Music

Video I-Pod- fave stocking stuffer not ready for prime time

"Apple Computer today introduced the first Video IPod, expected to be popular among porn fans with excellent eyesight"- from the Borowitz Report

This is a ring of truth to that though as the I-Pod morphed yet again: Apple's Jobs Unveils Video iPod. Of course, millions of Gen XYZ'ers are gonna be scamming for these for the holidays, regardless of how much more mileage they can get out of these hip little white devices as opposed to other MP3 players or even earlier versions of the Pod. See, it's the HOTTEST version of the Pod with the NEWEST features. For many buyers, any kind of tweak is gonna get them salivating for the thing.

But it isn't any little change we're talking about here. Most players look like the old Atari game systems with the no-frills titles in boring fonts and background colors. the V-Pod isn't the first time that color and animation has been added but it's special because it's Apple, still the faraway leader in the field, and because they inked a deal with Disney. Jack Shafer of Slate, one of the smartest media critics around, is more impressed with the press's gullibility and Job's excellent snake-oil skills than he is with the product itself: see The Apple Polishers. He does have a point but there is something to the V-Pod that's different and special.

ABC News (which Disney owns) wasted no time trumpeting this nifty little device, not emphasizing too much that there's very limited programming available on it now as Richard Siklos noted in the NY Times: Cool, a Video iPod. Want to Watch 'Lost'?. In addition, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the download time for a TV program is excessive and the picture quality is far from ideal: TV Downloads May Undercut ABC Stations

Some of the worthy hoopla though is that idea that you can grab and watch programs when you like and pay for the privilege too. That's not how TV traditionally works and this does make a new wrinkle in the medium, as the WSJ article also notes, while also adding that some of the station affiliates aren't thrilled that they were left out of the discussions for this.

To me, the obvious problem isn't just the pic quality but the screen size itself. As Borowitz joked above, you'll need 20/20 eyes to squint down and make out those cute little moving pictures on a screen that doesn't quite measure larger than a finger. You think that it was bad enough blinking at your TV at home, how do you think your pupils will be after a few hours of staring at that tiny screen? Granted that gamers have done that already for a while but those games were made for the small devices while TV programs are made for larger screens. Unless you'll rewind constantly, you're going to miss a lot of detail and nuances in a show- what people are wearing, what are their facial expressions, what's in the background, etc.. A lot of that is going to be lost and for films, where attention to detail is even greater, the viewer stands to lose out on even more.

But remember that this is a novelty for now and these thoughts are definitely not going through the heads of most consumers. What holds more promise for the TV or film medium isn't just making them portable or viewed-at-will (you could already do that with VHS and DVD) but how they will be portable AND viewable to a reasonable degree. Some thought is going into that already as seen in this Washington Post article: Newspapers: The Future. Video newspapers that are constantly updated isn't a crazy idea when, as the article notes, the publication can do it much cheaper than cranking out print copies.

Hell, you won't even have to remember to haul it around with you as you may soon become your own media player. Chip implants are all good and well but how about Musical breast implants? Good idea but you have to wonder where that leaves the guys.

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

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As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

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Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

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Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

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