Monday, December 31, 2012

Badass Jfro's 2012



Format once again ripped off shamelessly from the Librarian in Black


Books--Bring Up the Bodies, Zero History, the Old Kingdom Trilogy, The City & The City, Rule 34

Comics--20th Century Boys, Library Wars, Wandering Son, Busty Girl Comics

Magazine--The New Yorker

Movies (theater)--The Avengers, The Master

Movies (DVD)--Life Without Principle, Cabin in the Woods, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, The Raid: Redemption, Heavy Metal in Baghdad

TV Shows (streaming)-- Breaking Bad, MI-5,  Burn Notice, Green Wing

TV Shows (live)--Community, Fringe, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, Mad Men

TV Show (DVD)--Archer, Leverage, Mildred Pierce, Justified, Homeland, The Walking Dead, Falling Skies

Items of Clothing--Engineer boots, red jeans, tiny top hats

Tabletop Games --Agents of Oblivion, Cards Against Humanity

Computer Games -- Plants vs Zombies, World of Goo, Zuma's Revenge

Albums/EPs: The Sword: Apocryphon, The Wedding Present: Valentina, Rye Rye: Go! Pop! Bang!, The Hives: Lex Hives, Guided By Voices: Class Clown Spots a UFO, Guided By Voices: Let’s Go Eat the Factory, Chatham Rise: Pre-LP Songs, Acrassicauda: Only the Dead See the End of the War, Vivian Girls: Share the Joy, Austra: Feel it Break, The Vaccines: What Did You Expect from the Vaccines

Songs –A Place to Bury Strangers: ”Burning Plastic”, Nekronet: “Bloodlust”, M.I.A: “Bad Girls”, Azealia Banks: “212”, Chatham Rise: “In Skies (Summer Gravity Mix)”

From the vault: Tar: “Hell’s Bells/Feel This”, Roxy Music: The Complete Studio Recordings, A. R. Kane: The Complete Singles Collection

Radio--Radio K

Web sites: TV Tropes, AV Club, Bitch Blogs, Fast ‘N” Bulbous

Twitter Twerps: Snarkey’s Machine, KeithATC, Chunklet, Mary Charlene, Sarcastic Rover, FilmCritHulk

App--Feedly, TurntableFM

Device -- iPad mini

Work Cons--Games, Learning & Society, Monstrositeen @MLA

Fun Con--Anime Detour

Library Trend–3-D printers

Concerts – Mission of Burma, Swans, Chatham Rise/Flavor Crystals, Brute Heart
Bar--Turf Club

Treat (restaurant) - soup dumplings @ Tea House, vegetarian platter @Fasika

Treat (homemade) -- soft scrambled eggs with broccoli & cheese with a side of fried potatoes

Boyfriend -- JSeux

Friday, November 16, 2012

DUDEBROS DISCOVER NEW RIGHT: RIGHT TO NO CONSEQUENCES, EVER.





Illustration from Poetry Comics by Dave Morice.


The Amalgamated Brotherhood of Dudebros, LULZers and Y U Mad Trolls has discovered a new civil right--the right to do whatever you want on the Internet with no real-world consequences until and unless it is proved illegal. Check out this opinion piece comparing a guy who posts upskirt photos on the Web to era-defining poet Allen Ginsberg:
 

http://www.corvallisadvocate.com/2012/1101-doxxing-freedom-of-speech/

 
I guess I missed the part where he included photos of dead children (without permission) in each copy.

By the way, dude, you know people who hated "Howl" had the right to snub Allen Ginsberg at parties, accuse him of destroying America, and not publish him in their poetry journals, right? I may disagree with their opinion, but they had the right to air it. What they didn't have was the right to arrest Ginsberg or keep other people from reading him.


Pretty much everyone agrees that things that are unethical but not illegal deserve social disapproval. Unless you think that actions like boycotting companies that supported SOPA is a violation of free speech somehow. I guess these dudes and their bros have the God-given right to "blow off steam" or "have fun" in really, really icky ways without it affecting their meat-space lives in any way whatsoever, unlike the rest of us.



Here's the orginal Violentacrez outing story, you can read the comments if you think I'm exaggerating.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I MADE YOU A DIAGRAM


I made you a diagram. I hope you find it enlightening. The format was, of course, shamefully ripped off from Indexed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

FALL





Sorry, it's been a while. Fall is always a busy season chez Jfro, plus my Internet and my intercom weren't playing nicely. Other than that, it could be fall all year as far as I'm concerned. Sun is overrated. I'm for foggy mornings, rainy afternoons, and walking on leaves. I suppose it's the nearness of winter than makes fall so beautiful. The Japanese have a word for that, of course. In the meantime, one can enjoy stylish coats, thin gloves, short scarves, and boots unmarred by a disgusting mixture of dirt, snow and rock salt.

 Untitled


The season seems to go with dreamy, fuzzy music, like local shoegaze combo Chatham Rise, who played an awesome set at the Turf Club a few weeks ago. Check out their bandcamp page for more. Shoegaze passed me by the first time, so I had to do some research. I almost went to see the Jesus & Mary Chain, but then I remembered they sucked live the first time around. Oh, well, the albums are still there for me to enjoy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

SPIN'S BEST GUITARIST LIST PRETTY GOOD ACTUALLY

I am not a big super fan of best guitarist lists as a rule, but Spin's  is more focused on creative and influential sounds than how many notes somebody can play per second. Best guitarists lists usually remind me of self-proclaimed "music experts" in high school who said you "had to appreciate Rush, because they can play, man." I mean, if that's your criteria, wouldn't ANY CLASSICAL MUSIC be automatically better than rock because of all the training and competition the musicians have to go through? Yes, early 70s prog-rock values survived in my town way through the 80s. It doesn't matter how well the band members play if they don't do anything interesting with it.

My main criticisms would be that somebody is suffering from severe grunge nostalgia to put Pearl Jam on the list of anything great except for their amazing ability to convince people that imitating Bad Company was alternative in any way. Also, Kurt Cobain wrote some good songs, but I don't really find his playing that exciting. Some bands are more about the whole, like I love Guided By Voices, but I have trouble breaking them down into separate parts.

I suppose I'm dating myself as well with my additions, since I love the late-70s, early 80s guitar sounds where it's slashing and metallic, all shiny and full of glass shards, or creepy and ominous like a black helicopter landing. As post-punk comes around again, though, it can't be said to be uninfluential.


I would say the number one forgotten progentor of this sound would be Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera. Here he is at his most creepy:




And where would Stephen Malkmus be without Colin Newman and Bruce Gilbert of Wire?




My number-one underrated guitarist would be John McGeoch, maybe because he played in several bands (Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees, PIL, Generation X), so he didn't create an identity with the public. There'd be no Johnny Marr without him, though. This one always gives me goosebumps:




Monday, July 02, 2012

A CLARIFICATION




I was just thinking that my old post on nerd rage at non-nerds rejecting them romantically was a little unclear.  I wanted to say that, though I do think Hollywood hypes opposite attraction too much, the aforementioned investment banker/Magic-the-Gathering champion had as much right to want to date a non-nerd as the non-nerd had a right to NOT want to date him, Maybe he liked her because of her commitment to her job, her sense of humor, religion, or hair color. I am all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- everyone gets to decide their own criteria, and you only say boo about your friends' relationships if there seems to be abuse or serious deception (mild deception in the beginning of dating is encouraged in our society, though Jfro fans know I'm no good at it). I don't even think the government should investigate couples for possibly marrying for a green card -- the idea of the government investigating someone's personal life like that makes me ill, it seems so un-American.

I just think people should be honest about it. If you make a swap of money for youth and beauty, don't get upset when they leave you for someone richer/younger-and-better-looking. I get so sick of nerds on Slashdot and Lifehacker complaining about their wives' non-nerdiness, as if they hadn't made their choice. It's the same if you complain about a guy watching football all the time.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

HIJACKED


I apologize if Jfro fans have missed me, my blog was hijacked by spammers. That is why I'm now available at badassjfro.net.  All I wanted to do was stop giving money to Godaddy because they suck. That will show me to be a good Internet citizen! I hope Google comes to its senses someday and drops them as a partner (they make it much easier to buy a Blogger site from Godaddy than the Lifehacker-approved Dreamhost.)

I guess $10-a-year hosting is pretty much all up to the end user except for actual hosting part. Of course, Godaddy had no incentive to tell me it didn't go through for some reason. Instead, they sold my site to a spammer who is trading on my Internet good name. I don't want to know what they'd want me to pay for my site back. Badassjfro.net is fine, except for having to make up new calling cards. If you have old links that go to the original ash966.blogspot.com, they probably still work.

Also, my Google Groups mailing list for the blog has apparently been borked for a year. Anyone have any idea why? (Sigh) Maybe I should switch to Wordpress.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

HOAXED AGAIN


So, this happened.  I feel bad for Metafilter, because although I've only made one comment on it, I've read threads seeking advice and they seem like really cool people, especially librarian extraordinaire Jessamyn West. I've never been part of an Internet community where we really discuss personal stuff, it's always been around an interest, so I don't know what it's like to be betrayed like that.


Hoaxers have always fascinated me, because I have barely the energy to live one life, let alone two. It's all I can do some days to say "fine" to "how are you", living a lie would just take so much energy.

Hoaxing on the Internet is easier, because people can't see your body language and you don't have to provide anything physical. On the other hand, there's rarely any money in it. Traditional hoaxers (and the recent group of alleged memoir hoaxers) usually are paid for their trouble, though fame is undoubtedly a consideration.


I figure there are two types of Internet hoaxers, the I-did-it-for-the-lulz-ers and the empathy junkies. The first messes with people to feel powerful. They want to be seen as a former Navy Seal who has sex with super-models on a pile of money made by day trading, but who somehow always has plenty of time to mess with people on the Internet. Like Anonymous, they want people to feel that they could shut off the whole Internet in 10 seconds if it took their fancy.

My guess is that holdkris99 is the latter type, based on his use of two different (and contradictory) stories of abuse, plus social anxiety, familial rejection and recovery from meth addiction. Abuse, having a disease, recovery from addiction, gang membership, being a Holocaust victim or being punished for being a member of an oppressed group all make us want to reach out to someone, it's human nature.

With all the work hoaxers do (holdkris99 was on Metafilter for six years!), do they ever end up doing anything good with their abilities? Not so far as I've ever heard, maybe they just give us what they want at the time, so it could never really stand the test of the ages (ye gods, those fake Vermeers are awful), Judging by what I've read, I don't think holdkris99 has a future in writing, at least the critically acclaimed variety. I mean, just add Jesus to the Green Bay Packers story and you've got some glurge fit for Chicken Soup for the Soul. The touch of having the evil abusive grandpa die falling down the stairs on the way out of his mistress' apartment is just a bridge too far.

On the one hand, I kind of feel sorry for holdkris99, because you feel bad about yourself and want sympathy, so you make something up, but then you feel worse because it's not really FOR YOU, so you need more sympathy. A vicious cycle, really. On the other hand, if he made up abuse, that's really cruel to family members. Does he really think none of his family or anyone they know could figure out the Internet? That stuff's forever, man. 





Friday, April 13, 2012

THE NERD POLICE


Note: This is an amazing costume. The post below is not meant to be derogatory of the person above, or any other awesome nerds I know.


These days, the lines between nerds, hipsters and the mainstream can get awfully blurry, Hence, I suppose, the flurry of articles policing and building a giant border fence around Nerd Nation. Tara Tiger Brown is all exercised about a supposed epidemic of women pretending to be geeks to get attention, and Patton Oswalt wants to set off the apocalypse so kids will no longer have it so easy finding cool stuff and perfectly ordinary office workers won't think they can spend their spare time writing Twilight fan fiction without being shunned like an Amish stripper.


And then there's this:


Yes,  Iron Spike and only Iron Spike can say who is truly a nerd. If you went to see Lord of the Rings and became totally obsessed with it and made costumes and wrote bad fan fiction, but didn't read the book first because, I DON"T KNOW, you are 12 YEARS OLD or something, no nerdy goodness for you! And just forget about it, Star Wars and Star Trek and Battlestar Galatica fans.  And what of Marvel and DC comics? They are pretty big companies which have apps on the iPhone and everything. Are they acceptable? Please inform me, I can go no farther in my nerdy voyage without your guidance!

Woo, this is almost as much fun as the gaming nerds telling me which types of videogames I should play!


Luckily, the vast majority of nerds are super-nice and the most welcoming people I know. After a bad experience in high school not being allowed to play D & D on account of being a girl, I finally felt ready to try tabletop roleplaying a few years ago. And guess what, nobody said "Get thee away from me before I get noob germs!" I was late to the Steampunk party too, but no one has stripped me of my teeny-tiny top hat yet. Conversely, I don't paint a scarlet "A" on some teenager because she's never seen Akira when I'm at the local anime convention. And being a librarian, I WILL find you a graphic novel that you will enjoy no matter who you are.

And to those few bad apples, please leave the whole "You don't like what I like the right way/at the right time/for the right reasons" game to those hipsters you hate so much.



PS. This article points out that the people called fake nerds, guess what, tend to be of a particular gender. Some of the nerd police are ladies, too. Maybe they want to be the only ones at the party?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

*SLOW CLAP*BRAVO, BIG MEDIA, BRAVO!*SLOW CLAP*


















So, the Oatmeal posted the above webcomic and some hailed him as a hero, while others said he was no-good pirating scum. 

What I don't understand is, even if you put pirating aside as a consideration, because pirates are all EVIL and will never give HBO any money ever, their approach still makes no economic sense. Last summer, I had no shows to watch, so I thought I'd download Game of Thrones from iTunes, like I do with Mad Men and Doctor Who. I pay $10/month to get network channels from Comcast (no reception where I live), so I figure I can afford to pay for a show or two.

But no, it wasn't available on iTunes until last week, at the same time my library has it (right of first sale, bitches!). I was able to get pretty high on the waiting list, so why the hell would I buy it now? Even if I lived near only poor libraries that couldn't afford DVDs, it's on Netflix as well.

I guess HBO thought my eagerness to try Game of Thrones out would cause another $70/month to magically appear in my checking account, but it doesn't actually work that way,

Meanwhile, in spite of losing plenty of subscribers already, Big Cable wants to alienate first-tier subscribers like me by pressuring the FCC to let them scramble the signal so we will be forced to install a huge, energy-draining box. Because connecting a cord to the back of the TV is just so hard and they have to send their employees to take care of it personally, apparently. Not because it causes customers' perfectly legal time-shifting devices like the Boxee Box, EyeTV and HD HomeRun to totally NOT WORK or anything (making us rush to pay another monthly fee for their own DVRs, they hope). So if you have a cable directly connected to one of these devices or directly to a primary or secondary TV, please let the FCC know. If they go through with it, I'll drop Comcast so fast it will make their head spin, so again, how is it helping their bottom line?

A lot of librarians were sympathetic to Oatmeal's critique (if not his solution) because publishers and movie studios are trying to screw us out of our legal first sale rights or at least make library borrowing less appealing, by delaying sales of DVDs to us and only selling us extras-free rental versions, by not selling us ebooks or making them very expensive for us, and when they do sell them they are hard to download. Because their business plan is to get everyone to pay full price for each piece of entertainment they want (and cable channels they don't want) when the public didn't do that before, and in a weak economy too. Bravo, Big Media, Bravo!




funny gifs  


Confidential to Salman Rushdie: I'll be more sympathetic to your plea not to cut ebook prices when you tell your publisher Random House not to raise ebook prices for libraries 300%.





Kthxbye, 




         Badass Jfro



Monday, February 27, 2012

JUST STOP IT ALREADY: FILMING THE UNFILMABLE



So, this is happening. In spite of the fine cast featuring every Irish actor ever, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a metafictional novel about an author's characters coming to life and interacting with the real world is unlikely to make a good movie.

Why do filmmakers have such a compulsion to film unfilmable books? Why don't they pick on unfilmable plays, or comics or paintings for a change? Does the novel still have such a high place in our culture that movie makers have to try it "because it's there" like Mount Everest? 

TOP SIGNS THAT A BOOK IS PROBABLY UNFILMABLE

1. It is just a series of events or arresting images without much of a narrative through-line (Orlando, Naked Lunch, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Catch-22). Plotless movies can work, but the director has to set the rhythm to keep them from becoming either dull or frenzied, hard to do with someone else's material.

2. It's mostly about the author's style or avant-garde techniques (Bonfire of the Vanities, Tropic of Cancer, Crash, Ragtime). There's no way the director can capture that in a different medium.

3. Most of the action happens inside the characters' heads (Housekeeping, anything based on the work of Henry James). If you are not making a film noir, narration has to be used very sparingly, or it becomes an audiobook with pictures.

4. Magical realism. (Mermaids, Household Saints, anything based on the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez). In books, the reader has the choice to believe it really happened, it's just a legend/folklore, or somewhere in between. There's no way to convey this in a movie.


So, Brendon Gleeson, I'm sorry, but I must put a curse on you. And if anyone tries to make a movie out of the following books, I will find some way to punish you:  Call It Sleep, Libra, Pale Fire, Loving, Two Girls Fat and Thin.



What's on your unfilmable list?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BELATED YEAR IN REVIEW



Format blatantly stolen from the Librarian in Black:



Books--Ready Player One, Wolf Hall
Comics--20th Century Boys, Mr Wonderful, Ooku, Starstruck
Magazine--The New Yorker
Movies (theater)--Hanna, Trollhunter, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Movies (DVD)--Summer Wars, Attack the Block, Bellflower
Movie (Streaming/On Demand)--Margin Call
TV Shows (streaming)--Shigurui: Death Frenzy, Eden of the East, Breaking Bad, MI-5, Burn Notice, Party Down
TV Shows (live)--Community, Fringe, Parks & Recreation
TV Show (DVD)--Archer, Leverage
Item of Clothing--Corset
Tabletop RPG--Agents of Oblivion
Mobile Game--Chuzzle
Albums: Wo Fat: Noche Del Chupacabra, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats: Bloodlust, Lo Pan: Salvador
Song –Valkilly: "Love Via Revolver", The Vaccines: "Post Break-Up Sex"

Radio--Radio K, Mirrorshades
Web sites: TV Tropes, Good Show Sir, Bitch Blogs, Chunket, Fast ‘N” Bulbous
Twitter Twerps: Snarkey’s Machine, KeithATC, Warren Ellis, Patton Oswalt
App--Instapaper
Webapp--8tracks
Work Con--Handheld Librarian
Fun Con--Anime Detour
Library Trend–E-books, Hackerspaces
Concert – Droids Attack 
Nightclub--Ground Zero
Bar--Triple Rock
Cheese--Machego
Treat – cupcakes from the Cupcake food truck, banh mi from Vellee Deli
Boyfriend--JSeux


                       
               










Monday, January 30, 2012

THE ALCHEMY OF COVER VERSIONS




I love a good cover version. I have a playlist of 133 on my iPod.  Yet TV shows like Glee and movies like Across the Universe make me gnash my teeth in annoyance and stab my pillow. Why is that? I’m going to try to explain, but I don’t entirely understand myself, so bear with me. 

I don’t actually hate musicals. I have seen Singin’ in the Rain, The Bandwagon, and Meet Me in St. Louis a total of 20 times at least. If there were a new version of The Carol Burnett Show where they did a combination of standards and top 40 hits between skits, I would be all over it. (Kiki and Herb: The Series!)

I do believe there are very few good ones (Hi, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) ever since Rodgers & Hammerstein decided they had to be about Serious Issues and the songs had to come out of the action organically and stuff, which is just no fun to watch. 

So, basically in the 60s music started changing (yes, I know, thanks Captain Obvious). The Beatles wrote and played all their stuff and became the standard for rock, with the Beach Boys, Rollings Stones, Stevie Wonder, etc following with personal work and innovations in sound. Meanwhile, pop became almost Baroque thanks to producers like Phil Spector and Joe Meek. Stax and Motown had their ace house bands to create their sound.  Even country became Countrypolitan and had the “Nashville Sound” versus the “Bakersfield Sound”.  Access to better equipment gave the average person the ability to hear more complex sounds at home or in the car. 

At the same time, musicals became less and less popular. They remained as a spectacle, but were less and less frequently a source of songs everyone knows. We moved from the concept of music as sheet music on a page for anyone to interpret to the recorded version being primary. When you hear “Baby I Love You” by the Ronettes or “Have I the Right” by the Honeycombs, can you even think of them in terms of sheet music?

Hence the concept of the cover version. Basically, any one can cover a standard of the pre-rock era, but the cover version has to justify itself. The two rules of cover versions are: 1) do it differently and 2) do it sincerely. 

Do it differently: Basically, there has to be some twist: different genre, different gender, a different kind of voice at least. Erasure’s cover of Solsbury Hill is much better than its cover of Take a Chance on Me because the original of the latter is already pretty much techno-pop, so why bother. You might not think a Latin/Flamenco version of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood would work, but Santa Esmeralda sell the hell out of it. And don’t cover a song just because it’s “obscure” and people don’t know about it. We have the Internet, we can find a band if you mention them in a interview. 

Do it sincerely: The Nip Drivers version of “Have You Never Been Mellowis funny once, but they’re just taking a goof on a song they hate, so it doesn’t have much replay value. Now, this doesn’t mean the cover-er can’t hate some aspects of the song, but they have to feel that there is something salvageable at least. I don’t know for sure every band on If I Were a Carpenter absolutely loves the Carpenters, but they see that the songs have killer hooks and a lingering sadness obscured by the squeaky-clean production values of the original.  

Another example: lyrically, “Always On My Mind” is someone telling their significant other that, while over the years they never said or did one single thing to show that they loved or appreciated the other person, they thought about them all the time, therefore they should be taken back in spite of their completely neglectful behavior. Performing this as a slow and tender ballad just emphasizes the schmaltzy fakery of it all (although Willie Nelson almost redeemed it). When the Pet Shop Boys do a cool, remote dance version, it says, “Yes, the type of person who would say that to you is indeed a total douchebag.” So they are taking a piss, but they are also creating a killer dance track that at the same time comments on jerky behavior. The Pet Shop Boys are sincere in critiquing insincerity.

OK, maybe you disagree with my interpretation of that, and that’s OK. The best pop (or hip-hop or punk or vocal trance or whatever) songs create a snap shot of an emotion that we can relate to something that happened to us, so of course it’s going to be a little different for everyone. Yes, William Bell, you don’t miss your water until your well runs dry, you are %100 correct! Why, I remember when . . . A good cover version puts a twist on the story. When Bell sings “You Don’t Miss Your Water”, his lover has just left him and he’s desperate. Brian Eno, on the other hand, was left about a year ago and is more philosophical about it.

A song I love becomes part of my personal soundtrack, with feelings associated with my life. Other people have different associations, which is fine. What I don’t like (getting back to Glee and Across the Universe) is having to associate a song with whatever personal crisis some fresh-faced 30-something teenagers are having on TV this week, or what a character named Jude is singing to a character named Jojo in some crappy movie. Leave my songs alone and write your own, if you want to do a musical that badly! The creators didn’t make them to give your 2-dimensional characters personality by association. 

If you want to do a cover version, you need both a new concept and good execution. It’s hard, but when it works it’s magic.