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One of the great things about the Google News page is that its headline stories are often from unexpected places. I just went to the story about Jane Fonda joining with Israeli peace protestors in Jerusalem that was the lead story in the entertainment section. Google currently lists 20 versions of this story, most from the usual suspects--BBC, WaPo, CBS--but through the mystery and majesty of the google popularity algorithm the featured link on the Fonda story takes you to Utusan Malaysia Online. Their version is from Agence France Presse so there's no particular Malay twist to their Jerusalem Jane coverage though I hadn't known this before: Fonda arrived in the region Tuesday and has been traveling with a delegation of the New York-based international organization V-Day (Vagina-Day) for the protection of women. I thought Jane was operating on her own , didn't realize she had the whole Vagina Day juggernaut behind her.
But whenever Google leads me to exotic places I always check out the rest of the paper. You know, see what's playing at the Utusan multiplex and such. Sample reportage from Utusan Online:
Plans modern villages throughout country
JITRA Dec 21 - The government plans to create modern villages complete with amenities like housing, recreational and industrial estates throughout the country, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
Be it ever so centrally planned there's no amenity like home.
Dr Mahathir visits teachers' quarters
BUKIT KAYU HITAM Dec 21 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad today visited the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bandar Bukit Kayu Hitam teachers' quarters here.
Malaysia seems to suffer from a proper name glut.
Colombian superstar Shakira donates shoes to impoverished children in hometown
BOGOTA (Colombia) Dec 21 - Colombian singer Shakira returned to her hometown of Barranquilla to donate 10,000 pairs of tennis shoes to impoverished children.
Next Christmas: Tennis RACKETS.
Christian karaoke music finds a niche: From church youth groups to the shower
GRAND RAPIDS (Michigan) Dec 21 - At least a decade before karaoke clubs caught on in America in the 1980s, performers in churches were belting out songs to instrumental recordings of religious music, called solo performance tracks or accompaniment music.
My prediction for 2003: Christian karaoke shower parties--next big thing.
Girl, thought to be a boar, shot dead by neighbour
KUANTAN Dec 21 - An 11-year-old girl died after she was shot at by a neighbour who had mistaken her for a wild boar in Kampung Temai Hulu, Pekan yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile known bores run wild.
Pas wants to protect assemblymen who marry abroad, says Zam
KUALA LUMPUR Dec 21 - Terengganu government's willingness to amend the Muslim Family Law 1985 to facilitate their state assemblymen to practise polygamy actually aims to protect them, Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainudin Maidin said.
Good point. (OK, here's the link, read the whole thing. Wrap your mind around it and get back to me. Are they facilitating the encouragement of polygamy among assemblymen? Or protecting them from , uh, the facilities?)
Lego Spybotics mainan robotik interaktif mengujakan
SIAPA yang tidak kenal dengan bongkah-bongkah bergigi pelbagai warna penuh ceria yang menjadi mainan kegemaran kebanyakan daripada kita sejak kecil hinggalah sekarang.
Lego Spybotics reeled me in, but bongkah-bongkah threw me back.
Terengganu passes bill to regulate entertainment
KUALA TERENGGANU Dec 19 - Terengganu State Legislative Assembly here today passed an amendment bill to ensure that entertainment and places of entertainment in the state conform with the state goverment's policy on Islam.
The Entertainment and Places of Entertainment Amendment Bill 2002 will replace the Entertainment, Cinemas and Places of Entertainment Enactment 1963.
State Local Government, Housing, Environment and Public Administration Committee Chairman Datuk Wan Muttalib Embong, in tabling the bill, told the House that existing entertainment licences would remain valid but subject to new conditions.
The amendments among others will empower, other than the police, individuals to enforce the law. It also imposes higher penalty up to RM50,000 to offenders.
Later when winding up the debate, Wan Muttalib said state government amended existing enactment to regulate entertainment and places of entertainment, not closing them down or halting issuing of entertainment licences because it was also "entertainment friendly".
"The intention is to regulate entertainment to conform with the Islamic laws ... and the fine (of up to RM50,000) is to serve as deterrent," he said.
During the debate, Satiful Bahari Mamat (Pas-Paka) urged the state government to provide alternative forms of entertainment that conformed to Islamic teachings to youths in the state to prevent them from indulging in other unhealthy activities.
He feared that the absence of alternative forms of entertainment could lead to increase in social problems such as khalwat cases.
Tengku Putera Tengku Awang (BN-Telemong), in his speech, said state goverment should stop issuing licences and close all entertainment joints in the state.
If Terengganu is really an Islamic state, then it should not profit from such activities by issuing licences, he said.
"It is not appropriate for a so-called state that champions Islam when it has the power to close down places of entertainment," he said.
Let's borrow a Christmas memory from Jim Carroll's journals. Jim was employed as a gofer for some art god he disguises in the journal as DMZ. DMZ and Jim are racing around town delivering DMZ's presents to his young daughters and preparing for a big party the artist is to host that night. But it's a holiday so they take a break every now and then to jab themselves in the thigh or the ass with enough amphetamine to get them through the next chore. Their kindly Dr Feelgood has given them a special Christmas supply of his magical potion to speed them through their busy day.
They find themselves at one point in the artist's luxurious upper West Side digs with a the pieces of a jungle gym spread out before them and the only instructions included in the box are in Japanese. Even as speeded up as they are the Japanese defeats them. So they "went into the living room, sat down, took a valium each and had a serious Marlboro." But before long:
We were both busy at the window with binoculars watching a teenage boy in his room in the high-rise across the street jerking off with a baseball mitt. "That's wild", DMZ observed
After we had finished watching the goings-on in every apartment across the street , mostly boring yuletide tableaus except for the two stewardess-types who were roller skating in bra and panties around the living room table, snatching, as they passed, candy canes off the Christmas tree, we realized the time was approaching noon.
Fortunately the artist's estranged wife had put the jungle gym together while they were checking out the candy cane derby. And America's favorite pastime.
We've already run out of funny Barney the dog pictures but in an attempt to keep the kid audience we were building in recent days here are the highlights from a Washington Post article entitled Is Disney losing its boy appeal? (Via Boing Boing).
As the Walt Disney Co. salvages the shipwreck that the movie "Treasure Planet" has become, studio executives are mulling why the animated, set-in-space version of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" has foundered so badly that the company was forced to cut its earnings estimates for the year.
Theories abound, ranging from a badly timed release date to an unsympathetic lead character. Most intriguing, perhaps, is the idea that boys — to whom the pirate adventure was marketed — may be too distracted with louder, faster-paced entertainments to be interested in a stately, classically animated Disney epic.
I think there's a lot more (boys entertainment) now than there was some years back and that the stuff that is available is a lot edgier and is a lot more advanced for the (age group) Disney was targeting," said Tom Wolzien, a media analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "Let's say they were targeting 8- to 13-year-olds, hypothetically. Well, now your audience is reduced to single digits (in age) because by the time kids are 10, they're off doing something else" than watching Disney films.
The successful Disney animated films of recent history — "Lilo & Stitch" and "Monsters, Inc." — have targeted both boys and girls. Disney tried to make the main boy character in "Treasure Planet" appealing to boys in the "'tween" age group; he flies about on a device that looks like a cross between a snowboard and a windsurfing board.
More pointedly, has Disney lost boy viewers to the likes of "Tony Hawk's Boom Boom HuckJam," a sensory-overload arena show featuring thrash music, choreographed skateboard tricks, motocross motorcycle jumping and BMX bike acrobatics?
Some Disney officials think the potential boy audience for "Treasure Planet" was bled off by the most recent James Bond installment, "Die Another Day," which opened five days earlier
"The simple answer is that none of the people we (marketed to) wanted to see it. It happens," Cook said.
Wolzien points out that kids may not feel an attachment to Disney because the company did not make its cable channel widely available as part of basic service until recently, while rival kids channel Nickelodeon has long enjoyed widespread distribution.
"Today's kids were raised by Viacom," Wolzien said, naming Nickelodeon's parent company, "not Disney."
"I don't believe that people care to hear Elton John and Tim Rice anthems weaved into a movie anymore," Rohan said, referring to John's score for Disney's 1994 hit, "The Lion King." "It's not fresh," he said.
Rohan contrasts "Treasure Planet's" dated — or classic — animation style and story with that of DreamWorks' "Shrek," which featured a breezier, computer-generated style and two hit songs by the pop group Smash Mouth.
Disney's animation studios are likely in for an overhaul anyway. Thomas Schumacher, the longtime head of Disney's animation division, is said to be moving to helm the company's Broadway division. Analysts will be watching Disney closely through the spring, as the company is set to release two more animated films, "The Jungle Book II" and "Piglet's Big Movie."
This is so amusing in so many ways. I love that adult men lose sleep over their miscalculations of the "boy audience". I love when market research tanks and when, as Mr. Cook so nobly admits, "the simple answer is that none of the people we (marketed to) wanted to see it". I love that they're rethinking the market appeal of Elton John/Tim Rice ballads to the today's youth. They might want to rethink the Sting thing too. But most of all I love the fact (and it is one) that, "today's kids were raised by Viacom not Disney." I get swamped by kid culture this time every year when I'm around my nieces and nephews and Nickelodeon rules among that set like you wouldn't believe. And I'm glad for it, I'm always surprised at how funny and smart the Nick cartoons are. The couple Disney shows they watch just aren't as good, not half as clever or visually striking.
The only movies I've seen that were mentioned in the article are The Emperor's New Groove on DVD with the kids and Shrek in the theater. New Groove was better than I expected and Shrek not as good as I expected. New Groove was regulation modern era Disney animation but still inventive in parts. Shrek was state of the art computer animation and wildly original in parts. The scene in the empty courtyard of the castle when Shrek and the donkey first arrive there is stunning--that light, that emptiness, Giorgio de Chirico for tweens. But Eddie Murphy is like plutonium now, even the smallest particle of Eddie can poison an entire film.
Agenda Bender, the Nickelodeon of the Bogglesphere.
Forget Trent Lott. How's this for explosive speculation-- Is the president's pet terrier Barney a White Dog? Did he take a puppy as a gift from Strom? Or Robert Byrd?
My sweet lord, is the video of Barney barking at the DC school kids and getting snatched up by GWB hilarious. It's like a gift of holiday cheer to the entire nation. This pic gives a hint of the hilarity and the Reuters coverage can make you laugh all by itself:
Bush exchanged winks and jokes with the nearly 60 school children gathered in the Roosevelt Room as first lady Laura Bush read from "The night before Christmas."
Bush, who handed off the book to his wife after reading just one page aloud, complemented the children on their "nice boots" and exclaimed, "Pretty exciting so far isn't it?"
Many of the children were startled when the dog, Barney, entered the room unexpectedly. "He's pretty ferocious looking when you first look at him," Bush said of the overly eager little black dog, conceding the surprise "created a near riot."
Oh god help me I'm laughing again. Nice boots hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I'm trying to calm myself down, ok, ok let me catch my breath (don't think about the boots) ok, ok (concentrate on something sad, hmmm, like uh UGLY BOOTS--NO! stop it) ok, ok (your mind is a blank, a perfect void, feel the cold of deep space, you're swimming between planets, your oxygen is low, no one can hear you laugh in space).
OK. I'm back. You have to see the video of this though. And even the Reuters story misses GWB's best line when, apropos of nothing but apparently in an attempt to quell the 8 year old rioters with some mind fogging surrealism, holding the dog on his lap, his tie ridiculoulsy askew, his face flushed and an insane gleam in his eye (I'm talking George here not the dog) he tells the kids that Barney "wants to be a reindeer for Christmas".
God bless you George Bush. And God Bless America.
The Fishes and the Ho's
Interesting advance in the science of spam header enticement. The smart spammers know that spam arriving under cover of a mundane, plausible heading, one that reads like a personal email, is more likely to get opened. Last week I got a good one that read re:meet. I think the re: format is very clever and I expect to see more of those. The other trick is to make sure the sender appears as just a single given name, again it looks more like an email from someone you know.
Today I received an email from Nelson under the heading fwd:Jesus. I think I was expecting some inter office holiday parable or urban legend or dirty joke email, I knew it wasn't personal email but I thought it was at least a 6 degrees fwd from someone responding to some promiscuous fwd from someone I actually did know. So I was surprised to read this when I opened it:
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Thank You Jesus! But no thanks. Besides it is a damnable lie that I was ever a porn paysite subscriber. Porn, like lesser information, wants to be free. And I respect its wishes at all times. But I love the ingratiating ploy they lead with, "In An Effort To Increase The Quality Of Traffic On The Internet." We are making life easier for porn deadbeats such as yourself. Yeah, that ought to raise the general tone of the jernt.
But why Fwd:Jesus as the header? What spam market research came up with that hook?
Take this Free Pass, all of you, and click on it. Go forth, I beseech you, and increase the quality of Traffic on the Internet. 3:45 AM
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Roll Over Very Slowly, Beethoven
My torus has been acting up so it's more music news today. One of those N'sync dudes (not Calvin Lumberpond--one of the other ones, JC Chasez is his handle) has a song on the Drumline soundtrack. My niece was very excited about it when I talked to her the other day. So didn't I hear this song in my car last night that got me wondering who is this? And didn't I feel the pride in my so wise niece when the DJ said after the song "that's the new one from JC, Blow Me Up (With Her Love)".
Finally someone has picked up and re-ignited the long extinguished Tusk torch and put the marching band sound back in pop music. It appears that the entire soundtrack plays around with the same musical idea, not surprising since the movie is set in the world of black college marching bands but still kind of daring--it's a new sound. That sound,which you hear a lot in Philly from local drum corps and neighborhood rhythm brass bands--the farm leagues for the black college bands, always knocks me out when I hear it, always seemed to me ripe for pop appropriation. Beautiful that the producer of the movie's soundtrack, Dallas Austin,
came from these same black brass band ranks and is paying back the underappreciated genre with some reinvention and (I hope) popularization.
In other music news Beethoven gets a little reinvention too . Nice to see an overappreciated composer get depopularized on the sonic stretching rack. Here our boy's 9th Symph gets slowed down, then slowed down some more. The final product is a 24 hr rendition, broken down into 19 one hour plus barely moving mini movements for your streaming pleasure. It is the best surfing music I've ever heard. Music For Surfing On a Frozen Wave I calls it. (Boing Boing tipped me off to slo mo Beetho, by the byo).
Everything on the web seems cosmic and portentous when you're reading it with this as background. I've got nothing against Ludwig, I mean he might have been on my team--he was crazy about that nephew anyway-but I agree with Ned Rorem's musicological shorthand. The world is made of German composers and French composers. We all end up rooting for one team or the other. And for me it's Allez Les Six! This unsprung Beethoven frenches him up nicely. The copyright implications of music "sampled" in this particular way--reprocessed beyond recognition--are mind boggling. Though no doubt music lawyers will find them highly boggleable. Which is to say billable.
Mix your tune, add your art, grab the mic -- a star is born! Radio Disney featuring music from Lil' J, Youngstown and Myra - is the ultimate music jam/mixing session where kids get to be a rock star by creating their own sensational songs, music videos and singing their way to the top of the charts. Choose mixes from a wide variety of music styles and customize each song by moving the music around, changing the volume, pitch, tone, speed, background sounds and vocals.
Can the 24 hr unsprung Blow Me Up (With Her Love) be more than seconds stretched to minutes away? And will Disney end up slapping every kid who gets the Disney Music Mix Studio software for Christmas with a copyright infringement lawsuit somewhere down the information supertollroad when they start, uh, recontextualizing the content in ways Disney didn't have in mind?
Monday, December 16, 2002
Science Monday: Right Behind Your Forehead
Science Daily reports (well, it reprints a Dartmouth press release anyway):
HANOVER, N.H. – Researchers at Dartmouth are getting closer to understanding how some melodies have a tendency to stick in your head or why hearing a particular song can bring back a high school dance. They have found and mapped the area in your brain that processes and tracks music. It's a place that's also active during reasoning and memory retrieval.
...Their results indicate that knowledge about the harmonic relationships of music is maintained in the rostromedial prefrontal cortex, which is centrally located, right behind your forehead.
..."This region in the front of the brain where we mapped musical activity," says Janata, "is important for a number of functions, like assimilating information that is important to one's self, or mediating interactions between emotional and non-emotional information. Our results provide a stronger foundation for explaining the link between music, emotion and the brain."
...Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments, the researchers asked their eight subjects, who all had some degree of musical experience, to listen to a piece of original music. The eight-minute melody, composed by Jeffrey Birk, Dartmouth class of '02, when he was a student, moves through all 24 major and minor keys. The music was specifically crafted to shift in particular ways between and around the different keys. These relationships between the keys, representative of Western music, create a geometric pattern that is donut shaped, which is called a torus.
Not very interesting Torus video with some of the not very interesting music from the very interesting experiment here. Sort of looks like a psychedlic rainbow life-saver and sounds like a disinherited Bach walking the Casio. It's a QuickTime movie which is to say it's a slow as a rainy Sunday lame-ass Apple app. QuickTime: The (time) killer app.
Very great lyrics to the very great Sweetheart (Waitress in a Donut Shop) by the very great Dan Hicks below. Now aka Waitron in a Torus Shop.
Sweetheart but it doesn’t beat for me
It beats softly in love but not for me
Sweet lips I know I’ll never kiss
You’re what I’m afraid I must miss
*I’m a waitress in the donut shop
I see him on his morning stop
He talks of love
But he’s speaking of his sweetheart
She gives him a rough time.
He gives me his dime and then parts
Soft sighs - soft and pretty moans
in dreams I can make you my own!