Archive for April, 2004

Things to do with old technology: Start a band

Apr 29, 2004 in Music

Treewave is a two-member electronic pop band from Dallas, Texas that uses obsolete computer equipment as instruments, including an Atari 2600 game console, a Commodore 64, a portable Compaq 286 and a dot matrix printer. Mp3’s and OGG files are available.

Band member Paul Slocum is also an Atari 2600 game developer, and is currently working on a Homestar Runner RPG for the 2600. He also has software available to make your own Atari 2600 music.

(via Waxy.org Links)

“Liberal media” and it’s detractors

Apr 27, 2004 in Current Events

From Fark: A columnist for the “far-left” Toronto Globe and Mail suggested, in jest, that Fox News be brought to Canada, just for laughs. This brought the wrath of Bill O’Reilly and his fans, who inundated this columnist with loads of profanity-laden junk mail:

“The people who support Fox News must be the most uncivil and foul-mouthed creatures on the planet. This is an informed opinion. They’d give English soccer hooligans a run for their money.

I lost count of the number of times I was called “an a**hole.” It was at least 43 times, anyway. I was called “a pussy,” “a wussy,” “a pr**k,” “a jerk,” “a hack” and “a creep.” A man in Cleveland not only called me “an a**hole” but also wished me a “f***ed-up day.” A lady — and I use the term advisedly — in Colorado wrote to say that all Canadians are “a**holes” and then ordered me not to visit her state. I was also called a Canadian numerous times, as if that were an automatic and withering insult.”

Which got me to thinking: Whenever I hear a conservative complain about the “liberal media bias” that is so rampant in many mainstream news sources (CNN, NPR, New York Times, and anything else that is not Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or the Washington Times), I can’t help but notice their obvious preference towards news sources with a blatant conservative bias.

These conservatives often defend their preferred news source as being “fair and balanced,” and reporting all sides of an issue, even when the news source itself has admitted (albeit indirectly) to their bias. Everything that is not blatantly conservative is automatically painted as “liberal,” and thus, biased and wrong.

It seems to me that those who complain the loudest about “liberal media bias” do so simply because those “liberal media” outlets don’t go out of their way to reinforce the conservative viewer’s opinions. Case in point: our college newspaper’s resident conservative columnist.

This Bill O’Reilly wannabe uses his latest opinion column on the Alaska oil drilling controversy to slam John Kerry and “liberal senators.” It’s not that I disagree about whether drilling for oil in Alaska is right or wrong; in fact, he makes some good points in support of Alaskan oil drilling. But the point here folks is not oil drilling, it’s attacking the “liberals.” Yes, those dirty, nasty, intolerant liberals. Our own Ann Coulter wannabe also decries the so-called “liberal media,” and cribs his sources from noted conservative news outlets.

Prominent conservative columnists like William F. Buckley and George Will can write an entire column without using the word “liberal” (except where it is relevant), and without deliberately slamming Democrats (again, except where there is relevant criticism to be made), and for that reason I can respect their opinions. Columnists like Ann Coulter on the other hand, who is on a single-minded mission to destroy everything even remotely “liberal,” are much harder to take seriously.

The big question: Is there a liberal media bias? Possibly. The media and entertainment fields do tend to attract a large number of liberal-minded people, just as business tends to attract conservatives. But I have a hard time believing that every non-conservative news source deliberately slants their news to the left. Sure, some do; just as there are blatant right-wing news sources, there are blatant left-wing ones as well. But news sources that are identifiably liberal or conservative are obviously so; they don’t try too hard to hide it.

If the facts are relevant, the news source doesn’t display an obvious political bias, and the item is not presented as opinion, then it is news, period. News shouldn’t present a political bias, it should only report facts. There’s a reason why the New York Times is such a respected publication; because it reports newsworthy facts in a thorough and professional manner. They don’t need to resort to political bias to gain readers, and nobody reads the Times to get their daily fix of liberal news. There are other outlets for that.

I read an interesting article a while back (that I was sadly unable to dig up) from a former college conservative newspaper editor. She noted that liberals are more likely to graduate and work their way up through news organizations or other public institutions. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more likely to graduate into a lucrative career in business, corporate law, or conservative think tanks. Even those who stick with journalism gravitate towards the National Review and their ilk. Despite the fact that there has been a concerted effort by conservatives to establish conservative college newspapers, very few staff members from those papers go on into the media.

Yes, I do read news sources that are identifiably liberal. But hard facts and well-thought out opinions are just that, regardless of the particular news source. I won’t sneeze at a conservative columnist that makes a good point. But neither do I look for a political bias in a news story where none obviously exists. Those who deliberately seek out “liberal bias” in mainstream media are only looking for an excuse to avoid considering facts and viewpoints that they disagree with.

Cheerleader Ninjas

Apr 24, 2004 in Film

So I was at Blockbuster one night about a week ago, and a quirky film in the new releases section caught my eye. Cheerleader Ninjas was obviously a cheesy film, but after reading the back of the box, I knew it was one of those movies that was so bad, it had to be good.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Cheerleader Ninjas is a hilarious (-ly bad) send-up of ’80s teen sex romps, updated for the Internet age. A group called the “Catholic mothers with too much time on their hands” is on a mission to wipe out the smut-filled Internet. They decide to strike against that All-American symbol of young, nubile female sexuality: the cheerleader.

The Catholic mothers recruit Stephen, a gay Catholic reform school teacher who was once rejected from the cheerleading squad. Stephen leads a group of bad ass reform school girls in his fight against the Happy Valley High cheerleaders. The cheerleaders are forced to team up with their social opposites, the Star Trek loving geeks. They acquire ninja skills from a kung fu master, and with the help of the geeks they fight the reform school girls and the mysterious Mr. X, who is taking over the Internet with his zombie control virus.

From the first frame, it’s obvious that Cheerleader Ninjas is a work of parody that doesn’t take itself (or it’s characters) too seriously. This digitally-filmed, low-budget flick has possibly the smallest special-effects budget ever (the cost of costume rentals, a sex doll, two double-headed dildos, ninja weapons, and some props). Stunts are poorly executed, and a blow-up sex doll is frequently substituted as a stunt double.

Chock full of plot holes (and twists), gratuitous nudity, and way too many fart jokes, Cheerleader Ninjas is another quality entry into the bad film canon. The first time I watched it, I thought it was the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long while. After the second viewing, I realized how dumb it really was. If you’re in the mood for a really funny bad film, pick up Cheerleader Ninjas the next time you’re at Blockbuster.

I told ya I’d do it! And you didn’t believe me!

Apr 21, 2004 in Music

Here it is, the first of the mp3 posts. I’ll be doing this on a semi-regular basis (whenever I get some good new music). I hope y’all find something new to listen to.

Today’s offering includes stuff from the fantastic new Modest Mouse album and the upcoming Blonde Redhead album.

Modest Mouse - Blame It On The Tetons
Blonde Redhead - Maddening Cloud

For those of you who are fans of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (Aqua Teen, Sealab, etc.), go check out the website of mc chris! (Shall we christen it nerd-hop right now?)

And as a special bonus to my outsider music-loving readers, I offer my (current) favorite Wesley Willis song, “Cut the Mullet”. First-time customers get 50% off their haircut (shampooing, delousing not included).

You can learn a lot looking through your server logs

Apr 21, 2004 in Personal

Sometimes, I like to browse through my server logs to see who visits. In the sometimes disconnected world that is the internet, I’m not always sure who reads my stuff (in fact, I’m only sure about 1% of the time). The other 99% of the time, I only have a resolved IP address as evidence that someone dropped by to read my creative output. (And yes, I know when you visit, how many times you visit, and often I can narrow it down to a specific geographic location. Hahahawr!)

The logs over at the penguin site are quite revealing. It seems that Yeti Sports part 1 and it’s various hacks are quite popular amongst military personnel, college students and school children. Also, you people at Prudential, Travelers, Honeywell, Delta Airlines and the Government Printing Office need to get back to work! Along with the rest of you who send me your high scores from your work e-mails!

Witty aside: I’m watching Terence Trent D’Arby videos on VH1 Classic right now. Anyone remember him? He was like, Prince Lite. Or Lenny Kravitz, minus the half-Jewishness and Jimi Hendrix aspirations. I don’t think there’s any point to this paragraph.

I’m getting rid of the radio.blog. Take a look, it’s that clever little Flash app in the top-right hand corner that you all so conveniently ignore :-) Seeing as I have plenty of space and bandwidth (especially since my webhost doubled everyones plans), I’m just gonna start posting mp3’s. That, and I’d like to make this more of a music blog. At least one visitor seems to be quite chuffed that I introduced them to the Shaggs. Even if you don’t appreciate the Shaggs, you should at least be aware of their existence. And with that awareness, you should listen repeatedly to Philosophy of the World until it makes sense to you.

Another witty aside: I like the new Outkast video. But what’s up with Andre 3000’s fifties’ obsession? A prediction: Outkast will split, and Andre’s next project will be a doo wop album. It will either be hailed as a great work of visionary pop nostalgia, or it will bomb horribly.

Qwote of the Day

Apr 20, 2004 in Linkage

“There are people who will believe anything that is told them and won’t research it themselves. And to them I say, ‘Enjoy church.’”

- Brooks Brown, friend of Dylan Klebold (from Salon.com, “Columbine, five years later”>

The origins of smileys and supermen

Apr 19, 2004 in Linkage

A high-quality scan of Action Comics No. 1, where Superman first appeared. Superman is in the first twelve pages.

Also, some information on those ubiquitous text smileys :-) from the guy who invented them. I’m sure if he realized what he was doing, he never would have done it :-D
[via Memepool]

I personally think this is a good idea :P

Apr 14, 2004 in Linkage

The Onion | New Negative Campaign Ads Blast Voters Directly

“In the past four years, America’s national debt has reached an all-time high,” the ad’s narrator said. “And who’s responsible? You are. You’re sitting there eating a big bowl of Fritos, watching TV, and getting fatter as the country goes to hell. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

God, I’m prolific tonight…

Apr 13, 2004 in Music

I think I’m gonna buy the William Hung album.

I don’t watch American Idol, although I generally do watch the first few episodes, where they show all the bad singers. I was just gonna write him off as a bad Ricky Martin impersonator whom everyone else liked. But listening to the samples from his latest album has me smirking like the Cheshire Cat.

Behold William Hung massacring such hits as Hotel California, I Believe I Can Fly, and several greats from the Elton John canon (as well as the obligatory Ricky Martin performances)!

William Hung’s success is ultimately the result of an internet meme, ala Mahir Cagri (the Turkish “I Kiss You” guy). His inherent foreign dweebiness is endearing, and his musical performances demonstrate a total lack of self-awareness (which is the key trait of an outsider musician, as defined by Irwin Chusid).

I just hope this doesn’t signal the start of a trend of Ricky Martin impersonators (ala Elvis).

So, I can appreciate the fact that he’s the most commercially-popular musical outsider ever. But perhaps I’m a snob, and prefer my outsider musicians to be obscure musical treasures (esp. those who write their own material). Such as Wesley Willis, or the Shaggs. Folks, you just haven’t lived until you’ve heard Wesley sing about whupping Batman’s ass over the beat of a Casio keyboard rhythm.

Rock over London. Rock on Chigago. Wheaties, The breakfast of champions.

ADDENDUM: Susan Orlean, the New Yorker columnist of Adaptation / The Orchid Thief fame, wrote an excellent article on the Shaggs in 1999. Also check out Orchid Fever, the article that inspired The Orchid Thief (and the film Adaptation).

I’m probably a little late to this party, but…

Apr 13, 2004 in Music

malkmus is stained and it’s not hova’s fault

The Slack Album mashes Jay-Z’s Black Album with Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted. Fucking brilliant.

Tracks such as In the Mouth, an Encore blend the Pavement source material well with Jay-Z’s flow, while Trigger 4th and 99 Problems Here chop and dice the samples Grey Album-style.

The project is not quite finished, and the mixes are still a little rough, but it sounds amazing so far. The best post-Grey Album remix yet! Check your favorite file sharing service for the album, as his server is a little overwhelmed right now.