CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 4 Feb / 19 Feb]

 

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Need any proof that the entertainment industry has a death wish?  Look no further than this Reuters article: Old media turns combative against new media.  Yes, that’s right- they’ve become even more clueless about modern culture than your grandfather.  The only problem is that your grandfather probably (hopefully) doesn’t have to know about his own biz yet is dangerously, pathologically ignorant of it.


But it gets worse.  With the blessing of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, some states are now cracking down on the practice of selling used CD’s, no doubt the number one scourge which is ravaging America now: see this Ars Technica article for more details.  Might it occur to the biz that like the RIAA downloading lawsuits, such an ill-advised crackdown will turn yet more people away from music or at least legally approved methods of accessing music?  Probably not.  Does it also occur to them that the money lost over CD sales will NEVER be turned around into sales of new CD’s?  Probably not.  Used CD’s are bought up for a reason- many people who buy them aren’t THAT interested in an artist or an album to pay full price for a new copy.  If they can’t buy the music used, why would they run out and buy a new copy?  They won’t and they’ll probably turn to download and not necessarily the type that the industry approves of.


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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tim Harford, the Financial Times’ economics columnist, writes about rent exhaustion in his most recent column.


there’s the ”curse of the free lunch” - or what a more strait-laced economist would call ”rent exhaustion”. It works like this: I fly somewhere deserving - say, Dar es Salaam - and hand out dollar bills to strangers. I’ll do it next Tuesday, starting at noon; please form an orderly queue. This would be guaranteed to produce a long line of people. Someone who made a dollar an hour would be willing to queue for up to an hour; someone on a dollar a day would be willing to queue for a day.
At least the people who found it worthwhile to queue would be poorer than those who didn’t. But many in the queue would surely be better off earning it by doing something productive. Each dollar I gave away would be worth only a few cents once you subtracted the cost of the recipient’s time - by trying to get the handout, they are destroying much of its value.


It seemed awfully shallow to be thinking of this in juxtaposition with people living on less than a dollar a day, but this analysis made me think of the huge amount of time I have spent chasing deals—in thrift stores or sales or wherever—that was not adequately compensated for by the actual value of what I ended up with. When I was a student and had little money but lots of time (I wasn’t an especially serious student, I suppose) I was susceptible to schemes that allowed me to waste lots of time for a little bit of gain. Killing time was an end in itself for me then, which is regrettable—which is the thing for which I tend to be looking for somebody other than myself to blame. Hence the following…


The costs of chasing deals (like opportunity costs) are not immediately apparent, a fact which marketers and retailers routinely exploit when they promise free gifts or once-in-a-lifetime opportunities or rebates or money-back guarantees or what have you—they get you to pay in effort what you save in money, while potentially earning your gratitude at the same time (as well as making the brands in question more familiar to you through the arduousness of the process).


 


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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Almost two decades after the official end of the Cold War, Russia remains a major subject of scrutiny for the Western press. While this journalistic presence invariably means scary and strange things are happening there (you don’t see many foreign correspondents writing about Norway), it’s made for some fascinating—and disturbing—reads.


This month’s issue of Harper’s reprints an excellent piece by UCLA history professor Perry Anderson that examines everything from Vladimir Putin’s speaking style to the rise of the ‘imperial novel’ to the consequences of a rising China and European Union on either side of the country. One of the most disheartenings sections discusses the state of the Russian media:


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Tuesday, May 8, 2007


“It seems like a big budget remake or our film.”
—Eric Zala, “Belloq” and director of Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, commenting on what it’s like to watch the original Raiders of the Lost Ark today
I have been hearing about Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation for years.  (Even name checking it in a totally unrelated review I wrote a few years ago.)  Its story is now legendary in fanboy circles: In 1982, three kids from rural Mississippi become obsessed with arguably the greatest action-adventure movie of their generation, and armed with the innocence of youth and a Betamax recorder, decide to create a shot-for-shot recreation of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Seven years later, they wrapped on the film, put it away, and moved on with their lives and apart from each other.  In 2003, on the support of such notables as director Eli Roth and Ain’t It Cool’s Harry Knowles, the film “debuted” at the Alamo Draft House in San Antonio.  Now, Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, and Jayson Lamb are making the rounds with their masterpiece, and a biopic is in the works to tell their story on the big screen. I had the good fortune to attend a screening and Q&A with two of the three makers of this testament to youth in a near-capacity theater on the campus of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the movie is exactly as advertised.  All horrible sound and bad picture, the entire first stanza is awash in a yellow-green tint, but by the time Strompolos’ Indy makes his daring escape from Zala’s Belloq and the Hovitos in the opening sequence, your eyes have grown accustomed to the harsh exposure and you are rooting not for the characters, but for the kids putting on this show.  You want them to succeed and you can’t wait to see how they will pull off each subsequent shot that you know is coming next. Very few changes were made to the source material and only one scene is completely omitted, but what liberties the creators have taken are as charming as they are resourceful, like the use of a small motorboat in place of the seaplane (although Jock’s pet snake Reggie in the front of the boat in Indy’s lap remains).  The later omission of the propeller death and the fight scene that precedes it is certainly forgivable and hardly missed in this final cut. The only other change of note is the replacement of the spider monkey with Strompolos’ dog Snickers, who steals every scene he’s in, which undermines the character’s villainy, because the audience is clearly rooting for the mutt.  From his “Sieg Heil!” salute to his ultimate death (both on screen by way of “bad dates” and in real life as noted in the end credits), the dog is a star. Apart from Snickers, one of the surprisingly biggest cheers came from the stop-motion animation of the maps tracking Indy’s flights from California to Nepal, and again from Nepal to Cairo.  The cheers were accompanied by visible disbelief, awe, and head-shaking during the fight and fire sequence in Marion’s bar.  This is also the scene that garners the most attention during Q&A sessions and interviews.  Strompolos’ mom worked at WLOX-TV, where the boys were editing their masterpiece, when footage of Zala on fire was spotted by a responsible adult.  As a direct result, year two of their production summarily halted. The showstopper is most definitely the truck stunt.  You know the scene - Indy is trying to commandeer the truck in which the Nazis have loaded the Ark of the Covenant.  After Indy disposes of most everyone in and on the truck, the driver then throws Indy through the windshield and onto the hood of the moving vehicle.  The cheers are genuine as Strompolos’ Indy descends the front of the truck, but the payoff is how, intentionally or not, the boys brilliantly hold the shot from inside the back of the truck on the ground rushing out from underneath for enough extra beats to really amp up the expectations of the audience before Strompolos shoots out from under the truck.  A perfect money shot, and worthy of the shouts of approval it garners. The credits recognize Mr. Zala for transportation and Ms. Cooper’s work as seamstress, an “in memory of” note for Snickers, and finish with a Jim Morrison quote (“This is the end, my only friend, the end.”).  When asked about the soundtrack that accompanies The Adaptation, the filmmakers cop to lifting John Williams’ original score throughout, and note that their credits actually run longer than the original’s (six minutes total), so they ended up looping themes from Temple of Doom and Last Crusade before circling back to finish up with the Raiders theme in a sort of Indy mega-mix. What’s truly amazing about the boys’ efforts is that these kids worked from memory the first two or three years; there were no home-viewing VHS copies to purchase, or the Internet to find a complete working script of the film.  Raiders was re-released in 1982, which helped, but primarily they relied on collected bits of Raiders info they could gather, including magazines, comic books, long-playing records, a crappy, clandestine audio recording made at the theater, and Zala’s hand-drawn storyboarding. The resourcefulness and originality (which might seem an odd word choice considering they copied a blockbuster frame-for-frame, but trust me, it applies here) of the production itself is a marvel.  And the spirit continues in these boys-turned-men today.  Zala and Strompolos revealed in the Cleveland Q&A session that all the locations used in their movie were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  They hope to work with the governor of Mississippi to have Paramount’s proposed biopic shot in their home state to help pump some much-needed economic life back into the devastated region. Filmed over 21 consecutive days, 23 year-old Kevin Smith’s Clerks launched his career by famously maxing out his credit cards to finance the movie for $27,000 in 1994.  Twelve years earlier, three 12 year-old boys began a shot-for-shot recreation of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It would take them seven years to complete the film, and cost them roughly $5,000.  Granted, Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, and Jayson Lamb are not as famous as Smith is, but they just might hit it big yet.


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Tuesday, May 8, 2007
by PopMatters Staff

The Clientele —"Bookshop Cassanova"
From God Save The Clientele on Merge
The band are setting free their inner Monkees; a lovely blend of Big Star twisted power-pop and country achin’, with flashes of the Beatles at their most joyful and upbeat. The ghosts, half-light and uncertainties remain, but I sense a new found optimism in the music. Perhaps born of new love? Definitely a new era for the Clientele.


Shapes and Sizes —"Alone/Alive"
From Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner on Asthmatic Kitty
Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner kicks off with a solid rock march ambitious enough to soundtrack the first 10 miles of any road trip. The opening track is one that Shapes and Sizes could very well have penned during their recent 30 kilometer move from Victoria, where the band members met through the city’s vibrant artistic community, to Vancouver, B.C.


Dinosaur Jr. —"Almost Ready"
From Beyond on Fat Possum
Although always as loud as god, it was easy to convince yourself the music of Dinosaur Jr. was far more passive than aggressive. This myth exploded in a hail of flaming toads in the spring of 1989, when the band’s original trio line-up burst like a ripe sac of pus. In the intervening years there have been various versions of Dinosaur Jr., several of which made use of ur-drummer, Murph; but none of them included prodigal bassist, Lou Barlow. Until now. Until Beyond.


Shannon Wright —"St. Pete"
From Let In The Light on Quarterstick
You might be tempted to compare Shannon Wright to whatever ingénue’s tearing up the internet at the moment or some other gal with a guitar and something to say. That’s missing the point, though. After four solo records on Quarterstick, as well as her earlier work with Florida’s Crowsdell, Shannon’s been around the block a few times, each time growing stronger and more sincere, and that’s what makes her different. She takes the clarity and artistic sensibility of Lou Reed, mixes them with the subdued simplicity of Erik Satie and the explosive abilities of Jimmy Page, and emerges as her own artist.


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