparently Vinyl is actually making a come-back with sales rising a whopping 87.3% between April and June, compared with the same three month period last year. In fact, 7" Vinyl has now had the best 12 month sales period since 1998. In just the twelve months up to March 31st 2005, 7" vinyl sales have reached 1.38 million.

Apparently while DJ's are the main vinyl users due to the ability to perform scratching, music fans are actually making the most of vinyl, especially those into British indie and rock acts. Some teenagers prefer vinyl due to the warmer tone such as from guitars and percussive musical instruments.

While CD single sales have fallen by 23% this year, overall sales including music downloads and vinyl have risen by 52.4% from ~7.25 million (April to June 2004) to 11.04 million sales (April to June 2005).

Vinyl was once seen as a dying format in the music industry, but according to sales figures it is now very much in fashion.

Sales of the seven inch have shot up by a massive 87.3 per cent compared to the same three-month period last year.

The British Phonographic Industry says annual sales of vinyl singles are now approaching 1.4 million. In the twelve months up to March 31 this year, sales of the seven inch hit the 1,380,000 mark.

This already represented a year-on-year improvement of 64 per cent, and the best 12 months for vinyl since 1998.

The figures released show that in the three months from April to June 2005, vinyl flew off the shelves even more rapidly.

They rose by 87.3 per cent from 154,216 sales during April to June 2004 to 288,780 for the same period this year.

I would wonder if the Vinyl sales increase has anything to do with what the music industry is doing with CD singles such as forcing a high price for just a few tracks. Then again, it is nice to see Vinyl making a come back, especially with teenagers who generally prefer to stick with the latest in technology. It will be interesting to see how well turntables are selling, especially since most Hi-Fi systems have not been equipped with a turntable since the late 1990's.

Vinyl did have one major advantage over CDs in that there was no way for the music industry to start messing about with the structure of the recording or medium itself to prevent copying. For example, the only way for a vinyl record not to play on a given turntable is if there is a fault with the turntable, arm or needle or if the record has been damaged in some way. In fact, if the CD (or any other digital version for music) was never invented, chances are that the music industry would still be putting up a major fuss about consumers taping from vinyl and not being able to do much about it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Speaking of Nigerian Scammers

This story found its way into my inbox this week. Since it appeared on Yahoo news, I feel compelled to replicate it here (no telling how long it will be online):

Missing Music Producer Found, Hospitalized

08/27/2005 12:12 AM, AP
Tim Molloy

The nearly weeklong search for a Grammy-nominated producer ended Friday after a resident spotted the man sitting naked in a backyard creek, washing his jeans.

The Topanga Canyon resident found a distraught Christian Julian Irwin saying he feared he was being pursued by Nigerians who had contacted him in an Internet scam, sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy said.

Peavy said there was no evidence anyone was actually pursuing the 48-year-old producer, who has worked with Carly Simon and David Bowie, among others.

Irwin was taken into custody because he was deemed mentally incompetent and possibly dangerous to himself, Peavy said. He was found at about 4:30 p.m. and agreed to go with police about two hours later after negotiations in which authorities, at Irwin's request, located his sister to help calm him.

Irwin was questioned by medical and mental health workers and taken to a hospital to make sure he was in good physical health. He was to be transferred to another hospital for observation.

Authorities began looking for Irwin on Sunday after he made a panicked phone call to a friend, saying he was being pursued by people with dogs. He told his friend he was running through water and had lost his glasses and shoes in a creek.

Topanga Canyon, a rustic area long a favorite with artists and musicians, is about 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Mainstream / avant garde

For whatever reason, I've been delving into a lot of "exotica" (or "easy listening") music lately. I stumbled across a network (you can get to it by checking out this site and its many links) that seems to have taken up the task of digitizing numerous out-of-print LPs (unavailable on CD), and making those recordings available via the web.

It's amazing, when you think about it, the sort of aesthetic transformations these albums go through. When they were created, they were as commercial and square as all get-out. Balding middle-aged arrangers trying to capitalize on the hipster scene. Now they are hip in their own right (at least with a certain crowd).

Taste is such an interesting, contingent phenomenon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Scamming the scammers

For anyone who has ever been bugged by that annoying Nigerian email scam (who am I kidding--that's everyone in the world, right?!), Dean Cameron's site is a must-read. (And I suspect the show is a must-see.) I have often thought of responding to one of those letters myself, but who the fuck has the time?! Well, apparently, Cameron did. (I wonder if he knew after his first short email that this would evolve into a full-blown dadaist epistolary novel?)

There are numerous gems in the correspondence, but here is one of my favorite passages (written by Cameron to one of the scammers, after an apparent lapse in communication that prompted the latter to get impatient): "I am so sorry that I have not been in contact. When I was in Canada, I was thought to have contracted a minor case of SARS and was quarantined for the last month in that allah forsaken country! It was horrible with a Capital YUCK!"

"Horrible with a Capital YUCK!" Now that's comedy.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Meet the International Association of Gay & Lesbian Square Dance Clubs

Very cool. And brave. I'm reminded of a stunt on the Ali G show in which Bruno raised the hackles of some homophobic sashayers. It was funny, but I kept thinking that it was quite possible that Cohen was going to get his head kicked in.

It's pronounced "Moh-g"

Sad. Bob Moog died yesterday. He was 71.

In poking around the Moog site, I came across this promotional campaign. I kinda want the free T-Shirt, but I don't want to buy the gizmo. Rats.

Speaking of death, I for one am glad that that infernal Six Feet Under is over. Show about death: cool and interesting. Show that takes self-absorption to a new level: yawn.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Uh, okay

I just saw a list of warnings on the coffeepot here at work. Mostly sensible things like "Do Not Heat Empty Pot." The last one, though, was perhaps too sensible: "Do Not Pour Towards People."

Rules, rules, rules!

Upping the ante

More on the previously-blogged Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Way We Were

If you have had a webpage for a while, you really oughtta check out the Wayback Machine, courtesy of the Internet Archive. It's lots of fun.

If you go to this incompletely archived page and click on the "Ugly Rug Records" logo, you'll get to a fully archived page demonstrating the early emergence of what would become the IJG (referred to then, somewhat bombastically, as "The Industry Standard"). We didn't even have a drummer yet. We were still a quartet, if I recall correctly: me, Aaron, Mike, and Jessica. Cory was still a "guest artist" (the soundtrack session referred to on this page was the first time I met Cory, as a matter of fact). We were still playing at Buster's Coffeehouse in South Pasadena.

It's amazing how things change.

Onward and upward: the next IJG gig is September 25 at Club Tropical. I'm going to attempt to expand the group to 15 pieces (5 brass, 6 reeds, 4 rhythm). I guess I've decided that things in my life just aren't crazy enough.

Soundtrack to a film I've never seen

This rendition of the "complete soundtrack to Super Mario World" may be a contender for the best album of the year (at least in the grammy awards in my head... which are sort of like the anti-grammy awards). The funny thing is that I have never been an avid video game guy, but I am fascinated by the genre of video game music. And I can't honestly say I have ever experienced the music of Super Mario World, but the first thing I thought when I heard this set was "Of course!" The tunes and arrangements somehow seem fundamentally right for the job. Bravo, Jason Cox. (via BoingBoing)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Operation Sleepy Time

I couldn't make this stuff up: the idiots at Seventh Avenue now manufacture "Night Vision" bedding for your young 'un. In the daylight it looks pretty much like Iraq war camouflage.

They have a whole line of this sort of stuff--ceiling fans, furniture--all with the same decor, all designed for kids.

I guess they figure that since we're going to be occupying the Middle East for the foreseeable future, we might as well get the little tykes acclimated now, right?


Bush says getting out of Iraq would send a bad signal.

This is one of the reasons I harp on the value of teaching argumentation in college. "Sending a bad signal" is not a reason for staying in Iraq. It's not a reason at all. It's almost a completely meaningless phrase, in fact, at least without some sort of context. ("Bad signal" for whom exactly? And why "bad"?)

That's not staying "on message." There is no message, really, except for the only slightly veiled one that that we should just shut up and do whatever the President wants. And that, friends, would be unconscionable.

I sincerely hope Ms. Sheehan and her supporters push this as far as it can go.


A South Korean man recently died while playing a video game, and this article seems to suggest that the game killed him.

Something tells me there must have been something else wrong.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Unsung Stax no. 3

Eddie Floyd: "Big Bird."

No, it is not about the Sesame Street character of the same name. Floyd wrote it in response to the death-by-airplane of label mate Otis Redding. Specifically: en route to Redding's funeral, Floyd was waiting to get on board a plane that was having mechanical problems. Shee-it!

I really dig the mysterious "big horn sound" on this one, which paradoxically sounds to me like it was created with very few horns.

Monday, August 08, 2005

May you be forever touched by his noodly appendage

Another coup for the critics of right wing moral stupidity.

I'm starting to think this is what the web is best at: not the Alexandrine library that most people tout, but simply a delightful stream of really top-notch satire.

Keep it up, folks.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Talk amongst yourselves

On the way to work this morning (er, afternoon), I saw this sign on a telephone pole (in red, white, and blue letters, no less):

Accent Elimination
Learn to speak American
(phone number)

(Not kidding here, folks. If I had a camera phone I would've snapped a photo.)

So I got to wondering--should I call? Someone recently told me I speak with a northeastern accent (despite the fact that I've been in LA for ten years).

Nah. Accents are cool. Let's keep 'em.

Music for Ms. Moser

Looks like I'll be contributing a chart to Diane Moser's Composers' Big Band in the very near future. (Those of you in the northern NJ jazz community know that this is a long-running and well-respected series.)

What can I say except that I'm honored beyond belief.

Roberta on the IJG

The famed connoisseur of the NYC arts scene shares a few (brief) thoughts about the Star Chamber and Hardcore. Cool.