Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Welcome to School, Commence the Begging

But I will no longer sell, cook, walk, wash cars, run or beg for any school fundraising project. Frankly, I've done my time. I've sold my share of candy bars, wrapping paper, tumblers of tiny jelly beans, cookies and books. I deserve time off for good selling. I'm tired of begging.

That was from a great column in the Washington Post on the begging that children are forced into by their schools. It's really really stupid to waste children's time this way, and teaches them some goofy principles about selling overpriced garbage for a good cause. Why can't they sell something that people want at a fair price? If schools want to go into business- let them...have the students earn money on the mechanical turk so they can learn the true value of their labor.

In the meantime, shouldn't they be wasting their time doing homework? Graded homework sucks- school is about learning, not about proving who can do the most work. If you need two hours of homework to get the test scores you want, then do it. If you don't, then don't! There was nothing worse than sitting there going through hours of problems that were easy but time consuming, making stupid things on poster board, etc. It totally demoralized me in school...but now I am much better at dealing with meaninglessness...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Asobi Seksu

How out of touch am I? I knew/know nothing about this crew, except that maybe they are from NYC, etc. from their bio. Beautiful music though. I found it with one of those "people who liked this also liked" features when I was grabbing some early 90s Moose ("Honey Bee") on emusic. There is a lot of music out there these days that has evolved from that line of shimmery guitar stuff. I can trace the temporary demise in my interest in guitar music to the ascendancy of plague known as grunge. Loved Nirvana, hated Pearl Jam and there guttural imitators.

There's something nice too about not having to understand any of the lyrics that are in Japanese. It's always a worry when there is a band you like, but the lyrics are exceedingly vapid. I prefer to just hear total nonsense, or something that I just have no hope of understanding. Of course, there is the danger that they are saying totally idiotic things and you are singing along. A tough guy Russian cab driver that took me from the airport in Moscow to my hotel while singing along to the Backstreet Boys comes to mind. Fortunately I can't sing, so there's little danger of that particular embarassment.

Anyway, this Asobi Seksu album, Citrus, is more structured than a lot of the shoegazy stuff. The rhythmic underbelly of the band is a lot more modern sounding than the 90s stuff was. It gives the vocals and the guitar effects something to ride on, really a lot more pleasant to listen to.

I'll have to give it a few more listens before I drop my final rating on it, but it's got some definite 5 star tracks and few real clunkers.

iTunes Music Store = Garbage

The iTunes Music Store is for the short-sighted. Speaking as recently cured member of this sect, I have to say...stop buying AAC files now! What's an AAC file you might ask? Why, it's a file that only plays on your iPod and in your licensed copy of iTunes. Unless you burn it to a CD and burn it back to a nice format, like OGG or MP3- losing all track metadata (artist, title, album, etc.) unless you burn the CDs whole, which doesn't work if you're only buying the good songs, as is my wont.

You may not have been burned by this yet, but as more non-Apple options for entertainment become prevalent- you will be, you will be.

The alternatives- if you like independent music, emusic.com is great. If you like buying from dodgy Russians, allofmp3.com is even better. And now, MySpace is letting artists make money more or less directly from downloads on their pages.

Prediction: Fox will be one the biggest "record labels" in five years, if the others don't adapt, they could just go away.

I am interested to see what Universal's Spiral Frog thing turns out to be, but if it doesn't output MP3, I am not interested.