Tuesday, June 06, 2017

JFRO AIRWAVES TAKEOVER 2017!




It's Reunion time again, and I was back on the wheels of steel. The theme for my radio show this year was Cyberpunk, a musical soundtrack from the 80s to today for movies like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, or books like Neuromancer and Synners



Here's my archived radio show:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fl9era6cgmnpg56/Andrea%20Herman%20-%20Nicecast%20Archived%20Audio%2020170602%201304.mp3?dl=0

Tracklist:

"Making Of Cyborg" - Kenji Kawai
"Ghosts" - Japan
"Vienna" - Ultravox
"Morningstar In A Black Car" - Ashbury Heights
"Crash" - Mesh
"Kingdom" - VNV Nation
"Neon Lights" -Kraftwerk
"Big Electric Cat" - Adrian Belew
"I Want You" - Cabaret Voltaire
"Driving The Dynamite Truck" - Breaking Circus
"Burning Inside" - Ministry
"Headhunter" - Front 242
"Self Control" -Raf
"Guardian Angel" - Juno Reactor
"Nothing At All" -Lights Of Euphoria
"Love Via Revolver" - Valkilly
"Prayer Praise & Profit" -Pig
"Underbelly Of The Beast" - Danzig
"Underpass" -John Foxx
"Just For A Moment" - Ultravox
"Go" - Tones On Tail
"Musika Atomica" - Syrian
"Timekiller" - Project Pitchfork
"Destroy Everything You Touch" - Ladytron






Friday, May 12, 2017

HOW TO MAKE A MIX/PLAYLIST


Some of my old mixes from back in the day.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

I've been making mix tapes since high school in the early 80s when my best friend spent a year in New Zealand. It kept going in college for high school friends, then it kept up when college buddies went their separate ways. As friends got older and had families, it became my go-to New Year present, as it is a way to show you value your friends while spending minimal cash & not obligating them to buy you anything after spending all their money on presents for family members.

I've gone from tape to CD to online playlists, although I still do CDs for presents so people have something tangible. In the old days, when my only computer was a TRS-80 model 100, I went to Kinko's with some art to copy and cut up and the song list hand-written in large type to reduce to fit a cassette case. Now I have DiscLabel software for that, or I can just upload songs and screenshots to 8tracks.

One thing hasn't changed, though, are certain rules I have more making a good mix, based on years of experience and trial and error.

RULES FOR MAKING A GOOD MIX:
  • Pick your mix type first. Mixes can be personal (geared to one person) or public. Other main organizational principals are - time period, genre, mood, subject of song, season, region, and mixes inspired by other media (usually a book or movie). To have a good mix, start with an appealing organizational principle.
  • Variety is key. Back in my college DJ days, I learned the rule of three. DJs typically play 3 or 4 songs and then tell you what songs they play. Of course, with mixes you don't have to take breaks, but it's still a good principle to group similar songs and then change it up a bit every 3-4 songs. Ideally, I try to have some connection from every song to the next from the beginning to the end, whether it's type of vocals, genre, time period, mood, both are cover versions, etc., but if it's a case of connections vs variety, variety always wins. Even if you are doing a mix that is all punk or metal, you have to mix it up with subgenres, types of vocals, eras, a bit harder or softer, more or less poppy, etc. More than one song by the same person or group should be avoided in most cases. Basically, a mix that is all the same is a boring one.
  • Know your audience. If you are making a private mix for one person, you need to keep their preferences in mind. For example, one person told me they hate female vocalists who sound like little kids, so no MIA. Conversely, if you feel pretty sure someone already has the song, no need to add it to their mix, unless it's a case of a song that reminds you of a certain special time or event. For a public mix online, swearing in a song will limit when people can listen. I sometimes have swearing in my public 8tracks mixes, but label them "NSFW" in case people I know would be offended. Also, good to avoid too much audible swearing for a party mix or anything that might be listened to by children.
  • Don't be too obvious. If you are doing a Minnesota mix, you may want to consider that everyone who wants to own the music of Bob Dylan or Prince probably already has it. If you are including a famous artist, at least find a more obscure track. For me, a mix has two purposes - to entertain by creating a mood, and to inform the listener of music they don't already know about. That doesn't mean you have to be a expert. For example, I have a "Bollywood & Bhangra" mix, but I'm not an expert on the genres by any means. However, it's my most listened-to mix on 8tracks, possibly because the genre is not well-represented on the service, so it fills a niche.
With the rise of services like Spotify & YouTube Red, the barriers to creating a playlist are pretty small. No more lying on the floor waiting to stop the cassette player and start it again. You don't even have to own the music. That special feeling of having someone "like" your mix can be yours with these tips.





Tuesday, February 21, 2017

PLEASE CONSIDER WATCHING THE 100


I meant to do this before the 4th season started, but oh well...


Post-apocalyptic media has had a field day lately, which I couldn't be happier about. Where else can you depict issues such as resource allocation, the nature of leadership, environmental devastation, the consequences of war, etc, AND have people in face paint fighting each other with kung fu and bizarre weapons?

When I found out we finally would have a straight, non-zombie post-apoc show (I tried The Tribe, but it was just too low-budget for me), I was was a little excited, but my expectations were low, since it was on the CW, the network to watch white teens get mopey about their crushes on (even their superheroes spend way to much time mooning). 

Parenthetical rant time:

When will TV creators of action/detective/fantasy/science fiction shows realize that less is more with romance? Especially when stakes are high - it just makes the characters seem to have really bad priorities. There's a reason why "Romantic Plot Tumor" is a trope. Just give us a little and we can use our own imaginations - look at the fans of X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tumblr is full of people shipping the hell out of The 100 characters based on a handful of small scenes, which is the way it should be - not the creators boring us with what starts to seem like fanfic of their own characters. 

Yes, there is love and sex on The 100, but these teens are spending too much time making hard decisions with no easy answers and trying to survive to do much mooning. Just give it a few episodes, as some of the younger actors aren't so good in the beginning and it just seems like a Lord of the Flies update. It gets interesting when the teens find out earth isn't as uninhabited as it might seem and what the consequences of that are. 

The 100 is also pretty non-stereotypical as far as depiction of race, gender and GLB characters. No show has more young women in leadership roles. And it's nice for us older people that, although mature characters are ultimately supporting the younger ones, they have their own complexities and are not just there to support or thwart the youth. 

Anyway, you can check out the first 3 seasons on Netflix.




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

JFRO'S 2016





Although a lot of sucky things happened in 2016, I'm going to focus on the good stuff.

Format once again ripped off shamelessly from the Librarian in Black:  

Books -- Swing Time, You, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s, Frog Music

Comics -- Patience, The Flowers of Evil, Ooku

Movies -- Arrival, Dr. Strange, Green Room, The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened, Captain America: Civil War, Zootopia, The Big Short, Crimson Peak, Deadpool, Amy, The Man From Nowhere

TV Shows -- Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Better Call Saul, Bojack Horseman, Mr. Robot, True Detective, Archer, The Americans, The 100, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn 9-9, Broad City, The Expanse, RuPaul's Drag Race, Powers, Orange Is the New Black, unREAL, Billions, Penny Dreadful, The Walking Dead, Person of Interest, Orphan Black, The Path, The Knick, Veep, High Maintenance, The Magicians, Portlandia, Divorce, Insecure, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce

Albums --Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends: The Art of Murder, Various: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Flavor Crystals: The Shiver of the Flavor Crystals, Wo Fat: Midnight Cometh, Truckfighters: V, Scorpion Child: Acid Roulette, M83: Junk, Isaak: Sermonize, Droids Attack: Sci-Fi or Die, The Vaccines: English Graffiti, All Them Witches: Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, Beastmaker: Lusus Naturae, Windhand: Grief's Infernal Flower, The Sword: High Country, Ruby the Hatchet: Valley of the Snake, Royal Headache: High, Moonbow: Volto Del Demone, Hills: Frid, Fuzz: II, Baroness: Purple


Songs --Duo RAW: "Beat My Face", White Lies: "Death", RuPaul: "The Realness", Jidenna: "Long Live the Chief", Agnez Mo: "Boy Magnet", Bonnie McKee: "Bombastic", Charles Bradley: "Changes", The Oh Sees: "Poor Queen" 

Apps --Flickr, Artstudio, Tumblr, 8Tracks, Instant Buttons, Instacart, Door Dash, Yahoo! Video Guide, myTuner Pro, Lyrically, Amazon Prime Music, IFTTT

Devices --iMac, Apple TV 4, Freedompop iPhone, Universal Laser Systems laser engraver, Afinia 3-D printer, Cameo Silhouette, Brother Project Runway sewing machine

Events --Convergence, trip to San Francisco/Ukiah, Anime Detour, ToshoCon, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends/Buildings at the Hexagon, Irvine Park photowalk, Ramsey After Dark: Victorian Secrets, William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time at SFMOMA, Musée Mécanique.

Items of clothing --Flower wrap dress, faux leather bomber jacket, gray hooded shirt, spats

Games --Plants Vs Zombies 2, Candy Crush: Soda, Tetris Blitz, Interface Zero, TimeZero, Sushi Go!, Tsuro, Feng Shui 2, Misspent Youth

Web sites --Great Cosplay, AV Club, TV Tropes, Paging Dr. Nerdlove, The Obelisk, Good Show Sir

Twitter Twerps ---@HeerJeet, @JosephScrimshaw, @SwiftOnSecurity, @loather, @LeVostreGC, @KyloR3n

YouTubers -- Screen Junkies, Afterbuzz TV, Diamanda Hagan, Vaginal Fantasy, Hey Qween, Kevin Smith, Adult Wednesday Addams, Willam Belli, MovieBob

Materials - Adhesive felt, LED strips

Boyfriend --In a surprise upset, JSeux wins!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

THE "AT LEAST HE'S HONEST" FALLACY



Whenever someone says about a person, "at least he's honest", that's very handy, because then you know right away that they're talking about a terrible person. Terrible people love to use "honesty" as an excuse to say horrible, nasty things right to your face. They imply thereby that everyone else would say it, but they're all just pretending not to be terrible (they don't explain why, if everyone is so terrible, why we all pretend not to be). Abusers love to make you feel that everyone is really horrible, when actually it's just them.

This is the mirror of the whole "hypocrisy is worse than anything else, even genocide" thing I discussed in a previous post.  It's all so adolescent. You catch your parents doing something less than great, and all of a sudden they are EVIL INCARNATE. It's time to grow up and differentiate between failing to live up to your ideals and outright evil actions. Let's try to do that in 2017, shall we?






Friday, September 16, 2016

I MADE YOU A POEM



Photograph by Dimitar Denev


I've been trying to write an essay about Generation X and popular culture since I saw School of Rock in 2003, but it always eluded me. Then in a fit of insomnia, it came to me as a poem for some strange reason (I'm an English major, but I'm very picky about poetry and don't like most of it). So here it is, enjoy. 


Song of the Aging Gen X-er


I'm old and I'm tired
Of defending what I like.
Once it was too odd
Now it's too popular,
Yet still weird somehow.
But why wouldn't I like it?
We put weird on the map.
We gave you the "graphic novel",
I'm not gonna see the movie version?
Once it was "Psychotronic" --
King Fu, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic.
Now they get awards.
And why ever not?

Some of us are mad.1
We had to work so hard to find it.
Scour second-hand stores, send away by mail.
Self-addressed envelopes.
Ask for a ride to the city.
"Is the new L & R in yet?"
They say, "Death to the Internet!"
But I don't want it that way.
Let the kid in the boonies
Find what makes her happy.
Let the boy on library Internet
Find his club of weirdos.

Some of us were sad 2
We only got a few years of pandering
Instead of two decades.
Then came the millennium.
Clean-cut teen pop, clean-cut teen soaps,
Clean-cut teen comedies.
We thought that the wholesome
Would last forever.

But guess what?
Twelve turns to thirteen
And cool big sis comes in,
Or that fun young uncle
Sends you a mix.
We fill the credits, live behind the scenes, make the taste.
We have the keys, baby,
To the shadow factory.

Maybe we didn't invent it,
But who does really?
As Mr. Sturgeon says, 3
Most of anything is crap.
It's all about keeping it going
(The good stuff).
We are a small cohort, but
What we lack in size,
We make up for in tenacity.
Just like those in the past who
Bought The Velvet Underground & Nico,
then started a band.
Just like those "90s kids" who
Will build on our bones.

Maybe you don't want anything
After your "golden age".
That's so sad.
Maybe you missed it the first time,
That's too bad.
Maybe you were born too late.
Oh well.
But's it still all there for you.



You're welcome.


Notes:

1. Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die" -Patton Oswalt.

2. "Sturgeon's Law" - TV Tropes.

3. "Generation Ex" - Eric Weisbard.




Friday, July 29, 2016

CONVERGENCE 2016 REPORT & CON TIPS

Convergence 2016

Once again, I had a great Convergence with J, as well as friends T, L, M, & B, even though I had to wear my unfashionable cam boot for tendinitis (J was great about bringing me food, and I commiserated with other Booted-Americans). It actually went pretty well with my Post-Apoc look (I added black mask makeup in tribute to both Furiosa and Lexa from The 100).

This year, J and I swore to avoid eating out too much, especially the overdone, overpriced horror that is TGIFriday's. We ate all our meals in the Con Suite, except for one trip to Burger King. I also avoided all news except for that trip, a lovely break from the agony of 2016 current events (RIP Prince). 

Thursday:

3:30 Crafty Geek Meetup. We hung out a bit and worked on geeky coloring pages. 

7:00 Sci Fi TV Year in Review. I'm always wanting to learn about good shows to watch. This was OK, they mostly talked about shows I already knew about, except one guy was weirdly obsessed with Galavant. I don't know, the idea of a medieval fantasy musical doesn't make my heart beat faster. I was interested in hearing about The Magicians, it sounds like "Harry Potter goes to an open-minded small-liberal-arts college", which is more up my alley. 

8:30 Fancy Bastard Pie Competition. A Guest of Honor demanded home-made pie in exchange for attending, so there was pie, and it was good. The banana pie that actually tasted like banana for once was my favorite. 

10:00 You Will Behave Yourself at My Table. Since we play RPGs, it seemed like a good idea to get tips on dealing with difficult players. It was a little dry, they could have had more juicy stories . J and I have some, oh yes we do...

Friday:

12:30 What's with the Airships? This was a panel on why people are fascinated by airships and why they appear in so much media. The people on the panel were mostly experts on the topic who knew their stuff, which isn't always the case. The conclusion was: people like them because they are cool, but they aren't really practical. However, many people, artists and scientists alike, read about them when young and fall in love with their look and the idea of gracefully floating in the air with windows wide open. This article has profiles of some of these people, including Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson, who invested half a millions dollars in them and sings about them on their latest album. 

2:00 Historical Fiction in RPGs. A good overview on sources creating an historical world in a role-playing game. As a librarian, I already knew about primary sources and "daily life" books, but there were some things I hadn't thought of, like legal cases, digitized maps, archaeological dig web sites,  war gaming books, and historical-reenactment web sites. Also, creating a mood with facsimile coins or other props, or with audio, can give players the feeling of being in the past.  

3:30 Wonder Woman: The Golden Age. An old-time-radio-show-style staged reading based on the first Wonder Woman comic. They didn't have to change anything to make it funny, because that shit was weird, which won't surprise anyone who read The Secret History of Wonder Woman. Check it out, it's a tale of bondage, female supremacy, polyamorous living arrangements, and lie detectors. 

7:00 Joseph Scrimshaw vs. Reality. Not much to say, the dude's really funny, follow him on Twitter or buy his comedy albums if you are a comedy-album buyer.

8:30 Feng Shui 2. A fun, Hong-Kong-cinema-style roleplaying game. I was a dangerous gambling lady out for revenge. 

Saturday:
1 PM Pillar of Fire. A playtest of a new RPG from local company Atlas Games. I enjoyed the adventure - it was a standard sci fi-horror trope of something going wrong and a party investigating an abandoned base, but it's a trope for a reason - it works. The setting was a bit too complicated, though. Players play characters who are sort-of superheroes/angels that guide humanity. Everyone belongs to a guild based on their job and has one of 3 kinds of "souls" (which have been discovered by science to exist). Also, there are animal-human hybrids. I'd say, trim it down a little, and it could be like when Marvel & DC get spacey (Green Lantern, Guardians of the Galaxy). 

7 PM Misspent Youth. This game was different and fun. It's really good for one-shots or short campaigns. There are some cooperative parts where players create game elements, although not as much as Fiasco. You play one of a bunch of disaffected youth who are rebelling against something. The game ends when one of the party sells out completely to The Man. We played youth who protested when our squat was going to be torn down for a corporate headquarters. I sold out by becoming a YouTube star after making a viral video of the corporation's misdeeds. 

Cosplay trends: Mad Max, Steven Universe, opposite-sex versions of characters. 

Wish I hadn't missed: the Afrofuturism panel, since I love Octavia Butler and want to learn more about it.


Tips for having a good con:


I've been going to Convergence for 3 years and Anime Detour about 10, not the world's record, but I've picked up a few things you might be able to use when you attend the fandom-interest event of your choice. 

1. Eat all the free food you can. Some cons may offer snacks only, but every little bit helps. Convergence has chips, rice, raw veggies with dip, and some nice soups. Some of the party rooms also have food for just $1 and/or tips. I finally visited the famous House of Toast (Nutella, grape jelly, and whipped cream). 

2. Do something that makes you a little uncomfortable. What happens at Con doesn't necessarily stay at Con, but everyone else is geeking out, so why be embarrassed? Wear a costume or ask someone about theirs, make a craft, ask the panel a question, play a game. Just remember - no touchy without permission, 'cause that's creepy. 

3. Stay in a hotel near the con, but not at the main hotel. This way you won't have to deal with as much noise, or wait 20 minutes for the elevator when you need to go to your room.

4. Keep your bodily fluids to yourself. According to the Convergence Facebook page, 2015 had a rash of drive-by vomitings. It's really not nice to make staff clean that up, and it can damage relations with the hosting facility. If your life is not complete without drinking to excess, at least stick to the toilet.