Calculate your chances...negative...negative...negative!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thinking out loud and feedback requested.

Indulge me for a second, though I'd really like some feedback on this.

Since I'm taping the Free Zone almost all the time now, I've been considering the possibility of making those shows available on-line. I don't have any hosting space so I don't know how feasible it would be to do it Podcast style, but I'm thinking about using an upload service like RapidShare to make mp3 rips of the show available.

What I'm looking for is this, would people actually download old Free Zone episodes if they were available? Would it be better for me to try to make it all Podcasty or would using a file sharing service like RapidShare (which is available for free use to downloaders) be best? Would people dig bigger files at better quality or the smaller file size and "near CD quality" of 128kb (keep in mind, this is a three hour show, though by nature it's broken up into one hour chunks.)

I also have a ton of older shows I could throw up. I just need to know if this is an idea that's worth my time to do. Please let me know. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Some Saturday Supercade junk.

Courtesy of Platypus Comix.

This is one of those X-Entertainment-ish pages I check every so often. There's a pretty good thing about the Donkey Kong portion of the show and the promise to cover DK Jr. next week. You can even watch the 'toon at the bottom of the page.

FYI, there must have been only one episode of Saturday Supercade that has turned up because it's always this one anytime someone does a feature on the show. It's not terribly difficult to turn up in the trading circles and is actually part of a longer tape that IIRC starts with Charlie Brown and ends with Dungeons & Dragons.

Free Zone Charts 5/30

Time once again for everyone's favortie portion of Calcinator Death Ray, The Free Zone charts and adds. As a reminder, you can hear the Free Zone at 88.7 FM WICR every Friday and Saturday, midnight to 3AM. One of these days, I'll actually figure out what I've been playing and post a playlist again. In the meantime, here's what we're reporting to CMJ:

# ARTIST Recording
1 THE COUP Pick A Bigger Weapon
2 MONO You Are There
4 NOMO New Tones
5 ZOMBI Surface To Air
6 SOUL POSITION Things Go Better With RJ And AL
7 MORRISSEY Ringleader Of The Tormentors
8 MCLUSKY Mcluskyism
9 REWIND! 5 Various Artists
11 MURS AND 9TH WONDER Murray's Revenge
12 MELVINS Houdini Live 2005: A Live History Of Gluttony And Lust
14 KIERAN HEBDEN AND STEVE REID The Exchange Session: Vol. 2
15 MADLIB Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
16 PAIK Monster Of The Absolute
17 DYSRHYTHMIA Barriers And Passages
18 ALIAS AND TARSIER Brookland/Oaklyn
19 COACHWHIPS Double Death
20 PEEPING TOM Peeping Tom
22 MISSION OF BURMA The Obliterati
23 MOJAVE 3 Puzzles Like You
25 ASTRONAUTALIS The Mighty Ocean And Nine Dark Theaters
27 JAMIE LIDELL Multiply Additions
28 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
29 HALOU Wholeness And Separation
30 GNARLS BARKLEY St. Elsewhere


# ARTIST Recording
1 RHYS CHATHAM Rhys Chatham Sampler
2 DABRYE Two/Three
3 BOARDS OF CANADA Trans Canada Highway [EP]
5 LANSING-DREIDEN The Dividing Island

Normally the summer is the slow season, but I gotta admit, there's a lot of good stuff out there currently.

Heads up, next Saturday at 2AM, I'll be running a Johnny Cash special about the new collection of House of Cash personal recordings. Yes, it's a canned radio special. Yes, it's cheating. Yes, I know it. But, it's Johnny Cash and I think you'll enjoy it anyway.

Also, tune in Saturday for some hardcore Yacht Rock, Dance Party Free Zone, an early 90s nostalgia trip and me, up in the club gettin' tipsy. Yeah. Good times, indeed.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Desmond Dekker, RIP.

Article from the Guardian.

No comment except to say Dekker's is a name more people should know. Like Sam Cooke opened the door for Marvin Gaye and others, so did Dekker for Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and pretty much everyone else. Truly essential stuff.

Shame on you, Matador.

I love Matador Records. They've put out so much good music over the years, I'm not even going to try to list it all. Rest assured, many of the most important rock releases of the last 15+ years have borne the Matador label. I've got nothing but respect for the label and it's music.

What I don't have respect for is the recent trend of Matador sending out promo CDs with copy control schemes on them that don't warn you of that fact. Now, I don't have a problem with Matador putting copy control on promos they're sending out, though I think it's a bad idea and I'll explain that in a minute. It's the fact that if you try to listen to their CDs on a computer, unless you have auto-run disabled on your machine, the CD is going to install software regardless of if you accept it or cancel it. The only way to uninstall it is to open the CD up and hit uninstall, but unless you knew where to look, you'd have no idea.

In fact, you'd have no idea it even installed anything at all, except this audio player pops up when you put in a Matador CD. It's not in the start menu. It's not in the program files. Honestly, I don't know where it installs this player, and I work in IT.

The moral of this story is, shame on me for not making sure auto-run was disabled on this machine. (I'm not at my normal computer today. This is a machine I share with 3 other users.) And, yes, I've only met one copy control scheme that wasn't foiled by simply disabling auto-run. (The disc in question was felled by this slightly cumbersome but completely effective method.)

So, here's the part where I show a little sympathy for the devil. I don't blame Matador for keep people from ripping their promo CDs. They're sent out to be played on the air and in record stores, not to end up on iPods and file sharing services. Given the fact that these things come out before the CDs hit the shelf, I can see why they'd want to keep them under wraps. And even though I'm highly skeptical of the assumption that every download equals a lost sale, one could make that argument about protecting their rights a little stronger with these CDs they send out for promotional purposes.

However, I work at a station that is moving towards an all digital studio. For the afternoon jazz programs, they are in the process of doing away with CD players and playing all the tracks of a host server called an Audio Vault. I've been told our time is coming and that soon we will also be using this system. From what I understand, this isn't just my station, this is the way the industry is moving.

What I want to know is, when my station goes to the all Audio Vault system, how am I supposed to play tracks from Matador and other labels who make it so you can't rip their CDs? Sure, I can disable auto-run on my computer while I'm previewing the disc, but I can't guarantee I will have that option at the radio station.

It's something I hope labels like Matador are thinking about. Not all instances of CD ripping are malicious and while I respect the rights of the copyright owner to protect their property, I also know I'm much more likely to play their music when they allow me to do so without jumping through some silly hoops.

And, at the very least, it's only polite to let someone know a CD is going to install software before they put it in a computer.

EDIT: Just wanted to add one thing. In all fairness, I know the answer is "don't listen to these CDs on your computer." Well, in addition to assembling shows on the computer, about the only time I have to preview new CDs is at my real job where I have to listen to them on a PC. I strongly doubt I'm the only PD who checks out the promos on a computer, and I'll bet I'm not the only one to get the same suprise with the installer.

Again, to clarify, my problem isn't with the copy control stuff. (Well, at least until they try putting it on the retail discs. Then I'm going to have a big problem.) My problem is just that they don't tell you it's on there. Just label the discs when you put copy control stuff that installs, please. It's only fair.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Review vs. Synopsis

I enjoy reading a lot of web reviews for things such as movies and music. You may have even noticed I tend to indulge in a little writing along those lines myself. However, there's one thing that annoys me even more than one sentence l33t speak "reviews" and that's the person who seems to think detailing every aspect of something is a review. Well, it's not.

Recounting the plot of a movie in complete detail is not a review. Describing every song on an album is not a review, even if you say "I give this track a 3 out of 5" at the end of each track you describe. While describing what something is, what it's about or what it sounds like is good, it's only part of a review.

The whole point of a review is for the writer to tell the reader what he thinks about something. Was it good or bad? Did you enjoy it or not? What worked and what didn't?

A review isn't just taking a look at something, it's taking a critical look at something. Without that element of criticism, you have written a synopsis, not a review. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's certainty a time and place for synopsis. I just wish people would get would get it straight what they're doing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I lose my geek license.

Right. So check out these crappy PDA camera pics of what I passed on yesterday at Value Village:

Nutty, eh? Someone finally decided to clear all their old Sierra games out. It was kind of cool seeing some of that stuff again. Back then, games came on multiple discs, the newer ones had both 5.25" and 3.5" in there. And you always got maps, and various stuff like that to enhance the game experience.

Several of these were still sealed. Maybe someone got 'em on clearance or maybe they worked at Sierra. (Or maybe they just didn't like Leisure Suit Larry.)

I almost bought Silpheed, just because I'm still kinda sorta collecting shmups that aren't arcade boards, but I'm trying to clear clutter out of my life, not put more in.

Speaking of geekery, you know you're a geek if you can identify why this arcade game made me chuckle:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Free Zone Charts 5/23

Alright, time for the ever popular Free Zone CMJ Top 30 and adds. As always, the Free Zone can be heard Friday and Saturday nights midnight to 3AM on 88.7 FM WICR here in Indianapolis.

Top 30:

# ARTIST Recording
2 THE COUP Pick A Bigger Weapon
3 MONO You Are There
4 MURS AND 9TH WONDER Murray's Revenge
5 NOMO New Tones
6 SOUL POSITION Things Go Better With RJ And AL
7 MORRISSEY Ringleader Of The Tormentors
8 ZOMBI Surface To Air
9 MADLIB Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
10 BRIEF CANDLES They Live, We Sleep
11 MCLUSKY Mcluskyism
13 DUDLEY PERKINS Expressions (2012 A.U.)
14 KIERAN HEBDEN AND STEVE REID The Exchange Session: Vol. 2
16 MELVINS Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust
17 REWIND! 5 Various Artists
18 DYSRHYTHMIA Barriers And Passages
19 SUBTLE Wishingbone
20 COCTEAU TWINS Lullabies For Violaine: Singles And Extended Plays 1982-1996
21 DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS A Blessing And A Curse
23 MGR Nova Lux
24 LOOSE FUR Born Again In The USA
26 PAIK Monster Of The Absolute
27 ALIAS AND TARSIER Brookland/Oaklyn
29 COACHWHIPS Double Death
30 PEEPING TOM Peeping Tom


# ARTIST Recording
4 ASTRONAUTALIS The Mighty Ocean And Nine Dark Theaters
5 HALOU Wholeness And Separation

My new Watches.

I've found some pictures of my Florida booty. See, one of the things we always do in Florida is hit the Fossil outlet store. That, the Adidas outlet store and the Friends of the Florida Library store are the only kind of shopping I want to do on vacation. The Adidas store turned up nothing and I had a small score at the library store, but the watches were where it was at this time.

Why Fossil? Well, they're cheap enough to be something you can own a bunch of and not feel bad (like Swatches) and the outlet store makes that even more so. I got all three of these watches for the same as the tag price of the cheapest one. Plus, they're well made and pretty cool from a design stand point (though there are some you couldn't pay me to wear.)

OK, so on with the show.

This first one is kind of a replacement for one I got last time. See, I love the old Pulsar LED, and what geek wouldn't? I just don't know if I can justify paying eBay prices for one. Luckily, Fossil makes several LED watches that mimic the style of the old ones at a fraction of the cost. (And yes, they're true LEDs, not back lit LCD displays like the recent reissues of all the great Mattel handheld sports games. If I've lost you already, you better move on as this entry is only going to get geekier from here on out.)

So, here's what my new one looks like:

Not quite a Pulsar, but I dig it none the less. My old one has a green crystal and a less solid, more rounded band. The problem with it was the date function went a little wonky. Not a huge deal, and so far the only problem I've had with any of the dozen or so Fossils I own. Still, I hope to get a little more out of this one.

Now, to the really cool stuff. I was hoping to find this one at the outlet as I knew it'd been out a while and I didn't feel like paying the $130 it originally retailed for. Check this out:

That one I was looking for, but this one jumped out and grabbed me:

The answer to the big question is, no, you can't play them. They do have a very neat attract screen type animation that is pretty fun to watch. The Asteroids one is the big old deluxe model with an engraved limited edition number and everything. (Of course, I'm shamelessly obliterating any value by wearing it to work today. MUHAHAHAHAAA!!!)

I guess there's also a Breakout model available, but I didn't see it. I kept hoping to find a Missile Command watch as that would look so nice while I'm playing this:

(No, that didn't come from Florida, I'm just bragging again about the great birthday gift my fiancee got me last year.)

And, in case you were wondering, the best thing I got at the friends of the library store was a VHS of "The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story" which due to Disney's constant stream of direct to video sequels and artificially limited editions hasn't made it to DVD yet. As I've been on quite the early animation kick lately, I'm really looking forward to this.

I'm back.

Whew. The worst part of going away is coming home. As I get older, I have more and more stuff waiting for me when I return. I *think* I got all the important stuff taken care of, but I guess I'll see in the next few days.

Florida was fun. I got some new watches which are total geek porn. I'll have to show those off when I get a chance to take a pic or two. In the meantime, if you'd like to bid on some Nintendo stuff I have up on eBay, it'd rock my world. No, those two thoughts aren't connected. I just finally got tired of tripping over those extraneous games yesterday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Leaving for the weekend.

And so the wedding season officially begins this weekend. I'll be gone 'till Monday.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this anatomical diagram of Gamera and the hope that Gamera: The Little Braves makes a US appearance soon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

This Guy Knows What I'm Talkin' About

Well, what do you know? I'm not alone in being contacted by clueless, horrible bands. (Not like I really ever thought I was.)

Fortunately, I don't get so many poorly produced CD-Rs these days. With what we do on the Free Zone, we are a bit more likely to play something that was recorded in someone's garage and sounds like it, if the music is good. The thing is, so rarely are these crappy CD-Rs people send worth hearing, it's not even really an issue.

The other side of things is, people seem to be unaware of the volume of stuff that reaches a radio station or reviewer in a week. I know I've mentioned it before, but it's a lot. You've got to do something to stand out and throwing a CD you just burnt in an envelope with no information other than a band name and email address written in marker on the CD is not going to cut it.

Plus, you have to actually be good. I know it's going to sound like an elitist statement, but technology has made recording too accessible these days. Now, I'm not going to suggest that every band that recorded ten or twenty years ago should have, but I think the fact that you had to put some work and money into it probably separated some of the wheat from the chafe.

At the very least, you got more polished turds, just by virtue of bands having to record in a real studio with real engineers. I'm not suggesting improved fidelity means improved music, but at least for this jock, it might mean someone will leave your album on long enough to discover any good songs rather than turning it off instantly.

I guess I'll also roll this into a what up for Hitch Magazine while I'm at it. Fine stuff there. Check it out kids.

Free Zone Charts 5/15

Once again, Free Zone charts for this week.

As always, you can hear the Free Zone every Friday and Saturday night midnight to 3AM on WICR.

# ARTIST Recording
1 THE COUP Pick A Bigger Weapon
3 MORRISSEY Ringleader Of The Tormentors
4 SOUL POSITION Things Go Better With RJ And AL
5 MONO You Are There
6 MURS AND 9TH WONDER Murray's Revenge
7 NOMO New Tones
8 BRIEF CANDLES They Live, We Sleep
9 MADLIB Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
10 ZOMBI Surface To Air
11 MCLUSKY Mcluskyism
13 HANK III Straight To Hell
14 COCTEAU TWINS Lullabies For Violaine: Singles And Extended Plays 1982-1996
15 KIERAN HEBDEN AND STEVE REID The Exchange Session: Vol. 1
18 DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS A Blessing And A Curse
20 SUBTLE Wishingbone
21 DUDLEY PERKINS Expressions (2012 A.U.)
22 REWIND! 5 Various Artists
23 DYSRHYTHMIA Barriers And Passages
24 MGR Nova Lux
25 LOOSE FUR Born Again In The USA
27 MELVINS Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust
29 PAIK Monster Of The Absolute
30 ENABLERS Output Negative Space

And the adds:

ecceccentric soul: the big mack label
coachwhips@@double death
peeping tom@@peeping tom
alias & tarsier@@brookland/oaklyn
mike johnson@@gone out of your mind

Monday, May 15, 2006

Robot Monster in 3-D part 2

No, not a sequel to Robot Monster, but a follow up to my earlier post about Robot Monster and the World 3-D Film Expo.

Y'see, in the early '90s, Rhino released a few 3-D movies on VHS in red/blue Anaglyphic 3-D. As luck would have it, I just happened to find a copy of Robot Monster locally and cheap, so how could I pass it up? (Also got some laserdiscs and a Henry Threadgill LP, but that's another story.)

The one redeeming thing I've always heard about my beloved Robot Monster is that the 3-D was pretty damn spiffy*. I'm assuming people were going by the Polarized 3-D prints and not the Anaglyphic like what's on this video. In my experience, Anaglyphic works about half the time and this video of Robot Monster does nothing to change my perception there.

Of course, the other problem being, there must have been some Anaglyphic reels missing as this print of Robot Monster switches between 3-D and flat quite often, and I don't think it's supposed to. I find it really hard to believe all those scenes of Great Guidance sticking his violin bow out at the camera weren't supposed to have depth.

And speaking of things I find hard to believe, someone censored this video! When Ro-Man rips Ai-lice's dress, they put a big black box over her bra! I had to go back to my Image DVD to make sure I didn't miss a booby shot, and you can't even see cleavage in the un-censored version. There's also a scene missing where Ma and Pa find Carla after Ro-Man got her. Nothing gruesome or offensive there, so where'd it go?

For what I paid ($2.50,) I can't complain. Unless you're a real fan of this film, I wouldn't necessarly recommend seeking this tape out though. When the 3-D works, it's pretty cool, but the other 45 minutes are either a blurry mess or flat black and white.

I'd still be curious to see this thing in real Polarized 3-D sometime.

* I've also heard the soundtrack was originally stereo, but I've yet to view this with stereo sound.

Drive recovery.

I lost a drive this weekend. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but it's completely hosed.

So far I've tried all the little things I can think of on the PC side. I've even tried hooking it up to a Mac, but no luck. It seems like the directory structure was completely wiped.

Anyone have any tools/techniques they've used to recover a drive before?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Free Zone Playlist 5/12/2006

Alright, here's Friday's mess. I'll get Saturday's up when I figure it out.

For those of you just joining us (that means you, bands Googling your own names, I see you out there,) The Free Zone runs every Friday and Saturday night, midnight to 3AM on 88.7 FM WICR.

And for anyone who listened and wondered where the heck I was, I just didn't feel likte gabbing. I'm like that some times.

Title Artist Album Label
Mmmmm Acting, I Love me Good Acting Don Cabalero World Class Listening Problem 2006 Relapse
Where Eagles Have Been Wolfmother Wolfmother 2006 Interscope
Reunion 2 AFX Chosen Lords 2006 Rephlex
The Buck Stops Here Apathy Eastern Philosophy 2006
Call to Arms The Black Angels Passover 2006 Light in the Attic
Go Get That Monkey Off Yo Back The Coup Pick a Bigger Weapon 2006 Epithaph
A Blessing and a Curse Drive By Truckers A Blessing and a Curse 2006 New West
Seal,Breaker,Void Dysrhythmia Barriers and Passages 2006 Relapse
Roll Over Bethoveen ELO ELO II 2006 Sony
Pompeii am Gotterdammerung Flaming Lips At War with the Mysitcs

2006 WB

1 AM      
We Choose Faces I Love You But I've Choosen Darkness Fear is on Our Side 2006 Secretly Canadian
WMD Jel Soft Money 2006 Anticon
Venture Lanterna Desert Ocean 2006
Stupid as the Sun Loose Fur Born Again in the USA 2006 Touch N Go
Aquila Coisas Todas Luisito Quintero Percussion Maddness 2006 K7!
Eternal Broadcaster (Authentic) Madlib Movie Scenes 2006 Stones Throw
Carousel! Carousel! Mason Proper There Is a Moth in Your Chest 2006
Alone Again Or Matther Sweet & Susanna Hoffs Under the Covers Vol. 1 2006 Shout Factory
We Dream Free Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid The Exchange Session Vol. 2 2006 Domino
That Man Will Not Hang McLusky McLuskyism 2006 Too Pure
2 AM    
Hay Que Ver Si Voy Juana Molina Son 2006 Domino
Hag Me The Melvins Houdini Live 2006 Ipecac
The Flames Beyond The Cold Mountain Mono You Are There 2006 Temp. Residence
Life is a Pigsty Morrissey Ringleader of the Tormentors 2006 Attack
Murray's Law Murs and 9th Wonder Murray's Revenge 2006 Record Collector
Damn Nightmares on Wax In a Space Outta Time 2006 Warp
Legacy Zombi Surface to Air 2006 Relapse
Plastic Man You're the Devil Pink Mountaintops Axis of Evol 2006 Secretly Canadian

Friday, May 12, 2006

Umm...what year is this again?

From the Free Zone albums from Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Last week, it was Tool.

Honestly, does anyone still care?

Speaking of not knowing the year...also got the "A Prairie Home Companion" movie soundtrack in the mail. Wow. I sincerly hope Lindsay Lohan singing "Frankie & Johnny" is supposed to be a joke. The liberties taken with the lyrics would and the Jr. High talent show histrionics lead me to think so, but I'm honestly not sure. If this track is supposed to be serious, here's an excellent case either for Antares Auto Tune or for actresses to stick to what they do best...err...whatever that may be in this case.*

* Yes, I know. I should be ashamed of myself for shooting fish in a barrel and jumping on the trite "slagging starlets" bandwagon. Dammit, couldn't they have just given her a novelty song to sing instead of pissing all over Jimmie Rogers grave?

Quick Thoughs on Wedge Issue '06 Immigration

This morning on NPR, they had some guy on who was spearheading an effort against illegal immigration. He claimed it had nothing to do with racism, but that he was just against people breaking the law. This seems to be the popular "I'm not a racist but..." excuse for people zealously supporting anti-illegal immigration measures.

It stuck me how similar this argument is to the way many people defend the South's position in the Civil War. Working in construction, I heard time and time again that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, it was about state's rights. See, nothing racist there at all.

While both of those excuses may have truth to them, there are true reasons behind the excuses that people want to ignore. Now, I'm not a history scholar, but it seems to me that the state's rights issue in the Civil War had something to do with the South wanting slavery and the North thinking that a bit uncouth. Sure, state's rights were at issue, but the rights in question had to do with slavery.

I find people who support the anti-illegals movement to be similarly disingenuous. If these people are so in favor of people following the law of the land, why not go after people who park in handicapped spaces or people who speed? They could chose to go after internet predators or illegal downloaders. I mean there are tons of crimes one could pick to devote time and energy to. Why this one?

Like the state's rights people, those who claim to be supporting doing things the right way are technically correct. It's true, people coming into the country illegally are breaking the law. But I can't help but feel the dark skinned boogeyman in the corner has more than a little to do with why this issue has ignited such a passion for laws and fair play in people who would remain quietly indifferent on so many other examples of law breaking.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"It's Pretty Awesome When it Works."

If you survived my mega long reflections on Africa Addio, here's a little something to lighten the mood:

Steve Jobs blooper reel

Jacopetti and Prosperi, "Africa Addio" (1966) and the Power of Images

I'm not sure how exactly I became interested in the films of Jacopetti and Prosperi. It may have something to do with the fact that nearly every book I've read on exploitation or cult movies (at least the non-genre specific ones) has mentioned the duo. The two will go down in history for inventing the "Mondo" film and have to be among the most controversial filmmakers of all time.

I think it's the fact that their films provoke such a strong reaction from people that has attracted me to them. No one I've read is neutral to the violent and dark films Jacopetti and Prosperi lensed. Critics either find the two as visionaries documenting life in all it's beauty and evil or racists appealing to the basest human instincts and exploiting death for dollars.

A few years ago, Blue Underground released "The Mondo Cane Collection" featuring all of the pair's movies (except "Mondo Candido",) two rare director's cuts and a documentary "The Godfathers of Mondo." Recently, the set, which was a limited edition and expensive, has been split in two, minus the director's cut discs, and is available again as two three disc sets, each available for less than $20.

I recently picked up the second collection (Shockumentaries Vol. 2), as it contained the documentary, which is what I was most interested in seeing. "The Godfathers of Mondo" is a well done documentary that basically lets Jacopetti and Prosperi tell, in their own words, what they were trying to accomplish with these films. Modern film historians are also thrown in the mix to give context and help paint the big picture.

Overall, the documentary was very interesting and, as I'd already read a lot about these films, it helped me understand what would possess someone to head out with film cameras in search of death and destruction. However, seeing the documentary first has tainted my view of the duo's work and I'm not sure I can approach their movies as they are without considering what the filmmakers claim they intended.

Trying to figure out what Jacopetti and Prosperi intended was a big part of my experience of watching "Africa Addio." In fact, I hadn't planned on watching the film at all, but curiosity go the best of me. I knew what it was about, post-colonial Africa in the early to mid 60s, and I knew there were lengthy scenes of slaughter, both human and animal. The filmmakers had even been taken to court and charged with allegedly staging the on-camera execution of a rebel.

That the filmmakers were acquitted of the murder charge doesn't change the fact that one can not watch this film without wondering how much of it was manipulated for the benefit of film making. There are a couple light hearted scenes that are clearly fake (such as the Zulu beach party scene) and I couldn't help but wonder how much of the rest of this allegedly objective documentary was staged for the benefit of the cameras.

Of course, this is one of the age old problems with documentary films. The very act of putting a camera and crew in a situation changes the dynamics of the situation. The difference in "Africa Addio" being, the situation is a country sliding into anarchy with foreigners, rebels and government groups all making a grab for power. It's absolutely astonishing to watch the variety of atrocities people are willing to perform in front of the camera but I can't figure out if the crew being there encouraged people to behave better or worse.

Another thing I can't quite put my finger on is deciding if this film is racist or not. Reading opinions on-line, I have to wonder if we've all seen the same movie*. I've seen the entire gamut of opinion, some people finding it racist against blacks, some finding it racist against whites, and some people finding it even handed.

For the most part, this film seems willing to spread the blame for the atrocities around. I didn't feel "Africa Addio" was blatantly racist, but, at worst, I did notice a slightly condescending attitude towards the black Africans ability to govern themselves, at least at the point in time covered by the film.

Of course, there is the issue of presenting images of Africans and Arabs being killed for entertainment as being racist, if you assume that's what Jacopetti and Prosperi were intending to do. The ad campaign for the film ("Shocking! Savage! Raw!",) and even the title of this reissue collection ("Shockumentaries!",) certainty has a freak show come-on ring to it.

Watching "The Godfathers of Mondo" documentary, Jacopetti and Prosperi make it clear this was not their intention. They insist the more exploitive qualities were added by their US distributor and the political overtones of the film were toned down so as not to inflame Civil Rights era African-Americans. Two versions of a scene, one from the English cut, one from the Director's Cut, are given as an example and do make a point.

Still, it's hard to deny that the filmmakers tend to linger on the gristly images longer than necessary to make a point. It's also very easy to debate if certain scenes in the film are even necessary to show the kind of chaos Jacopetti and Prosperi seem dedicated to documenting.

However, it's these unsettling and morally questionable scenes, and their juxtaposition with stunning scenes of beauty, that give "Africa Addio" it's impact. I have never seen a film that has made me think about the power of images in the way this film has. Though I didn't intend on approaching this movie from an analytical standpoint, every scene made me question why it was there and what Jacopetti and Prosperi were trying to say by putting it in the movie.

More interestingly, I found myself very aware of my own reactions and what these images were saying to me. "Africa Addio" made me very aware of the way images can be used to manipulate, as Jacopetti and Prosperi are masters at taking the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster using the editing of their films.

Footage of unspoiled nature leads to scenes of a slaughter. Totally gratuitous shots of pretty girls on trampoline is followed by Zulus quickly adapting to the modern world. The way this film is put together, (and if nothing else, it's technically brilliant,) will make your head spin with everything it's throwing at you.

In the end, I'm still not exactly sure what Jacopetti and Prosperi were trying to accomplish with "Africa Addio." They claim they wanted to shed light on the mess the British and French left by pulling out of the country and it's certainty true that, at the time, sights like these were quietly swept under the rug. A premise like that, however, doesn't imply much faith in Africans to control their own destiny nor does it give much hope for this land the film makers supposedly loved.

"Africa Addio" almost serves as a celluloid Rorschach test as the simple act of choosing to watch this film says something about the person watching it. What it says, I'm still not sure. This film has put more questions in my head than answers.

* in fact, we may not have. At least three different versions of this film exist: the English version I've seen, the "director's cut," which is longer and supposedly contains more political context and explanation, and a drastically shorter cut which removes almost all the politics and was released as "Africa Blood and Guts." This last version supposedly double billed with "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song." So much for not being inflammatory.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some music I've been digging.

I know I've been down on a lot of music lately. There's a lot of shit music out there. But now, I'd like to highlight a few things I've been digging on. Not indepth reviews, just some "you should check this out" and I'll include the ever popular mp3s where I can.

First up is Zombi and their new album Surface to Air. These guys sound to me like Rush doing a John Carpenter film score. Can I just tell you what an awesome combination that is? Naah, I won't tell you, listen for your self:

Zombi - Challenger Amp
Zombi - Digitalis

Next, the full legnth from The Black Angels Passover. This is droning psychedelic stuff that makes me think of the Blue Cheer and the Silver Apples as well as newer bands like Spacemen 3 and Jesus and Mary Chain. Really good stuff, highly recommended.

The Black Angels - The First Vietnamese War

OK, I've always dug the Coup, but I think Pick a Bigger Weapon might be their best album yet. Once again, expect this one to get overlooked, but if you like intelligent, highly political hip hop with some of the best modern G-funk beats around, you're going to want to check this one out.

The Coup - We Are the Ones
The Coup - My Favorite Mutiny

Last one for now, I always love Mono, the Japanese Mono anyway. Their new one You Are There on the always excellent Temporary Residence label is another stunner.

Mono - The flames beyond the cold mountain

Alright, that's it for now. Hope you enjoy this stuff. I know everyone else does the mp3 posts, but I figure I've slagged enough music, I ought to point out some stuff I actually like.

Free Zone Charts 5/09

Because I know you all have been waiting.

# ARTIST Recording
2 THE COUP Pick A Bigger Weapon
3 MORRISSEY Ringleader Of The Tormentors
4 SOUL POSITION Things Go Better With RJ And AL
5 MONO You Are There
6 MURS AND 9TH WONDER Murray's Revenge
7 HANK III Straight To Hell
8 BRIEF CANDLES They Live, We Sleep
9 MADLIB Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
11 MCLUSKY Mcluskyism
14 COCTEAU TWINS Lullabies For Violaine: Singles And Extended Plays 1982-1996
16 KIERAN HEBDEN AND STEVE REID The Exchange Session: Vol. 1
17 ZOMBI Surface To Air
18 DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS A Blessing And A Curse
19 NOMO New Tones
20 SUBTLE Wishingbone
21 WILDERNESS Vessel States
23 LANGUIS Other Desert Cities [EP]
24 MGR Nova Lux
25 LOOSE FUR Born Again In The USA
26 ENABLERS Output Negative Space
27 DUDLEY PERKINS Expressions (2012 A.U.)
28 DYSRHYTHMIA Barriers And Passages
30 GODDAKK Monument To A Ruined Age


# ARTIST Recording
1 LUISITO QUINTERO Percussion Madness
2 REWIND! 5 Various Artists [12-Inch]
3 MELVINS Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust
4 PAIK Monster of the absolute

I have a Saturday playlist, but it's not here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Unaltered Star Wars Original Trilogy Officially on DVD

In case you didn't know, Lucas is finally releasing the unaltered, original Star Wars trilogy on DVD. For a lot of people, this is the moment they've waited for, but for me, I say too little, too late.

First off, I already own the unaltered versions on DVD. How? Well, there's been a very active fan community dedicated to having these movies on disc. Everything from straight copies of the laserdiscs to versions removing the alterations made to the commercially available DVDs are easily available. Some of these discs even have isolated score tracks and alternate scenes.

Given in the article I linked above Jim Ward from Lucasfilm says "It is state of the art, as of 1993, and that's not as good as state of the art 2006," one can't help feeling these discs are going to be little more than authorized bootlegs anyway. That and the 2.0 Dolby track I've seen mentioned on the official Star Wars site sounds to me like they're just going to transfer the old laserdisc masters and pair them with the altered versions for a 2006 holiday release. I have no interest in owning the altered versions and I can't see paying for something, official or not, if it's not better than what I already own.

The big thing for me though is I'm pretty much over Star Wars. I can pin point the exact moment when it happened; 1997, about half way through my viewing of the "Star Wars: Special Edition." Right there in the theater, it hit me. This movie isn't nearly as good as I remember it. Yes, I can be a cynical bastard, but I went into this expecting to be wowed. I left nonplussed.

Since then, I really don't think I've sat through an entire Star Wars movie*. I certainty haven't seen the other special editions nor have I seen the new films, though I've seen bits and pieces of the first one on TV. I haven't even watched my original-original trilogy DVDs, though they are there if I want them.

Now, I'm not here to harsh anyone else's enjoyment as I know these films mean a lot to a lot of people. For me though, unless I completely immerse myself in nostalgia and look at these films with the same eyes I had when I was 7, I just can't get into them anymore. There's just too many other films I'd rather watch than sit through the stiff acting and cliche good vs. evil story of Star Wars again.

Still, I think this is a good thing that the discs will be available for people who want them. I can't say I'm surprised that Lucas went back on his "these will never be available again" thing. Honestly, I think this was part of the plan all along. So for the fanboys, I guess the big question now is, do I buy these and triple dip on the altered versions or wait for the inevitable HD-DVD/Blu-Ray set that will have extras and all that?

* unless you count the Holiday Special, which I've seen multiple times since then. :)

OMGOMGOMG!!!! ROBOT MONSTER IN 3-D!!! the World 3-D Film Expo II.

(BTW, that's the Joe Dante with Ro-Man. Neat-O.)

Not just Robot Monster, but damn near every film I've ever wanted to see in 3-D (the good Polarized lens kind, not the crap red/blue glasses kind) all in one place. The only film I'd want to see not on that list is The Mask, but I think that was only ever available in red/blue Anaglyphic 3-D.

Downside being, aside from it being in Hollywood, that's going to be a hefty chunk of change to see it all, and I'd probably have to see it all. (Well, ok, maybe I could miss the musicals...but it's not like you get to see 3-D films from the 50s in 3-D every day.)

If I had to choose one day to attend, it'd have to be Saturday the 16th. Check this line up out:

Robot Monster
All the Golden Age 3-D animated shorts
Dial M for Murder
Charge At Feather River (I'd probably skip this, not a Western fan)
and, at midnight, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein!

For course, it'd also be awesome to take in back-to-back Creature from the Black Lagoon (which I *think* I saw a red/blue print of ages ago) and Return of the Creature on Sunday the 10th. And who wouldn't want to see The Stewardesses? 3-D 70s porn??? Sign me up!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

General thoughts about Podcasts.

I think Podcasts are a pretty interesting thing. There's several I subscribe to ranging from local music shows to cult movie shows to video Podcasts of all manner. I'd like to throw out a little constructive criticism to anyone doing one of these things, so here goes.

First off, I'm not expecting professional quality but at least get everyone talking on a mic. And try to match the levels somewhat. There usually seems to be one person substantially louder than all the others (and it's usually the person who talks the most) and it becomes very difficult to hear what anyone else is saying.

Go easy with the sound effects. It's a Podcast, not America's Funniest Home Videos. I'd say the same for music, unless it's a music Podcast. And, back to the sound balance, don't let the music drown out anyone talking.

The biggest beef I have is people need to spend some time editing once they are done recording, especially if you are using Skype, which seems to drop out a lot. There is nothing more boring than listening to five minutes of "are you there? I think we just lost so and so" twice an episode.

Speaking of editing, it seems like all the Podcasts I subscribe too keep getting longer and longer. If you can't keep it under an hour, break it up into two episodes. (Honestly though, an hour is really pushing it, as far as length goes.) Again, there's usually a lot of fat to be cut, places where the conversation rambles, inside jokes, etc.

Back dat Impala up.

Can someone please explain to my why some people can only park by backing into a parking space? It bugs me because it always seems like it takes them forever to actually get their car in there right and they hold up everyone else who just wants to get around. I almost got out of my car today and offered to park this lady's car for her. Honestly, it took at least 2 minutes for her to get it right and traffic was piling up behind me.

And what I REALLY don't get is the idiots who back in to angled spaces. Say if the lot goes like this:

/ / /
you would drive from the top down and pull into a space. When you leave you pull out and you're on your way. But there's always some schmuck who can't seem to figure this out and backs in and is facing the WRONG way when they pull out of the space. The isle is only big enough for one car and you're only supposed to go one way.

And I see people do this in parking garages! Seriously, I parked yesterday in a garage. Traffic flows one direction, the spots are angled and there's even a sign as you come in asking you not to back in. I can't imagine any reason why someone would back in as if would be incredibly difficult to do and it would make pulling out equally difficult, to say nothing of the fact that there's absolutely no reason your car needs to be facing out in a parking garage. Yet there it was. Some big ass pickup's headlights staring at me in a row of cars parked correctly.

My other favorite is at the grocery store when people try to load groceries into a car they've backed in. Rather than pulling into the space and leaving a clear shot at their trunk, they backed in, so they have to try to squeeze the cart between to cars to get to where their trunk is. Then they have to squeeze between their back bumper and the bumper of the car behind them to load things into the car. Does that makes any sense at all?

Really, I can't see any advantage or even a reason for backing into parking spaces, yet so many people do. Can someone please explain to me what is the appeal here?

And if you must back in, at least learn how to do it correctly. Man, I'm sick of waiting on people who need five or six passes to back their Buick in when if they'd just pulled into the space we could have both been on our way.

EDIT: FlavaDave over at IMN sends this great link... Fancy Parking! Awesome! Thanks for pointing that one out!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Special gift for Calcinator Death Ray readers.

Colbert at the White House Correspondents' dinner

If you haven't seen this thing, you need to watch it...

A lot of folks are clutching their pearls right now about how inappropriate this was and besides, it wasn't funny anyway. I'm just curious as to how this is any less funny or more inappropriate than Bush narrating a photo of himself looking under a desk with "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere. Nope, no weapons over there ... Maybe under here?" as he did at this event last year.

Or, for that matter, Don Imus' speech at the same thing in 1996?

OK, maybe Imus was a bit more funny ha-ha, but I don't see how his speech was anything but more nasty and disrespectful than Cobert's, who, after all, was attacking policies, not people. And I fail to see how mocking the reason we were sold a war is either funny or appropriate humor, especially coming from the man's whose war it is in the first place.

Then again, I don't find Larry the Cable Guy funny either, so what do I know about humor?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Free Zone Charts 5/2/2006

Here's what we reported to CMJ this week:

Top 30

# ARTIST Recording
1 THE COUP Pick A Bigger Weapon
3 MCLUSKY Mcluskyism
4 MORRISSEY Ringleader Of The Tormentors
5 SOUL POSITION Things Go Better With RJ And AL
6 KIERAN HEBDEN AND STEVE REID The Exchange Session: Vol. 1
7 HANK III Straight To Hell
8 BRIEF CANDLES They Live, We Sleep
11 MONO You Are There
12 MURS AND 9TH WONDER Murray's Revenge
13 MADLIB Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
14 COCTEAU TWINS Lullabies For Violaine: Singles And Extended Plays 1982-1996
17 DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS A Blessing And A Curse
18 PARTS AND LABOR Stay Afraid
21 WILDERNESS Vessel States
22 SUBTLE Wishingbone
23 LOOSE FUR Born Again In The USA
24 GODDAKK Monument To A Ruined Age
25 BUILT TO SPILL You In Reverse
26 LANGUIS Other Desert Cities [EP]
27 NIGHTMARES ON WAX In A Space Outta Sound
28 MGR Nova Lux
29 AFX Chosen Lords
30 ENABLERS Output Negative Space


# ARTIST Recording
1 NOMO New Tones
3 DUDLEY PERKINS Expressions (2012 A.U.)
4 SUGARPLUM FAIRIES Country International Records
5 HELVETIA The Clever North Wind

Monday, May 01, 2006

Win some, lose some.

Quick thought on a really obscure LP I picked up ages ago.

I finally had a chance to listen to this "Live at the Lamplighter Inn" by the Lanny Hartley Trio and Jimmy Scruggs that I picked up back in October or November. I picked it up as it was a private pressing of a local group from (I'm guessing) '69 and the price was arrite for the condition (practically unplayed.)

I was hoping I'd stumbled across some undiscovered jem, but what I got was a competent but typical private pressing record of a typical lounge act of the time. Yeah, the track listing tipped me off (lots of standards, two medleys, Hava Nigela, few chrissakes!) but I still held out hope as there were a few R&B crossover tracks as well.

Oh well. That's what I get for not bringing the portable turntable with me.

So, it's come to this...

A neighbor caught someone siphoning gas out of my landlord's truck yesterday. I guess some redneck pulled up his truck, chopped up our garden hose and was emptying out the tank when she saw him. It was the middle of the day in a relatively high traffic area.


It's going to be a long summer.

Airiel good...headlining bad.

So, the Bloomington show was pretty good. Well, at least Airiel's part of it. The opening band was actually pretty painful and Early Day Miners, despite how much I enjoy their records, were a little disappointing. Sounds like they're in a "transitional" sort of thing soundwise.

Unfortunately for us, Airiel went on last. Unfortunately for them too as the old curse of the headliner struck again. Granted, this wasn't exactly a sell-out show or anything but the place was looking pretty bare by the time Airiel took the stage. It wasn't that they cleared the room; most people didn't even give them the chance.

Having the last slot on a "local" show can be one of the worst things that can happen to an out of state band. Yeah, the venue can call it "headlining" to try to make it sound better, but what it really means is, unless the audience already knows you, you're going to be playing to an empty room.

I always think it's a bit unfair to have any non-locals playing last as people around here usually split when the last local leaves the stage. Sure, there are exceptions to this, but more times than not unless a popular local ends the night, last band plays clean up to the last handful of people trying to sober up or hook up.

Now, I can't say I've never left during a headliner before. Weeknight shows with a late start always make it difficult to stay for the whole evening. And it should go without saying that a lousy band is a quick way to chase me out of a club. That I think is only fair.

Still, I try to check out all the bands when I see a show. Admittedly, I'm often disappointed, but at least I have my own opinion when I leave.

I'm not going to chastise people for the decisions they make. After all, they paid their money, it's up to them to decide how much they want to see. I will make this suggestion though; there are a lot of folks who exert a bunch of energy worrying about "local scene" this and that. Really, I think the local part of the music scene is under control. Perhaps too under control as it seems to me Indy audiences can be extremely closed minded to anything not "local."

Music scenes don't develop in a vacuum. Word of mouth is pretty much what starts the ball rolling. When bands coming through town have to play late to empty rooms, it's hard for me to believe puts anything but a negative word on the street out there about out fair city.

So, this is just a suggestion. If you want to do something to help the scene, next time you're at a show, stick around for the last band. Not only might you accidentally expose yourself to something new, you also help show the rest of the country that Indy's music scene is open minded and progressive.