“Twin Cinema” — The New Pornographers

Twin Cinema

Angela bought me the lat­est album by the The New Pornog­ra­phers last month, despite her mild dis­com­fort with the band’s odd choice of name. After let­ting her hear a cou­ple of songs, she decid­ed they were okay after­all and even has a cou­ple loaded onto her iPod for bop­ping around the house to.

She pur­chased the song off of iTunes Music Store, which is where a lot of our music comes from these days1. I had heard about the album back over the sum­mer in an NPR piece about great sum­mer music, even though the album was­n’t even out yet. They played a 45–60 sec­ond snip of one of the songs. I had also lis­tened to each of the songs 30-sec­ond clips on iTMS and decid­ed I like what I heard.

I was then com­plete­ly blown away when I lis­tend to the album in its entire­ty. Each song is like an mul­ti-move­ment pop-sym­pho­ny. The song you are lis­ten­ing to at the begin­ning isn’t like the mid­dle or end, and the pro­gres­sion is both nat­ur­al and amaz­ing. Songs like “The Bleed­ing Heart Show” change and evolve in a way that would leave both pro­po­nents of Dar­win’s The­o­ry and I.D. stunned.

Also, the band has a very hard to pin down tax­on­o­my. They strum gui­tars and bang on key­boards like a true rock band, but also show the emtion of the mood­i­est of emo and indie rock. How­ev­er, I don’ t think I’d ever call them indie, since to the best of my knowl­edge, hey-la hey-la cho­rus­es are by def­i­n­i­tion, not allowed in indie rock (see also “The Bleed­ing Heart Show”). The lyrics are smart and this ablum’s addi­tion of song­writer A.C. New­man’s niece Kathryn Calder on vocals (and piano) add even more lay­ers of nice to a great album. If you like vari­ety in your rock and want some­thing new and sol­id, you should have this album in your col­lec­tion.

  1. We love the con­vience of iTMS, but of course the DRM is a bit frus­trat­ing. I typ­i­cal­ly burn and re-rip the music bought there for two rea­sons: 1) a phys­i­cal back-up in the event of hard-dri­ve fail­ure and 2)Re-ripping removes the DRM on the music. []

Happy Birthday Super-Structure

Super-struc­ture turns one year old, today.

Super-struc­ture turns one year old, today.

Okay, so I’ve had a web site for some­time longer than that, but it’s nev­er been so much fun as now. Hav­ing peo­ple to be able to com­mu­ni­cate back to me has real­ly made this very reward­ing for me. I feel like I’ve been in much bet­ter con­tact with fam­i­ly and friends over the past year than before, even when I lived much clos­er to some folks. This site, and also Flickr, have real­ly made that com­mu­ni­ca­tion pos­si­ble.

I’ve aver­aged one post every 2.66 days dur­ing the past year, which is actu­al­ly a lit­tle less than what I had intend­ed. Some have cer­tain­ly been bet­ter than oth­ers, and I still have some thoughts on how I could bet­ter orga­nize things here. Still, I’ve been fair­ly hap­py for the amount of work I’ve put into it. I still have a life in the real world, and that requires atten­tion, too. Else, what would I have to blog about?

Many thanks to Jason J. for all his help, as well as all the pro­gram­mers and web peo­ple I don’t know who have all made this so much eas­i­er than it used to be.

End of the Rode

I received an e‑mail today with absolute­ly noth­ing new in it today. It was an e‑mail that I knew was com­ing and I knew almost exact­ly what it would say. What I did­n’t know is just how sad I’d be when I saw it.

My friends’ band, Green Rode Shot­gun, are going their sep­a­rate ways. They’ve thanked all their fans and acknowl­edged that it is the time for them to try some­thing dif­fer­ent in their lives.

I was prob­a­bly the biggest Green Rode Shot­gun fan in the world who nev­er saw them live. I have sev­er­al record­ings of a live show the did in Nashville a cou­ple of years ago. Also, I heard about 45 sec­onds of a record­ing of them per­form­ing a Tom Pet­ty song as an encore once. That’s it. Oth­er­wise, it was just stu­dio record­ings as how I knew my friends’ music as they all live and per­form in a dif­fer­ent state and nev­er had the occa­sion to play in Vir­ginia and I nev­er was able to sched­ule trips to Nashville when they were play­ing there. Still, I real­ly enjoyed them. It’s a rare thing when a band has enough ener­gy to make a stu­dio record­ing where you can almost see them jump­ing up and down. You’d swear you would hear things being knocked over in the excite­ment that they would put onto a disc. It was a rare and great thing, and I’ll miss it.

I under­stand why they’re not play­ing all togeth­er any­more. As much as I’ll miss them as a band, I know for my good friend, Jason, it is the right thing. We often find our­selves lament­ing on the break-up of rock bands. It is all too easy to see them as one-dimen­sion­al. How could they not want to keep mak­ing music togeth­er, after all, it was so good? How­ev­er, they are all peo­ple and have many dimen­sions to their lives. Not all deci­sions can be about the career you are in right now, and it is no dif­fer­ent for musi­cians.

I’m look­ing for­ward to hear­ing Yenko Camaro some­time. I’m also look­ing for­ward to see what Jason can cre­ate in the next phase of an already impres­sive artis­tic career. When the peo­ple in the band are your friends, you have those sorts of things to look for­ward to and them break­ing up does­n’t seem so bad, after all.

Social Amazon

Web2.0 Might Just Have Gained It’s Great­est Ally Yet.

Web2.0 might just have gained it’s great­est ally yet. Some­where over the last week (to the best of my knowl­edge) Amazon.com has added sev­er­al new fea­tures of social net­work­ing. That would make them, I think, the first online retail­er to make use of this aspect of trendy Web2.0. I’d say, giv­en how influ­en­tial Ama­zon’s cus­tomer rat­ings and reviews are, they’ve been mak­ing use of social-web all along. How­ev­er, here they are active­ly try­ing to engage their cus­tomers and users into help­ing make them a strong con­sumer resource and, hope­ful­ly for them, a more dom­i­nant retail­er.

Ama­zon has been around for quite a while in terms of the inter­net, and they are often seen as any­thing but cut­ting edge. Google is the brain-trust of the inter­net these days. Yahoo! has once again become a dar­ling, although prob­a­bly because they bought every­one’s dar­ling, Flickr. eBay buys Skype to facil­i­tate bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tions between buy­ers and sell­ers. So many oth­er com­pa­nies and sites are seen as doing all the bleed­ing edge work. How­ev­er, Ama­zon con­sis­tent­ly proves itself as one of the most amaz­ing places on the inter­net. The sell pret­ty much every­thing on the plan­et that can be deliv­ered on a truck or dig­i­tal­ly. In the UK, they even have a Net­flix-like DVD rental store. They could get into music and movie down­loads with almost the touch of a but­ton1. What’s more amaz­ing, is the fact that they’ve done all this with­out real­ly ever acquir­ing any oth­er com­pa­ny. It’s been Ama­zon all the way.

What’s more, they love their cus­tomers and they seem to enjoy what their cus­tomers do for them. They’ve main­tained a data­base-like store that they allow oth­er’s to access for their own uses. They have always wel­comed cus­tomer reviews and com­ments, even when less-than-favor­able. That has been one of the cor­ner-stones of Ama­zon’s suc­cess, in my opin­ion. The wide­ly held view that what­ev­er you say on Ama­zon gets left there. So, what’s next for every­body’s best friend who just nev­er seems to get invit­ed to the cool par­ties any­more?

Tag, You’re It!

Add a tag to describe the Canon ZR200

Add a tag word to describe the Canon ZR200 at Amazon.com. Many items now have this fea­ture.

First, they’ve added the abil­i­ty for users to add “tags” to prod­ucts. These tags can be pub­lic or pri­vate and could add more search able data to indi­vid­ual prod­ucts. A per­son who read a nice review in Wired mag­a­zine could tag a prod­uct “wired” for any­one else who also want­ed anoth­er way to find that prod­uct they remem­bered read­ing some­thing about, but just could­n’t remem­ber the man­u­fac­tur­er or mod­el name. The pos­si­bil­i­ties spi­ral from there.

Update 2005-12-06: I noticed today that tags were miss­ing from var­i­ous prod­uct pages on Amazon.com. I guess these are all very much in Beta at this point.

Where’s That Wiki?

Now Amazon users can add not only reviews, but all sorts of product information.

Now Ama­zon’s users have a place to share the wealth of knowl­edge they’ve gained using prod­ucts avail­able there.

Much more qui­et­ly, they’re adding prod­uct Wik­i’s writ­ten by users for any giv­en prod­uct. Far too many prod­uct reviews have tips, hacks, and exter­nal data that real­ly does­n’t fall under review infor­ma­tion. The fact that third-par­ty firmware makes my router more handy real­ly isn’t a review of the router in-of-itself. How­ev­er, that infor­ma­tion is still very handy to know, plus where to get it and some brief instruc­tions on installing it. Again, the only lim­its on func­tion­al­i­ty are by the users’ cre­ativ­i­ty. How­ev­er, if you know that Ama­zon has loads of tips and tricks on the par­tic­u­lar hard­ware you’re look­ing for, you’re liable to stick around the web site just that much longer and Ama­zon knows this.

How well does this scale to oth­er prod­ucts? How far does your cre­ativ­i­ty lead you? I don’t mean to sound like some bad dot-com era com­mer­cial, but we just don’t know how use­ful this can be until cus­tomers get their hands on it. How­ev­er, the Wiki has been very hard to find. I found it while brows­ing for a Canon cam­corder a few days ago (when I grabbed this screen­shot), but noticed it was nowhere to be found on the same page this evening. Oth­er’s have noticed this phe­nom­e­non as well; some say­ing that it depends on which com­put­er you use. Of course, I’m on my same desk­top and it has come and gone, so I’m not sure about that. No ones seems to have actu­al­ly entered any­thing into one just as of yet2. I real­ly want to get my hands on this thing and try it out.

Amazon Listened To Me

Last­ly, as if my prayers were answered, Ama­zon has added a “Gift Lists” fea­ture that allows users to keep track of the Wish Lists of friends and fam­i­ly (or who­ev­er) as well as add “occa­sions” (i.e. — birth­days, anniver­saries, valen­tine’s, etc.) and save gift ideas for that indi­vid­ual. Of course, the tim­ing for the hol­i­days is pret­ty obvi­ous, and that is cer­tain­ly where a fea­ture such as this is most use­ful. How­ev­er, how well this fea­ture is imple­ment­ed, I can’t say. I’ve only so-far been able to add sev­er­al peo­ple to my Gift Orga­niz­er (that’s where you’ll look for this thing, by the way). I don’t know if you get some sort of nice e‑mail reminder days before their birth­day with the top sev­er­al items on the list or any gift ideas you’ve added for them. That would be nice (and insane­ly easy for Ama­zon to imple­ment, not to men­tion near­ly cost-free for them).

The only item on my wish list now, is that Jason J. and I had got­ten on this project and beat­en Ama­zon to it. Oh well. Maybe I’ll send them a Christ­mas card this year since they got me some­thing.

Amazon Forums

One last item in Beta at Ama­zon is Cus­tomer Dis­cus­sions. I’ve not seen much at all of this myself, but I think it’s also pret­ty self-explana­to­ry (you can see some more here). Here, you could ask the net about all sorts of prod­uct that might not oth­er­wise have forums. Sure, peo­ple dis­cuss iPods and Linksys routers all over the net, but what if you want to know more specifics about a book or movie? If you’re think­ing about look­ing of a place to dis­cuss those by search­ing at Google, then you obvi­ous­ly can under­stand how Ama­zon can cap­i­tal­ize on yet even more traf­fic here. Want to know if the lat­est Har­ry Pot­ter book is too scary for your eight-year-old? Ask oth­er Ama­zon users right on the pro­duc­t’s page, or per­haps some­one’s already done the ask­ing.

  1. Okay, obvi­ous­ly not that easy, but like­ly with less grow­ing pain than any­one else. []
  2. Those con­sumer advo­cates over at Church of the Cus­tomer Blog may have actu­al­ly been able to get into one. How­ev­er, they’re screen­shot leave a lot to be desired. []

Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Native Amer­i­can tribes of the Huala­pai Nation are build­ing a giant hor­shoe-shaped glass walk­way on part of the reser­va­tion in order to attract tourism. What makes this even more amaz­ing is the fact that this part of their land is 4,000 feet above the base of the Grand Canyon. The bridge is a struc­tur­al engi­neer­ing mar­vel you’re shure to see some Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel spe­cials about in the future. I can’t wait to walk across this when com­plet­ed ear­ly next year (2006).

This struc­ture is so incred­i­ble as to have an entire arti­cle devot­ed to it at Snopes.com, the inter­net myth clear­ing house.

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